Thousands welcome Liam MacCarthy Cup back to Kilkenny
on 01/10/2012 23:39:31
The team broke with the long-standing tradition of travelling to the Marble City by train when they departed Dublin by bus at around 4.30pm.
There was also a change for the venue for the celebrations, with the team paraded through the streets of Kilkenny City before arriving at Nowlan Park instead of the customary Market Yard Car Park in the City Centre.
Local bands, The Kilkenny's and 'Ross and the Mighty Cats' performed for the large crowds, before the squad and management arrived at the Kilkenny GAA headquarters shortly after 6.30pm.
Mayor of Kilkenny Sean Ó hArgain led the delegation of public representatives, which also included Phil Hogan TD, on the stage.
Kilkenny GAA Chairman Paul Kinsella said it was a special occasion for the people of Kilkenny.
"This is a very special and historical occasion for Kilkenny and for Kilkenny hurling for honouring the greatest hurling team we have ever seen," he said.
"We always hold back a bit on that, because we always look forward to next year.
"Yesterday they done us all proud. I think every Kilkenny person at home and abroad will justifiably be proud of them and once again we say thanks to them for that. They have broken so many records yesterday that I can't recount them all, but it was our first time to win an All-Ireland through the back-door and we completed an unusual five-in-a-row in winning in the last five years that have ended in a '2'.
"For two people in particular it proved that 13 can be lucky. Brian (Cody) and Henry (Shefflin) were celebrating their 13th All-Ireland final with a victory, so well done to both."
Cody told the crowd that he was extremely proud of his troops.
"Ladies and Gentlemen again it is a great honour to be here tonight bringing back the MacCarthy Cup to Kilkenny," he said.
"It's the first time we have had our homecoming at Nowlan Park and it is great to see such a great crowd here to welcome home the players. I suppose it is kind of fitting we are here tonight, because this is the pitch that has been the secret of our success I suppose.
"This is where we have trained for the past year in the build-up to our Championship, but I suppose especially for the past three weeks. Three weeks ago we left Croke Park feeling a bit strange. Everybody else also feeling a bit strange having gone up to the All-Ireland final and coming away with no conclusive result to it.
"It was a strange feeling and obviously all concerned with the team had to go away and prepare for the three weeks and try and ensure that we would come back three weeks later and that we would be able to play at a rate that would give us the chance to be successful.
"I just want to congratulate all of the people involved in the preparation of the team - Michael Dempsey, Martin Fogarty and all of the medical team and all concerned. But above all and there's no doubt about it. When games are won and games are lost on the pitch and the most important people and the people who have the nerve and decide to get out there and produce it and stand up to the challenge that is put in front of them are the players.
"I want to just congratulate and thank on your behalf all of the players involved in our panel, and I'm talking about those who played yesterday and those who didn't. I want to congratulate each and every one of them for not only going up and winning the MacCarthy Cup, but also going up and producing an outstanding performance of hurling."
Team captain Eoin Larkin told the thousands of supporters in the stands around him, "On behalf of all of the players I would like to thank you for turning out in your thousands here tonight to welcome us home.
"I would like to thank all of the supporters who travelled to Dublin yesterday to cheer on the team. You were a huge help to us and we are delighted to bring the MacCarthy Cup home to Kilkenny for the 34th time."