Tuesday 16 January 2018

Liam MacCarthy 'coming home' as Cats exact revenge

Even longer way to Tipperary for fans after Kilkenny win

Kilkenny manager Brian Cody celebrates with Tommy Walsh as the Cats
became All-Ireland hurling
champions for the 33rd time
Kilkenny manager Brian Cody celebrates with Tommy Walsh as the Cats became All-Ireland hurling champions for the 33rd time
Kilkenny supporters celebrate in the sunshine after the All-Ireland hurling final
A supporter prepares for the bad weather during the minor match
Hugh Coghlan from Tipperary and Kilkenny fan Siobhan Henderson at the final yesterday
Mateo Hernandez Power (left), Cathy Power and Santana Hernandez Power outside Croke Park Yesterday
Actor Cuba Gooding Jnr at the All-Ireland hurling final

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

HUNGER's a great sauce and there's nothing to whet the appetite of a Kilkenny hurler like a beating.

They had been written off as a side who were getting older -- and whose best days were behind them.

But The Cats have made their comeback. The team picked themselves up after Tipperary crushed their five-in-a-row dreams last year.

Their patience paid off after a tough 12 months of training. There was talk of secret training sessions in Kildare and players getting sick behind the goalposts.

Whatever they did, worked, and today the Liam McCarthy Cup is making its way Noreside after a short stay in the Premier County.

"The Liam MacCarthy is coming home," Cathy Power (54) shouted down the phone as she stood up in the Cusack Stand.

For Cathy's family, All-Ireland final day is "like Christmas".

The mother of two doesn't believe in Mass but hurling is her religion and she worships at the altar of her Kilkenny heroes.

Her daughter Santana Hernandez-Power (16) and son Mateo Hernandez-Power (19) have the same gra for the game and the three make the pilgrimage from Thomastown to Dublin to see their heroes for every championship match.

On Saturday night, Cathy and Santana left Kilkenny for Dublin. It was important for them to arrive early -- and stay overnight with friends so they could all have breakfast together on All-Ireland Sunday, part of an annual ritual.

They also needed to meet Mateo, who is working in Bodkin's pub on Bolton Street for the summer, to catch up with him before the match.

Hurling is in Cathy's blood. Her father, Mattie Power, who played for Dicksboro, won his first All-Ireland for Kilkenny in 1922. After joining the gardai, he went on to win an All-Ireland for Dublin, where he was stationed in 1927.

Once the GAA ditched the residency rule, Mattie was back playing for his native Kilkenny and went on to win three more All-Ireland medals with the senior hurlers in 1932, 1933 and 1935.

Early yesterday morning, Mateo arrived to meet his mother and sister. The sausages were cooking on the pan when he walked into the kitchen.

After they finished their breakfast and said farewell to friends, the family wrapped themselves in the black and amber and made their way to the Cusack stand nearby.

They were soon on their feet screaming for Kilkenny.

The Cats got stuck in and Tipp remained scoreless for the first 16 minutes.

In the same stand, 12-year-old Rachel Donovan had her blue and gold jersey on but she was losing hope by the end of the first half.

"Not looking good," was all her dad, John, could say before the second-half but the Kilkenny fans were not convinced their victory was secure.

"We're dominating but I'm sorry we don't have a second goal," said Cathy as the two teams returned for the second half.

There were murmurs that Kilkenny might lose speed in the second half and that Tipp were the stronger physical side but Cody's men showed no signs of dropping their game.

As they went into injury time, the Tipperary fans were shouting "replay, replay" but the realisation was dawning that even a draw was a stretch as they were trailing by a goal in the 71st minute.

Before the final whistle, Cathy, Santana and Mateo roared as another point went over the bar.

There was joy as the family hugged each other when Richie Power told the crowd about the vow made in the dressing room last year.

"We promised each other it wouldn't happen again," he said as the cheers were heard around the stadium.

The trio sang 'The Rose of Mooncoin' as they made their way to City West again last night, but this time it was not to commiserate their heroes -- but to congratulate them for bringing the Liam McCarthy "home to Kilkenny".

Relentless cats claw back crown. See sport

Irish Independent

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