| 8.3°C Dublin

Divided they stand (again) for All-Ireland replay

Close

Michael Collins hurling coin

Michael Collins hurling coin

26/09/2014: Miss Kilkenny Sarah Jane Dunne and Miss Tipperary Linda Creedon

26/09/2014: Miss Kilkenny Sarah Jane Dunne and Miss Tipperary Linda Creedon

Layla Phelan aged 6 months from Grangemockler in Co Tipperary

Layla Phelan aged 6 months from Grangemockler in Co Tipperary

Dylan Vaughan

Students from Poulacapple National School in Kilkenny with teachers AnnMarie Lacey (right Kilkenny jersey) and Margaret Molly (left Tipperary jersey)

Students from Poulacapple National School in Kilkenny with teachers AnnMarie Lacey (right Kilkenny jersey) and Margaret Molly (left Tipperary jersey)

Dylan Vaughan

Miss Kilkenny Sarah Jane Dunne and Miss Tipperary Linda Creedon

Miss Kilkenny Sarah Jane Dunne and Miss Tipperary Linda Creedon

/

Michael Collins hurling coin

Little Layla Phelan is keeping her options open and judging by her attire, come about 6.30pm today, she'll be celebrating no matter what the outcome.

Then again, at six months old, the celebrations are unlikely to be too raucous. Layla, from Grangemockler in Co Tipperary, has split loyalties.

Her father Dermot Phelan is from Kilmoganny in Kilkenny, while her mother Katie Lyons is from the Tipperary side.

For the moment she's wearing a half-and-half jersey and, when she's old enough, Layla will choose her preference.

"It will be her own decision," insists mum Katie, who'll be firmly hoping the blue and gold colours are those coming out on top in tonight's All-Ireland hurling replay.

"We watched [the drawn game] in the village and there was some atmosphere."

The border between the two rival counties dips in and out of the main roads, byways and fields in this part of the world.

The invisible line that meanders between the counties guarantees plenty of "mixed marriages" and other relationships which bring out the best of GAA slagging every year.

"I'm here 28 years," says Tommy Grinsell, originally from Windgap in Co Kilkenny. He long ago married into blue and gold Grangemockler blood thanks to wife Jackie.

"They couldn't change me, no matter how hard they tried."

All of Tommy and Jackie's four children, Thomas, Kelly, Chloe and Triona, cheer for Tipperary but it doesn't stop him sticking to his roots.

"I'm outnumbered at the moment but there you go."

And who'll win the replay? "Cody will have something up his sleeve, and it won't be a hurling ball either," he says mischievously in relation to Kilkenny's wily manager.

Down the road, Kathleen Brunnock is at war with her son John Brunnock and daughter Helena, while another son Pat will be watching tonight's game at his home in England.

"I've lived here for the last 43 years," reveals Kathleen, recalling when she moved into Linaun Park in Grangemockler with her late husband Pat.

In that length of time she hasn't switched allegiances, however. "No way."

Meanwhile, John "wouldn't even handle a Kilkenny cup".

John is travelling to Dublin this evening while his mother will remain in Grangemockler, fending off the natives.

"I'll stay at home and mind the house. I'd prefer to watch it at home anyway.

"If it's only half as good as the last one, it will be great and let the best team win."

"As long as it's Tipperary," her son chips in.

Along another stretch of the main road between south Tipperary and Kilkenny, the pupils of Poulacapple National School are almost evenly divided - with 32 hailing from Kilkenny and 27 shouting for Tipp.

"I'm Kilkenny," says principal Mary Meagher, "But living in Tipperary for 24 years. My husband and two kids are Tipp, so I don't get a look in." She lives in Cloneen with husband Henry while the children are Rebecca and Cathal.

The school building is in Tipperary, the parish of Mullinahone and the diocese of Cashel and Emly, although its address is "via Callan," just to keep the Kilkenny contingent happy. For weeks now, colours from both counties have been draped outside the school and the ribbing between the pupils has reached fever-pitch.

"We'll see on Monday which bunting stays up," she says. Meanwhile, a special coin will be used before the match, commemorating the legacy of Michael Collins. It is the first time that three consecutive finals have gone to a replay and this coin will have been used for each.

Linesman James McGrath refereed the two previous final replays will pass the coin on to referee Brian Gavin before the clash in Croke Park.

Irish Independent