Last Sunday afternoon Cork GAA was preparing to say goodbye to Páirc Uí Chaoimh, which was staging its last Munster final in its current form being undergoing a major redevelopment.
As the players were preparing to go to battle for Munster Hurling silverware, Sportsfile photographer, and Limerick native, Diarmuid Greene, was behind enemy lines and took to the skies over Blackrock to capture the action from a very different angle on a historic day, here’s how Diarmuid got on.
‘The boss’ Ray McManus, called me on the Tuesday before and asked if I would be interested in shooting the Munster Hurling Final from a helicopter. I paused for a second to see if he was joking and then immediately said YES!
I’d never been in a chopper before and was thrilled by the idea, I’d photographed from a small aeroplane over Limerick a few years ago alright, (pics here), but never a helicopter. No comparison, as helicopter was ten times better.
So I arrived at the Páirc as usual that day, I was shooting the match with Ray, and Brendan Moran and was on duty inside and outside the ground before and during the minor match, photographing supporters as they gathered and getting shots of the build-up to the big game as the atmosphere began to mount.
At 2.30pm I headed off to Cork Airport, about twenty minutes away normally, but with traffic restrictions with the game it took a while longer. When I arrived at the airfield I met the with the pilot, Executive Helicopters Chief Pilot Chris Shiel, and he said we would be setting off around 3.50pm, ten minutes before throw-in, so I settled in and got to work on the pictures I’d taken earlier on.
We got off the ground at 3.50pm, arriving over the pitch five minutes later, a great commute!, and went straight into photographing the parade and the National Anthem before the game. We stayed up there for the first ten minutes of the first half, taking in the all the different angles and flying at different altitudes to give me the best chance of seeing the stadium and it’s surroundings from the best and most unusual angles.
It was amazing to see the players “in full flight” during the opening minutes of the game from 2000ft above the ground! They looked about the size of ants from my perspective. I knew the atmosphere and noise was electric on the ground but to me it was basically silent with just the sound of a light breeze. It was a strange but amazing feeling to have that unique perspective to the 36,075 spectators.
We were back on solid ground at Cork airport at 4.15pm, but due to security protocols it took a bit of time to exit the airport as I made my way back to the Páirc. But then thankfully the roads around the stadium were like a ghost town compared to when I left. I arrived back at the stadium towards the end of half-time and was pitchside for the arrival of the players out onto the pitch for the second half.
It’s a bit surreal and incredible to see both angles and see players during the game so far away, and then so close up, we really had all the angles covered on Sunday!
My favourite pic from the aerial set, even though it’s hard to pick a favourite would be this,
It really shows the action going on in a colosseum like setting, the two teams battling it out in front of the packed stadium, with all surrounding areas quiet.
It was a great unique experience to be up there, and hope to see the Páirc again soon when the makeover is complete.