IT was green and white all the way in Ballybrown NS this week as the GAA-mad pupils there held a colours day ahead of the opening weekend of Limerick’s GAA championship challenge in both hurling and football.
Next-door neighbours Clare are the opposition in both codes, with the action kicking off at 7pm on Saturday when the footballers travel to Cusack Park in Ennis.
Then on Sunday, Limerick’s hurlers take on the Bannermen in their championship opener at 4pm in Thurles’ Semple Stadium.
Sunday’s game will be televised live on RTE and will see the Shannonside neighbours battle for a semi final spot against Tipperary, in a game that will be played in Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds on June 20, regardless of the victor on Sunday.
The bookies can’t decide and have listed both Limerick and Clare at evens in the hurling.
Irrespective of the outcome, it will be a day to remember for two Ballybrown pupils who will play in the half time game. Keith Punch and Cliodhna Hall will proudly don the Limerick jersey when they take on Clare in the primary game. “It is a brilliant opportunity and we are all very excited,” said principal Joe Lyons who described Ballybrown as a “GAA-mad school”.
“We had the Sam Maguire here in January and we are hoping to have the MacCarthy Cup here in September,” he added confidently.
This will be the 53rd time the two teams have met in the hurling championship, with Limerick leading 34-17 (one game was drawn) from their previous 52 clashes.
This will be their first meeting in the Munster championship since 2008 when Clare won by 4-12 to 1-16 in the semi-final in Thurles.
In the football, Clare are slight favourites but Limerick will be hoping to repeat their victory in this year’s league when they won by 2-10 to 1-5. The two teams last met in the championship in 2012 when Clare won a Munster semi-final by a point.
Thousands of GAA fans are expected to travel for both games but particularly the hurling, with crowds of over 25,000 expected in Thurles on Sunday.
Iarnród Eireann has put on a special service from Limerick at 2.20pm, arriving in Thurles at 3.04pm. This is in addition to the regular services, at 12.45pm and 1.50pm. It is understood that all return trains are booked up until the 8.20 service.
On Saturday, there will be a regular service to Ennis, with trains at 4.30pm and 6.15pm, while buses will also go at the usual times.
For those planning to attend both matches, the Munster GAA Council has a dual ticket package that includes admission to both games. This costs €30 (including access to the covered stand in Semple Stadium) or €20 (terrace ticket in Semple Stadium), with a juvenile package costing €5. Tickets can be bought online or from most Centra and Supervalu stores. They will also be on sale at the Gaelic Grounds this Thursday from 10.30am to 6pm. Match tickets will also be available at both grounds ahead of the games.