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Tipp warned to expect 'tornado' from Cats


Fan Myles Kavanagh and his dog 'Princella' in his decorated garden in Kilkenny.

Fan Myles Kavanagh and his dog 'Princella' in his decorated garden in Kilkenny.

Fan Myles Kavanagh and his dog 'Princella' in his decorated garden in Kilkenny.

A TIPPERARY hurling legend who faced Kilkenny no less than three times at Croke Park for an All-Ireland final is advising the Premier men to expect a "hurling tornado" tomorrow.

Nobody knows better than Mick Roche what it is like to beat, or be beaten by, The Cats -- he was there in the 1960s and 1970s.

Mick led the Tipperary side in the parade before the 1967 All-Ireland Senior Hurling final.

Yesterday, he recalled how low he felt when his side were beaten by Kilkenny, captained by Jim Treacy on that occasion.

"The disappointment of it I'll never forget, but it is something you have to experience to appreciate the wins," he said.

But there were highs for Roche when he was part of the Tipp team that beat Kilkenny in 1964 and 1971.

His advice to the Tipperary hurlers was to "expect a hurling tornado, no, a hurling tsunami".

"If they are not prepared mentally, psychologically and physically, they could be blown away, he said.

"I look forward to the Titanic battle."

He pointed out that Kilkenny has "49 Senior All-Ireland Hurling medal winners and nine or 10 All Stars on the subs' bench".

"They are the greatest team that ever played the game."

The "tension and stress" before the big match never escapes the players, he said. "Anyone who says they sleep before a match is lying."

Roche was speaking inside the Horse and Jockey hotel where there is a wall of photographs in the bar dedicated to his glory days.

In the nearby Urlingford, Gortnahoe, Mullinahone and Killenaule, there is intense rivalry between Tipperary and Kilkenny communities.

In Tullaroan, banners support their hero, Tommy Walsh. In the area known as 'The Butts' in Kilkenny city, Elvis impersonator Myles Kavanagh has transformed his modest terraced home into a shrine for his heroes. There is a small flicker of blue and gold, however, at Michael Walsh's house on Joseph's Road.

Michael will be shouting for his native Tipperary while his other half, Kilkenny woman Anne Hennessy, might have to prepare the spare room if her heroes are toppled.

Tommy Hayes, wearing his jersey signed by hurling legend DJ Carey, spotted his friend, Michael, and the two shared a hug.

Michael is not alone in Kilkenny as another Tipperary man, Paddy Kavanagh, has been drowning in a sea of black and amber. The Gurtnahoe native has worked with the Borough Council putting up the Kilkenny flag for the past 10 years.

Meanwhile, the tickets that Kilkenny clubs returned -- as they felt they were too expensive -- were reallocated within the county or to Tipperary fans.

Elsewhere, Tipperary and Kilkenny fans will be united in prayer tomorrow in Dublin to pay tribute to Tipperary War of Independence freedom fighter Sean Treacy, who was shot dead by British Forces on October 14, 1920.

Historian John J Hassett of Thurles said: "It is the custom since 1923 when Tipperary are involved in an All-Ireland senior hurling or football final to have a prayer ceremony at the spot where Treacy was fatally wounded."

The tribute will take place at noon at a plaque erected in Mr Treacy's memory at 94 Talbot Street.

The big match: see Sport

Irish Independent