The thousands who turned up on O’Connell St and outside the GPO to welcome them were treated to a feisty performance of The Proclaimers’ ‘500 Miles’ by an energetic Dean Rock who remained blissfully unaware that his vocals were broadcasting live on 98FM.
Not to be outdone, St Jude’s man Kevin McManamon belted out Van Morrison’s ‘Brown Eyed Girl’. Earlier, in the Boar’s Head, DJ- in-chief Michael Darragh Macauley had been pumping out the classics — ‘Lovely Day’ by Bill Withers and Van Morrison’s ‘Days Like This’.
The crowd that gathered in Kerry to welcome home the senior All-Ireland runners-up and the minor winners was far more muted. About 400 people braved the rain in the border town of Rathmore to welcome home the teams. Win or lose, the Kerry fans always turn out for their teams, and there would be fantastic days ahead, they were told.
When the train pulled into Rathmore, the first Kerry town on the line after Cork, it was the victorious minors, silverware shouldered high, glowing with pride in their grey suits and fuschia-coloured ties, who took the first steps onto the platform and a special stage erected to greet them.
It was the minors’ second victory — it could have been a second too for the seniors, but it was hard to get “the double double”, said Rathmore GAA chairman Donal Murphy, host of the event.
Kerry County board chairman Patrick O’Sullivan said: “We’ll give it 110% to be back again next year.”
The biggest cheer was reserved for a crestfallen star: Kerry captain Kieran Donaghy. Boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice articulated the pain on the faces of the captain and all the seniors on the platform: “From a senior point of view we’re very disappointed and it gets more real and more raw the further into Kerry we get,” the senior manager said.
Rathmore player and former All-Star Paul Murphy said: “We’re after a tough 24 hours — to see the big crowds is a great lift. We came up short but it wasn’t for the want of trying. It just didn’t happen for us on the day.”
Jack O’Connor, minor’s manager and former senior boss, tried to lift the mood: “It’s tough on the seniors. I have been there myself once or twice, it does genuinely lift guys to see you here.”
The train made its way to a green-and-gold decked Tralee, greeted by 200 people at the station. They were taken on open-top buses to a reception in Denny St, led by a pipe band and a garda car.
Hundreds also turned out on the streets but it was a downbeat affair, and the mood of the team sombre.