It’s a bit like waiting for a London bus for many Tipperary supporters on All-Ireland hurling final on Sunday September 4. You wait ages for one to arrive and then three turn up one after another!
But despite the familiarity and even predictability of this year’s All-Ireland final pairing the general consensus among both sets of supporters is that another hurling showpiece classic looks assured. The countdown will be quite different to the previous two years with the end of Kilkenny’s epic reign in last year’s unforgettable showdown now shifting the emphasis towards the holders Tipperary.
Many London-based Gaels drawn from both of this year’s finalists are involved in the ‘business end’ of their own domestic championships. Current county champions Kilburn Gaels have nine Tipperary natives in their panel as well as manager and Moyne-native Tom Bergin.
Kiburn Gaels won their first senior title last year, eighteen years after being established as an underage age club with Ballyporeen native and former London GAA chairman Eugene Hickey being one of their founder members. The current London champions were also the inaugural winners of the Thurles Sarsfields’ 13-a-side tournament played on the eve on this year’s Munster Final on July 9.
More recently south London based Fulham Irish have affiliated a hurling team and led by Roscrea native and former Sean Treacy’s stalwart Martin Carroll are currently enjoying a very encouraging start. Sprinkled with players from many counties, Fulham Irish have reached the semi-finals of the intermediate championship and are also looking forward to appearances in the League Final as well finals of the Ronan and McCullough Cups.
“Effective recruitment has been the key to our success so far this year and we are continuing in our drive to register players arriving from Ireland,” said Martin who is a native of Knock and uncle of former Tipperary star John Carroll who was a member of the 2001 All-Ireland winners.
“I’m looking forward to another All-Ireland final weekend and hopefully another famous Tipperary victory but it will be tough for Declan Ryan’s team and just like last year’s decider they will need to go right for them early in the game,” concluded Martin.
Brothers Declan and David O’Connell and Sean Purcell (Ballingarry), Colm Kennedy (Cahir), Philip Dalton (Carrick-on-Suir), Tom O’Keefe are among the Tipperary representatives in the Fulham Irish hurling panel. But one of Fulham Irish’s latest recruits is Eamonn ‘Ogie’ Long, a brother of Republic of Ireland and Premiership soccer star Shane. Ogie and fellow Gortnahoe native Kevin Maher are two important members of the fledgling hurling club as is Declan Guilfoyle from just over the Kilkenny border in Urlingford.
“It’s the final we all want and may the best team win on the day” said Ogie Long who was accompanied by mother Ann Long who travelled up from Reading to watch Fulham Irish play.
Members of the Fulham Irish hurling club assembled at their base in the Gardeners Arms, Mitcham after a recent victory over Cuchullains where they were treated to the usual after-match treats by landlady and Dunkerrin native Anne Brereton who will definitely be cheering on the men in blue and gold on All-Ireland final day.
“Most of the lads come back here after games for a general banter and a drink. After Tipperary’s tough semi-final encounter against Dublin they finally relax and look forward to another All-Ireland weekend,” said Anne.
Meanwhile well known London GAA referee and Tipperary native Mattie Maher is also Croke Park bound on September 4th.
“I was not too impressed with their semi-final performance against Dublin but hopefully that tough game will stand to them against Kilkenny and that they can peak like they did in last year’s unforgettable final. But I’ll settle for the same the result anyhow!” said Mattie who is also the team manager of Moindearg GFC.