'Home of hurling' prepares for party

 

THURLES:WITHIN MINUTES of the referee’s final whistle sounding from the Croke Park pitch, the cars were streaming around Liberty Square in Thurles with horns blaring, passengers shouting “up Tipp” out the windows and thoughts already turning to the team’s homecoming.

Arguably the most hyped final of them all had ended in a surprisingly comfortable win for Tipperary and the self-styled “home of hurling” was in carnival mood. Fitting then, that the crucial goals should come from a native of Thurles, Lar Corbett.

“Not only did we beat them, we annihilated them,” one supporter in Hayes’s Hotel said with a tone of bewilderment.

Across the square in the County Bar, barman John Coman predicted a “manic” night tonight when the team and its entourage arrive home. Liberty Square was relatively quiet before the match, “because half of Thurles is up in Dublin”, he said.

That included proprietor Liam Kennedy, although he’s expected back in time for tonight’s celebrations.

Tucked just inside the Kilkenny border near Tipperary is Urlingford. Owner of the Urlingford Arms, Nicholas Healy, sporting a Kilkenny top, said he was glad to see Tipperary people coming along with their custom – despite the afternoon’s events.

Outside, Tipp-supporting Stephen Barnaville and John Kelly said “a gang from Gortnahoe” were responsible for painting blue-and-gold colours and “Up Tipp” on the Urlingford signs leading into the town.

Another sign, on the Littleton Road, predicted that “the drive for five ends here”. And so it was.

ALL-IRELAND THE HOMECOMINGS

The Tipperary team is expected to be greeted in Liberty Square, Thurles, after 6pm this evening before going on to Semple Stadium.

The Kilkenny teams are due back in Kilkenny city by train between 6 and 6.15pm.