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Obama planning inspirational speech to Offaly hurlers

Story by Tom Kelly

Friday, 1st April, 2011 12:00pm

Obama planning inspirational speech to Offaly hurlers

In what is a major coup for Offaly GAA, it's been confirmed that US President Barack Obama is planning to give a motivational speech to the county's senior hurling team during his visit in May.

The President, a sports fanatic who regularly plays basketball with friends at the White House, is understood to have developed a fascination with hurling ever since the sport was explained to him by US Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney.

When it was suggested that he attend an Offaly hurling training session to get a better feel for the game, he jumped at the chance.

A White House aide confirmed that, after he visits Moneygall, Mr Obama will travel to the training session in Tullamore.

He will observe some of the training drills before giving a

motivational talk to the players.

"The President is keen to immerse himself in the local culture during his time in Ireland. This is one of the ways he can do that," said a US source.

Mr Obama will wear the county colours during the session, and a hurley signed by the Offaly team will be brought back to Washington as a souvenir.

Receiving a 'pep talk' from such a renowned orator is expected to give a significant boost to the squad's preparations for their Leinster and All-Ireland championship campaigns.

"There's no doubt about it - this will give the Offaly players an edge in the championship this summer," said one insider. "If the chips are down and the scores are level in the final stages of a game, Obama's words ringing in their ears could make all the difference."

Unsurprisingly, the news has not gone down well in the rival Tipperary and Kilkenny hurling camps.

"The French fella, Sarkozy, said he'd come over to Thurles and take one of our training sessions, but that's just not the same," said a Tipperary GAA official.

Obama's motivational speech could hardly come a better time as Offaly are due to face Dublin in the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship on May 29.

The Offaly Independent felt that today - Friday, April 1 - was the most suitable occasion on which to break this important story.