“UP the Dubs!” shouts Tina Hunter, pumping her fist in the air. “C’mon Tyrone!” retorts her husband, Paul even louder in quick reply.
The pair – who are from Dublin and Dromore respectively – look at each other and begin laughing.
It’s obvious for this local family that the Tyrone v Dublin All-Ireland semi-final on Sunday in Croke Park will be an exciting one for them both… even if their teams’ fierce rivalry tests the boundaries of their marriage!
The Hunters live in Dromore with their four sons, Ross (18), Gary (15), Nathan (11) and Cálum (10) and beloved 11-year-old dog, Sparky.
All of the boys are avid Tyrone supporters – which is evident from the red and white jerseys which they don – apart from Gary, whom Tina says ‘has more blue blood in him’.
“Gary is a true Dublin fan,” the 45-year-old explained, her Irish accent untainted by her years of living in Dromore. “He will stand on Hill 16 with his flag wrapped around him, and he will sing his heart out.”
Tina (née Lenehan) currently works with special needs children in St John’s College, Dromore.
She recalls first meeting Paul, who was born and bred in Dromore, almost 20 years ago when they were on holiday in Turkey.
The holiday romance was so strong that just five months later, Tina moved from her hometown of Ballymun, an area of Dublin’s Northside close to Dublin Airport, to Tyrone in the February of 1998.
“I remember coming up for a weekend here in Tyrone before I moved, and didn’t want to go home,” Tina reflected. “I liked the peace and quiet of the county.”
Ironically though, it was Paul (49) who first introduced the Dubliner to GAA shortly after they began dating.
“I worked next door to Croke Park on Jones’ Road when I was younger, but I was never in the stadium,” Tina recalled.
“Then I met Paul, and he took me to my first match, Tyrone v Cavan in Clones. And I became hooked.
“I learned everything about football from my husband.
“But I chose to support Dublin because of my roots,” she added. “My father actually played for the Dublin Minors team himself, and he’s been a massive Dublin fan since he was about 12. He’s 67 now.
“I also love the atmosphere of Croke Park – it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up when you are in the middle of it.”
Tina, Gary and dog Sparky – who is more than happy to wear Gary’s baby blue Dublin scarf when ‘the Dubs’ are playing – may be out-numbered by Tyrone fans in their household, but it does make for some good banter!
“There’s an exciting few days ahead,” Tina smiled.
“I can’t wait for Sunday. I’ve actually got butterflies in my stomach just talking abut it.
“People keep saying to me that I can’t lose because my kids and husband are from Tyrone and they’d be happy, but I’ll still be gutted if Tyrone beat Dublin.
“But I don’t think it’s going to happen. I think the fitness level of the Dublin players will get to the Tyrone players… No offence to any of them though!”
And will there be tears if Dublin lose?
“They don’t lose that often!” Tina laughed.
Posted: 8:14 am August 27, 2017