Old rivalries forgotten as classroom alliance dreams of double
OLD hurling rivalries and border skirmishes were forgotten as an unlikely All-Ireland classroom alliance was forged.
Cork captain and secondary school teacher, Pa Cronin, agreed to give his support to Waterford minors in Sunday's Croke Park curtain-raiser in return for six of his Deise students cheering on the Rebels in the senior final.
Pa, a teacher for the past four years at Blackwater Community School, revelled in a week of good-natured banter with six Blackwater students who are on the Waterford panel for the minor final.
The six students are Colm Roche, Stephen Bennett, Shane Bennett, Michael Kearney, Cian Leamy and David Prendergast.
Waterford hasn't lifted the Irish Press Cup since 1948 and face minor championship specialists, Galway, champions in no less than eight of the last 21 Cork Park finals.
The Deise students are blazing a proud hurling tradition in the west Waterford school, which also contributed seven past pupils to the senior panel for the 2013 championship.
"It is a very proud day for the school and staff because of the connections we have with both the minor and senior games on Sunday," Blackwater principal Denis Ring told the Irish Independent.
"We're hoping for a double celebration on Sunday night because it would be fantastic for the school and the lads if both Cork and Waterford won."
The school's proud hurling achievements shouldn't come as any surprise – Denis Ring is one of Ireland's outstanding hurling coaches having previously worked with the Cork minors.
Meanwhile, Ennis is expecting up to 10,000 people to throng Abbey Street on Sunday for coverage of Clare's All-Ireland final clash with Cork on a giant screen.
It is the Banner County's first Croke Park appearance for 11 years as Clare seeks its first Liam MacCarthy Cup since 1997.
The decision to erect the screen was taken as Ennis Town Council said it wanted to cater for the thousands of Banner fans left disappointed by being unable to get a ticket.
Ennis also wants to recreate the atmosphere that marked the Muhammad Ali heritage event in 2009.
Cork City Council opted not to erect a city centre screen but a number of Cork cinemas are showing the All-Ireland final.
Croke Park tickets were like gold dust in both the Banner and Rebel counties.
One pair of tickets was selling for almost €600 on eBay while thousands of ticketless fans were still determined to travel to Dublin in the hope of locating eleventh-hour spares. Bus Eireann and Iarnrod Eireann have increased weekend services from both Cork and Clare.
Kanturk, which has three local players on the Cork panel, won the public vote for the best-decorated Rebel town.
However, Cork city centre traders have again been criticised for the lack of red-and-white bunting on Patrick Street, Oliver Plunkett Street and the South Mall.
Cork Business Association ran a special shop front competition but admitted there was a very poor early take-up.