Showing your support for your team can take many different forms, but the two tried and tested ways are by attending matches and by showing your colours and one father and son from Ballinasloe are certainly ticking both boxes this September.
When Galway line out against Kilkenny this Sunday, Joe Murray will be attending his 102nd All-Ireland final, with an astonishing attendance record that stretches back as far as 1961.
He well recalls Galway’s famous victories in the hurling finals of 1980, ’87 and ’88 and thinks that the current crop have every opportunity of emulating the likes of Joe Connolly and Conor Hayes in lifting the Liam MacCarthy cup.
“I think they’ve a very good chance. There’s nothing between the teams. Galway are that bit younger, so they’ve a better chance with the running and everything,” says Joe.
Having attended so many matches over the years, Joe has observed many changes in the game and how it is played. He is particularly struck by the fitness and professionalism of today’s hurlers.
“The players are more professional now and the game has speeded up an awful lot and they can hit the ball an awful lot farther.
“The players of 40 years ago, they were great in their own day, but nowadays they wouldn’t keep up with the modern players,” he says.
Joe’s son, Kevin, has also attended several All-Ireland finals with his father over the years, though he ruefully observes “not as many Galway ones as I would have liked”.
Kevin does not categorise himself as a die-hard hurling supporter, nor as a football obsessive; Galway is his passion, regardless of the sport.
“I’m into all things Galway,” he explains.
Kevin attended the drawn final with Kilkenny three weeks ago and hopes to attend the final, but he has also shown his colours in another way by decking out his maroon 1995 Volkswagen Golf in a striking array of Galway stickers, attracting plenty of attention around Ballinasloe and beyond.
“My mother bought that car in ’95. She bought it new and it’s been in the family ever since, so it’s sort of like an old pet,” says Kevin.
While driving home from Athenry a week before the first final, it occurred to Kevin to decorate the old family treasure, thereby showing his support for Galway and simultaneously prolonging the lifespan of the four-wheeled family member. The response has, he admits, been “phenomenal”.
“Three weeks ago, if I wanted to double the value of that car, all I had to do was fill it up with diesel, but now it’s the talk of the town,” he laughs.
He has even been invited down to St Teresa’s Special School in Ballinasloe this Thursday for a special ‘maroon and white’ day, so that the children can have their photo taken with his car.
Kevin fully intends to drive his maroon machine to Dublin and has given under the car’s hood a makeover as well to ensure there are no mishaps on the road to Croke Park this Sunday.
However, Joe is opting for comfort and will rise at 5am Sunday morning to travel to the game in his own car.
“I’m not rushing myself,” he says.
As for Kevin, driving the Golf up to Dublin and back is something of a labour of love, but he fully expects to be in good spirits as he traverses the country.
“It’s a long old day when you’re driving but it’ll be a short journey home if we win.”