Friday 20 July 2018

Rebel fans on a roll as they burn the Banner in Semple cauldron

Sisters Ann-Marie Curtin and Paula Harnett from Charleville, Co Cork, in Thurles for the match. Photo: Don Moloney
Sisters Ann-Marie Curtin and Paula Harnett from Charleville, Co Cork, in Thurles for the match. Photo: Don Moloney

Ralph Riegel at Semple Stadium

On a day of sunburn and fast-melting 99 cones in Thurles, Cork secured sweet revenge over Clare for their 2013 All-Ireland final defeat in Ireland's most recent heatwave year.

Tipperary's home of hurling was yesterday awash with the saffron and blue colours of Clare and the red and white of the Rebels as the Munster championship hurling faithful revelled in glorious sunshine and temperatures of almost 26C.

The Mediterranean weather created a festive atmosphere around Liberty Square as fans, many without tickets, made the trip to Tipp's hurling cathedral to savour the incredible spectacle of the 128th Munster final.

A heady scent of sun cream, burgers, chips and cider wafted around the square as fans mingled before and after the match to enjoy the balmy conditions.

Not even traffic jams off the M8 for the sold-out Munster championship finale could spoil the party mood in Thurles.

For Paula Harnett, and her sister, Ann-Marie Curtin, both from Charleville in Cork, it was all about the spectacle.

Clare fans Daithi O’Callaghan, Liam Coakley, Adam Mullins, Daniel Stack, Darragh Casey and Damien McDonnell from Ennis and Dysart. Photo: Don Moloney
Clare fans Daithi O’Callaghan, Liam Coakley, Adam Mullins, Daniel Stack, Darragh Casey and Damien McDonnell from Ennis and Dysart. Photo: Don Moloney

"It's fantastic weather for the match - but it'll be very hot conditions for the players out there," Ms Harnett said.

Fellow Cork fan Geraldine Cotter, from Glasheen, paused in Liberty Square to allow her two children, Michael (4) and Aidan (6), to tuck into two well-deserved ice creams.

"It's a day for plenty of ice creams alright," she laughed.

Leo Lynch (11) and his friend, Corey O'Keeffe (11), from Fermoy and Kildorrery in Cork, were also firmly focused on cooling down as they attended the match with Eddie and Mark Lynch, as well as Laura Nolan.

TD Michael Lowry speaking to businessman JP McManus before the Munster Senior Championship Final at Semple Stadium. Photo: Sportsfile
TD Michael Lowry speaking to businessman JP McManus before the Munster Senior Championship Final at Semple Stadium. Photo: Sportsfile

Clare fans were adamant their semi-final victory over Limerick signalled another Croke Park date in September.

Daithi O'Callaghan and his friends Liam Coakley, Adam Mullins, Daniel Stack, Darragh Casey and Damien McDonnell, all from Ennis and Dysart, believed the heatwave was another omen for the Banner County.

"We did it in 2013 and we will do it again this year," they vowed.

"It's a fantastic day for a Munster final - sure where else would you want to be," said John O'Callaghan as he attended the match with Sarah Cotter and Con Kearney, all from Ennis and Kilnamona in Clare.

But jubilant Cork fans were adamant the Liam McCarthy Cup will make a long-overdue return to Leeside after their impressive win over Clare in the cauldron of Semple Stadium.

"This side is going from strength to strength," Deirdre O'Gorman, from Killavullen, promised as she enjoyed the Thurles sunshine with her friends, sisters Aisling and Niamh Guiney.

"I think Cork can beat anyone on their day."

Hurling stalwarts Paul Barry and cousins Tom and Joe O'Flynn, all from Cobh, also agreed.

"The best of this Cork side is yet to come," they said. "The Rebels are on a roll."

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