Friday 23 March 2018

Joy and despair in a nail-biting clash

Olivia Kelleher and David Raleigh

THEY all ran a gamut of emotions – expectation to elation to disappointment. And now, optimism for the replay.

The nail-biting conclusion to yesterday's All-Ireland final led to a feeling of dejection at Bishopstown GAA club, home to Cork captain Pa Cronin and his teammate Shane O'Neill.

However, even with the disappointment of a last-minute draw, the players' appearance in the final was still the "stuff of dreams", according to club spokesman Jim Ryng.

Mr Ryng said yesterday's final was "a day they thought they would never see".

"Having the captain of the team (come from here) means a lot to us. The two boys involved here have been very loyal players. It was a very close game. If you look at the overall game, you would have to say Clare didn't deserve to lose."

Alan Costelloe, who was watching the match at the club, said everyone thought Cork had it in the bag. However, Clare got the equaliser to spoil the party.

"It was a fantastic game and I think everybody enjoyed it," he said.

But while the Rebels were disappointed, the Banner county celebrated as they will get another chance on September 28.

There was pandemonium in Ennis when the final whistle blew, just seconds after the Mid-West finalists scored a last-ditch point.

Throughout the afternoon, town square was a cauldron of sweat and colour as a huge crowd gathered to watch the game on a big screen.

And it wasn't just locals who attended, with natives of Nigeria, Somalia and Ethiopia adding to the flavour as they donned their adopted saffron and blue.

Festus Ugwuera and his wife Ifeoma, and their five children, who have lived in Clare for the past 14 years, were thrilled with their team's performance.

"Up Clare," shouted a jubilant Festus. His wife added: "It's very lively. The team have done brilliantly."

A host of local bands graced a specially built stage beneath the giant match screen to entertain the 4,000-strong crowd. Organisers pledged to return with the giant television for the replay.

Irish Independent

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