Monday 19 February 2018

Cúl Heroes cards fill a void and will be eagerly sought

Book Review

Alan Aherne

One of the cards
One of the cards

Please allow us a small bit of poetic license so to speak in this week's column. Since this feature started we have conducted a book review - as it states above - on a weekly basis thanks to the co-operation of our friends in The Book Centre on Wexford's Main Street.

There was just one deviation so far when we featured an e-book written by a former contributor to this newspaper, but otherwise the publications have been freely available from our sponsors.

And we're only veering slightly off topic this week because it is still possible to purchase the subject of this review in The Book Centre. The only difference is that it's not a book as such, rather the new Cúl Heroes trading cards collection folder which was launched on May 12 and has been greeted with a very positive response.

To those of you unaware of this development, over 450 individual cards are available to collect featuring G.A.A. players from every participating county in the Sam Maguire and Liam MacCarthy Cups.

They cost €1.50 for a packet of six, and it is the first attempt by the G.A.A. and G.P.A. to venture down a road made very popular by the Match Attax soccer cards over the years.

Children of course are the target audience, and a collection folder may be purchased for €10 along with one starter card from every county, or alternatively a folder is available for €6.50 with less cards.

Part of the right of passage for any sports enthusiast in the seventies, eighties and nineties was the purchase of a Panini soccer sticker album at the start of each season.

There was the added bonus of either a World Cup or European Championship book at two-year intervals, and many readers will have fond memories of collecting and swapping down through the years.

In more recent times the trading cards have taken over somewhat from stickers, and now it's possible for children to advance their knowledge of inter-county G.A.A. players through the Cúl Heroes scheme.

The idea was the brainchild of an Offaly entrepreneur, Matt McCormack, who wasn't put off when he failed to convince anyone on the Dragons' Den T.V. programme to give him a kick-start.

Instead he printed 66 cards of his home county's hurlers and footballers on a pilot scheme, and Croke Park's interest was aroused when over 6,000 packets were sold to enthusiastic children.

A total of 467 inter-county players have now given permission to have their image printed on these very well-produced cards which are every bit as good as the Match Attax equivalent in terms of quality and appearance.

A minimum of nine players feature from each team, with the full crew of 27 for All-Ireland champions Kilkenny and Kerry plus 18 for their Clare and Dublin predecessors.

Each card shows a player executing a particular skill, and the back carries his club name along with a positive message such as: 'We can all be leaders, on and off the field'.

Two Offaly journalists, Kevin Egan and Michael Verney, were given the task of coming up with a 'Cúl rating' for each player, and that's where my only gripe lies. I feel they have undersold our players, with a large number marked below 50 and some of the game's stars only deemed to be in the high 60s. They deserved better in my view.

Children will love the cards though, so you know what to do as they are flying out of the shops like hot cakes!

Visit The Book Centre on Wexford's Main Street for the very best selection of sports books.

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