September means one thing in Kilkenny - the All-Ireland final
COUNTDOWN TO FINAL: No organisation is as organised at allocating All-Ireland tickets as Kilkenny County Board
THE KILKENNY County Board is well-versed at this stage in the hierarchy of allocations for All-Ireland tickets.
Among those who are first in the queue are former players who have won senior All-Ireland titles with the county.
On a sheet of paper kept at the county board headquarters at Nowlan Park the names are listed alphabetically. There’s Canice Brennan, Eddie Brennan, Kieran Brennan, Martin Brennan, Mick Brennan and Nickey Brennan. And that’s just the Brennans.
The list runs to five pages and approximately 200 names. No other county, with the possible exception of Kerry – who have had relatively fallow times recently – could boast such a roll call of honour.
Like the turning of the season and the return to school, early September means only one thing in Kilkenny – the All-Ireland hurling final. They’ve been in the last seven finals, a record, and 13 of the last 15.
“We don’t get used to it, but we get better at organising it,” said county board secretary Ned Quinn.
At least this year’s final has a novel look about it. Kilkenny haven’t played Galway in an All-Ireland decider for 20 years.
Demand for tickets has been brisk. The allocation of 16,000 has been sold, and sales are up a further 700 on last year.
Kilkenny supporters club secretary Ned Freeman described the demand as “unreal” even if it is the 16th All-Ireland final since the club was founded in 1991. There is no diminishing appetite among Kilkenny fans for All-Ireland glory even if they’ve won five of the last six.
“We haven’t got any more tickets. They’re all gone at this stage. If I had tickets now I’d have homes for them, but I can’t get them,” he said.
“Hurling is like food here in Kilkenny. Hurling is what we are all about.”
Kilkenny people tend to do things low-key. The city is bedecked in black and amber, the Marble City train with its black and amber engine and its Kilkenny flag out the back trundles around the town, there’s a giant figurine of a hurler on the roof of one of the pubs, but they tend not to shout about it even if they have every reason to do so.
In nearby Castlecomer the Kilkenny flags ar also out for the Friday market.
Local woman Angela Molloy will wear the jersey her daughter won in a local shop on Sunday. She tends not to go to All-Ireland finals, but has made an exception this year because her nephew, Richie Doyle, is on the panel.
“You kind of get people saying ‘not Kilkenny again, it’s not good for hurling’, but we can’t help it if we’re good and that’s not boasting,” she said.
Yesterday Kilkenny manager Brian Cody was awarded an honorary degree at University College Cork.
It was his first such award, and he said he was delighted to honoured along with fellow sportsmen rugby star Ronan O’Gara, former soccer international Denis Irwin, horse trainer Aidan O’Brien and dual GAA star Mary O’Connor.
“Obviously I had no idea or expectation, and the invite came out of the blue. But when you get an offer like this you respect it and appreciate it – it crossed my mind when I got the invite that I might be involved in some other wonderful activity this weekend,” he smiled.