There was embarrassment for Environment Minister Phil Hogan when he was booed at last night’s All-Ireland homecoming in Kilkenny — in the heart of his own constituency.
The crowd awaiting their sporting heroes expressed their disapproval at Mr Hogan as of politicians and local dignitaries were introduced at Nowlan Park at the start of the civic reception for the victorious hurling team, who had yet to take to the stage.
Some local councillors and TDs were already present for the formalities but Mr Hogan had yet to take his place with the rest of the invited guests.
When MC Edwina Grace of KCLR FM announced the minister’s name to the crowd, there was widespread booing.
However, it didn’t seem to bother the colourful TD, who was on stage within minutes and laughed and chatted with the other guests.
“The whole crowd booed,” one observer said. “The team was at the back of the stand, it was before they introduced the team themselves. He [Mr Hogan] arrived on the stage about five minutes later.”
The incident was also mentioned on Twitter.
Broadcaster Stephen Long said: “Phil Hogan takes to the Nowlan Park stage to a chorus of boos.”
Meanwhile, kings of September they may be, but the team’s arrival home, this time in October, was greeted with just as much enthusiasm as if it was their first taste of glory. It’s become a familiar routine by now. If it’s the Monday after an All-Ireland, it must be homecoming night in Kilkenny.
Apart from drawn All-Irelands, of course, and in the age of Brian Cody, it’s a routine that’s been observed 12 seasons out of 14, and been accompanied by the Liam MacCarthy Cup on nine of those journeys. This year the homecoming took on a new route, by bus from Kilkenny Castle to local GAA headquarters Nowlan Park.
More than 20,000 lined out to welcome their heroes. Team captain Eoin Larkin held the trophy aloft as the bus made its way down The Parade before turning onto Rose Inn St, crossing the bridge for John Stand then heading towards Nowlan Park, its final destination.
Manager Brian Cody said: “It’s a privilege every single time we get the opportunity and thanks be to God we have it this year.”
Player Colin Fennelly said: “It’s a huge honour to be coming home to your own city, back to get the welcome we’ve always got, when you’re winning again. To bring the Liam MacCarthy to Kilkenny is always a huge honour.”
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