The ‘paint battle’ waging between rival Kilkenny and Waterford hurling fans has become one of the city’s great talking points in recent times, with the latest chapter unfolding some 10 days ago.
Braving some appalling conditions, a trio of Deise supporters scaled Mount Misery, on a spot overlooking Plunkett Railway Station and redecorated the ‘flag stone’ in their native county’s white and blue.
This followed the handiwork of some Kilkenny fans who had painted the stone amber and black and subsequently in the correct black and amber sequence following their team’s latest All-Ireland victory.
In another Munster Express exclusive, the painting team, whose identities remain unknown, have revealed why they devote several hours at a time to raising the flag, so to speak.
“We’re very proud of our work,” said one of the trio, who for the purposes of this interview we’ll call ‘Tom’.
“The main reason we do it is to show our support for the hurlers and it was especially vital during the summer in the build-up to the All-Ireland semi-final against Kilkenny.”
Tom added: “We’re very proud of the lads and we’ll do anything that we can to help get the MacCarthy Cup back to Waterford. No team deserves it more; no set of fans deserves it more. Up the Deise!”
They clearly face some stiff opposition from their Kilkenny painting rivals, whose identities also remain unknown to the wider public. Tom offered further explanation as to what motivated him and his colleagues to get busy with their brushes.
“The stone had been painted in Kilkenny colours for a few years but you couldn’t see it that well,” he said.
“From the moment that flag was painted up there, I’d wanted to paint over it. So one day, me and one of my friends went up to see if we could get down to it as it’s not the easiest place to get out onto.
“We had to beat down a lot of bushes and ditches to get there; it’s an awkward walk but not particularly dangerous, to be honest.
“But patience is a virtue – we got down to it and the next day we painted over the Kilkenny flag, something we’ve now done four times.”
Tom then ran through the time consuming painting process.
“It takes a few hours alright. The first three times we painted it, we painted it with rollers, and each time that took about four hours. But when we did it on Wednesday, we used spray paint which only took half the time to do.
“But whoever paints the Kilkenny flag just keeps making it bigger, which means we’ve got to make ours as big every time we paint the Waterford flag back on. And let’s cut to the chase here, our colours look a lot nicer up there!”
So is their covert operation a cover of darkness job as part of a bid to avoid law’s long arm?
“No, we paint it in the morning,” said Tom “I don’t think the Guards are too concerned about us, – it’s only a bit of fun!”
In fact, when it comes to encountering difficulties, the inclement elements generally provide the painters with their greatest foe.
“Yes, the weather is our biggest opponent,” Tom conceded. “That’s why it took so long this time around.
He added: “I wouldn’t worry too much about the lads that are painting the Kilkenny one. I don’t think the Kilkenny flag is a nice thing to be looking down over Waterford City, so we’re doing what we can to have the right colour up there for all to see.”
Tom and his pals remain committed to the cause and will continue to meet fire with fire, or should we say paint with paint in the battle for Mount Misery. One imagines the telling of this tale is not yet concluded!
If the Kilkenny painters are reading, please email Dermot (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call 051-500126. He’d love to hear from you!