As the saying goes, ‘behind every great man is a great woman’. Throughout the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship, we see hurlers give it their all on the pitch. Some sustain crucial injuries but the passion and the desire they have to win is clear.
We know what it is like to be in the stands as a supporter. You cheer on your team as much as you can, praying that this will be their year and they will go all the way to lift the Liam MacCarthy Cup.
But we have often wondered, what must it be like for the parents of the players? How do the mothers feel watching their son or daughter playing their sport?
We caught up with some of the top hurlers both past and present, to find out how their mothers inspired them growing up and most of all, is she their number one supporter?
Austin Gleeson – Waterford
“My mother really inspired me. She is mad into hurling, that’s how I kind of got into it. If I was going to training, or going to the gym or going really just anywhere, she would always bring me in the car.
She never thought that hurling was too dangerous. She never thought of hurling that way. I remember when I was younger, I tried to pick up rugby and she simply said, ‘No chance. Forget about it.’ Thankfully, she didn’t let me do it, which meant I stuck with hurling!
She would be my number one supporter, either herself or my grandmother. I can always hear them from the sidelines, especially in club games. You could be on the pitch and hear the shouting from the stands, but it’s good, it’s all supportive!
My parents took me to my first match – well the first match that I remember anyway! Mount Sion played Dunloy in an All-Ireland Semi Final in 2002, in Mullingar. That is probably the first game that I can remember. I think Mount Sion were 10 or 11 points ahead, but Dunloy just came in and beat us by 2 or 3 points.
My family definitely influenced my playing. On my father’s side, my grandfather played with Waterford years and years ago. There was always hurling on that side through him.
Then on my mother’s side, there was constant hurling. Her father loved soccer but there was hurling as well. All my uncles and my cousins all played hurling as well. I was just bred into it. If I ever had children, I would definitely let them play. 100%.”
Kieran Joyce – Kilkenny
“My Mam raised a house full of boys. She is the General, very much the boss of the house. She is incredibly proud. In Kilkenny, it’s the pinnacle when you hurl for your county and play for them at senior level. She played it herself way back. She is supposedly very good, though I have never seen her play. I was told she was.
My grandparents were the same, they loved sport and loved Kilkenny. They were also incredibly proud when I played and they all made a lot of sacrifices to get me to where I am.
I remember coming home from work and I would be impatient, standing thinking I am going to be late for a match or for training. I would race home, have something quick to eat and then be on the road again. It’s only when you grow up, you realise the sacrifices that they made.
My mother never thought it was too dangerous. When I got a few teeth knocked out, she would have given out, telling me that I used to have a lovely set of teeth. Apart from that no. She loves hurling. Sometimes, with injuries, like busted eyes, she might think it’s getting rough. But apart from that, she loves it and she knows we love it as well!
She is my number one supporter. We had problems trying to keep her off sidelines before! She would call out referees, sometimes she would nearly go after them. She can be a little bit hot-headed, but she is so supportive!
My family makes me appreciate where I am and what I have achieved. They have always supported me, no matter where I needed to go and what I needed to do, they would be there. They would help me out. When I was playing big matches, they know that I am kind of quiet. I like to go away and clear my head, they give me my space.
My Dad took me to my first game at schools level. I took up hurling at about 10 or 11, so I was a late enough starter!”
Diarmuid O’Keeffe – Wexford
“My mother never cared if we won or lost a game. As long as I didn’t come off the field hurt.
When it comes to hurling being too a dangerous as a sport, I was always going to play as my Dad was a coach growing up. He took me to my first game as a child. Though my mum is my number 1 supporter, 100%.
I’ve learned everything I know from my two older brothers. We spent hours together playing when we were young.”
Anthony Nash – Cork
“I think every Irish boy would be inclined to say their Mammy inspired them! My Mam and sister would have always helped me along.
My uncles and cousins would have played, I have been very lucky to have them. I would have been very lucky to have their support through everything.
My Mam is completely my number one supporter! I get slagged by my girlfriend because she says that my mother calls me her… I’m not going to say it actually! I’ll just put it this way, she is my top supporter!”
You can check out all the upcoming fixtures and results from all matches right here!