Fun and Games at Shannon as Clare - Limerick Rivalry Grips
14 August 2013
Shannon Airport may connect the wider West of Ireland region with much of the world but in a sporting sense this week it is most definitely split down the middle for two neighbouring counties.
The airport is as good a temperature gauge as any for the All-Ireland semi-final fever that is gripping Clare and Limerick ahead of the biggest ever game between these great old rivals and neighbours.
And as the big game approaches, the gauge is pumping out the saffron and blue of Clare and green and white of Limerick in equal measures. By the weekend, expect that whatever is stationary at the airport -which has had plenty to cheer about this summer in terms of passenger growth -has a good chance of being draped in one county’s colours or the other.
The airport may be in Clare but the Banner County and Limerick colours are being equally splashed across desk space, down corridors, in shops and on cars in the staff and passenger car park as the friendly rivalry takes hold in the run-up to the game.
The colours will envelop the airport even more on Friday when staff are being encouraged by management to go all-out for their county by sporting their colours.
Passengers are adding into the mix, with many already starting to return from abroad into Shannon to spend time with family and friends before joining the crusade to Croker on Sunday for the big game.
Among those with good reason to fly his county flag is Alan Neville, a member of the Clare All-Ireland winning squad of 1995 who is a member of the Airport Police Fire Service.
“There’s great banter here at the airport this week. We probably outnumber Limerick people in terms of staff but that doesn’t stop them being heard or flying their flags,” he joked.
“There will be great fun and games here all the way to Sunday but I don’t think supporters of the losing side will be looking forward to coming into work on Monday. There has to be a winner and I just hope it’s Clare.”
Neville is not alone an employee at the airport but also has great memories of Shannon from his county’s All-Ireland victory of 1995.
“We used to fly up for big games and I will never forget what it was like when we landed here after the final in 1995. There were never as many people crammed into the airport as there was on that night. It was amazing.
“But we have never had anything like this match back then at this stage of the season. Clare and Limerick meet regularly over the years but never with so much at stake in a game as next Sunday.”
Not to be outdone, Limerick fans are making their voices heard at Shannon also this week.
Sandra Marsh, an Aer Lingus employee at Shannon, was PRO for Limerick GAA for much of the 1990s, including ’96 when the county play the second of its two All-Ireland finals in that decade, and says the rivalry is building nicely in the run-up to Sunday.
“There’s great respect between Limerick and Clare and you see that at the Airport. People will be slagging each other all week but at the back of it all there’s great respect.
“We live and work here together and share so much time at Shannon but come Sunday afternoon you’ll know who’s supporting who.
“That’s the great thing about the GAA. You can have all the rivalry you want but at the end of the day it you remain friends. The friendship will be all the better at our end if Limerick win on Sunday,” she quipped.
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