Hurling final: Tipperary woman a lone soldier in a sea of Cats

Mairéad Frisby: ‘It would be lovely to have a win and shove a little back’ at Kilkenny

Mairéad Frisby from Tipperary (centre, in blue and gold), a special needs assistant at Grennan College in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, with students in Kilkenny colours ahead of this weekend’s All-Ireland Hurling final between Kilkenny and Tipperary. Photograph: Dylan Vaughan

Mairéad Frisby from Tipperary (centre, in blue and gold), a special needs assistant at Grennan College in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, with students in Kilkenny colours ahead of this weekend’s All-Ireland Hurling final between Kilkenny and Tipperary. Photograph: Dylan Vaughan

 

It can be a lonely life for one Tipperary fan, ensconced deep in enemy territory in Kilkenny.

Mairéad Frisby is from Mullinahone in Tipperary, just like former stars Eoin Kelly, John Leahy and Paul Curran, but has called Mullinavat on the far side of Kilkenny her home for 37 years.

She works as a special needs assistant at Grennan College in Thomastown.

So her grin will be bigger than most on Monday if her native county’s hurlers do the business in the All-Ireland hurling final tomorrow. “It would be lovely to have a win and shove a little back at them,” Ms Frisby said yesterday on jersey day at Grennan College, when her blue and gold colours were a bit forlorn in a river of black and amber.

Up to recently, school principal Willie Norton from Ballingarry was another Tipp supporter to keep her company in her workplace. But since his retirement in 2011, she’s been on her own.

‘Mixed marriage’

“I’m keeping the flag flying, I’m the only Tipperary person here now. In the last couple of years we had some students with Tipp connections but they’ve gone now, so I’m on my own.

“Over the years, you get used to it. For the last win in 2010, our daughter got married a week after so we had a lot of colour and a great day. There’s no wedding this time but a Tipp win would do nicely.”

Her husband Jack, a native of Mullinavat – “we’re a mixed marriage” – will be sporting the Kilkenny colours on Sunday. Their three children are also Cat-fans, so it really can be a lonely place at times for her.

“I must say, I’m a big Kilkenny supporter when they’re playing any other team but Tipp. I do admire them and I admire Brian Cody, he’s a fantastic manager,” she says diplomatically.

More diplomacy may be required on Monday, whoever is the winner.