WHILE tens of thousands of Clare fans will watch their team in Croke Park this Saturday, many more will be cheering from around the world.
Some will be shouting at big screens from bar stools early in the afternoon. Others will be wiping sleep from their eyes while cowering beneath mosquito nets. More will be shouting into the silence while clinging to their headphones.
PE teacher Jayne McMahon from Ennis is living in Ulsan, an industrial city located on the south-east coast of Korea. There are some Irish there but none from Clare, as far as she knows. She will watch the match alongside a Cork man. The Gort Road woman hopes this will enhance the atmosphere.
“Unfortunately, due to the time difference, I had to stream the last game on my laptop at home at 11pm Sunday night. I wasn’t in the most exciting atmosphere but I was still sitting on the edge of my seat with the tension brought about in the final minutes of the game,” she remembers.
Jayne is teaching 72 elementary-school children between the ages of seven and 13 in a satellite town half an hour outside the city.
“I’m extremely disappointed to be away from home during this exciting time for the county. In an effort to show my support for the team and the county, I dedicated my classes to the wonderful sport that is hurling. My students are now fully informed of the history and rules of the game. They enjoyed the day learning about the sport, singing songs and making banners. Both my students and I are backing ye all the way and we’re so excited for Clare to win, bringing McCarthy home again,” she says.
“I’ve sent so many YouTube clips of hurling to my foreign friends in the past few weeks and I love their reactions to the game of hurling. However, the best response yet has come from one of my students, as he described it as ‘crazy soccer golf’,” she adds.
For Jayne, the draw was a tricky result to explain to her young students. “I couldn’t believe the final score. It was a shocking result after fantastic hurling from Clare. I guess I felt disappointed for them but relieved at the same time. My students were so eager to hear the score on Monday morning and when I told them it was a draw, just like us they were shocked, saying ‘teacher, not win, not lose?’, ‘yes,’ I said, ‘Clare… not win, not lose’,” she recalls.
Jayne would have loved to come home for the game. She has been in South Korea since February but it wasn’t to be.
“Korea is just that bit too far from home, and with work and flight costs, it was not an option for me. However, I am very happy that the replay is on a Saturday as I have arranged with a bar owner in Ulsan to stream the game on the big screen at midnight. I’m now promoting the night and hope to get a good crowd in to watch the game. I will also decorate the pub with the Clare colours and I will have everyone informed about hurling before the big day,” she promises.
West Clare man Dermot Tubridy lives in Karratha, Western Australia. He will be watching the match on the picturesque Phi Phi Islands, Thailand. He missed the last match, so the replay offers him another chance to hopefully watch Patrick Donnellan and his team-mates lift the Liam McCarthy Cup.
“I’m on a two-week holiday from Australia at the moment. I’m living and working in Karratha in the north of the country. I hope to be back in Clare at Christmas because I have not been back since I left and it will be two years in February. I missed the last game because Setanta was down. I thought it was an amazing game. I considered flying home for the match but work was too important and also for replay but I came to Thailand for a holiday instead,” he says.
Dermot has gone the extra yard in terms of his support for the team, getting a very special suit made in shimmering saffron and blue.
“I’m showing my support by getting a tailor-made Clare suit; a one of a kind and it is awesome, I have to say. I’ll be supporting the Banner in style in the Jameson Irish Bar in Phi Phi Island, hoping and praying that they bring back the glory days. C’mon the Banner.”
Emmet McCarthy and his partner, Claire Hayes, will be shouting on the Clare team from New Zealand. The Clare pair are wishing the Banner the best of luck for the big match.
“We will never forget the success we had in ’95 and ’97 and we wish so much to be at home again for the big game. We look forward to getting up at 4am to see the game,” the pair said.
Three young Claremen, currently based in the Middle East, will be keeping tabs on Saturday’s replay and wishing they could be in Croke Park.
They left Ireland last month to work in the International School of Choueifat in Oman in the Middle East.
They are all teaching English but given their love of Gaelic games, would love to be at Saturday’s match.
Kevin Meaney from Lismorris, Lissycasey, played underage football for Lissycasey, Ciarán Hanna from Clonroadmore, Ennis, played with Éire Óg, while Jayme Keogh played with his native Sixmilebridge.