Déise and Tribesmen fans can keep dreaming of glory
Published 25/07/2016 | 02:30
In the Theatre of Dreams of Irish hurling, the fans of two dormant powers moved a step closer to All-Ireland redemption.
While legions of Wexford and Clare fans left Semple Stadium in Thurles heartbroken, ecstatic Waterford and Galway supporters now dream of upsetting the big guns of Kilkenny and Tipperary.
Both marched into the All-Ireland semi-finals after a double-header in Thurles that left GAA bosses smiling and cash registers ringing.
For Déise and Tribesmen supporters the wait for an All-Ireland hurling title has become obsessive - at 57 and 28 years respectively.
Thurles traders enjoyed a bumper day as 40,000 hurling fans thronged the Tipperary town from mid-morning.
And for some in attendance, family loyalties ran very deep. Aoife Power and her boyfriend, Eoghan Gill, both hail from Wicklow, but were in Thurles cheering on Wexford and Galway.
"My father, Ed, is from Wexford and Eoghan's dad, John, is from Galway. So we're here supporting the two counties for our fathers," Aoife joked.
For Waterford youngsters, David Condon (13), Sean Condon (12) and Alan McGrath (10), the Déise were always due a date with destiny as they chase their first All-Ireland title since 1959.
"I said before the match that Waterford would win by eight points - but it was 10 in the end," David said.
The youngsters, from Tooraneena outside Ballymacarbery, are now confident that the Déise can book a September date in Croke Park.
Wexford fans are no strangers to heartbreak, and they experienced it once again yesterday.
"Waterford was always going to be tough," said Ger Murphy, who travelled from Clongeen in Wexford to Thurles with youngsters Cathal (12) and Luke (11) Murphy, and Walter McGrath.
For Galway fans, there is the small matter of 28 years of hurt to be avenged now.
"Galway can win it," predicted young fans Jack (10), Aaron (9) and Callum Pierce-Forde (6), with pals Dylan Hughes (10) and Michael Hughes (5), who all hurl with Tynagh-Abbey-Duniry in Galway.
For Clare fans there was at least the comfort of All-Ireland glory just three years ago.
"You never really know when you play Galway - they can beat anyone on their day," Brian King from Ennis said as he attended the match with his wife, Joanne, and children Katie (9) and Jack (4).
Anthony and Mary Scanlon from Clarecastle, who attended Semple Stadium with their friend, Marian Roughan, and youngsters Caoimhe and Aoibheann, warned the quarter-final winners now have the 'big beasts' of Kilkenny and Tipperary to overcome.