Thursday 22 March 2018

Dyed-in-the-wool fans show true colours in quest for cup

Caroline Crawford and Breda Heffernan

THEY'RE climbing the walls in the Banner County to get hold of a coveted Clare jersey ahead of Sunday's All-Ireland Hurling Final against Cork.

The supply of shirts in team colours is getting so low that some fans are even taking them from the walls and ceiling of team manager Davy Fitzgerald's pub.

But he hopes to see much of the memorabilia returned should Liam MacCarthy return to Banner territory next week, for the first time in 16 years.

The Dugout Bar in Ennis has been inundated with calls from desperate fans seeking tickets, but has also seen some team jerseys hung on the ceiling ripped down.

"There are waiting lists in all the shops for the Clare jersey and they can't get them online. We had six taken from the ceiling the night we beat Limerick, and we lost two earlier," explained Grace Russell, manager of the bar.

"They managed to take one of Davy's from when he played. We're hoping that after we win on Sunday they will bring them back when they come to meet the Liam MacCarthy cup," she added.

With the pub owned by Fitzgerald, the phone has been buzzing with calls from people seeking tickets for the clash.

"I've been contacted from all over the world. I had a friend I hadn't spoken to in 10 years Facebook me from Asia looking for five tickets. People just think we have a boot full of them," said Grace.


With tickets like gold dust, Clare County Council plans to erect a big screen in Ennis for ticket-less fans. And as the excitement builds, fans have been busy dyeing livestock in the county colours.

Shane Hannon (10), from Clonlara, brought his three-day-old calf Davy to his local national school for an impromptu game of hurley.

Despite the scarcity of jerseys, Davy still managed to secure one of the elusive strips.

Meanwhile farm worker Deirdre Hayes, from Cratloe, showed her artistic side as she sprayed a sheep, also called Davy, in blue and yellow.

Both Clonlara and Cratloe are punching above their weight, with the two parishes between them sharing a dozen players on the senior panel.

There is also cause to celebrate at St Flannan's College in Ennis, which can boast 10 former students on the panel, not to mention a selector and the manager himself.

Staff and students are now quietly confident that their old crew will bring glory to Clare in Sunday's final.

Teachers Michael McInerney and John Minogue, who coach future county hopefuls, said they believe their past pupils will do the business this weekend.

"Davy Fitzgerald himself is a past pupil, the selector Louis Mulqueen and nine or 10 of the senior panel, with five of the guys on the starting team. They were always great players when they were with us and we hope they can do it," said Mr McInerney.

Mr Minogue managed the Under-21 team that won the All Ireland in 2009. Many of those players have now progressed to the senior squad.

"That was the first big breakthrough for these lads. There is a lot of youth in the team and a lot of them have come through in the last four or five years.

"I'd be very very hopeful," he said.

Students Brian and Barry Guilfoyle come from a long-established Clare hurling clan and are hoping to continue the legacy.

"Our father Michael played hurling for Clare in the 1980s and early 1990s.

"Our uncle Tommy played for the county as well. Hopefully we'll do the same one day," said Brian.

The brothers are eagerly looking forward to heading to Croke Park for Sunday's final.

"I'd say we have a fairly good chance. Clare are rated underdogs but we can do nothing about that. I think they can do it," added Barry.

Irish Independent

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