THE VILLAGE INN is at the heart of a hurling stronghold and young and old were out in force last Sunday to support Kilkenny in their historic clash against the Tribesmen.
Confidence was unfaltering in the lead-up with fans sure that this time the Cats would deliver. “I think Kilkenny will win by at least five points and I think that the forwards will play a lot better this time round,” said Gavin Blanchfield from Cootes Lane. Ronnie Grace from the Waterford Road was predicting a seven-point win. “I think that they will win by around seven points. I feel that they have a lot more motivation this time. There were a lot of players who didn’t play to their full strength in the first final. The two changes in the front line bringing in Cillian Buckley and Walter Walsh will freshen up the forward line. The height and physicality of those two men will cause Galway a lot of difficulties.”
Rebecca Walsh admitted she was ‘nervous’. “They will have to improve but they will do it all right.” Her mother Noreen O’Keeffe said that she thought that the match would be ‘very tight’. “It will be won or lost in the first twenty minutes but I think Kilkenny will come out with fire in them,” she said.
One fan who had complete confidence was Gabriel Maher who predicted a ten-point victory at the very least. “The forwards are better and Cody made some good changes in the front line,” he said. Carmel Savage who was at the Village Inn with her sister Geraldine and the four Scott sisters: Ann, Mary, Noreen (who travelled over from London to watch the match) and Marian. “I think that they will do very well. I hope my neighbour Jackie Tyrell does well. He was reared beside me. I am very proud to be his neighbour.” she said.
At half time supporters were pleased with their team’s performance. “Kilkenny dominated but they should be further ahead. The whole team performed well and will have to keep that up to win it,” he said. Adrian McGuinness from Loughboy said it was ‘a very good first half’. “They did better than the first day and they could win it but there are another 35 minutes to go. It is hard to call,” he said. His father, Paddy McGuinness described the first half as ‘brilliant’. “Kilkenny are playing a lot better than they did the first time round. I think they will win it handily enough,” he said.
Seamus Nugent and his sons James (15) and Ryan (13) were also soaking in the atmosphere at The Village Inn and were all predicting that the Liam McCarthy Cup would be returning to the banks of the Nore. William English anticipated an eight-point win. “The forwards are all firing well. I think that they will win by around eight points.”
After an exciting second half fans and supporters revelled in the knowledge that Kilkenny had performed magnificiently and as the final whistle drew closer there was little doubt that Kilkenny would be crowned All-Ireland Senior Hurling Champions for the 34th time.