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Saturday 16 December 2017

Neighbours face off in clash of ash on hurling borderland

Conor Kane

WHEN neighbouring counties meet in winner-takes-all championship encounters, local rivalries are bound to be razor sharp.

Tipperary and Waterford will do battle tomorrow for the right to play Kilkenny in next month's All-Ireland hurling final -- and all week long the battle has been running along border areas to get out the most colour.

Areas such as Old Bridge in Clonmel sit on the border between blue-and-gold country and the blue and white.

Torn between two counties, Bernie Mac's pub has been at the eye of a storm of pre-match wit and wisdom but Bernie and Tom McMahon are playing a blinder when it comes to keeping everyone happy.

"The bar is Tipp and the lounge is Waterford," Bernie explained.

Whether she knows it or not, Bernie isn't revealing whether Bernie Mac's is actually in Tipp or Waterford.

"It's always been a subject of debate as it's right on the border," she said, adding proudly that she herself is blue and gold "born and bred".

Tom claimed that the county border splits the pub down the middle, adding: "We have to be particularly diplomatic at times like this!"

Up the road, the Munster council ticket van was doing a steady business selling to local fans from both sides of the county border.

Limerick resident Frank Kelly, who was manning the van along with ticket-seller Sile Moynihan, is a rare neutral in these parts.

"There's a lot of interest, especially with it being between two local rivals," he said.


The ticket van was in Newport and Dundrum on Thursday but trade was more brisk yesterday in Clonmel's Old Bridge. Today, Frank and Sheila will be heading for Nenagh.

Inside the Centra store, Anna Cahill isn't afraid to offend any Waterford fans by sporting the blue and gold colours while she is on duty.

"I'm Tipp all the way," she said as she had her photograph taken waving her county's flag -- alongside Joanna Hartmann waving the Waterford colours.

She laughed: "A woman told me inside that the only thing missing was the Kilkenny flag."

Whoever wins tomorrow will have more than enough of black and amber by the time the decider comes around.

Meanwhile, in another Tipperary pub, there is one person who will be very happy tomorrow night -- no matter which side wins.

The village of Burncourt is Tipp all the way -- but one Waterford woman has managed to live happily in the area for the last 28 years -- without causing a riot.

Dodo Mulcahy is married to local man Willie Mulcahy and the couple have been running Mulcahy's pub for the past four years. A very special atmosphere is predicted for when they show the big match on television.

Originally from Ballysaggart in west Waterford, Dodo used to babysit the county's sharpshooter and former hurler of the year Dan Shanahan when he was in need of some TLC.

"She has her own section in Waterford colours and a big flag flying out of the top window," Willie said yesterday, adding that his wife is well used to some slagging in the run-up to such games. "She's good to give it and good to take it."

Barring a draw, one set of flags will be coming down tomorrow night, while another will fly -- for a few more weeks at least.

Four-Page match special: see sport

Irish Independent

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