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Sunday 26 March 2017

Tension at the dinner table as family torn by big hurling clash

Bernadette and Michael Troy
Bernadette and Michael Troy
Grennan College principal Willie Norton in Tipperary colours, along with student Dylan Waugh, who is on the Kilkenny minor hurling panel

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

WHEN Kilkenny went through a 'bad patch' in the 1980s, one Urlingford woman wandered across the county border, looking for a hurler.

Bernadette Kavanagh found a husband in self-confessed "stone-wall mad hurler" Michael Troy at the Anner Hotel in Thurles.

Yesterday, Michael confessed that he'll be sleeping in the spare room if Tipperary do the business in tomorrow's All-Ireland final against Kilkenny.

But he's not too bothered as he'll busy celebrating in a Thurles pub if Tipp stop the Cats from making history and winning the five-in-a-row.

The Troys have three sons -- Brian (16), Micheal (13) and Gearoid (11) -- but even they are divided when it comes to GAA.

"Brian, my oldest, is a mad Tipp supporter, he goes to school in the CBS in Thurles -- but the other two are mad Cats, like their mother," said Michael.

Brian and his dad will be in a separate stand from his mother and brothers. Talk at the dinner table is "tense" in the run-up to the clash.

"I have a slight suspicion that Tipp will do it," said Michael.

"Kilkenny are very, very confident. I don't know why -- they didn't have a hard match this year -- whereas Tipp had."

Another man under pressure is Willie Norton, the principal of Grennan College in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny. From Ballingarry, Co Tipperary, he also married a Kilkenny woman and hurling fan, Elaine, who hails from JJ Delaney's village of Johnstown.

Colours

The couple will bring their seven-year-old twins, Cathal and Cillian, to Croke Park tomorrow -- and the boys will be shouting for the Cats.

Willie was surrounded by a sea of black and amber jerseys yesterday after he held a 'colours day' in the college.

Only a handful of blue and gold shirts were to be seen.

"The vast majority of our pupils were born and bred here in Kilkenny," said Willie. "A lot of them were born with a caman (hurley) as an extension to their right arms."

Kilkenny have been in seven All-Ireland finals in the principal's eight years at Grennan.

"It's nearly routine now to have a jersey day but we call it 'colours day' instead of 'black and amber'. It gives the rest of us a chance to dust off our county colours," he said.

Nearby, Kate Carroll (13) from St Brigid's, has written a pop song about Kilkenny's bid called 'We're going for five-in-a-row'.

The song, which was actually recorded in Tipperary, has been hitting the airwaves on local station KCLR96fm.

"It's the talk of the school," said Kate. The lyrics mention Kate's favourite hurlers, including James 'Cha' Fitzpatrick, JJ Delaney and Noel Hickey.

Kate is now looking forward to travelling to Croke Park with her mother Vera tomorrow.

And if the Cats win, Kate said she'd have "absolutely no problem" getting up to sing her new release.

Irish Independent

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