by Fiona O’Brien
Hurlers looking to prove they have the ‘longest puck’ in London can now put their money where their mouth is, as the county board host their first ever Poc Fada tournament.
Taking place this Saturday evening, hurlers are invited to come and compete, and the winner will go on to represent London in the Connacht provincial championships next month.
The idea came to Robert Emmetts PRO Neil Clancy when one of the club’s players enquired about if there was a Poc Fada heat over here.
“I went to the county board and Croke Park to see what options were available to us, and it turned out that there had never been a London entrant before,” he says.
“Croke Park set up the qualifying so that there is a possibility of reaching the All-Ireland in August.”
The All Ireland Poc Fada Championships take place on the Saturday of the Irish August Bank Holiday weekend each year.
“The competition has really evolved over the past ten years or so. It’s an unusual competition. Although the provincial championships tend to take place on fields and pitches, the final is up on Annaverna Mountain in Louth.”
In the finals, competitors must puck the sliotar to the top of the Mountain, “An Céide,” and onwards to “Carn an Mhadaidh”‘ and after a short break continue down to “An Gabhlán,” finishing back at “An Fhána Mór,” Annaverna. The whole course measures 5 kilometres (3.1 mi).
The record currently stands at 48 pucks (an average of 104 metres per puck) achieved by Brendan Cummins in 2004. Traditionally the most successful competitors have tended to be goalkeepers.
At All-Ireland level, as well as senior mens, there is a camogie championship and U16s competitions too. At this year’s London event it is open to senior men only.
Almost all of the All-Ireland winners have been from the traditional hurling counties, but Dinny Donnelly (Meath), Gerry Goodwin (Tyrone), Colin Byrne (Wicklow), Paul Dunne (Louth), Mary Henry (Westmeath), 2009 champion Gerry Fallon (Roscommon) and the 2010 champion Graham Clarke (Down) have been the exceptions.
- The London Poc Fada takes place in Montrose Playing Fields in Colindale at 7pm this Saturday. (nearest postcode NW9 5AU).
- For those interested in entering email firstname.lastname@example.org