LIMERICK’S biggest ever party shows little sign of abating in the wake of the glorious All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship success by a bunch of sporting marvels.
A brilliant team, managed by the astute John Kiely of Galbally, belied their tag of outsiders to edge-out Galway in a thrilling decider at Croke Park. And, this first All-Ireland triumph since way back in 1973 was no ‘soft’ touch as in the run-in to lifting hurling’s greatest prize, Tipperary, Kilkenny and Cork had been swept aside.
A capacity 82,000, of which an estimated 45,000 were from Limerick, watched the happenings at headquarters while another 15,000 were kept spellbound via a big screen at the Gaelic Grounds.
And, once Wexford referee James Owens blew for fulltime – after some nine minutes of stoppage time – the tears flowed for success-starved Limerick fans.
The incredible scenes were flashed around the world.
Stewards managed as best they could to prevent access to the hallowed turf afterwards, but midfielder Cian Lynch’s mum Valerie was among the few hundred who broke the barrier to embrace her famous son. “My mother was able to get onto the pitch at Croke Park. I’d say there’s still a warrant out for her,” Lynch joked.
“It means so much for everyone. It’s unbelievable. People asked what did it feel like after the game. I actually put my head down. I struggled to breathe for a few minutes because you are kind of saying, ‘Jaysus, we are after winning an All-Ireland’. It’s a dream come true.
“My mother jumped up out of nowhere. I actually put my head on her shoulder and it was a moment where I could breathe for a second and take in my own surroundings and take in what it’s about. She has been there for me from the beginning. To see her there on the pitch puts it all into perspective.”
City West Hotel hosted the victory social for the new All-Ireland Champions; on Monday morning the players visited Crumlin Hospital and followed a scheduled train journey trip arrived at Colbert Station just before teatime.
Led by four mounted Garda horses, the open top bus paraded through the streets of Limerick – even granted access to go against normal traffic flow on O’Connell Street – before arriving to home of the sport, Pairc na nGael on the Ennis Road.
It was there RTE’s Marty (Morrissey) – who loves to ‘Party’ – acted as a competent MC.
A staggering 100,000 fans were in party mood.
Captain Declan Hannon’s home village of Adare was next on Tuesday, and the celebrations are continuing, and will do so for some time yet!
by Mal Keaveney