Hurling faithful out in force to welcome vanquished heroes homeOctober 4, 2012 - 7:00am
It may have taken them almost two hours longer than expected to reach their homecoming destination, but there was no denying the sense of awe on the faces of the Galway hurlers when a deafening roar greeted their return to Pearse Stadium on Monday night.
Over 6,000 people had waited patiently for the beaten All-Ireland finalists to make their journey back to the Salthill venue and a huge number of youngsters packed the stand as they waited for a glimpse of their hurling heroes following their eleven point defeat to Kilkenny the previous afternoon.
A team which had lost so tamely to Waterford 14 months ago had produced an unforgettable summer under Anthony Cunningham’s new management team and it was clear that the fans were keen to honour their achievement in reaching the final and taking champions Kilkenny to a replay.
After signing the Galway Civic Reception book with Cunningham, team captain Fergal Moore admitted that he was taken aback by the size of the crowd when he addressed the supporters from the presentation area in the middle of the stand.
“From a players’ point of view, we are taken aback by the warm welcome we have received here tonight,” said Moore. “To see the level of interest in Galway hurling again and the positive vibe around the place is hugely uplifting. We have to thank the fans who supported us in such huge numbers at Croke Park all summer.
“To see the number of young kids here tonight, it can only be good for Galway driving forward. If everybody supports us, hopefully we will be back here with the Liam MacCarthy Cup in the future.”
The team bus arrived an hour and 45 minutes behind schedule to a rapturous reception from supporters who wanted to register their appreciation at the end of an unforgettable summer in which a young panel, featuring 17 U-21s, had delivered a first Leinster title to the county.
It would have been unthinkable to imagine the scenes if the Tribesmen had actually ended their 24 year wait for the Liam MacCarthy Cup on Sunday, given the warmth of the welcome and the size of the crowd.
See full story of homecoming and the All-Ireland replay in this week's Connacht Tribune.