| 15.6°C Dublin

Cats playing it cool -- but that will all change tomorrow

EVEN visitors from overseas learn it is All-Ireland countdown time once the black-and-amber shrine appears in one fan's laneway.

The home of Thomastown man Seamus Quigley has become quite the tourist attraction because of his hurling mannequins.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Seamus thinks Kilkenny will do the business against Galway.

"I think this Kilkenny team have reached new levels again, although Galway tamed them a bit in the Leinster final and the All-Ireland final," he said yesterday.

"I think they'll rise to the occasion and do the business. I think they'll get this one and get the ninth medal for Henry (Shefflin)."

Seamus started off his display of devotion with a couple of dressed-up mannequins but it's since grown to nine -- drawing no shortage of attention from passers-by, who often stop for photographs.

"People just come along and sit down with them," he said.

Seamus revealed that Kilkenny fans are very quiet in the run-up to the replay -- however, it could all change on Sunday night.

If Kilkenny win their ninth All-Ireland senior hurling final in just 13 years there will be an altogether different mood.

This year's homecoming represents a departure for the city as it will culminate in a civic reception at the Nowlan Park GAA grounds instead of the town centre.

"The decision was taken on safety grounds and for crowd control reasons," explained senior engineer Kieran Fitzgerald of Kilkenny Borough Council yesterday. "There's no dissension from anybody."

The replay, three weeks after the final, presents its own challenges to the council and the GAA county board when it comes to rearranging the players' arrival home.

"It's going to be that bit darker earlier on so we're trying to have it a bit earlier."

This year the panel will travel by bus and the parade through the city will start on the Castle Road. "We're hoping they'll be home by 5.30 and in the stadium at 6.30, so we'd be finished up by 7.30."

Live music and other entertainment will be on hand at Nowlan Park from 4pm on Monday.

A Kerryman exiled in hurling country, Kieran nonetheless is enthusiastic about the success of the new homecoming arrangements. "If it's triumphant, we'll probably have about 15,000 people in Nowlan Park."

Even a defeat would still draw a large crowd of supporters who know this particular team owes nothing to anybody.

Irish Independent