By David Raleigh
The Liam MacCarthy Cup has made a special visit to the headquarters of the Limerick Garda Division as a ‘thank you’ to the force for helping escort the All Ireland Champions team bus to and from the final held at Croke Park.
Manager of the hurling team, John Kiely, acknowledged that while his hurling team are champions, Gardai perform heroic duties everyday.
"Absolutely, they are putting their lives on the line every single day, and every night, they go out (to work)," Kiely said.
“They are putting themselves in harms way. But, that’s the job, and they acknowledge that themselves, but it is a high risk job...”
Kiely singled out two Limerick Gardai who were injured and their patrol car destroyed when loose horses collided with their vehicle last week.
The horrific collision occurred in the early hours of last Tuesday morning, along a stretch of the N18, between Limerick Tunnel and the Roxboro Road Junction.
One of the gardai involved suffered a broken arm, and head wounds, while the other had less serious injuries.
One of the horses involved was killed instantly in the impact.
“To see two of (the gardai) caught up in such an almost totally devastating accident was a shock for everybody,” Kiely said.
“When you do get caught in something like they did, you do pay a price,” he said.
“We just wish them well and a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing them back on the beat as quickly as possible.”
A former detective at Henry Street Garda station, Superintendent Eamon O’Neill, who now oversees the Newcastle West District, organises logistics for the Limerick hurling team.
His colleague, Superintendent Derek Smart, who helped spearheaded a massive garda operation for the team’s homecoming celebrations, was ecstatic Kiely and some of the players dropped into the station with their All Ireland hurling silverware.
“I was just a child when they last won it in 1973. I remember the team then coming back by the Parkway (Dublin Road) and I was standing there beside my father,” said Supt Smart.
“It’s been a long wait and it’s long overdue, and it’s great to see these young men return with the cup again, and, to see how proud they are," Supt Smart added.
The visit of Liam MacCarthy to Henry Street garda station was bittersweet for the head of the Limerick Garda Division, Chief Superintendent Gerry Roche.
Sad, that his native Galway had lost out to Limerick, Roche acknowledged “the better team won on the day”.
Limerick hurling panellist Barry O’Connell, who is waiting for the nod to take up a position as a trainee garda at the Garda College in Templemore, joked he’d be keeping a close eye on any potential messers in the hurling squad.
“There's a few (on the team) alright, and we’ll have to tell them to keep the head down,” he laughed.