Last Sunday was a noteworthy day in the history of Waterford hurling. It was, of course, the day my grandmother shuffled off to her eternal reward after 103 years on this mortal coil. Kieran O’Connor was later to be heard on WLR reading out a list of famous Salleians who never got to get their hands on the county cup as De La Salle won said trophy for the first time in 94 years. Inexplicably he never mentioned her name, despite her at-times vicious support for them. It should be noted that the support was not predicated on love for De La Salle but hatred for Mount Sion, hatred she passed on to what will surely be the next seven generations she spawned.
What made her extraordinary as a Waterford supporter – hating Mount Sion hardly cuts the mustard in that respect – was that she was probably one of only a handful of people who were present at both of the county’s victories in the All-Ireland hurling final. Doubly extraordinary was the fact in 1959 she was cheering for Kilkenny! Yep, so embittered was she at what she perceived (rightly or wrongly) to be the malign influence that Cnoc Sion held over Waterford hurling that she delved into a vague ancestral relationship with Co Kilkenny and rooted for them over Waterford.
Things had improved in 2002 to the point that when my father called in as Waterford were piling the pain on Tipperary in the Munster final, she was caught shedding a tear. She probably shed fewer tears when she buried her daughter than she did on that day.
Nana, as she was universally known when she died, would have been similarly moved had she lived long enough to see De La Salle lay claim to the county title. The tribe, whether it be your family or your team, was everything to her. She passed that on to all her grandchildren, and in cheering for De La Salle on Sunday I was carrying on that (dis)honourable tradition. Truly no one had as big an influence on me as she did. Ar dhéis Dé go raibh a anam.