AFTER a rollercoaster All Ireland final fans were left with mixed emotions at the final whistle - relief that the Liam McCarthy Cup is still within reach and bitter disappointment that a heroic second half performance didn’t result in a win.
Fans were absolute in their confidence that Kilkenny would win in the hours leading up to the match. There was an electric atmosphere in Christy’s Bar in the heart of Kilkenny’s hurling homeland as fans of all ages gathered to cheer on the Cats. Stephen Comerford from the Kells Road was predicting a five point win. “It will be close enough but they will come good in the end,” he said. Jack Hanrahan from Altamount Park agreed that Kilkenny would win. “The only thing that might let us down is our midfield,” he said.
Staunch Village supporter Moira Holohan said admitted that she had ‘a soft spot for Henry’ who she predicted would play a pivotal role in the match. “He is great for passing the ball when someone has a better chance. The first 15 minutes will tell how the game will go,” she said. Another Shefflin supporter watching the match was five-year-old Cameron Power from Loughbou. His father, David predicted a six or seven point victory for Kilkenny. Fran Kiely added that he had ‘no doubt’ but that the Liam McCarthy Cup would be returning to the Marble City,
11-year-old Sophie Burke said that she was a ‘big Kilkenny fan’. “Tommy Walsh is the best. He came to our team before with the team. He is my grand dad’s second cousin. I am very excited about the match,” she said.
Friends Dylan Ruth from Foulkstown and Willie Butler from De La Salle Place were both confident of a win with Dylan added that it would be a tough match.
However by half time fans were in a mild state of shock as Galway led and were clearly on top for most of the opening half. Stephen Comerford was without words and Moira Holohan was ‘very disappointed’ with the Kilkenny performance. “They will come back stronger but they need to score early on. When Galway got the goal at the start of the first half it knocked the wind out of them. There is only five points in the difference and in an All Ireland final that is nothing. It will be a tough second half but we will come back fighting,” she said.
Clinton Walsh from Ashwood said that he was ‘absolutely shocked’ by the first half. “I was not expecting such a poor first half. They looked very nervous but against Tipperary they came out in the second half and destroyed them so hopefully they will do the same today,” he said.
John Stevenson, whose mother the late Kathleen Pollard came from James Green travelled from his home in Glasgow to watch the match. “They didn’t have any fight in them in the first half. I thought that they would be more up for it,” he said.
After an inspiring comeback hearts were racing as Kilkenny edged forward in the closing minutes of the game. However it was not to be and when the final whistle blew fans were stunned into silence. “I am really disappointed. They were winning and then bang one point and the whistle ended it,” said Katie Dillon from Dunamaggin. Michelle Hill from Kilmanagh agreed that the result was ‘an anti climax’ but added that the Cats had made another heroic comeback.