Anyone with a knowledge of Waterford GAA should know what De La Salle are about at this stage: defiance, doggedness, never-say-die spirit. But what are they facing this Sunday in Parnell Park?
While the Munster champions are a slightly curious amalgam of school ties bonded together from across the inner-city and suburbia, Ruairí Óg CLG Cushendall, founded in 1906, is a community club in the more accustomed sense: small, rural, insular – as fiercely parochial as they come.
Situated on the coast road between Larne and Portrush, it’s a beautiful part of world, located at the bottom of Ballyeamon, one of the famous nine glens, and just 16 miles away from the Mull of Kintyre. Indeed, the area’s Scottish connections are still strong as seen by so many of the surnames.
Under the jurisdiction of Moyle District Council and in the Ballymena postal code, the ‘village’ has a population of around 1,250 (98% Catholic), making it a small town in Waterford terms.
“My own club plays hurling, we wouldn’t entertain football. We were born and bred in hurling in Cushendall, it’s such a small parish we couldn’t be a dual club,” said Antrim joint-manager and former playing legend Terence ‘Sambo’ McNaughton last week. Hurling, he explained, “is our life”.