THE Powers of Carrickshock are no strangers to All-Ireland finals but Sunday’s events in Croke Park will be extra special even by their dizzyingly high standards.
Come lunchtime, John Power will run out with the rest of the Kilkenny minors before older brother Richie will do likewise with Brian Cody’s five-in-a-row chasers just after 3pm.
Lucky for their father, Richie Power Sr, then that he is not the nervous type and that he has his own All-Ireland final appearances and victories in the 1980s to fall back on should the excitement threaten to become too much.
“I’d be fairly quiet watching the games,” says Richie Sr. “I don’t get worked up by it. I find its best to try and relax as best you can. Hopefully, it will all go well for them.”
The Powers are just one branch to a tree that link Carrickshock with events in Dublin 3 as John Dalton, John Tennyson and Michael Rice will all join Richie Jr on the senior team bus.
“It is a great achievement,” says club secretary Bill Cassin. “We’re a small rural club with a small catchment area. A lot of our success is down to a man called Tom Duggan who has been principal in Mullinavat for the last 22 years.”
The club was founded with the amalgamation of Hugginstown and Knockmoylan in 1928, three years before the centenary of the ‘Battle of Carrickshock’ in which 17 people were killed in a dispute during the Tithe Wars.
Success came quickly with a junior championship a year later and the club hit the heights with a four-in-a-row of senior titles that has never been bettered – although Ballyhale equalled it in 2009 — between 1940 and 1943.
After the highs came the lows. The club fell into decline with the inception of the parish rule in 1953 and they were still playing junior in 1999 after which their fortunes took a turn for the better.
Many of the current crop were on hand when they returned to the senior ranks in the middle of the last decade and they reached a county championship semi-final two years ago.
Through good times and bad they have provided men for the county cause. One of the first and most famous was Jimmy Kelly who scored the winning point against Cork in the famous ‘Thunder and Lightning Final’ of 1939.
Others to follow in those illustrious footsteps were James Murphy and Jimmy Heffernan in the ‘50s, Richie Power Sr in the ‘80s and Pat Dwyer who won two All-Ireland medals in the 1990s.
Still, the presence of four of their own on Cody’s squad this weekend is an unheard of bounty, even for a club that has been blessed with such a rich harvest of talent.
“There has been a huge demand (for tickets) this year,” says Cassin.
“I have never seen anything like it. People who needed one or two in previous years are looking for tickets for the whole family this time. In fairness, people have always been willing to make sacrifices to follow the team down the years, especially with our four senior county lads being so linked in to the community.
“Michael Rice coaches underage and that builds the profile. We lost a Junior A final to Fenians there last Sunday. John Tennyson was there and I don’t know how many times he was asked about the knee.”
Like clubs all across Kilkenny and Tipperary, the question of tickets can be a vexed one and Cassin – who is principal of a primary school in Listerlin – feels the parish’s younger citizens suffer most from the lack of golden stubs.
“There will be plenty of jealousy about the kids who do have tickets because there won’t be that many going. Croke Park have issued less than 300 juvenile tickets for the final and maybe that needs to be a consideration in the future. A lot of the children are very keen students of the game and their heroes are accessible to them all year round but not for the final. It would be great if they could have more tickets for them.”
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