Friday 23 February 2018

Dubs on tour for the first time in a generation: not a 'sangwidge' in sight

Dublin supporters Paul Morgan Snr with Paul Jnr – Dublin fans will be travelling to Kilkenny today (Picture: Sportsfile)
Dublin supporters Paul Morgan Snr with Paul Jnr – Dublin fans will be travelling to Kilkenny today (Picture: Sportsfile)
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

Tayto 'sangwidges' wrapped in tinfoil are packed with flasks of tea and bottles of Club Orange among the flags, hats and headbands. Bruce Springsteen and Garth Brooks provide the soundtrack.

Suncream, sunglasses, raincoats and umbrellas are also brought - as the best prepared fans plan for every eventuality.

But that's unlikely to be the experience for thousands of Dublin fans who today will descend on Kilkenny for their side's first championship clash outside the county for a generation.

An away day or trip through the country for a match is a rite of passage for GAA fans all across Ireland. But for Dubliners, it is a unique occasion.

The city slickers are not used to visiting grounds around the country. A pre-recession Leinster quarter-final clash with Longford at Pearse Park was the last time they left the Pale for an All-Ireland fixture.

Google Maps apps were hurriedly consulted last night, as children from Balbriggan to Ballybrack and Dalkey to Rathcoole curiously asked: "Where's Kilkenny?"

"It will take an hour and 20 minutes from the Red Cow to the stadium," said AA Roadwatch researcher Sharron Lynskey last night. Dublin mums were busy taking notes, because dad was out checking the car for the migration to the foreign land "beyond the M50".

"Fans will exit off the M50 at junction nine Red Cow and travel on the N7 Naas Road outbound," continued Sharron.

"You exit off the M7 then at junction 11 for the M9. Motorists will then travel along the M9 for around 50 minutes and exit at junction 8, Kilkenny."

From here, the fans will have to make their way through Kilkenny's outskirts and towards Nowlan Park. To the joy of GAA fans up and down the country, it is the Dubs who will be the outsiders.

Too often, supporters from more successful counties outside of the Pale are ridiculed - because the only parts of Dublin they know are between Heuston Station and Croke Park.

However, with the likes of Kerry and Kilkenny regularly coming away from Jones's Road with silverware, the jibes from locals are usually met with a laugh or a smile.

Kilkenny's Mayor Joe Malone said the Dublin supporters are very welcome. "I like the Dubs and they will bring a bit of excitement and colour to Kilkenny over the weekend."

It is a busy weekend for the city, with the annual Cat Laughs comedy festival also taking place today. The cocky Dubs best not think they are the only show in town.

Locals and Dubs are united in hoping the weekend will be more successful for the Superblues than their trip to Semple Stadium, Thurles, to take on Kerry 15 years ago.

GAA aficionados remember the encounter for a magnificent Maurice Fitzgerald point.

"They had the whole place blocked up," recalled one Tipp native. "They hadn't a clue where they were going."

The city of Kilkenny wants fans to arrive early to prevent gridlock on the streets and a scramble to the stadium before the throw-in.

"I would tell them to come to the city early," said Mr Malone.

"The pitch is looking well and is one of the top pitches outside of Croke Park. I know we would not be (known as) footballers down here, but we are delighted to host them.

"It is a novelty for us too, so it is great."

Maybe if they navigate their way south successfully, a Dublin tour could come around more often than a Springsteen world tour.

Irish Independent

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