Monday 23 October 2017

'We just do it year after year - it is amazing. I knew they'd do it in the end'

Kilkenny fan Cathriona O'Dwyer in Lanigan's Bar on Rose Inn Street in Kilkenny. Photo: Dylan Vaughan.
Kilkenny fan Cathriona O'Dwyer in Lanigan's Bar on Rose Inn Street in Kilkenny. Photo: Dylan Vaughan.

Conor Kane and Declan Rooney

First Sunday in September and Kilkenny's hurlers win the All-Ireland. Nothing to see here, move along, as you were.

Kilkenny will tonight welcome home its All-Ireland hurling heroes for the 36th time, with a scarcely-credible 11 of those titles coming in the last 16 seasons under the eye of the all-conquering Brian Cody.

Yesterday the party city that is Kilkenny partied once more, as has become customary this time of year.

The cheers rang louder and louder from the county's homes and hostelries as the second half wore on and the gap between the reigning kings and the young pretenders from Galway grew wider.

Only when Joe Canning hit an injury-time goal, to reduce the deficit to just four points, did any sort of hush descend on the black-and-amber fans, but by then it was too late for the Galwegians, and the hush in the Marble City was only temporary.

In places like Langton's, a river of swaying Kilkenny colours, or Matt the Miller's, where the cat costume imported by owner Ray Brophy is getting plenty of use, or Lanigan's, which erupted upon the final whistle, they've become used to it. It's what they do.

But familiarity will never breed contempt for success. Not here, where hurling is the only game in town.

"We just do it year after year. It's an amazing feeling. I knew they'd do it in the end," said Karen Maher from Tullaroan, who was watching the match in Lanigan's bar.

Amidst the cheering fans was Dawn Concannon, originally from Ballinasloe in Co Galway but living in Kilkenny.

With her maroon and white wristband still on display, she forced a few smiles while those nearby roared with delight.

"It's disappointing," she reflected. "I said to the lads that Kilkenny always come back in the second half. They always do, and they did.

"It's a pity, I feel sorry for the Galway players, they were so looking forward to it," she added.

Meanwhile, in her native Galway, thousands of hurling supporters who had crammed into Eyre Square to watch the final on a 20ft big screen left disappointed.

While the minors had tasted success earlier in Croke Park, for the heartbroken seniors it was only bitter disappointment.

The balmy conditions helped swell the crowd in the city yesterday, but the Tribesmen - hungry for success after 27 years without the Liam McCarthy cup - left with their heads dipped.

"It was tough to watch it in the end but we're really proud of the lads," said Lucy-Ann Kennedy from Knocknacarra.

"We all thought they were going to win it at last after the first half, but it wasn't our day.

"Those Kilkenny lads never seem to lose."

Irish Independent

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