AFTER 20 years, with two All Ireland losses in 2007 and last year, Cork finally got their hands on the Sam Maguire cup after a nail-biting and thrilling game of football.
With Down’s impeccable All-Ireland record being bandied about all week, the team were far from favourites. However, after a disappointing first half, both sides put on a courageous and determined performance before the Leesiders snatched the day and the Championship by one point.
The Rebel fans erupted with joy – crying, laughing, jumping, overcome with what had just been achieved.
The city’s first citizen, Lord Mayor, Cllr Mick O’Connell was pinching himself. He admitted the win this year was particularly special for him.
“This is one I won’t forget. It was an incredible match. It was so tense. I felt Cork had it in them. Everyone was delirious when they won.
“Over the last four or five years we have come up and been unlucky. The support in Cork city has been great. I have been going to All Ireland’s since 1966 but this is very special,” he beamed.
While the fans and the team are expected to party until the early hours in Dublin, all those who didn’t make it to Dublin arefocusing on the homecoming tonight.
And for those who can’t make it into the city centre: the Irish Examiner has teamed up with Cork City Council to broadcast the All Ireland champions’ homecoming to Leeside live on the internet tonight.
The event in Cork city centre, which is expected to attract tens of thousands of people, will be streamed around the world on www.irishexaminer.ie from about 6.45pm.
Technical experts from the Irish Examiner’s online media department, Setanta Ireland, and the city council, have been working on the technical logistics for the past week.
The council last week approved a supplementary budget of €50,000 to stage the homecoming for both the senior and minor teams this evening.
Organisers have promised a huge street party.
In a break from tradition, the teams will return to Cork by coach, arriving directly into the city centre homecoming event.
A stage will be erected at the junction of South Mall and Parnell Place. The event will be relayed on big screens.
Before the team’s expected arrival time of 7.30pm, Red FM DJs and singer Michelle Fitzgerald will keep the crowds entertained.
Cork’s own Billa O’Connell will act as Master of Ceremonies and the evening will end with a rousing rendition of “The Banks” from Seán O Sé.
Cork City Council has warned motorists that most of the city centre will be closed off from 6.30pm to 11pm and there will be major diversions in place.
Council officials said all city centre routes will be affected by road closures.
Lapps Quay will be closed at 2pm and the northbound lanes on Parnell Bridge will close at 3pm.
Those coming into the centre to attend the homecoming will be offered free travel from the Black Ash Park and Ride until 10.30pm.
The city terminus will be at City Hall.
Meanwhile, having suffered heartbreaking defeats in previous years Cork supporters were confident of their chances going in to yesterday’s match.
The Lord Mayor met with fans at the so-called spiritual home of the Cork team, the Gresham Hotel, before making his way to Croke Park for the match.
* See full homecoming arrangements, details of road closures and public transport on page 4.
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