Sunday 18 March 2018

An All-Ireland title and Paddy's Day . . . It's best day ever for Boden fans

The Walshes from Mayo, Louis, Trish, Keith, Maeve and Ciarán O'Dowd. Photo: Doug O'Connor
The Walshes from Mayo, Louis, Trish, Keith, Maeve and Ciarán O'Dowd. Photo: Doug O'Connor
Ballyboden supporters front: Aisling Timmons, Anna O'Connor. Back. Cliodhna O'Sullivan, Grace McCarron, Niamh Brien. Photo: Doug O'Connor
Limerick fans Adam McKenzie, Aoife and Kate Buckley and Anna Prendergast. Photo: Doug O'Connor
Antrim fans the Jameson Family. Photo: Doug O'Connor

David Kearns

Green wasn't the only colour waving proudly in the streets of Dublin yesterday as thousands donned their club jerseys in support of four teams battling it out for All-Ireland glory.

Dressed in colours ranging from blue and white to gold and red, GAA fans from across the country descended on Croke Park on St Patrick's Day for the biggest occasion in club football and hurling.

Hours before their teams took to the field, hundreds of supporters were filling the streets. "We're so happy… we've been waiting years for this moment! This is literally the best day ever, Paddy's Day and an All-Ireland championship," said Ballyboden St Enda's fan Sarah Gallagher.

"It's the biggest day out for the parish, we've been preparing for weeks. The whole place is empty because we're here for the match."

"The women have won twice so it's great to see the lads finally starting to catch up with the ladies," joked Shona Giles.

Widely acknowledged as the largest sporting club in Ireland, Boden can now officially call themselves the best football club too after an impressive 2-14 to 0-7 display against Mayo's Castlebar Mitchels.

"The win means so much because Ballyboden in our community is a big, big deal," said Mark Ibbotson. "There's 20,000 members, 70-odd teams… the whole town will be up in arms celebrating this. It's going to be some night in the clubhouse."

"This is massive for us, the club, the players, the fans," added Conor Rynne.

It wasn't only the Boden faithful who were celebrating the Dubliners' victory over the Mayo side.

"We're both neutrals but today we're supporting the Dublin club, go on Ballyboden," quipped Maire De Staic, from Kerry.

Outside Croke Park, there were more than a few Mayo supporters reflecting on what might have been.

"Forty two years and I've never seen a victory," said a downbeat Eamon Joyce from Castlebar. "We love the football but the football doesn't love us."

"We're up here every year for something or other and once it would be nice to take something back with us," said Fergus Walsh from Castlebar. "But I guess support like this doesn't mean much on the field," he said about the strong showing of supporters.

"We're veterans at this stage of enjoying the occasion and not dwelling on it," added Mark Basquille.

Fans didn't appear to miss the support of former Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who was instead at an EU Summit in Brussels.

"We're happy enough without him," quipped Maeve Walshe, who had travelled on the train from Castlebar with her family.

Earlier, the streets around the country's iconic stadium were a sea of light blue, white and burgundy as it wasn't just the footballers' Andy Merrigan Cup which found a new home yesterday.

Thousands of loyal fans poured from the west and the north to see Na Piarsaigh write themselves into the history books with Limerick's first All-Ireland club senior hurling title.

The Limerick city side took the Tommy Moore Cup with a dominant 2-25 to 2-14 win over Ruairí Óg Cushendall from Co Antrim. "I can't believe it, the team was amazing. I'm so happy," said a delighted Aoife Buckley, who flew from Scotland yesterday morning for just a few hours so she could watch the game.

"They're such a strong team, I can't wait to be back next year to see them defend their title."

"First ever hurling match, what a belter," joked Aoife's partner Adam MacKenzie, from Edinburgh.

"Such a great atmosphere, I really enjoyed it."

Irish Independent

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