Walls of Limerick tumble down as the Cats claw victory in atrocious conditions
SOMETIMES playing a blinder just isn't enough.
Through the torrents of water that alternately poured and drizzled onto the heads of over 45,000 faithful fans, the fire of the Treaty side blazed on.
But it was just no match for the experience of the Cats.
The Phoenix of Kilkenny rose from the ashes of last year's championship and though Limerick battled ferociously onwards, the feat to take on a side that could find their way around Croke Park blind-folded even if they were spun around three times became an impossible one.
Limerick might technically have been the better team but finding goals was the problem.
It was a devastating heartbreaker for fans, who had been so confident in the first half of this exciting semi-final.
And even Kilkenny fans admitted that they were quaking in their boots right up until the final whistle sealed the victory for Brian Cody's men, with a score of 2-13 to 0-17.
Lauren Cottrell (18) and Hayley Walsh (18) from Waterford had come along in their Kilkenny jerseys to lend their support. "It's a long story," explained Lauren of their allegiance to the cats.
"My heart was in my mouth," she added.
"It was so close right up to the end," said Hayley.
While Aine Hewetson (15) and Laura Dillon Dunphy (16) both from Mooncoin, Co Kilkenny were elated.
"Limerick really looked like they were going to come out on top but they bottled it," said Hayley.
Conditions were so dire that the GAA found itself switching on the floodlights on an August afternoon. It was a gloomy portent that the long dark evenings are slowly but surely beginning to draw in.
"We're absolutely drowned," said James Keogh (18) from Drumkeen in Limerick.
"I'm miserable - I think I was sitting in the wettest pocket of the stand."
"It was a great game but very disappointing at the end," said John Ryan (18) and Emma O'Donnell (18) from Limerick as they stood glumly in the rain.
And as if Kilkenny hadn't already enough fans of their own back at base, the diaspora had also arrived to add their voices to the throng.
Michelle Teter from New York - whose grandfather hailed from Kilkenny - had come along to bring husband, Brian Teter and twins Jude (6) and Rory (6) to their first match.
Rory's eyes were still shining after the epic battle he had just witnessed.
"It was great," he said.
They had come with Michelle's cousin, Roisin (6) and Niamh (8) Leahy from Kilkenny.
"It was an amazing game," said Michelle, regretting that she will not be around for the final. "But we'll be watching it on the internet," she said. "My dad back in New York never misses a Kilkenny game."
And while Joe Dunne and daughter Pearl (9) from Ballinteer in Dublin might not officially count for 'diaspora', they too were adding their voices to the din.
"My mother, God rest her, never forgot her Kilkenny connections," said Joe.
"She'd have absolutely loved it today."
Excited to attend her first of doubtlessly many Kilkenny matches, Pearl had crafted some 'Loom Bands' bracelets in the black and amber colours.