Tipperary's Brendan Cummins and Waterford's Patricia Jackman emerged victorious from a host of big names to emerge victorious at the rearranged 2014 M. Donnelly GAA All Ireland Poc Fada Finals yesterday.
Cummins captured an unprecedented eight title while Jackman won her sixth. Meanwhile, it was a great day for Donal McKernan in the U16 finals - he won that tile with 26 pucks and by seven metres.
GAA Uachtarán, Liam Ó Néill and a list of legendary top names like Tipperary legend Donie Nealon were all in attendance at the Annaverna Mountain, Ravensdale, Cooley, Co. Louth.
It was always expected that the senior mens event would be a 'puck-off' between All-Ireland winners Brendan Cummins and Clare goalkeeper Patrick Kelly and Laois' Eoin Reilly and it was almost that. Cummins hit top form once again with 52 pucks and 63 metres, while Derry's Ruairi Convery came second with 57 pucks, 75 metres. Reilly took third place with 57 pucks, 30 metres.
Conditions were absolutely perfect for this unique GAA sporting and cultural contest and Cummins was thrilled to win again.
"It's a record I'd wanted to capture but it was a very competitive event," Cummins admitted. "I knew the competition would be very stiff and I had prepared for that. It's an event that has increased in profile - the fact that GAA president Liam O'Neill will be in attendance really boosted the profile, I think."
The full list of finalists were Donal O’Brien (Mayo), Eoin Reilly (Laois), Andrew Fahy (Clare) and Ruairi Convery (Derry). The four provincial runners-up Patrick McKillion (Tyrone), Stevie Brenner (Waterford), Nigel Daly (Galway) and Kevin Walsh (Kilkenny). Patrick Kelly (Clare) and Alan Nolan (Dublin) were also on the list.
Meanwhile, Patricia Jackman was also a favourite to make history and she did exactly that by winning again with 29 pucks, 62 metres. Catriona Daly and Martine McMahon were in second and third place with scores of 29 pucks, 62 metres and 29 pucks, 15 metres respectively.
The decorated camogie star was always going to face strong competition from Daly (Galway) and McMahon.
The M Donnelly Under 16 All Ireland Poc Fada saw Antrim's McKernan (26 pucks, 7 metres) topple Alan Kelly (Laois) and Barry Kenneally (Cork).
Speaking at the event GAA Uachtarán, Liam Ó Néill said “There are few events in our diary that stand out from the rest of our activities in the same way as the Poc Fada. The Annaverna Mountain was the perfect picturesque setting for a truly unique event and the contestants included some of the highest profile hurlers in our game who were participating at a time of the year when their season reaches fever pitch. That says everything about the importance they place on their involvement."
Sponsor Martin Donnelly was on hand to make a special presentation to Tipperary legend Donie Nealon, a lifetime supporter of the event. It was an especially great day for Nealon as his club, Burgess, qualified for the North Tipperary senior hurling final.
After the finals Humphrey Kelleher, Chairman of the National Poc Fada Committee stated: “This was a massive success. An Poc Fada is one of our finest traditions and we in the GAA, whether it be at club, county, provincial or national level have a responsibility to cherish and develop it to the best of our ability. It is incumbent upon us all to pass on to the next generation this intrinsic part of our Gaelic Games culture in a healthy and vibrant state.”