Sheedy: Fans inspired Tipp victory

Sheedy: Fans inspired Tipp victory

Upwards of 40,000 spectators braved the wet conditions to welcome home the Tipperary All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship winning squad and management at Semple Stadium in Thurles last night.

The Tipp players arrived at Thurles train station just after 6pm to raputurous applause, before parading through the streets of Thurles.

Among the first of those to express her delight at the victory was Biddy Sheedy, the 85-year-old mother of Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy, who was overjoyed at the return of the Liam MacCarthy Cup to the Premier County for the first time since 2001.

Mrs Sheedy held the Semple crowd in song as she gave a rousing rendition of 'Happy are we all together', drawing a huge round of applause.

Her son Liam said: "She didn't have the energy to get to Croke Park yesterday, but she has been with me through out it all.

"She always said wherever you go carry friendship in your pocket and she is here to sing to us tonight."

Guided by team captain Eoin Kelly, the Tipp panel, management and officials were joined by family members as they were paraded through the streets of Thurles, before arriving at the Dome facility next to Semple Stadium just before 7pm.

Local bands including 'Johnny B and the Boogie Men', who composed the catchy 'Tipp, Tipp, Tipp' rap song, were among those who kept the thousands entertained at Semple Stadium as they awaited their Tipp heroes.

Kelly and Sheedy jointly held the Liam MacCarthy Cup aloft as they appeared on stage at the 50,000 capacity venue, with the crowd showing its approval.

Tipperary PRO Ger Ryan gave a rousing commentary as the 33 players were each introduced to the crowd - reserving a special mention for victorious skipper Kelly, who was the last player to be introduced.

"No words of mine could do justice to describing the next man," he said.

"He is a player of extraordinary skill - a great leader, great player, great Tipp man, great captain and a great Mullinahone man - Eoin Kelly."

Kelly acknowledged the crowd and said: "There's nothing much for me to say because I'm sure that you would agree all the talking was done between half three and five o'clock yesterday."

Tipperary GAA Chairman Barry O'Brien proudly welcomed home the conquerors of Kilkenny.

"Ladies and gentleman I stand here proudly this evening as the Tipperary Chairman to welcome home the victorious Tipperary squad.

"This is the proudest moment in the history of Tipperary hurling for a long number of years. When we went to Croke Park yesterday no one believed we could do it.

"We delivered strength, power, ability and courage and we delivered on our promise."

Dr Dermot Clifford continued a long standing tradition of the Archbishop of Cashel and Emly welcoming home the Tipperary All-Ireland winning sides.

"Tipp have won an All-Ireland in every decade in every century and every millennium since the GAA was founded," he enthused.

"This was their finest hour and I would like to congratulate the panel and management on an excellent achievement."

Liam Sheedy sought some consolation from the large crowd, as he tried to brave a hoarse voice following the weekend's events.

"Not surprising my voice is a bit rough," he admitted. "This was a huge victory for this very proud county."

And the Tipperary manager praised the supporters who stuck with his side through thick and thin, as he cast his eye back to the disappointing All-Ireland final defeat to Kilkenny a year previously.

"I'm absolutely thrilled for the supporters not just the ones that turned out tonight, but those that turned out 365 days ago and we looked into each of the stands and we sought inspiration.

"I'm just so proud to have facilitated that opportunity (to win the All-Ireland) over the last 12 months."

Tina Turner's 'Simply the Best' rang out around the ground as the fans began to filter out of Semple Stadium, but for many the festivities were only beginning.

The celebrations will continue for the rest of the week and beyond. Tonight at 7pm, the squad members and management, along with the Liam MacCarthy Cup, are set to visit Eoin Kelly's home club of Mullinahone.

Meanwhile, the Tipperary side will face local club team Thurles Sarsfields for the Annual Goal Charity Challenge at 6pm tomorrow evening in Templemore.

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