Fifth column in the Marble City believe it could be Tipperary's year
Published 02/09/2016 | 02:30
The Cat, so to speak, is out of the bag.
There's a mini-bus of hurling supporters setting off from Kilkenny on Sunday for this year's version of the county's quest for the Liam MacCarthy cup. Their secret? They are from Tipperary.
"We have a Slievenamon Association here," businessman John Ryan of the Pembroke Hotel in the heart of Kilkenny city reveals. "There are about 20 of us, here in Kilkenny, and they'll all be in on Friday night for a few pre-match drinks and counselling and tickets."
Never fear, however, Kilkenny fans: there are no passwords or secret handshakes required and the normal "friendly" mingling of mixed allegiances is customary.
Like the Palace Bar in Dublin and the many other hostelries owned in the big smoke by Tipperary publicans, the Pembroke is a bit of a haven for Tipp fans marooned in Cat-land.
"I know a lot of the Kilkenny players and they're great fellas," a magnanimous Mr Ryan adds. "But in terms of Tipp, this year it could be Tipp's year."
Mr Ryan is originally from Annacarty in west Tipperary but has been in Kilkenny for 25 years, an adopted Cat except when it comes to times such as this.
Other county fans are looked on with a degree of sympathy.
For example, Pauline Clowery on Pearse Street said: "We're feeling confident but it's going to be a good game all round, no matter who wins. It's going to be a good clash of the ash."