By Cóilín Duffy
All-Ireland SFC Champion Kerry made the customary post-final visit to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin this morning with the Sam Maguire Cup in tow.
Patients and staff were treated to a visit by an All-Ireland Senior winning team for the second time in a week, following on from the Cork Camogie team bringing the O’Duffy Cup to the Hospital last week.
Fourteen of the victorious Kerry Senior squad took part, including joint captains Fionn Fitzgerald and Kieran O’Leary; Man of the Match Paul Murphy; goal-scorer Kieran Donaghy and team-mates David Moran, Aidan O’Mahony, Bryan Sheehan, James O’Donoghue, Johnny Buckley; goalkeepers Brian Kelly and Brendan Kealy; Anthony Maher, Barry John Keane and Stephen O’Brien, along with team selector Diarmuid Murphy.
Murphy was delighted to return to the hospital with Sam Maguire, having been there as a player in the past.
“It’s nice to come out here,” he said. "It’s not a nice place to be with sick children so it’s fantastic to come with the boys here and I’d say it’s really appreciated by everybody here."
Murphy said yesterday’s victory was one of the sweetest ever for Kerry.
“It was a great win for our fellas. It was against the head I suppose when you consider what we had gone through all year.
“We weren’t exactly one of the favourites early on in the year, but fought hard for everything we got and that makes it all the sweeter, the lads had to really, really work hard for it all through the summer and they got their just rewards.”
Six-year old patient Abigail Bradshaw from Knocklyon in Dublin got a nice surprise when she beat Kerry forward James O’Donoghue in a Table Football game.
“It was playing with young Abigail there and she beat me in the fusbol, which was very disappointing,” said O'Donoghue.
“Yesterday was tough going. We are just delighted to pull through and have the trophy.”
“Every team probably needs an X-Factor and we have a very young team, but Kieran (Donaghy) is that X-Factor for us.
“He delivered. He’s fantastic in big moments. He’s always there and I’m delighted for him to contribute so much to the team, because he has been injured for a while. He came back and he was frustrated and to contribute yesterday to another All-Ireland was fantastic and I’m delighted for him.”
The team have left the capital as both Seniors and Minors get set to be welcomed by thousands across Kerry this evening, following yesterday’s All-Ireland triumphs.
Kerry are due into Tralee around now. It’s then onto Killarney for around 9pm.
Joint captain, and Dr Crokes clubman Kieran O'Leary is looking forward to the celebrations in his hometown.
“I can’t wait for it. It’s always nice to bring the Sam back to the Kingdom,” he said.
“It’s a really special day, but I can’t wait to show our appreciation to the supporters at the homecoming and it’s going to be unbelievable too be honest."