Irelands are looking for Ireland’s best free-taker

Fancy yourself as a free-taker, I mean a really good free-taker, maybe the best in Ireland? We’re talking here an Oisin McConville maybe, or a Bernard Brogan, or even a Darren Clarke, whose record in 2012 has been first class, even though it wasn’t good for his county.

Fancy yourself as a free-taker, I mean a really good free-taker, maybe the best in Ireland? We’re talking here an Oisin McConville maybe, or a Bernard Brogan, or even a Darren Clarke, whose record in 2012 has been first class, even though it wasn’t good for his county.

But then again, not all expert point-takers from the ground or hands belong to the inter-county ranks. Many is the club team that’s been kept afloat by the player whose tally is divided, the letter ‘f’’ following the bigger number.

Dundalk Young Irelands, who’ve had a fair few eagle-eyes in their ranks over the years, the very best of them playing in the era when all frees had to be kicked from off the ground, are running a competition at their grounds at Marshes Upper - or the Upper Merches, as Dundalk folk like to call it - on the day before this year’s All-Ireland hurling final, Saturday, September 8.

From all of the foregoing you can guess it’s a free-taking competition, not an ordinary free-taking competition, but one that will have a prize-fund of upwards on €10,000. Yes, ten really big ones.

It’s to be known as the All-Ireland Cic Saor, and at its launch at the Irelands pitch, there were three inter-county players present, none of which would be out of place in the line-up.

The aforementioned Oisin McConville tapped a few balls over the bar for the cameramen, and was followed by Louth’s Paddy Keenan, and who else? but the man whose name was one of two everyone’s lips after the 2010 Leinster final, Joe Sheridan.

Fair play to the Meathman, he took time out to be there, even though he was again playing on the province’s biggest stage the following day.

Like so many other clubs, Irelands are in a battle to keep their heads above water, and this venture, by far the biggest the club has undertaken in its long history, is an attempt to gather much-needed funds. The entry-fee is pegged at €60 – slightly less if a place is booked online – and as with poker classics, contestants will have the option of buying themselves back in.

No doubt we’ll be hearing more in the coming weeks, but for now, details can be seen on the website set up by Irelands, cicsaor.ie.