Tipperary is awash with blue and gold this week as the build up to Sunday’s All-Ireland senior hurling final against Kilkenny at Croke Park hits full pitch.
The quest for those all elusive All-Ireland tickets will continue for the remainder of the week, as Tipperary fans will be doing their best to be among the 82,300 spectators who will cram into Croke Park for the highlight of the hurling year.
The rivalry between Tipperary and Kilkenny has heightened over the last decade as these two kingpins of the game have provided some of the most memorable All-Ireland final clashes in living memory.
Since 2009, the sides have met six times in finals (including the 2014 replay) and the tally is finely balanced with three victories to Kilkenny and two to Tipperary.
The two sides have recovered from setbacks in this year’s championship campaign to make Sunday’s final. Both sides reached their respective provincial finals but Tipperary went down to Limerick, while Kilkenny had to give best to Wexford in the Leinster final. However both bounced back with quarter final victories, over Laois for Tipp and over Cork for Kilkenny, before two epic All-Ireland semi-finals two weeks ago when each downed the other’s provincial final conqueror to qualify for Sunday’s final.
As always the build up to the All-Ireland final has been intense. The colours have become more prominent the nearer the day gets, and the bunting, flags and banners have all made an appearance as the pre-match atmosphere reaches fever pitch.
Those unlucky enough not to get tickets, will be crowded around television screens on Sunday cheering on their side in the hope that they will bring back the Liam McCarthy Cup to Tipperary for a 28th time.
The next few days will be exciting but also nervous ones as the countdown to the big day gets nearer and come 5pm on Sunday, we should know who are All-Ireland champions for 2019.
See inside for full coverage and previews of Sunday’s game on pages 50, 51, 69, 70, 71 and 72.