Party’s only starting as Galway’s heroes return

More than 50,000 supporters turned out across Galway to greet the All- Ireland hurling champions as they returned home, having won the senior and minor titles for the first time in the same year.

Party’s only starting as Galway’s heroes return

And last night was only the first of the many parties which will take place across the city and county in the coming days and weeks, with the Liam MacCarthy and Irish Press cups set to be taken to the clubs of the winning captains this evening.

Almost 15,000 GAA fans greeted the teams on their first stop in east Galway, where Galway County Council hosted a civic reception in Ballinasloe.

The chairwoman of the council, Eileen Mannion, said the two teams and their mentors were excellent ambassadors for the county.

Galway hurling captain David Burke and Joe Canning with the Liam MacCarthy on the homecoming to Ballinasloe. Picture: Ray Ryan
Galway hurling captain David Burke and Joe Canning with the Liam MacCarthy on the homecoming to Ballinasloe. Picture: Ray Ryan

“Galway people here and all over the world are walking a bit taller today,” she said. “It was an absolutely phenomenal atmosphere and a great day. The build-up all week and the demand for tickets, everything was Galway, Galway, Galway for the match on Sunday and it is just absolutely amazing and overwhelming that we have won the two — the minor and seniors.”

Thousands more supporters gathered on the flyovers on the M6 as the buses bringing the teams continued their 60km journey to Galway City where a crowd of over 20,000 waited for them at Pearse Stadium in Salthill, where the rain thankfully held off.

Galway captain David Burke poses for a photograph with Garda Michael Hehir in Ballinasloe. Picture: Inpho/Morgan Treacy
Galway captain David Burke poses for a photograph with Garda Michael Hehir in Ballinasloe. Picture: Inpho/Morgan Treacy

They began gathering shortly after 4.30pm and were entertained by various local music acts before minor manager Jeffrey Lynskey from the Liam Mellowes club in the city, and then Micheal Donoghue led the All-Ireland senior champions.

City mayor Pearce Flannery said they were a credit to their families and clubs as years of heartbreak were blown away by the double success in Croke Park on Sunday.

11-week-old Sarah Coughlan, Killimer, Co Galway sleeps through the Galway hurlers’ homecoming. Picture: Inpho/Morgan Treacy
11-week-old Sarah Coughlan, Killimer, Co Galway sleeps through the Galway hurlers’ homecoming. Picture: Inpho/Morgan Treacy

“We have come home a considerable number of times from Croke Park deflated, disappointed, feeling that we left something behind us or that next year is our year,” he said. “But this is our year and for that we have two brilliant teams to thank.”

Mr Flannery then got into the spirit of the occasion, taking out a guitar and singing ‘The Fields of Athenry’.

Oisin Molloy, aged 3, from Fohenagh, shows off the autograph of Padraic Mannion as the Galway hurlers returned to Ballinasloe. Picture: Ray Ryan
Oisin Molloy, aged 3, from Fohenagh, shows off the autograph of Padraic Mannion as the Galway hurlers returned to Ballinasloe. Picture: Ray Ryan

The sponsor of the victorious teams, Pat McDonagh, who started backing them a year after they last won the All-Ireland title in 1988, said that he was so proud of the teams.

“It is a special moment for all Galway people,” he said.

The Galway team bus with the Liam McCarthy Cup pass over the River Shannon in Athlone as Timmy O Flatharta from Spiddal salutes the team. Picture: Inpho/James Crombie
The Galway team bus with the Liam McCarthy Cup pass over the River Shannon in Athlone as Timmy O Flatharta from Spiddal salutes the team. Picture: Inpho/James Crombie

”This somewhat compensates for all the disappointments. I have been in six losing dressing rooms and I can tell you there is no worse place to be after an All-Ireland. It was some compensation for the previous players, many of whom served Galway with distinction and many of whom deserved to get an All-Ireland but never did.”

Tomas Mannion, father of Galway players Padraic and Cathal, said it was a proud day for the families of all the players.

“It’s brilliant to be part of it and brilliant to be a parent of lads that are involved with Galway,” he said. “But I have to give the lads credit and how they have applied themselves. That’s replicated by every other member of that Galway panel, by management and everything and throughout every county in Ireland.”

The party continued long into the night at the Salthill Hotel and will continue this evening, when captain David Burke brings the Liam MacCarthy Cup to his club St Thomas, and minor skipper Darren Morrissey takes the Irish Press Cup home to Sarsfields.

The team will be in action on Thursday night when they play an exhibition match with some of the veterans of the 1987 and ’88 winning teams, with the proceeds going to the fund

to help the family of Tony Keady, the centre-back on those winning teams who died suddenly last month.

Tuesday Sport: 2-5

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