Limerick hurling supporters have thrown down the gauntlet to their Cork counterparts ahead of Sunday's All-Ireland senior hurling championship final, one of the most anticipated in years,
Treaty superfan Anthony "Whacky" Galvin hit back at attempts by Cork's lord mayor to cross the Limerick border in search of the Liam MacCarthy Cup, which has been kept safe by the 2020 champions.
Galvin was responding to lord mayor Colm Kelleher being good-naturedly rebuffed by Limerick mayor Daniel Butler at the border, with the pair meeting to raise hurleys at dawn there on Thursday as the build-up to the final intensified.
"The only good thing to come out of Cork was the road to Limerick," joked Galvin (55), the die-hard supporter known as "Whacky" on the GAA terraces, who is certain Limerick will take Cork's scalp.
“We’re really witnessing the very best of Limerick hurling ever at the moment, this is our third final in four years,” he said. “We have a fantastic side with a great subs bench, a fantastic manager, the fanbase is there; we never had it so good.
“Without being too confident, I honestly think we’ll be too strong for Cork. Cork will put it up to Limerick and I like to see a good game, but I think Limerick have the stamina to win – they are an all-round machine,” he said.
Whacky has followed his green and white heroes the length and breadth of the country for decades. "I'm following them practically all my life, since I was a child when I went to Thurles with my dad for big Munster championships. I've been to all the Limerick All-Irelands after 1973, unfortunately the sad ones.
“But, now these are the good times and we have to milk it, and the Cork milk is sweet. We’ll be singing on Monday, not the Rebels.”
For Whacky, the All-Ireland final day is magical. “It’s the beauty of it, the fans, the colour, the speed of the hurling, the players aren’t rolling around on the ground looking for an Oscar.”
Surge in sales
Steve Gleeson, owner of Gleeson Sport Scene, was happy to report "more hurleys have been sold in Limerick than they ever have been".
The store, which has been synonymous with Limerick GAA for decades and is located on William Street in Limerick city, has sold out of official team merchandise.
“This year business has been busier than any other year, even in 2018 when Limerick finally ended the 45-year drought; it’s all going out the door – jerseys, hurleys, balls, the whole lot,” Gleeson said.
“I fancy Limerick, they’re more skilful than Cork, and while Cork have been coming good of late, Limerick have that little bit more experience.”
Not a chair or table is to be had in pubs across the city and county, all of which are booked out on Sunday.
Health officials, the GAA, and gardaí have urged fans of both sides who are gathering for social events for the final to act sensibly and follow public health guidelines to prevent a potential serious outbreak of Covid-19.