There's never been anyone quite like Ger Loughnane. As the man who led Clare out of the wilderness in the 1990s, he was a loud and unapologetic advocate of upsetting the traditional order of hurling. It made him one of the most famous men in Irish sport, something he hasn't shied away from in his position as one of the chief hurling analysts on The Sunday Game over the last number of years. Above all the bluster though, what strikes you when you talk to Ger Loughnane is a deep and unconditional love and excitement for the game of hurling.
As part of the our #WeAreHurling series in partnership with Centra, we went down to visit Ger in his native Feakle to talk about his life in the game.
From his early days in the unorganised school fields of Feakle to the watching the young hurlers of today for RTÉ, Loughnane's excitement and enthusiasm never diminishes, through an incredibly long and storied career.
Never one to shy away from controversy or speaking his mind, between stories of Ger's successes and failure with Clare, the friends and rivals he encountered through the years, and his triumphant playing return to his native Feakle to win a county title in 1988, Loughnane has lived an astonishing hurling life, but his interest these days isn't on those glory days, but on the days to come in the game he loves.
Rarely has someone spoken so eloquently about a game that isn't often short of poetic hyperbole in its descriptions.
When it's played well, it's very hard to surpass the thrill you get from watching hurling when it's played at its glorious best.
Now I'm not saying it's better than any other game, definitely not, but it's the game we love. And to see the game we love giving such satisfaction to so many people is brilliant.
We forget the bad days we had, and we forget the bad hurling. We always think of the brilliant games down through the years, and look forward, that's the most important thing.
Now who would have thought when I started as a pundit that that Kilkenny team of Henry Shefflin and JJ Delaney and Tommy Walsh and Brian Cody would come along. Look at the satisfaction that we all got from watching those. Now we look forward to next big innovation in hurling. It probably will come from Cork. Where will it come from? You're always speculating, you're always looking forward.
That's why I've no photographs on my wall at home, because I don't often look back, except on occasions like this. It's always looking forward, and looking forward to more hurling. It's like what Ring said when people said he was a great hurler. He said, "Yeah, there was great hurlers in my time. But there's better still to come." There's better hurlers and better hurling still to come, and that's how I look at it.