Thursday, 23rd November 2017
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Home are the heroes

Gardai estimates put the number of people who came out to support the returning Waterford All-Ireland Finalists at somewhere between fifteen and twenty thousand. It was an incredible return for the manager Derek McGrath and his charges. Although delayed en route from Dublin, the supporters who turned out on the Quay were treated to some brilliant entertainment from Davy Flynn whom performed his new “Waterford” song and then followed Richie Hayes with backing band Brass and Co. This set from Richie was a stunning forty minutes of song as the crowd joined in with vocals and dance. The whole event on the Quay was co-ordinated by Waterford City and County Council with Richie Walsh as compere.

The dignatories all dressed in their respective gowns arrived half an hour before the team, led by Mayor Pat Nugent and City and County manager Michael Walsh along with our National representatives. Finally the lights of the team bus came into view, on the specially constructed “big screens”, as they wound their way through Sallypark and on to bridge.

The on board camera gave an insight to the players as they took in the whole event right throughout their journey down the quay to the stage, erected opposite the General Post Office. There was real electricity in the air with a huge ovation for the players as they alighted the open top bus.

This was also a huge night for the kids who revelled in the atmosphere.

Mayor Pat Nugent a deeply committed Clashmore/ Kinsale clubman opened the proceedings in a welcoming address. Singling out the supporters and the team the Mayor said “while defeat is hard to take it is part of sport and can make one come back stronger”. Pat went on to thank the players and said that “the wearers of the jersey had not only lifted the spirits of Waterford people here at home but, also those worldwide”. He went on to say that this team will be back and are still on the up with people proud to be seen in their county colours. Pat recognised those who had gone before us and had given so much to the GAA. In conclusion he urged manager Derek McGrath to remain on and wished the manager and the panel all the very best in the future.

Paddyjoe Ryan, Chairman of the Waterford GAA County Board, opened with a very lighthearted appeal. He said “ now that we have all the representatives of both Local and National government here, perhaps you could all work together to ensure that Walsh Park would be developed”, to which of course he received a huge round of applause. He thanked all those in Board and club positions for their time and energy in all their work for the GAA. The huge financial support of the sponsors, in particular “Three”, who he hoped would remain as lead sponsor next year when he said we might just return with the Liam McCarthy Cup. The chairman noted that the analysis figures from RTE suggest that over 1.1 million viewers sat glued to their TV sets yesterday (Sunday) for the All-Ireland. An incredible figure under any circumstances. He also said that Derek McGrath was one year into a new three year contract and it is entirely up to the manager to decide.

Master of ceremonies Richie Walsh a former Ballyduff Upper player then introduced the team. Each and everyone of the panel receiving a huge ovation. It was also very evident that a number of the players were emotional about the whole event. A special cheer for the last person called manager Derek McGrath. The man who has guided this team for over three years was himself emotional. He made the point that “this homecoming was overwhelming” adding that “the team banquet in Dublin last night had given all the players that little lift”. The team had gathered in Johnstown House on Sunday morning where he thanked them for four years of hard work and effort and stressed how important it was for each and everyone to remember who they represent. He went on to thank the County Board, Club Deise, the player's families and Azzurri, stressing that anytime something was required it was always met. In conclusion Derek said that there is a relentless spirit among this group of players and they will not “stand back”.

The evening which was most enjoyable if a little sombre for some was carried out in a most professional manner and ended with “Don't stop believing” before a rendition of “Dungarvan my Home Town” with the words flashed across the three big screens for all to join in. The underlying theme “beidh la eile againn” the sponsors, in particular “Three”, who he hoped would remain as lead sponsor next year when he said we might just return with the Liam McCarthy Cup. The chairman noted that the analysis figures from RTE suggest that over 1.1 million viewers sat glued to their TV sets yesterday (Sunday) for the All-Ireland. An incredible figure under any circumstances. He also said that Derek McGrath was one year into a new three year contract and it is entirely up to the manager to decide.

Master of ceremonies Richie Walsh a former Ballyduff Upper player then introduced the team. Each and everyone of the panel receiving a huge ovation. It was also very evident that a number of the players were emotional about the whole event. A special cheer as the last person called was manager Derek McGrath. The man who has guided this team for over three years was himself emotional. He made the point that “this homecoming was overwhelming” adding that “the team banquet in Dublin last night had given all the player that little lift”. The team had gathered in Johnstown House on Sunday morning where he thanked them for four years of hard work and effort and stressed how important it was for each and everyone to remember who they represent. He went on to thank the County Board, Club Deise, the player's families and Azzurri, stressing that anytime something was required it was always met. In conclusion Derek said that there is a relentless spirit among this group of players and they will not “stand back”.

The evening which was most enjoyable if a little sombre was carried out in a most professional manner and ended with “Don't stop believing” before a rendition of “Dungarvan my Home Town” with the words flashed across the three big screens for all to join in

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