MICK KIRWAN remembers the days of the old school yard. Eblana CBS, tucked in behind St Michael’s Church in the heart of Dun Laoghaire.
Brothers Topley and McGovern driving the pursuit of hurling excellence. Glory in Croke Park. Herald and Educational Cup success.
The army of supporters cheering the team on from the lower deck of the Cusack Stand. Wooden seats. Peering out onto the pitch through the wire.
The happy home-coming to the coast with the cup. The great Jack Neary, the Sligo champion, down in The Gem marking the occasion by giving out free cones to all the children.
Mick went on to wear the blue. And his love of the sliotar is deeper than ever. He is involved with the Dublin development squads.
He applauds the effort that is going on all over the county.
“Under-age hurling in Dublin is in good hands. Look at the progress being made at the likes of Nh Barróg. Dean O’Reilly is doing trojan work,” says Mick.
The strides that the game has made, and continues to make, was seen in the U15 Cuala-Ballyboden clash this season.
It was a Thomastown thriller. “It was Dublin hurling at it’s best - passion, commitment and skill.
“There were a sizeable contingent of Dublin development players in action and the hurling was just scintillating.
“When you see young players produce such quality, the future for Dublin hurling can only be bright,” insists Mick.
Long hours at the coal-face has led to this point. The exhibition given by Cuala and Boden would have charmed 80,000 people in Croke Park.
Duels like that can only benefit the craft. Playing at such a tempo can only improve the players even more.
Mick is looking forward to many more such tussles. And it’s the big picture that he sees.
“Games against Boden are always a highlight of our season. They are such decent people. They have the game at heart.
“We have formed good friendships with them over the years. We supported them in the national Feile in 2013, and we were delighted with their success.”
With such dedicated folk involved, maybe the day is not too far away when the Dubs will be running to the Hill with the McCarthy Cup.