Excited Offaly supporters in Thurles on Friday evening
THE All-Ireland Minor Hurling Champiobnship final between Offaly and Tipperary has been fixed for Sunday, July 3 in Kilkenny's Nowlan Park at 1.30pm.
There has been intenstive speculation and interest in the fixture since Offaly beat Clare on Friday evening and Tipp got the better of Galway in the other All-Ireland semi-final on Sunday.
The final was originally fixed for the Saturday but authorities have now agreed to give it a prime slot on the Sunday.
While some Offaly people were hoping it would be a curtain raiser to a big game in Croke Park, it is GAA policy that these minor games be stand alone fixtures.
That brought Portlaoise, Kilkenny and Limerick into the equation as possible venues. Portaoise would have been the normal choice but its capacity is 22,000 people and uncertainty about the crowd that this final will attract meant that they looked elsewhere.
Limerick would have no problem holding the crowd but Offaly's prefence would have been for a Leinster venue and not to have to travel through Tipperary on their way to the game. Nowlan Park can hold 27,000 and that should be more than sufficient – there will be massive interest in Offaly in this game while it is difficult to guage the level in Tipperary but with their seniors going bad this year, they will bring a big crowd.
It is a repeat of the 1987 All-Ireland minor hurling final when Offaly beat Tipp and the 1989 All-Ireland U-21 hurling final when the Munster side turned the tables. Tipp will be the favourites but Offaly have performed brilliantly this year and will be confident of going very close.
The venue will also suit some Offaly supporters, especially ones from Clara, who will be travelling to Mount Juliet in Kilkenny that weekend to watch Shane Lowry in the Irish Open.
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