THE lyrics have been composed, the flags unfurled and the Banner bangers have been wheeled out, leaving the county gripped in hurling final fever, ahead of Sunday’s All-Ireland final showdown with Cork.
The game has massive global appeal, with Clare’s diaspora going to great efforts to travel home from great distances or gathering with friends in their homes, bars or GAA clubs to see the drama unfold.
The frenetic scramble for tickets continues unabated and despite the Clare GAA County Board receiving a second allocation from Croke Park, hundreds of dejected Clare fans are still exploring all avenues in the hope of securing that elusive ticket.
However, for those who don’t get to Croker, Ennis Town Council has stepped in to help. Abbey Street car park will be transformed on Sunday afternoon as the town authority hopes to generate an electric atmosphere by broadcasting the game live on a big screen. Entertainment gets underway at 2.30pm and will continue until 6pm.
Ennis town manager, Ger Dollard said, “There has been huge build-up of excitement in Clare in recent days and weeks and as a result, we are delighted to play our part in adding to what will be a wonderful occasion for Clare people next Sunday, by broadcasting the game on the big screen.
“It will enable people to celebrate All-Ireland final day with fellow Clare supporters not fortunate enough to get to Dublin.”
Vehicular access to Abbey Street car park will be restricted from early Sunday morning. However, people travelling to the town centre to watch the game on the big screen can avail of free parking at various other locations throughout the town.
Political figures in the county have spoken of the enormous pride of Clare contesting their first All-Ireland senior final since 2002, when the net minder that day was manager, Davy Fitzgerald.
Mayor of Clare Joe Arkins reflected the level of confidence in the team by declaring, “I am not going to Dublin to see Clare play but rather I am going to Croke Park to see them win”.
“The sense of achievement that the hurlers have instilled in the people of Clare, irrespective if they are hurling fans or not, cannot be understated. The Clare hurlers have made people stand up and proclaim with pride ‘I’m from Clare’.
“Housing estates and the highways and byways of Clare are awash with saffron and blue flags and bunting. This has injected a feel-good factor into everyday life in Clare and it’s a mood that only a Clare appearance in an All-Ireland final can generate.
“I believe we have not seen a hurling team as exciting and gifted as this young Clare side in many a year. We have followed the county’s hurling teams through good times and bad times. To everyone associated with the Clare team – I say you travel to Croke Park knowing you have the full support of an entire county behind you.”
Mayor of Ennis Mary Coote-Ryan said the performances of the Clare team to date have demonstrated the wealth of the sporting talent that exists in the county and how the young hurlers are able to compete with and defeat the country’s top teams.
“The pride, passion and skill demonstrated by this group of young men are a tribute to everybody associated with hurling in the county. Their achievements also are an immense source of pride for Clare people at home and abroad.
“I wish to also acknowledge the backroom team and management who, with the support of the county board, have invested considerable time and energy into Clare’s championship campaign this year. I look forward to the Liam McCarthy Cup returning to Clare after a 16-year absence,” she added.
The team’s homecoming on Monday night will be broadcast to worldwide audiences on the Ennis App and on www.ennisapp.ie.
Two of the country’s leading digital communications specialists, Acton Web and Paschal Brook’s Clare TV, both based in Ennis, have come together to provide the latest digital broadcast technology and sponsor the broadcasting of live pictures worldwide.
The homecoming event is an initiative of Ennis Town Council and Clare County Council and will take place at Active Ennis Tim Smythe Park, also known as The Fairgreen. The team is expected to arrive between 8pm and 8.30pm.