09 September 2008

Great Homecoming for Waterford Hurlers

Having reported here on the final of the All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship on Sunday (see my entry from September 7th), it is only proper that I also tell you how the Waterford Hurlers were received when they returned home from Dublin yesterday evening.

Well, as I had already predicted on Sunday, the fact that they lost the match and were beaten with a wide margin by the star team from Co. Kilkenny, did not matter anymore after 24 hours of grief and sorrow had been washed down with a good few pints of beer.
By the time the train from Dublin, on which the team traveled, rolled into Plunkett train station in Waterford City, thousands of loyal fans from the city and all over the county had - despite the bad weather with pouring rain - already gathered along the South Quays to give them a very warm and enthusiastic welcome.

After leaving the train, the team traveled the short distance from the station, across the Edmund Ignatius Rice Bridge, on the top of an open doubledecker bus, decorated in the county colours white and blue. Ignoring the rain and wind, the crowd cheered frantically, and applauded loudly as the bus with the hurlers passed.

At the Quay a special platform had been erected by the City Council, and the local dignitaries had assembled to bid the hurlers a ceremonial civic welcome. Martin Cullen, Minister for the Arts, Tourism and Sport, and - more important last night - one of our local TDs, addressed the roaring crowd and sang the praise of the Waterford team as only an Waterford man could do it. Mayor Jack Walsh also gave a rousing speech and welcomed the team "that had done the best they could" home to their city.

It was a great turnout, showing how much the heart of Waterford people is connected with the sport of Hurling and especially with our county team. One has to wonder how they would have behaved had Waterford actually won the Liam McCarthy Cup...

The Emerald Islander

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