John Cooney, John Halley, Jim Joe Dudley and Conor English painting the village of New Inn blue and gold ahead of Sunday’s final
Everyone in the village is talking about the All-Ireland final clash with Kilkenny, with marital rivalry, sibling rivalry, anecdotes, memories and predictions at the heart of the banter.
Rockwell Rovers GAA Club chairman Jim Joe Dudley says that when he was attending the under 20 semi-final in Nowlan Park, he overheard two Kilkenny stewards commenting that it was a bad month for Leinster hurling. “It’s going to get a lot worse,” he smiles.
Rockwell club secretary John Halley recalls his first All-Ireland final back in 1971, standing on a butter-box on the Canal End, now the Davin Stand. “It was Tipperary v Kilkenny and Dinny Ryan from Sean Treacys scored the winning goal and sprained his ankle in the process,” he remembers.
In association with Tipperary Pure Irish Water
Club treasurer Paul Lonergan reckons there can only be two outcomes on Sunday. “Tipperary will lose by a point or win by 10 points,” he predicts.
Intermediate football team selector and local publican Gerry Ryan also boldly forecasts “it will be raining all day” at Croke Park on Sunday.
Rockwell Rovers players Aidy Barron, Michael Healy, Robbie O’Donnell and Jack Moloney, who are all travelling to the match, are expecting a Tipperary victory by seven points.
Local man Patsy Lonergan hopes that “we beat the kittens out of The Cats”, continuing: “They won’t have any of their nine lives left when we are finished with them,” he laughs.
Former Tipperary footballer Jimmy O’Donnell says the Premier will win “by a whisker”.
Anthony and Aine O’Connor, the latter a first cousin of Brian Cody and the Fennelly hurling dynasty, also share their thoughts on the game. Aine is a staunch black and amber supporter, while Anthony has blue and gold running through his veins. Their children Sinead, Paul and Stephen are avid Tipperary supporters, so Aine is in a minority of one. Aine says that the band Rebel Hearts’ new Tipperary song The Premier Ambush is the best Tipperary hurling song ever, but unfortunately “songs do not win All-Irelands”.
Aine and Anthony O’Connor with their grandchild Cora
Anthony recounts a story from a Kilkenny in-law’s wedding a few years ago when he was reminiscing about his youth with Aine’s uncle Maurice. My brothers, sisters and I used to save all year to go to the All-Ireland,” he says.
Barry and Siobhan Fitzpatrick’s house is also divided ahead of the match. Siobhan is Tipperary born and bred, while Barry originally hails from Kilkenny and is a relation of the legendary DJ Carey. They have three children, the eldest, Brian who played under 20 football with Tipperary this year. Their other two children are Ciara and Cameron - Ciara supports Tipperary and is involved in underage squads, but 10-year-old Cameron has had his head turned by Kilkenny propaganda from his father and his grandfather Martin.
Siobhan says Tipperary will triumph, Cameron says Kilkenny by two points, Ciara is predicting a three-point win for the Premier while Barry wisely keeps his own counsel.
Local ladies football club secretary Martina Durkan predicts the final score will be 3-27 to 2-25 in favour of Tipperary with Seamus Callanan to score the first goal of the match after three minutes.
Camogie club secretary Annette Carroll has a theory that whoever scores the first point will ultimately be the loser. Colm Heaney feels that Tipperary will win by two points, a sentiment shared by Sinead Fitzgerald. Kieran Durkan, meanwhile, has a gut feeling that it will be a draw and will go to a replay.
Juvenile club secretary Elaine Cummins is looking forward to a “genuine, old-style hurling match with 15 against 15”, adding:
“May the best man win.” Adding to the overall feeling of optimism that Tipperary will bring home the Liam MacCarthy on Sunday, her son Shane feels that a Seamus Callanan goal will be the difference between the sides.