Sunday 11 December 2016

Stitch in time: O'Neill's readies the jerseys for All-Ireland final clash

Laura Larkin

Published 16/09/2015 | 02:30

Gabriella Visockiene with the Dublin and Kerry jerseys at the O’Neills factory at Walkinstown yesterday
Gabriella Visockiene with the Dublin and Kerry jerseys at the O’Neills factory at Walkinstown yesterday
Tom Brett and his sister Sarah Brett, from Tralee, with their Dublin and Kerry jerseys in Blennerville National School in Tralee

It's not just a big week for the Dublin and Kerry teams.

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The jersey makers are working overtime too.

In their Walkinstown facility, the smaller of the two factories where O'Neills makes its sportswear, 30 machinists ensure that the Dublin and Kerry teams are kitted out not only for the match, but for the build-up.

Cormac Farrell, marketing manager for O'Neills International Sportswear, allowed the Irish Independent a sneak peek behind the scenes, as kits for potential All-Ireland champions were stitched up and packed away, ready for delivery. "We provide them with everything, from bags, socks and leisure wear," Mr Farrell said.

The demand for replica jerseys also spikes around this time of year, with fans keen to cheer on their county at the end of the season.

"This is, for us, the culmination of a long GAA season and the demand focuses a lot on just the counties in the final," he added.

Production manager Lucy Somers added: "They can't get enough of them, thousands go out."

Amid the hum of the sewing machines, there is also a love of the game among many staff members. Mary Finnegan will retire this year after more than two decades with the company.

She and her husband will be cheering on the Dublin team this Sunday, hoping that they will lift Sam dressed in kits that Mary helped to make.

However, for some people it is not as simple as that, as in many families there are divided loyalties.

Luckily, there is a jersey for that type of situation.

"The half-and-half jersey is getting very popular now," Mr Farrell explained.

"There are a lot of families who might have parents from different parts of the country - like the Brogans for instance," he added.

The Kerry and Tipperary minor jerseys were also top of the priority list for the O'Neills staff this week.

In Tralee, school children got ready for the big game yesterday by turning up to class wearing their colours.

Irish Independent

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