Excitement reaches fever pitch for hurling fans ahead of All-Ireland final

Galway supporters Norrie Dempsy and Paul Loyde, from Ballinasloe, saddle up ahead of the big game in Croke Park tomorrow. All-Ireland fever has gripped the county for the last two weeks, with the usual last-minute scurry for tickets under way

All-Ireland fever has gripped Co Galway for the last two weeks since Anthony Cunningham’s troops wrapped up their place in today’s hurling decider.

And that excitement is about to come to a crescendo as members of the Tribe trawl the county for the last few tickets to gain entry to the Croke Park decider.It’s 27 years since Galway last lifted the Liam MacCarthy Cup and no one wants to miss out. Last time they were there in 2012 Kilkenny needed a replay to shake off Galway, but this time round the maroon faithful are looking to go one better.

But before any match is played there will be thousands of disappointed Tribesmen as the fruitless search for tickets continues. And it’s not just Galway that’s gone mad looking for tickets out West, as Mayo supporters try their best to get their hands on the golden pass for today’s All-Ireland semi-final replay with Dublin at Croke Park.

Excitement reaches fever pitch for hurling fans ahead of All-Ireland final

Ray Brophy, from Matt the Millers in Kilkenny, gets behind the Cats. Kilkenny last met Galway in an All-Ireland final in 2012 and needed a replay to shake them off.

Looking across the border, the green and red colours are flying high, but there are precious few Mayo flags to be seen in Galway. Wearing a Mayo jersey in Galway is a brave move at the best of times, but Mayo-born Loughrea resident Michelle Collins, is not shy in nailing her colour to the mast. But her five-year-old son Padraic Hedderman is having none of it — maroon all the way for him. “I’m from Tourmakeady originally, but a man brought me down to Loughrea a few years ago. I’ll be working on Sunday so I won’t get to the hurling, but I’ll be shouting on Mayo on Saturday. Maybe we’ll have two wins to celebrate on Sunday evening,” said Michelle.

And Loughrea-based sports shop, Declan Power Sports, hope they have done their fair share to help the Tribesmen win. Galway senior star Jason Flynn was in the shop bright and early yesterday to buy his hurley grips and they are hoping that will be the bit of magic that’s needed.

Excitement reaches fever pitch for hurling fans ahead of All-Ireland final

Kathleen Keighrey, aged 87, ready for the trip to Dublin for the match

“Jason comes into us here before every big game to get his new grips. Hopefully they’ll be the ones that bring him the good luck,” said Power Sports employee Padraig Robinson. “I’m from Tynagh-Abbey/Duniry myself and our clubman, Shane Maloney hit the winning point the last day. Hopefully one of the boys will do the business for us on Sunday.”

Shop manager Fidelma Earls-Curley hails from Sarsfields country — home to another Galway hurler Joseph Cooney— and she says business has been brisk.

“ Unfortunately we haven’t been able to help people with their search for tickets though. I’m still looking for one myself, you don’t have one by any chance?”

Excitement reaches fever pitch for hurling fans ahead of All-Ireland final

The build-up has been huge in Kilkenny as well: on the road towards Bennetsbridge, in the townland of Legan, woodworker Paul Stapleton has created a shrine of his own. The homage features a wooden birthday cake, a replica of the Liam MacCarthy Cup and a big sign with the messages ‘It’s a cakewalk for the Cats, happy 36th birthday,’ and ‘Galway won’t have any tricks to stop the Cats get 36,’ as Kilkenny chases a 36th senior All-Ireland.


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