Through 2019, I’ve been working on a ‘year in the life of…’ project about my local GAA club, Newmarket On Fergus. There’ll be lots more to come about the project as I get further into it, but one unexpected outcome of my relationship with them, was the chance for press accreditation at yesterday’s Clare vs Tipperary hurling match in the Munster County Championship.
It’s the second county level game that I’ve been to. The first was the first time that I’d ever seen hurling and I had no idea of what was going on or where the ball was for most of it. Since then I’ve learned a lot more about the game its history, and most importantly, the GAA’s place in Irish culture. This helped me realise what a big deal yesterday’s game was going to be and how lucky I was that the club put a word in for me with the county management.
So I was a little nervous before the game, checking and rechecking my gear like I was shooting a wedding, but once I was in the ground and had realised that the photographer’s bib was like an invisibility cloak, I settled down.
With the bib on, I was able to move around the ground at will; visiting the main stand, the player’s tunnel and wandering about the pitch like it was our back yard.
The best thing was that unlike the other photographers there, I wasn’t working. I was not trying to record the game or make images to sell. I could just snap what I found interesting and enjoy the game from an amazing vantage point on the touchline.
I’ll write more about my GAA project as it progresses, but for now, here are a few of yesterdays pictures.
My favourite conversation of the day was with an old boy in the area behind the tunnel, close to the changing rooms. He saw my bib and camera and asked who I was working for. I told him that I was ‘an independent’ and he said that that was his favourite paper, and began asking if I knew some of the writing staff…
As it turned out, it was a heavy defeat for Clare as Tipp remained unbeaten in this year’s championship. Despite this, I had a lot of fun.