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Monday 22 January 2018

The wait is over

Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

IT was a 17-year Munster Hurling Championship thirst for a slumbering GAA superpower that was always going to take some quenching.

Over 45,000 Limerick and Cork fans turned the Ennis Road in Limerick into a sea of green, red and white in glorious sunshine as the two counties met for the first time in the Munster final since 1992.

Limerick ended their 17-year exile in sensational fashion and are a step closer to their first All-Ireland title since 1973.

Finance Minister and Limerick TD Michael Noonan admitted it was breathtaking stuff.

"It was a fantastic atmosphere and a great match. This is a huge boost to Limerick GAA," he said.

Multi-millionaire and Limerick GAA sponsor JP McManus was similarly thrilled.

"It is a great day, not just for Limerick but for hurling and the GAA. It has been a long wait. But the players deserve it," he said.

For long-suffering Limerick fans, it ended a 17-year drought. "My son Craig is 12 and he has never seen Limerick take the Munster title," Bruff native Alan Bourke said.

Alan, who now lives in Kilcock, said it was great to see Mick Mackey's county back at the hurling top table.

For others the final was a chance to savour the atmosphere and enjoy old friendships.

"We're best friends – we met in college when we were both studying in Mary Immaculate," declared buddies Karen O'Dea (22) and Aisling Kelleher (23).

Karen is from Kilteely in Limerick and Aisling is from Ballincollig in Cork.

"We'll still be friends no matter what the result," Karen joked.

For others, it was a question of maintaining a proud family GAA tradition.

"I've been going to Cork hurling matches for over 40 years and, thank God, I've seen them deliver a few All-Ireland titles. They may not win it this year but Jimmy Barry Murphy has the Rebels on the right track," Liam O'Flynn said.

It was also about history-making for many GAA fans.

"There was no way Limerick were going to be in a Munster hurling final and the boys not be here to see it," Catherine and Gary Hogan said about their sons, PJ (9) and Donncha (7).

For others, it was all about seeing Limerick hurling back where it belongs.

"It is a fantastic occasion and the atmosphere here is absolutely brilliant," Ellana (15) and Donna (16) Mulcahy, from Kileedy in Limerick, said.

Irish Independent

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