Dual GAA player, Gary Hurney has divided loyalties this Sunday ahead of the All-Ireland senior hurling final showdown.
A Galwegian born in Moycullen, the prolific hurler and footballer has represented his adopted county of Waterford in both codes for many years.
The 36-year-old is from solid Moycullen stock – his mother Carmel (nee Lydon) is from Drummaveg and his father is Packie Hurney from Tullykyne.
The family moved to Dungarvan when he was just five or six, where Gary’s love of GAA – and Waterford – blossomed. And he went on to represent Waterford at minor, U21 and senior, in football, his first love, despite it being the poor relation to the glamour game of hurling in a so-called ‘weaker football county’.
He subsequently hurled for a number of seasons for the Waterford seniors including during Justin McCarthy’s reign in the mid-2000s.
“It’ll be a divided household I suppose. My parents would probably still be Galway but I’m Waterford. I hope if Waterford don’t win that Galway will win! We were roaring for Galway during the Tipperary match but now that Waterford are there I’ll be shouting for them. When Waterford aren’t involved we always shout for Galway,” Gary told the Connacht Tribune.
Gary has a sister, Lorna, and brothers – Laurence, John and Patrick – all three of whom played intercounty football for the Déise.
Nicknamed ‘Tank’, he won three county football titles with his club, Abbeyside/Ballinacourty, including the breakthrough year of in 2007, when they ended a 26-year famine.
Dad Packie was manager and all brothers were on the team – Patrick scored a goal late-on to finish a move that involved all four of the Hurney siblings.
The following year was hugely disappointing – Abbeyside/Ballinacourty reached county finals in the two codes, but lost both including the hurling one to city side De La Salle by two points. Gary subsequently played his part in winning two more county football championships for the club in 2011 and 2013.
Despite embracing Waterford as his own, Gary returns to his birthplace every now and then to visit the Hurney and Lydon families in Moycullen including a grandmother, uncles, aunts and cousins.
Many of them will be watching the game at Hurney’s Bar in Gortachalla outside Moycullen village this Sunday. But for those travelling, this novel All-Ireland decider is an ideal opportunity for a catch-up with the extended Hurney clan in Croke Park.
“I’m really looking forward to it. It’ll be a great occasion. Galway haven’t won since 1988 and Waterford haven’t done it since 1959. Whoever wins is going to make history – there’s just so much at stake.
“Galway are the form team of the championship. They are quite traditional in that they play three inside forwards. Waterford didn’t start the year well but they’ve come good with their sweeper system. Contrasting styles. It’s going to be very tactical. I don’t think Joe Canning or Austin Gleeson are going to have much room.
“It’ll be so close. I hope not but I think it could come down to a mistake or maybe a call by the referee, it’ll be that tight. If Waterford don’t win, I hope you do!” added Gary.