Sunday 18 August 2019

Helter-skelter game leaves Yellowbellies heartbroken as young Tipp fans relish final

Sean Buckley (8), Maria Buckley (10), Kieran Moloney (11), Evan Moloney (8) and Tadhg Moloney (5) all from Cashel. Photo: Frank McGrath
Sean Buckley (8), Maria Buckley (10), Kieran Moloney (11), Evan Moloney (8) and Tadhg Moloney (5) all from Cashel. Photo: Frank McGrath

Niamh Lynch at Croke park

It was heartbreak in the end for Wexford, but they gave it their all in their epic battle against Tipperary.

In a game as helter-skelter as they come, Wexford supporters were already envisaging dancing at the crossroads as Tipperary had a man sent off and they shot five points clear.

The stars were aligning and written in the script was a first All-Ireland Final appearance since 1996... until the Premier County tore that all up.

Against adversity, with one less player and having had three goals disallowed, Liam Sheedy's men broke the hearts of thousands of Yellowbellies to set up a showdown with Kilkenny in three weeks' time.

"It was an epic match out there, it could have gone either way," Wexford boss Davy Fitzgerald told RTÉ post-match.

But coming out on the wrong end of an epic probably hurt even more.

Noah Moloney (3) with brother Fionn (5) and cousin Sean Moloney. Photo: Frank McGrath
Noah Moloney (3) with brother Fionn (5) and cousin Sean Moloney. Photo: Frank McGrath

The day had started so brightly for expectant Wexford fans as they descended on Croke Park for the hotly-anticipated showdown.

With an attendance of 61,852, there was excitement aplenty for revellers.

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Leitrim football county players Oisin Madden (23) and Alan McLoughlin (25) switched sport for the afternoon to enjoy the semi-final with their Tipperary friends Tony Kerwick (24) from Rosegreen, Aine Costelloe (24) from Clougheen, Conor Devitt (22), Danny Wade (20), Catriona Cormack (22) and Paraic O'Donoghue (23), all from Cashel.

However, the group had a softer seat than most - they took in the atmosphere on two couches in their front garden on Jones' Road before taking their plastic seats in Croke Park later in the day.

Wife and husband Sarah and Eamonn Darragh. Photo: Frank McGrath
Wife and husband Sarah and Eamonn Darragh. Photo: Frank McGrath

Meanwhile Amy Walsh (25), from Rosslare Harbour in Wexford, had a tough time bringing her Dublin boyfriend Calvin O'Brien (25) to the big match.

"I've never been to a game in Croke Park that didn't involve Dublin so it's a new experience, rubbing shoulders with the culchies," he laughed.

But Amy was remaining optimistic about Wexford's chances: "Hopefully we'll be back here in three weeks' time against Kilkenny.

"It'll be close but Wexford will take it home."

Laura Warren and Gemma Rothwell, from Kilmuckridge. Photo: Frank McGrath
Laura Warren and Gemma Rothwell, from Kilmuckridge. Photo: Frank McGrath

Unfortunately for Amy, those plans were dashed by a determined Tipperary who clinched it by just two points.

Tipp fans, of course, saw all this coming. And their young fans are already relishing the final.

Three-year-old Noah Moloney, from Thurles, was venturing to the GAA cauldron of Croke Park for the very first time to support his county. With his big brother Fionn (5) and cousin Seán (9), they were in a buoyant mood.

The boys were "very excited", with Seán having some fighting words for final opponents Kilkenny: "Tipp all the way - we'll slaughter Kilkenny in the final."

Irish Independent

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