Bathed in sunshine, Kerry celebrated a rare double, capturing the senior and the minor football titles.
In celebration, children got lessons off last night, the dogs were dressed in green and gold, St John’s Church flew the green and gold, and it was remarked that the most popular man in Kerry would be off RTÉ pundit Joe Brolly’s Christmas card list.
Touching down in the Kingdom capital, Tralee-based garda Aidan O’Mahony, held the Sam Maguire Cup and he was surrounded by garda colleagues, including Chief Supt Pat Sullivan, Sergeant Noel Burke of Dingle and Sgt Diarmuid O’Shea of the Tralee traffic division.
The teams were piped onto open double decker buses past the Austin Stack stadium, up Boherbee and into Denny Street led by a green and gold opel car 142 KY Sam.
There, Mayor of Kerry John Brassil, welcoming the team, said he little dreamed he would be standing in Denny St to welcome home both teams. “I think Kieran [Donaghy] might be off Joe Brolly’s Christmas Card list,” he quipped to rousing cheers.
Mayor of Tralee Jim Finucane said the double win had united Kerry people “across the globe”.
Chairman of the Kerry County Board Patrick O’Sullivan said without star forward Kieran Donaghy, “we might not be in this position and we want to thank you very much Kieran”. Nobody had expected the seniors to win this year, he said.
“This was a team that was unexpected to come anywhere and I hope to God we celebrate this from here until Christmas.”
The Gooch, Colm Cooper may have been unable to play because of injury but he got a special reception when introduced to the crowd.
Declan O’Sullivan, accompanied by his young son Ollie, said this day was very, very special because of the double win.
Meanwhile, Sheila Kennedy from Tralee dressed her dogs Summer and Ruby in the green and gold. “I bought them in a charity shop — they are children’s jerseys,” she said.
“Tonight tops it all,” Kieran ‘the Star’ Donaghy, the popular Austin Stack’s man, said of the thousands who turned out in Tralee to welcome their heroes.
Asked if he had any words for Joe Brolly, the Star said: “Joe’s an expert. We are only trying our best. Kerry abú!”
Sixth class pupils in Sliabhamhadra school, Kilflynn were given lessons off for three nights — but only because Kerry had won by at three points, pupil Ava Joy revealed. Holy Family school in Tralee got lessons off as well, fifth class pupil Ben Quilter said.
Later the teams continued their journey to Killarney where thousands lined the streets late last night, after the players first stopped off at Fitzgerald’s Stadium.