Iraqi-born Leitrim hurler Zak Moradi opens up about how hurling made making friends in Ireland easier

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Zak Moradi. Picture: Sportsfile

Leitrim hurler Zak Moradi has opened up about how the sport helped him settle in Ireland.

The 28-year-old arrived in Ireland at age 11, with his family fleeing war in Iraq.

Last month he helped his county to victory in the Lory Meagher Cup, chipping in with a point off the bench.

Speaking on Virgin Media Television’s The Six O’Clock Show, Moradi said it was easier and quicker to make friends through hurling joking that he was given a hurley before he even had a word of English.

“Clement Cunniffe, [who] I actually play hurling with now… I remember it was 10 o’clock in the morning and I was only a week in the school.

“And they were all just going around with hurls and sliotars and helmets. And I was like ‘what is this?’

“And Clement came in and said ‘stick that helmet on. I’ll stick on for ya. This is how ya hold a hurl’ – I didn’t speak a word of English!”

Moradi also spoke his late father became a hurling enthusiast through his son, saying he would go to all of the games and training sessions.

He spoke about one of his first senior games as an 18-year-old.

“The corner back had me by the neck and wouldn’t let me go,” explained Moradi. “And next thing my dad was shouting ‘let him go or I’ll come on. I’ll take you on!’

“Your man wouldn’t let me go. Everyone was shouting at the referee.

“The referee, look, his job is to just follow the ball wherever the ball was.

“So then my old fella ran onto the pitch, grabs your man, took him off me and next thing all of a sudden there’s about 30 people in a big melee.”

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