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Lilywhite fever

AS Kildare prepare to do battle with Down on Sunday, one of the county's best known power couples will be sporting white for the occasion.

They may be true blues at heart but Niall and Gillian Quinn will be rooting for the Lilywhites on Sunday as they battle it out against the Mournemen in the All Ireland semi-final.

"It's a tricky one because we were just out to support the Dubs on Sunday," Gillian explained to the Herald. "We were absolutely devastated when they lost, but it's difficult not to support them because my daughter Aisling has played for Kildare.

"It's our second county, I suppose."

The model mum will be jetting off with her Sunderland chairman husband this weekend as they gear up to play Manchester City -- but has promised that they will be kept posted throughout the match.

"The kids will definitely be keeping us informed throughout the day," she said.



Lost

However, as one of Dublin's most famous exports, the high-profile pair are still reeling from Dublin's loss last weekend.

"When we lost, I just sat there with my mouth shut," she added.

Meanwhile, as the Lilywhites gear up for the All-Ireland semi-final match against Down on Sunday, football-mad fans have taken over the county.

Nobody is immune from the fever gripping the county, and even fashionistas are more concerned with a different form of style ahead of the crucial match this weekend -- with high end boutiques even swapping their posh exteriors for white flags.

Shop owner Ciaran Mattimoe has introduced a special Kildare merchandise section in his store and is thrilled to be donning white this weekend.

Mr Mattimoe said the "doom and gloom" of everyday life has left people all too happy to have the opportunity to support something positive.

"I just think that everything is so negative now -- everything on the radio is so depressing. But we have something like this to look forward to and it makes a big difference," he said.

"I'm a little confident that we'll win -- more than 50/50 I would think, I'm mostly just keeping my fingers crossed."

But fans have become more reluctant to place bets on their home county due to this year's surprising results.

Odds for Kildare stand at 4/5 to beat Down on Sunday and they are currently 7/2 to take home the title.

Glen Tyrell of Boylesports in Naas said: "It's so wide open at the moment. It's anybody's game at this stage. There isn't as many people coming in to place bets for this weekend, not as many as there was for Dublin last weekend anyway."



Sales

But while they may be reluctant to place cash on the table, fans are jumping at the opportunity to don white, with sales of jerseys skyrocketing ahead of Sunday's crucial match.

Manager of Elverys in Naas John Michalski explained that they are struggling to keep stock in Kildare memorabilia.

"Everything from jackets to flags have been flying out the door," he said.

Sarah Harty (21) and Orla Kirwan (22) said that they will both be sure to watch the match this Sunday.

Although the girls are newly converted fanatics, both are confident that Kildare will crush Down this weekend.

Siobhan Cummins from Carbury was out celebrating with her niece Shannon (4) ahead of this weekend's crucial match.

"It could be a tough one, but we should be able to do it," Siobhan said. "This is the biggest thing to happen to Kildare in a long time, the whole county is hyped up."

cmcbride@herald.ie


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