Kerry fans prepare to welcome home their heroes

FANS spilled onto the highways and byways of Kerry last night to celebrate the county’s emphatic 33rd All-Ireland title.

Car horns honked around Tralee and Killarney as bonfires were being planned by the pupils of Scoil Naoimh Eirc in Feoghnagh to honour past pupil and Kerry captain Dara Ó Cinneide, who lifted Sam Maguire just after 5pm yesterday.

Local curate, Fr Ciarán O’Briain, who oversaw a screening of the match in the school, said prayers were said for the team across Ballyferriter yesterday morning.

“The win is great for Kerry football, and great for the parish. The kids know Dara personally. It will be the first time Sam has been brought into parish,” he said.

Pubs like the Bóthar in Feoghnagh and the Brogue Inn in Tralee, owned by Billy Kirby, father of Kerry midfielder William Kirby, were packed yesterday.

Up to 600 people watched the match on a giant screen at the INEC in Gleneagle Hotel in Killarney.

Duty manager Martin O’Brien said the atmosphere was electric.

The team is due in Tralee at 6pm tonight on an executive non-stop train from Dublin. They will parade around the town before victory speeches at Ashe Street around 7pm.

The team will then travel to Killarney, due in the Glebe car park in the town centre at 9.30pm.

Sam Maguire is expected in Dingle on Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, in Johnny McHale’s pub in Castlebar, the mood was predictably downbeat.

Mayo were in search of their first All-Ireland title in 53 years.

“There was a sense of total elation and expectation all week. But people are very disappointed now,” one fan said last night.

“But there’ll be a huge turnout for the team when they get home. They deserve it for giving us so much pleasure throughout the championship,” he said.

The Mayo team are due to fly into Knock Airport at 2.45pm today.

From there, they will be bussed through Clifford and on to Castlebar for a reception outside McHale’s pub.

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