On Sunday next neighbours Cushendall and Cushendun have their biggest games of the year so far, but both are roughly at the same time, 25 miles apart.Colum Thompson tries to work it all out.
By Colum Thompson
If you didn’t laugh you’d cry. A competitive club hurling match in Ulster was like an endangered species during the summer months of June, July and August. So rare in fact that if you had the good fortune to stumble across one you might find David Attenborough hiding in the bushes doing the commentary. When you consider that every Ulster county had exited their respective championship competitions by the end of June it seems baffling that now, over three months later we are still yet to play an Ulster club championship match at Senior, Intermediate or Junior level. What this means, like every other year is a rush to get games played before the snow arrives and the surfaces turn from heavy to complete bogs.
When you have two villages separated by just a few miles like Cushendall and Cushendun, where people go to school together, youth clubs, discos, pubs and other social events together you often find what I call cross community marriages, like my own!! Joan Lingard wrote a novel in the early 1990’s called “Across The Barricades” about Kevin (a catholic) and Sadie (a protestant) finding love in war torn Belfast. I’m not saying a marriage between someone from Cushendall and someone from Cushendun is comparable to a catholic marrying a protestant during the troubles, a Dall/ Dun marriage is much more complicated and politically sensitive!!!
In all seriousness you have plenty of families with someone in each camp. Cushendun’s manager is a Cushendall man, Chris Dornan who has taken plenty of teams for us as well. There would be several players on the Cushendun team who have played underage hurling for Cushendall and there’d be plenty of people in each village would want to watch the other in championship action. It doesn’t take a genius to work out what the fixture makers have done this weekend. That’s right, Cushendun play Na Magha in the Ulster Junior Quarter Final on Sunday at half 2 and Cushendall play St. Johns on the same day at three o’ clock in Ballycastle. Unless you can commandeer Marty McFly’s DeLorean you can’t watch both. Now I understand people weren’t expecting a draw in the Dall v Johnnies match a couple of weeks ago and I know that the Ulster Council made one fixture and the Antrim board the other but is a phone call really that hard to make? Or text, email, private message, Instagram, snapchat, carrier pigeon, smoke signal or whatever. Could one match not have been on Saturday and the other on Sunday? Or one at midday and the other at half three? I’ll be in Ballycastle on Sunday, in fact if Cushendall’s fixture was in Skibbereen Harbour in the middle of the night I’d be there, I love my club and I love hurling. It’s just such a pity I can’t see the newly noisy neighbours in their biggest match for many years as well.