Wednesday 23 August 2017

Cats fans purring as hurlers make every day feel like it's Christmas

Kilkenny's Elvis, Myles Kavanagh, and his grandson Preslie Kavanagh (8 months) get set for this weekend's All Ireland senior hurling final against Galway
Kilkenny's Elvis, Myles Kavanagh, and his grandson Preslie Kavanagh (8 months) get set for this weekend's All Ireland senior hurling final against Galway
Paul Stapleton from Legan

Conor Kane

Some folk keep their Christmas decorations up all year round, but in Kilkenny it is the black and amber colours that remain on the streets.

This year is no different to most, with the cats on countdown to their 15th All-Ireland final in 17 seasons - not counting two replays.

Not since the BC era (Before Cody) have Kilkenny missed out on the treasured September Sunday two years in a row, and it's not happening in 2015.

They may well be used to success, thanks to an unprecedented period at the top, but the fans' appetite for the big day shows no sign of being sated.

In Thomastown, for example, Séamus Quigley has been gathering mannequins and dressing them in the Kilkenny colours for several years, positioning them around the streets to ensure plenty of colour.

"It started from the time when John Power [from Callan] was hurling with Kilkenny," he recalled this week. "I know John well and in the local pub I would have had a figure of John. From there it grew and grew… It creates a great buzz and people stand in and take selfies, it goes all over the world.

In the townland of Legan, woodworker Paul Stapleton has created a shrine of his own. A wooden birthday cake, a replica of the Liam McCarthy Cup, and a big sign. It boasts 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".

On St Thomas's Square, veteran Elvis impersonator Myles Kavanagh has a new addition to his Kilkenny-loving family this year - grandson Preslie Kavanagh, son of Myles Jnr and Amanda.

His front garden is covered in posters, slogans and flags, including a cut-out of popstar Justin Bieber wearing a Kilkenny jersey.

"It's all a bit of fun," said Myles, "although it will get serious come Sunday.

Anne Duggan from The Butts also has a new member of her clan to cheer for The Cats on Sunday, little grandson Charlie Duggan-Kerwick.

"The screaming and shouting will be unbelievable up here on Sunday," said Anne. "Win lose or draw, we'll party."

Irish Independent

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