SLIDESHOW: 'An inspiration to all of us' - Joy as Limerick ref arrives home to huge welcome

Alan Owens

Reporter:

FRESH from being named World Rugby Referee of the Year, Limerick's Joy Neville arrived back to a hero's welcome over the weekend.

Joy, from the North Circular Road, arrived back at Shannon Airport at the weekend with the trophy she won in Monaco. She was greeted at the airport by her wife Simona Coppolla and family - including parents Ger and Mary, who met her on the tarmac.

The world’s top referee was the cause of a great cheer in the arrivals hall as family and friends greeted her return before she headed to Dublin to appear on the Ray D'Arcy television show on Saturday night.

Neville, who was capped 70 times for Ireland, created rugby history at the World Rugby Awards gala ceremony in Monaco by becoming the first female winner of the award. She was the only Irish winner in the awards.

It capped an amazing year for the Limerick woman who, across 2017, also officiated at the Women’s Rugby World Cup final in August, refereed a senior men’s international game, signed a professional contract with the IRFU and will take charge of a Challenge Cup game on December 15.

The proud Limerick woman beamed as she steeped off her flight and walked into the arms of the proud homecoming troupe.

Congratulating Joy on the success, Shannon Airport Managing Director Andrew Murphy said: “We’ve had a lot of big moments at the airport this year but being able to welcome Joy in is right up there with the best of them. To win any world best award is an incredible achievement but when you break the mould like she has, it really sets you apart.

"She is an inspiration to all of us.”