Munster Final: The wait is over for Limerick
IT was a 24 year Munster hurling championship thirst for two slumbering GAA super-powers that was always going to take some quenching.
More than 45,000 Limerick and Cork fans turned the Ennis Road in Limerick into a sea of green-red-and-white in glorious sunshine as the two counties met for the first time in the Munster final since 1992.
They had a combined wait of 24 years for the prestigious Munster hurling crown but Limerick ended their 17 exile in sensational fashion and are now one step closer to their dream of their first All-Ireland title since 1973.
Finance Minister and Limerick TD Michael Noonan admitted it was breathtaking stuff.
“It was a fantastic atmosphere and a great match. This is a huge boost to Limerick GAA,” he said.
Multi-millionaire and Limerick GAA sponsor, JP McManus, was similarly thrilled with the result.
“It is a great day not just for Limerick but for hurling and the GAA. It has been a long wait. But the players deserve it,” he said.
For long-suffering Limerick fans it was the end of a 17 year drought.
“My son Craig is 12 and he has never seen Limerick take the Munster title,” Bruff native Alan Bourke said.
Alan, who now lives in Kilcock and played hurling for Kildare, said it was great to see Mick Mackey’s county back at the hurling top table.
As for Craig, there was no chance of divided loyalties.
“I cheer for Kildare in Gaelic football and Limerick in hurling – it’s easy,” he smiled.
For others it was a chance to savour the atmosphere and enjoy old friendships.
“We’re best friends – we met in college when we were both studying in Mary Immaculate,” declared buddies Karen O’Dea (22) and Aisling Kelleher (23).
Karen is from Kilteely in Limerick and Aisling is from Ballincollig in Cork.
Both proudly wore their county colours as Karen sorted tickets so her friend could savour the magic of a Pairc na nGael final.
“We’ll still be friends no matter the result,” Karen joked.
For others, it was a question of maintaining a proud family GAA tradition.
“I’ve been going to Cork hurling matches for over 40 years and, thank God, I’ve seen them deliver a few All-Ireland titles. They may not win it this year but Jimmy Barry Murphy has the Rebels on the right track,” Liam O’Flynn said.
Liam attended the match with his wife, Catherine, son, Bill, and family friend, Danny Kelleher.
It was also about history-making for Limerick GAA fans.
“There was no way Limerick were going to be in a Munster hurling final and the boys not be here to see it,” Catherine and Gary Hogan said about their green-flag-bedecked sons, PJ (9) and Donncha (7).
Both admitted they were thrilled by the occasion – but were looking forward to an ice-cream or two to cool down on the way home after a scorching afternoon.
For others, it was all about seeing Limerick hurling back where it belongs.
“It is a fantastic occasion and the atmosphere here is absolutely brilliant,” Ellana (15) and Donna (16) Mulcahy from Kileedy in Limerick said.
Aisling Murphy (17) from Effin, Co Limerick said it was a marvellous day but she was doubly glad she brought her green-and-white cowboy hat.
“It is absolutely roasting,” she admitted.
For Cork sisters, Emer, Marie and Aine Watson from Milford, there is no better event than a Munster hurling final.
“The craic is absolutely mighty,” they said.