Some of the Limerick Supporters in Austin, pictured at the State Capital building
SUPPORTERS might be under strict orders to keep the hype under control in Limerick but excitement has hit “fever- pitch level” more than 5,000 miles away in Austin, Texas where a green army of devoted Limerick fans are gearing up for this Sunday’s showdown.
That’s according to Garryspillane’s Dave Tobin, who relocated Stateside more than 15 years ago.
Dave will shortly be heading home to see his 82-year old dad John Tobin, a lifetime member of Garryspillane GAA club and a former officer of the club for over 40 years. According to Dave, John has followed Limerick hurling through thick and thin, attended the 1973 final and will be praying for a victory this coming weekend!
The last number of years has seen a thriving Irish community take root in Austin, with a large cohort of expats hailing directly from the Treaty City.
“It is probably predominantly Limerick people here, mainly people from Limerick and some Cork too,” Dave tells the Limerick Leader from Austin.
“The rivalry during the semi-final was fierce,” he laughed. “But we all get along very well together. We’re here a long time now and we’ve seen the city growing. It wasn’t as popular when we came out here first.”
Keen to keep the GAA club tradition alive, even in the blistering Texas heat, a dedicated group of exports founded the Celtic Cowboys in 2004, one of only a handful of clubs in the region.
The club, which was spearheaded by Croaghman Pat Doab, has grown significantly in recent years, collecting a handsome bunch of North America GAA championship medals in both hurling and football.
“There’s a good 10 or 12 who’ll be coming back for the final. All Limerick lads and if we were home during the summer, we’d be going to all the games, it's not like we’re jumping on a bandwagon,” Pat laughed.
“We nearly play more GAA out here. It's a good scene. For a long time we didn’t have anyone to play against so we just play international rules against the Aussie Rules guys.”
“We still do that but in 2012 teams set up in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio so we’ve a Texas championship. We also work away ourselves preparing for the North American championship which is usually the first Sunday in September.”
“A busy few months for us and its melting hot here in July and August so it's not conducive to training but sure, you’d survive!”
“The semi-final was great craic, there’s a lot of Cork folks and Limerick folks involved in the club so there was great banter.” There was no hard feelings after the semi-final, he added. “Sure, how could we have hard feelings when we won!”
Pat also organised the hosting of the GAA hurling All-stars back in 2015 and the club was honoured to welcome the president of CLG Aogán Ó Fearghail, Declan Hannon and Shane Dowling to the city.
“They brought Liam MacCarthy with them so we’re thinking if Limerick win, they’ll have to bring it back out again!”
As well as Pat and Dave, other Treaty expats involved in the running, training and coaching side of the Celtic Cowboys include: Mike Malone, Brian Costello, Darragh Carey, John Downes, Patrick Linnane, Billy Morrissey, Margie Sheehan, Aisling Carey Mullally, Patrick Howard, Darragh Bonfil, Kevin Morata and John O’Dwyer, with Clare’s Sean O’Reilly and Offaly’s PJ Mullally heavily involved in recruitment and getting some brilliant Limerick folks on board.
For the Austin-Limerick supporters who won’t make it to Croke Park this Sunday, their local Irish pub BD Riley’s will be the port-of-call to watch the final.