THIS Friday evening, the late Ger Hoey will be honoured and remembered when Tullaroan, the Intermediate All-Ireland club champions of Kilkenny, take on an AIB employee team in St Joseph’s Doora-Barefield GAA in a memorial match for the Ger Hoey Cup.
This year will mark the first year the game is held in Clare and the organisers are hoping to attract a sizable crowd to Gurteen for the 6:30pm throw-in.
Ger, who passed away suddenly in February 2009, was a long-serving employee of AIB – as well as a member of their GAA club – and the company set up the memorial match in his honour following his untimely passing.
AIB have sponsored the club championships for 29 years and with Ger being a winner of the 1999 All-Ireland club title with Doora-barefield, they felt this was the right way to honour his memory.
“Usually the game was on the day before Paddy’s day in Dublin but with the GAA calendar becoming increasingly condensed we’ve had to rejig that slightly. We thought we had to bring this game to Ger’s home club as it was the most fitting venue we could think of,” said Leo Whelan, AIB teammate of Ger and organiser of the event.
Leo says Ger had a far-reaching effect on GAA circles and helped many clubs in Cork when working there as well as having a positive influence on his old neighbour and current Limerick hurler Shane Dowling.
This year will mark the 11th game in Ger’s memory and will have none other than Kilkenny legend Tommy Walsh playing in Doora-Barefield. A select AIB team play either the Junior or Intermediate club champions every year for the cup.
Ger’s wife Siobhán says the match is a really special way of remembering him and it affords an opportunity for old friends to meet up.
“This match is a fantastic acknowledgment of Ger. I’m absolutely delighted that this year it is in Doora-Barefield. AIB have been so good to us over the years and it is a brilliant occasion ever year and one we look forward to.
“From a family point of view, we don’t really get to meet people like Leo or former friends of Ger other than this occasion ever year so from that perspective we really do look forward to it,” Siobhán said.
Siobhán also reliably informs the Clare Champion that Jamesie O’Connor is in charge of rounding up Ger’s former Doora-Barefield teammates to be in attendance for the game so it will be a great occasion for all associated with Doora-Barefield and Clare hurling.
While the game is played in a friendly spirit of rememb rance, Leo says, “it’s all friendly until 30 men with sticks take to the field and a competition breaks out. Last year the final score was 3-29 to 3-28.”
While Tullaroan had a landmark year landing an All-Ireland club title, Leo says the AIB team are no slouches either with a number of ex-county players taking the field as well as some of the best club hurlers from all over the country.
It is a celebration of hurling and a hurling man that is not to be missed.