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When Dreams Become Real by Brendan Cummins

Updated: Friday, 27 Sep 2013 14:05 | Comments

'Two teams of gladiators running out to do battle...the roars of the 80,000 outside filling the arena'
'Two teams of gladiators running out to do battle...the roars of the 80,000 outside filling the arena'

When Dreams Become Real

So, it’s finally here

The day these Cork and Clare lads have dreamt about all their life

For most of them it’s the first time in this place

But what is the reality of All-Ireland hurling final day for these players?

Are they ready for the emotional rollercoaster that lies ahead even before the sliotar is thrown in?

In the weeks leading up to the game the outside world is saying, ‘enjoy this special occasion’

But within the walls of the dressing room, the message is very clear – finals are for winning

You’re on the bus and the driver points it towards Croker

The closer you get to the ground the more supporters you see

Kids draped in the colours, their eyes full of excitement

From here on, All-Ireland final day becomes real

For a second your mind wanders and you start to dream with them

But hang on, you’re a player – you’ve got a job to do

The blue lights from the outriders light up the inside of the bus as they whiz by to clear the traffic

The heart beats a little faster

At last Croke Park fills the skyline

You take a deep breath

You mosey on up outside the stadium and the masses surround you to get a look

Your own people roaring words of encouragement

Rival fans roaring... lots of other things

Then you disappear under the stand and out of the public view

Game faces on, everything dark

You climb off the bus, there’s an RTÉ camera watching your every move and you fumble and fooster to get your gear bag and hurl safely into your hands

You catch a flash of the minor game through a gap in the stand

Back inside the dressing room all is quiet, nothing but the hum of air conditioning overhead

We strip off, tog out, listen to the battle cry

Last messages are delivered

It’s the little things, words of inspiration are spoken

And bonds are strengthened one last time

You take a look around

You may never be in a room with all these guys again

That plays on your mind

The main door swings open, time to get out beyond the darkened tunnel and run out into the light

Two teams of gladiators running out to do battle

The roars of the 80,000 outside filling the arena

As you run out onto the field it’s more like a circus than an All-Ireland final

Guys on stilts and giant hurling balls – crowd entertainment

Photo over, it’s time to start the warm-up, while the big screen blasts out adverts and shows clips from past games

It’s hard to concentrate if you’re not fully focused on the job in hand

Once the President’s met and hand is shaken you get the parade out of the way and it’s time to do what you trained for – a game of hurling that could change your life

Forever. 

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