Kilkenny supporters remain believers
A STRANGE silence had descended on Kilkenny by about 3.50pm yesterday afternoon, as hurling supporters bedecked in black and amber struggled to come to terms with the possibility that their heroes might, like the rest of us, be mortal after all.
Within an hour, the old assurance was back, albeit mixed with more than a hint of relief.
Kilkenny fought their way back into the All-Ireland hurling final and led Galway briefly a couple of times before finishing with a draw and another chance to cement the team’s position as the kings of September.
Once again the horns blared on the streets of the city, perhaps not as many as in previous years when Kilkenny’s position was beyond doubt. But the people of Kilkenny remain happy that, until the replay at least, the Cats remain All-Ireland champions.
“We’re still in the land of the living,” said veteran hurling spectator John Downing after the final whistle.
“We were very lucky to draw that match,” said his friend Aidan Kelly. “Drawn match: fair enough, we’ll take it.”
It had been a different story earlier. After Galway raced into an early lead, the obituaries were already being written by some pessimists in the Marble City.
“Ah, they were a great team all the same,” one fan said sadly in a (then) quiet Playwright Inn.
Another had harsh words for a manager who has brought unprecedented success to the county: “Cody should have kept his mouth shut about the referee. He wasn’t very diplomatic.”
Over in a packed Kyteler’s Inn, around one of many of the screens showing the game, fans were reduced to cheering missed Galway chances as opportunities for their team proved scarce in a lopsided first half.
“It’s not looking good at all,” said Shane Fogarty with a rueful smile. “Everyone could be in for a bit of a shock today.”
As is customary on this September Sunday, the streets were deserted save for a few tourists who must think Kilkenny is a fierce quiet place altogether and those rare Kilkenny folk who have no interest in hurling and took the opportunity to hit the shops.
Back at the Playwright, one of the bar workers told customers she had a bet on Galway.
“Send him to the tower,” said John Downing after Kilkenny missed a shot but, as normal service was all but restored during a thrilling second half, the faith returned. The final score was Galway 2-13, Kilkenny 0-19.
“There is a God above,” said one of those present. “We are believers.”