President of the GAA Liam O’ Neill was in Kilkenny yesterday, where he took the opportunity to sing the praises of Henry Shefflin to the children of St John’s Senior national school.
The Laois native said that he was obliged to remain neutral before and during this Sunday’s All-Ireland clash, but that whoever the victor, the hurling community would be happy.
“From a neutral point of view, I know we will have a great game,” said Mr O’ Neill.
“Will we see Galway win it for the first time since 1988? Or will we see Henry Shefflin get his ninth All-Ireland medal? We talk about greats like Christy Ring and Noel Skehan; it’s hard to believe we could see someone win nine on the field.
“If it happens, it will probably never, ever happen again. Whatever way [the game] goes, people will be happy about the hurling.”
Earlier in the afternoon, the primary school children had welcomed the GAA president with a rousing rendition of the Rose of Mooncoin. Also in attendance was former Kilkenny hurler (and past pupil of St John’s) Andy Comerford, as well as O’ Loughlin Gaels president Eamon Doyle.
The GAA president said he was personally delighted the match on September 9 had been a draw because the replay highlighted another element of the twists and excitement of the sport.
“I don’t remember the last replay in 1959,” he said.
“I was alive, but I don’t remember it. So this is a new experience in most of our hurling memories. Now we get to go and watch these great players again.”
Unbudging on the neutrality issue, Mr O’ Neill did have some encouragement for some of the Cats’ youngest fans:
“Enjoy the weekend, and enjoy supporting your team,” he said.
“I hope you are happy people at the end of it.”