All-Ireland Hurling at the Sydney Opera House

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Clare people in Sydney will congregate at the landmark Opera House on All-Ireland final day for an historic photo where the countdown to the big game will begin in earnest, reports Claire Gallagher.

At 1am on the morning of Sunday September 8, 2013 hours after the Clare hurlers have been safely tucked up in their beds by Davy, thousands of air miles away Clare natives will begin preparing for All Ireland glory.
For in Sydney harbour the sun will have already risen on All Ireland Sunday, and Clare natives will begin the metaphorical march to Croker with a good Sunday Mass.
Yes you can take the boys and girls out of the Banner, but you will not take the Banner out of these stringent hurling fans.
At 10 am, the day will begin with a call for some divine intervention in support of Davy and his apostles, followed by a good hearty breakfast – always good to get a run at the day.
All the while these Clare natives of the southern hemisphere will have dressed in saffron and blue, as they prepare for a momentous photo at Mrs Macquaries Point, Sydney.
Every Clare supporter in Australia has been invited to take part in the photo of a lifetime, with the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour in the background.
The photo shoot has been organised for 2.30 pm giving everyone a chance to catch up on the Clare gossip abroad and prepare the Banner Roar for the match scheduled to begin about half an hour after midnight local time.
These fans are planning to watch the match on TV together in a Sydney Bar deep into the night, all in the hope of All Ireland glory.
There will be few among them that will not be wishing to be on the Hill or in the Cusack Stand, but this gathering according to the woman behind the “Backing the Banner Boys Down Under” campaign is one way of making the most of the event and beating off some of the home sickness.
Ballynacally woman Marie McNamara, who now lives in Coogee, New South Wales, just outside Sydney said she set up the facebook event page after the All Ireland Semi Final.
People from all over Clare and Limerick had gathered in the same Sydney pub, decked out in their colours. There were chance meetings with people from home,and new friendships made.
It was also agreed among the Clare fans that something should be organised for the All-Ireland.
“It transpired from there. We are in the All-Ireland now and we were all getting a bit homesick and nostalgic,” said Ms McNamara.
“The photo idea came from Donegal last year. They did it, and they were in the paper over here. But we are taking it to another level and inviting anyone that knows anyone by Facebook, word of mouth, text messages, and the like.”
“It kind of transpired from that then. I face booked a few of them from that night, and when I got up on Sunday morning about 60 people had joined the conversation. And then they knew people I didn’t know and I knew people they didn’t know and all of a sudden there was this massive interest in it,” she said.
“It is getting some feedback in fairness,” she added.
All Ireland fever has taken hold among the emigrants, ex-Pats and back packers from the Banner County.
“We are so far away from home. There was such a buzz about it even over here and everyone is so excited about it. It would be nice to mark it some way. For us there are so many local people from Ballynacally, Kildysart, Ballyea, Labasheeda, Coolmeen all the areas around.
“To get everyone in the same spot to have a bit of a laugh and be with people that you know, and be with people who are going to be supporting the same people you are supporting,” explained Marie.
And while the Clare people down under are making the most of the event, most would still be home for the day.
“I can’t believe I am missing the All Ireland. I still remember 1995 when they won and myself and my mother in the Canal End. We were all divided up because of the rummage for tickets that year as well,” recalls the Ballynacally woman.
“While we can’t be at home for it, we are going to make it as good as we can over here.”

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About Author

A native of Galway, Claire Gallagher began her career in Clare where she worked as a producer, reporter and presenter in Clare FM. Since then she has worked as a senior journalist with The Kildare Nationalist and the Tuam Herald, and as a news reporter in Mid West Radio. She also spent time with Limerick Live 95FM and Galway Bay FM and worked as a research officer in Leinster House for a year in 2002. She is a graduate of NUI Maynooth.

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