In Donald McRae's brilliant book, In Sunshine or In Shadow, he outlines how boxing survived and thrived in the North during The Troubles.
Somehow, the sectarian rules that dominated every other aspect of life didn't apply to those from the squared circle. Boxing and boxers operated outside of those confines. Fighters from one side of the divide could travel and fight in the other's territory, with the blessing and under the protection of the paramilitaries from the other side.
That level of cooperation even extended to The Maze, with Loyalist and Republican prisoners sharing equipment as they trained under the gaze of the renowned trainer Gerry Storey. The gear was thrown across the fence for one side to use, then thrown back over.
For people of a certain vintage, it's a story that strikes a chord. Ciaran Barr, the captain of the Antrim side that reached the All-Ireland hurling final in 1989, grew up during The Troubles.
Just four at the outbreak of hostilities, the abnormal became the normal for him and his generation. The extraordinary was the ordinary.
Every part of life was affected. Even the mixed swimming club he represented, New Northern, fell by the wayside as the sectarian divide took a firmer grip.
When the Troubles started the club had to disband because we couldn't cross the peace line.
The club's collapse opened a perhaps unexpected door to water polo at which Barr would excel. Before he'd take on Nicky English and Co in Croke Park in September '89, he'd represented Ireland in Home Internationals and played in the World Student Games in Zagreb with the British Universities team.
"When the Troubles started the club had to disband because we couldn't cross the peace line, we couldn't drive across to the swimming pools we were training in because they were in Protestant areas. And the Protestants in the club couldn't travel to the Falls Road so that club had to disband," he says.
"So as something else to do in the water, my father said, 'Let's take you to water polo'. So there are two water polo clubs in the Falls Road, one is called Clonard and one is called Cathal Brugha. I was with Cathal Brugha. The joke I tell people is I was playing water polo for Cathal Brugha and hurling and football for O'Donovan Rossa."
Barr's ecumenical approach to sport came from his father. On the wrong side of the divide, Mark Barr had spent much of his adult life unemployed but when it came to raising his own family, he had a plan. Keep them busy, through school and sport.
"He thought education was fantastic, he left school at 11 but had a huge respect for education and he had a huge respect for sport. His strategy for his kids, there was five of us, four boys and a girl, I'm number three in the five, his strategy was I'm going to keep these kids in school, I'm going to keep them playing sport, and that will get them so occupied that they will never get into trouble.
"So I started swimming really young. I might have been thrown in in a nappy," he smiles.
Barr attended Queen's and studied maths and physics. Work was hard to come by in Belfast so he eventually picked up an accountancy job in Dublin. Ironically, that job came with a Protestant firm, Gorman and Associates.
"I decided to become an accountant but couldn't get a job in Belfast as a trainee," Barr recalls.
"I went down to Dublin, did all the interviews and didn't get anything except for one offer, from a bunch called Gorman and Associates, a guy called Billy Gorman.
"Billy and his partner Ian Burns were rugby people. Billy was Old Wesley and Ian was Wanderers. Ian Burns had one Irish cap and he played for Leinster for years, played cricket for Ireland. So these two Protestant Irish guys from Dublin hired a Catholic from West Belfast in 1989."
When they saw my very sparse CV they saw this guy has something about him the has a bit of drive so they hired me
That a firm owned by Protestants would take him on was an alien concept to Barr. So too were their accents, which he mistook for English.
"I went home to my mother, who is from Inchicore but had lived in Belfast since 1960. I went home to my mother and said, 'You won't believe it, I have been offered a job in Dublin' And she was saying, 'That's great. That's what you wanted. Who is it with?'
"And I said, 'These two English guys'. I had never heard the accent before. It was your classic Protestant accountant in Dublin accent. And I had never heard that before coming from Belfast. I had a great time. They treated me very well, let me go to training in Belfast, I used to leave at 4.0 in the afternoon.
"They had clients in Donegal and Galway and Clara in Offaly, they had loads of clients that were GAA people so they were using their heads, they knew that I played for Antrim and when they saw my very sparse CV they saw this guy has something about him the has a bit of drive so they hired me."
He persevered with Antrim throughout his apprenticeship in Dublin. Nothing would come before playing with that storied team. Even his wedding was squeezed in the day before the 1989 decider.
However, travelling to train with Antrim was still a struggle. Dublin to Belfast could take three hours or more, depending on checkpoints. Eventually, Barr switched to play hurling and football with St Vincent's in Marino and eventually he hurled with Dublin too.
However, his professional career took off, taking him to places like South Korea, London and France where he worked for some of the biggest companies on the globe with companies that were turning over hundreds of millions of dollars per annum.
He's back home now. And in March, he took a role with the GPA as their Head of Finance and Operations, something that, judging by his CV, looks like a coup for the players' body.
Based in Raheny now, Barr's heart is still in Andersonstown and Antrim. With a brighter outlook on the horizon for the North since the Good Friday Agreement, the potential for Antrim GAA is, he says, great.
And the 'Gaelfast' programme, a five-year plan aimed at boosting participation in schools across Belfast, funded by the Croke Park, could be a significant step in the right direction.
"Antrim won its only All-Ireland championship of note in 1969, the U-21 football championship, can you imagine that? And that's the last time Antrim won in Croke Park in one of the GAA marquee events.
"We got to the final in 1989, and in the context of what we talked about (The Troubles) that All-Ireland Antrim team it was an extraordinary achievement.
Antrim was cut off. It was isolated - culturally, physically, financially.
Tangibly on the ground the GAA is supporting a thing called Gaelfast… it's a great programme being funded directly by Croke Park.
"And if Gaelfast works, from the grassroots up, primary schools, secondary schools and clubs, you are going to see in ten or 15 years a team hopefully in football in Division 1 or 2 and in hurling in the Liam MacCarthy Cup, because the population is there.
"(Antrim) is the only county in Ireland without a border with the Republic. People forget that. Antrim was cut off. It was isolated - culturally, physically, financially.
"It's predominantly a Protestant county, it's the shipyard and all those big industries that were predominantly Protestant employers.
"So it has a huge deficit to recover from. And what I'd love to see in the future is an Antrim team competing because it has a decent-sized population in the city.
"I'd love to see those resources being harnessed and invested in and it being brought back to a level we should expect from a county of that size and a city of that size."