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Healy-Rae slams GAA for calling last orders on All-Ireland pub tour

Extra.ie logo Extra.ie 11/09/2018 Lisa ODonnell
a man standing in front of a crowd posing for the camera © Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland

Limerick GAA is refusing to allow the Liam McCarthy Cup into pubs, drawing the ire of independent TD Danny Healy-Rae, who said many villages will be left with nowhere to celebrate the All-Ireland win.

Clubs have been told the cup’s year-long tour is not to include pubs, ending a tradition that started in the 1920s.

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The cup was so badly handled during pub sessions that the jeweller hired to fix it in 2008 said it ‘looked like Amy Winehouse after too much partying’. The appearance of the cup often meant a heavy drinking session.

a glass of water © Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland The tradition started in the 1920s. Pic: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Limerick’s GAA chiefs have said it’s time to call a halt. They want the celebrations to focus on hospitals, schools, nursing homes and community centres – a move welcomed by addiction counsellors but criticised by pub owner Danny Healy-Rae.

‘I think it’s regrettable to isolate publicans in rural communities who themselves are great supporters of the GAA,’ he said.

Mr Healy-Rae said bar owners were not worried about losing money, but were concerned that villages should have somewhere to celebrate Limerick’s first hurling All-Ireland victory since 1973.

a man wearing a suit and tie: All-Ireland Pub Tour © Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland All-Ireland Pub Tour  

Limerick County Board has already signalled a strong stance against binge drinking: it banned alcohol from the Gaelic Grounds when tens of thousands of fans watched the All-Ireland on a giant screen. They also banned alcohol again when the team returned with the cup to the Gaelic Grounds.

Addiction counsellor Austin Prior said that the decision to keep the cup from pubs will challenge the ‘huge connection’ between alcohol and sport.’I think it’s a positive move. It’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with the pubs, but I think to make a definite break between sport and alcohol has to be a good thing in the context of the overall culture,’ he said.

According to addiction counsellor Helen Bates, allowing the cup in pubs is connecting alcohol too closely with sporting victory.

a group of people sitting at a bar: All-Ireland Pub Tour © Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland All-Ireland Pub Tour  

‘Particularly with young males, it’s creating, at a young and tender age, that sense that drinking is part of it: you win, you go to the local pub. I think it can definitely influence how they see their drinking later on, up into their 20s,’ she said.

Chairman of Limerick County Board John Cregan told Extra.ie that Limerick GAA is keen to ‘set the right example’ for young fans and give them more opportunities to see the cup without alcohol in close proximity.

‘We have an awful lot of clubs holding functions and building different events around the visit of the cup,’ he said. ‘There are thousands of young kids arriving at different venues and we want them to have the opportunity to enjoy the visit of the cup… we will prioritise hospitals, nursing homes, our schools, obviously, our Cúl camps, our GAA clubs.’ A member of the bar staff at Flannerys Bar on Upper Denmark Street said fans who had come to watch the match would be disappointed if they couldn’t return to the pub to celebrate with the cup.

a man jumping in the air in front of a crowd: All-Ireland Pub Tour © Provided by Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited, t/a dmg Media Ireland All-Ireland Pub Tour  

‘If they decided to come in here on a Sunday afternoon or a Saturday afternoon with the cup, it would be a gigantic boost for anyone who didn’t get to go to Dublin to watch it, who came here instead,’ he said.

Jason Kelly, manager at The Still House on Thomas Street in Limerick, said: ‘I understand why they’re doing it. I think they’re focusing on the kids.’

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