Mixed emotions at Galway hurlers’ homecoming

Minors triumphed on Sunday but seniors return with familiar sense of disappointment

Kilkenny’s TJ Reid and Eoin Larkin tackle Padraig Mannion of Galway during Sunday’s All-Ireland hurling final. Photograph: Inpho

Kilkenny’s TJ Reid and Eoin Larkin tackle Padraig Mannion of Galway during Sunday’s All-Ireland hurling final. Photograph: Inpho

 

It’s a road well travelled, and the frequency of the journey has done little to dim the disappointment of an All-Ireland final loss, but thousands of Galway hurling fans turned out to welcome the Tribesmen home after Sunday’s loss to Kilkenny.

But as Galway hurling committee chairman Michael Larkin pointed out, it was an unusual homecoming with the disappointment of the senior loss being softened by the minors winning the county’s tenth All-Ireland title.

The manager of that minor team, Jeffrey Lynskey, said the need for Galway’s senior famine to end was illustrated by the fact that none of his victorious side have ever seen the county win the Liam McCarthy Cup.

Although Galway’s hopes of winning their first All-Ireland title since 1988 were dashed by Brian Cody’s men, manager Anthony Cunningham said the reception given to the team on their journey home was greatly appreciated.

“The support we have received has driven this group of players throughout the year and it is really appreciated.

“And hopefully the presence of so many people for the homecoming, and what it means to people, will drive these guys to the promised land next year,” said Cunningham.

The buses carrying the senior and minor teams led the convoy back to Galway, with a large crowd turning out in Ballinasloe to greet them in the mid-afternoon.

The gates of the Galway GAA headquarters at Pearse Stadium in Salthill opened at 4pm and there was live music until the teams arrived shortly after 6.30pm.

With team captain David Collins and minor manager Lynskey both from the Liam Mellowes club in the city, there was a big turnout as the cavalcade made its way across Galway to Salthill.

“We are bitterly disappointed,” said Collins, who suffered his third All-Ireland defeat on Sunday since making his debut 13 years ago.

“But when you see the crowds who turned out in Ballinasloe and the city, it does your heart good and on behalf of the team I want to thank the people not just for their support today but throughout the year.”

Mayor of Galway, Cllr Frank Fahy, said that senior and minor teams were a credit to the city and county and had given wonderful entertainment throughout the year.

And he echoed the thoughts of the thousands present in Pearse Stadium when he said the earnest wish of everyone in Galway now was that they would go all the way in 2016.