By Darragh Twomey
Over the past few days, the Friends of Dublin Hurling have been playing their part in ensuring the heroic hurlers of 2013 get the audience they need and deserve for their All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship semi-final clash with fellow Cat conquerors Cork at Croke Park on August 11th.
However, they are not too interested in having a big audience tuning into the game on television or radio- they are more interested in getting supporters to come out and see The Dubs take on The Rebels in the flesh at Headquarters just under two weeks from now.
The Friends have launched a campaign entitled ‘Fill the Hill’. The secret is in the name. They want Dubs supporters, be they Northsiders or Southsiders, football fans or handball fans, clubs or pubs, to show their support for Dublin on the 11th.
Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few days, you will be well aware of the campaign at this stage. Turn on your radio and you will hear Tom O’Donnell promoting it on FM104; open The Herald and read Niall Scully and Michael O’Grady explaining the ins and outs of how you can play your part; or log into Twitter or Facebook and you are sure to be greeted by tweets and posts encouraging people to get on board.
If you are sitting in your chair, scratching your head and wondering where you have been for the last few days, here is how you can play your part:
You can get your specially designed FODH supporters banner (6ft x 2ft). The banner is designed specific to each club/business and comes at a cost of €65. Display your banner in a prominent place, encourage people to “Fill the Hill”, and you will be in with a chance of winning 20 Hill 16 tickets for the big game. For more information on how to get your banner, visit http://fodh.ie/2013/07/fodh-%E2%80%9Cfill-the-hill-campaign%E2%80%9D-hill-16-dublins-16th-man/ <http://fodh.ie/2013/07/fodh->
43,563 was the attendance the last time Dublin reached this stage of the SHC when Tipperary proved a bridge too far for the up and coming Dubs in 2011. Two weeks later, the footballers were up against Donegal in the same stage of their Championship; however, a slightly larger crowd of 81,436 showed up at Croke Park that day.
The white steps on Hill 16 were visible on the television for that game against Tipperary (a very large chunk of the fans on the Hill that day were Tipperary fans), but the football match two weeks later was a different scene altogether. Hill tickets for the game were like hens teeth.
One must wonder how the attendances can vary so much between hurling and football games in the capital city. We are all supporting the same cause, Dublin GAA.
About 3,000 Dubs streamed onto the pitch in O’Moore Park after Dublin beat Kilkenny earlier this year. From my seat at the back of the stand, I could see a smiling Liam Rushe slowly elevating from the ground, sitting on the shoulders of a presumably strong Dublin supporter. Then came a scene I will never forget. “Come on you Boys in Blue, come on you Boys in Blue….” belting out from those fans on the pitch. Moments like those are moments you will only ever experience as a Dublin hurling supporter.
Another moment I will never forget is standing on the Hill after the loss to Tipperary in 2011, as the players showed their appreciation towards the supporters, Come on you Boys in Blue began to ring out around the terrace. The pride in the supporters’ voices as the famous chant began to echo around the stadium proved unbearable for some; grown men were crying and young lads were dreaming.
You can go to 100 matches, and you will never come across a core of supporters as unique as Dublin hurling supporters. Be part of it. Buy your banners, bring a friend, bring a neighbour, and help Friends of Dublin Hurling ‘Fill the Hill’ on August 11th. More importantly, cheer the lads on to victory over the rebels.
Nothing beats being there.
By Darragh Twomey