Up the Balbec! Excitement in Kilmallock at fever pitch

Donal O’Regan


Donal O’Regan

Children from Kilmallock National School show their support for the hurlers: Pictured are Aoife Garvey, Nathan  Lowe, Rachel Fenton, Tadgh Lynch and Trever Lowe
PLANES, trains and automobiles have been commandeered to transport a huge number of travelling Kilmallock GAA fans to Croke Park.

PLANES, trains and automobiles have been commandeered to transport a huge number of travelling Kilmallock GAA fans to Croke Park.

Cars, buses and a special train from Charleville will be going up on St Patrick’s Day, but some will be coming from much further away.

Steven Connery, Kilmallock GAA chairman, says he knows four lads flying in from Australia especially for the game.

One of them is his first cousin, Anthony Connery, while another placed a bet of over €700 at short odds on Kilmallock to beat Portaferry to make up the difference for his plane ticket.

He didn’t have a second’s worry and he will be there to see them try and become the first Limerick club to win a senior All-Ireland against Ballyhale Shamrocks.

“There is fantastic buzz around – it is really building up since the weekend. The train can take 550 passengers and it’s not far off being sold-out “There are lads flying in from Australia – I was talking to one man and he said his son is coming in from America. There are a lot coming from England. There is a fair crowd travelling. I suppose we don’t get there that often,” said Steven.

Kilmallock gardai say they will be carrying out extra patrols in the parish due to the amount of empty houses on St Patrick’s Day.

The Croke Park ticket office sold discounted tickets last Thursday and the complex was packed.

“I’d say there was about 1,000 tickets sold that night alone. There was a queue out the door from 6pm to after 8pm. It wasn’t just from Kilmallock, there was a lot from surrounding areas in South Limerick – Kilfinane, Effin, Bruff, Bruree. There is great support,” said Steven.

The former Kilmallock player thinks there could be up 10,000 cheering on the men in green and white, who the bookies have written off. Ballyhale are hot favourites at 1/2 with Kilmallock available at 2/1 with Paddy Power.

“A lot of Limerick people are hoping, the fact that it was never done before, that it will be done and there will be success off it. I think it would lift the whole county,” said Steven.

One man who was there back in 1993 when they were beaten by Sarsfields of Galway was Limerick great, Mike Houlihan.

His advice to the players of 2015 is embrace it.

“We were there in 1993 and definitely the ‘93 team will be remembered for their achievements but they have the opportunity to never be forgotten. I hope they embrace the opportunity and it will never be forgotten,” said Mike.