Belfast Telegraph

Down makeover for All-Ireland final

As the weekend battle for the Sam Maguire trophy edges closer Co Down has undergone a makeover.

Ahead of the All-Ireland football final against Cork on Sunday pubs, houses — and even farm animals – have been painted red and black in support of the Mournemen.

And it’s all rather ironic, as it’s the opposition who will be wearing red when the teams run out at Dublin’s Croke Park.

Because of a colour clash, the Down players will now be wearing gold shirts for the big decider.

But it’s traditional coloured flags that are flying from houses, cars and headwear, and though Down go in to the final as underdogs, fans heading to see their footballing heroes in action are scrambling to get their hands on as much GAA merchandise as they can.

McCartan Sports in Downpatrick has been packed full of fans for days, and anything with a Down crest is flying out the door.

Manager Ciaran McCartan said: “It’s all go at the moment. When I got back last night from a meeting with the O’Neill’s rep there was a queue outside halfway up the street.

Sixty mini-kits for children were sold out in less than an hour. Shirts, car flags and anything at all linked to Down isn’t lasting long on the shelves.”

The All-Ireland final is of course the highlight of the Gaelic football calendar and whether fans are watching from the stadium, at home or in the pub they will all be decked out in county colours.

It will certainly be a family affair for Fiona McGourty from Finaghy, as she heads down with St Galls, the hurling and football teams her sons Ciaran, Conor and Kevin play for.

“St Galls are playing in the sevens tournament on Saturday, so we are making a weekend of it,” Mrs McGourty said.

“I have been heading to the All-Ireland for the last 35 years. I love Down’s confident style, so it will be a special treat to see them in action this year.”

Of the 83,000 seats, around 13,000 tickets are split between the 48 clubs in Co Down, while Cork will be allocated around 19,000.

“It is 50 years since Down first captured the Sam Maguire and tickets are like gold dust, with one fan claiming: “It’s easier to get a ticket to see the Pope than it is to see Down!”

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