Tens of thousands of Tipperary supporters turned out at Semple Stadium tonight, to welcome home the Tipperary Senior Hurling team who won the All-Ireland Championship yesterday, after defeating Kilkenny in the decider at Croke Park.
The squad, management, officials and family members arrived by train into Thurles train station on schedule, but such was the large numbers thronging the streets of Thurles, that the short bus journey to Semple Stadium took slightly longer than usual, with the Tipperary team arriving on stage an hour later than planned at 8pm.
Tipperary GAA Chairman John Devane said it was the largest crowd he had witnessed, having attended a number of Tipperary's victorious homecoming celebrations over the years.
"Oh my God, what a magnificent reception," he told the crowd.
"I was here in 2016 and 2010. I go back to 1989 and 1991, 2001 - I think this gets better and better and better; and it proves once again what magnificient supporters we have!
"We hear it said that Tipp supporters are gone quiet and that we don't show our colours, well look out and look at the crowd we have and look how loud you are!"
Each of the players were introduced on stage, before Tipperary captain Seamus Callanan addressed the crowd.
"I just want to thank ye all so much on behalf of the panel. There's 40 guys here that have really put their shoulders to the wheel from the start of year, and it is an absolute privilege for me to be able to stand here and talk on behalf of all of the guys," he said.
"We really want to thank ye all so much for coming out and supporting us and ye really were the 16th man up in Croke Park on Sunday.
"Just to see the effort that ye have all made to come here tonight makes us all so proud, and it makes all the effort really worthwhile that we put in, to see all of ye making the effort to come out here and support us tonight, so thanks for all of that.
Callanan paid special tribute to Liam Sheedy and the rest of the backroom setup for all of their input in helping bring all the panel and managements efforts to fruition.
"I just want to thank all of our backroom team also, who put on a platform for us to perform. They left no stone unturned and without them this wouldn't be possible.
"All of our dreams wouldn't be possible tonight if it wasn't for all of the management team and all of the backroom team.
"Their work is just unbelievable and credit to all of their families and their clubs, and we just want to say thanks so much to them."
Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy got one of the biggest cheers of the night when introduced on stage.
"I'm not sure if my voice is going from shouting on the sideline yesterday or singing 'Caledonia' last night!," he said.
"It was just a privilege for me to be leading the ship and this backroom team here behind me.
"I just want to say a huge thanks to everyone on the stage. They have all been acknowledged individually and as a group over the last number of hours.
"We had a wonderful night last night, but this journey started for us back in the middle of November, and it was a wonderful, wonderful journey.
"I think everyone of the 40 lads on the panel, and the lads in the backroom team will cherish the memories they have from November 2018 right through to August 18, 2019.
"I have a feeling that they will treasure the 19th of August as well, and the wonderful night that you have given them here in Thurles.
"I came back here 10 years ago in 2009, and I came back here on my own as Liam Sheedy. I came back in 2010 and we came back as a group and we had Liam MacCarthy.
"Thankfully we are back here again in 2019 and 'hey presto we have Liam MacCarthy!"
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