A guy walks up to me and says “I really like your Great Sportsmanship Programme – you should talk to my brother I’m sure he can give you a story.”
“Why’s that?’ I ask.
“Oh,” he says, “he’s a fantastic sportsman himself. He plays Gaelic and Hurling for Limerick.”
“Really” I said “That’s interesting – what’s his name?”
“Lucey” he says.
“Not Stephen Lucey” I said
“Yes” he says with a smile “Why?”
“I’ve written a story about him. Well actually, about your Dad. In fact, it was, actually, about a stranger who helped your Dad when his car broke down in Borrisokane, County Tipperary, as your Dad was driving to Dublin to see your brother play in the All Ireland Final in Croke Park in 2007.”
“Go away” says the brother (David Lucey, on the left in the photo)
“Yes! Did your Dad’s car break down on the long drive to Dublin to see Limerick play Kilkenny (the hot favourites)? And poor oul’ Limerick hadn’t won an All Ireland Final in your brother’s lifetime (the last win was 1973). And your Dad was banging on a stranger’s door in search of help.”
“I didn’t know about the car. I’ll have to ask him” says David.
“Do” I said “and tell him if he can find that friendly stranger who loaned him his car – I’ll send your Dad a signed copy of the Great Moments Of Sportsmanship book so that your Dad could, perhaps, give the book to the stranger as a special thanks for his mighty kindness.”
“I’ll ask him” says David.
This is a live unfolding story. We’ll see what happens next. David, if you are out there, let me know. And Stephen, congrats on your many successes and commiserations on that All Ireland Final. Do tell us any sportsmanship stories. Did any thing else happen on the day of this final?
Excerpt from the Great Moments Of Sportsmanship book:
An All Ireland hurling final in Croke Park is played in front of more than 82,000 fans. Hurling is one of Ireland’s two sporting crown jewels that the rest of the world has never discovered. It’s an ancient, amateur game and a deep part of Irish culture. It is the fastest field game in the world. The other sport is Gaelic Football (a fast and furious version of rugby and football mixed together).
Hurling requires hugely skilful, savagely fit and totally brave players, not to mention commitment, technique and tactics. Hurling and Gaelic Football regularly attracts bigger crowds than the English premiership professional matches.
The best of all the 32 counties in Ireland compete against each other. By time the semi finals come around the country is seething with interest and intrigue. By the time the final comes around, tickets are gold dust. Packed crowds travel to see one of the world’s most intense sports on one of the world’s finest stages, Dublin’s Croke Park.
Limerick had not won an All Ireland Hurling final since 1973. And they had suffered since: losing the 1974, 1981, 1994 and 1996 finals (as well as a semi final in 1980). Their hunger to win an All Ireland Final was great. The feeling was good. The whole county was on the move (except Mr. Lucey senior) until……
“The stranger gave Mr. Lucey the keys of his own car and told him to take it, drive to see his son play and return the car as soon as he could”
See 2012 All Ireland Final Crowd Atmosphere & a sublime sportsmanship moment (caught on camera) from one of the youngest, if not the youngest, player in the All Ireland Final last year – called ‘Dignity In Defeat’.