LIMERICK enjoyed the mother of all parties last night, after the county’s hurlers were crowned Munster Champions.
Pubs across the city and county came alive with songs and revelry, as celebrations were set to go on into the small hours.
The city centre reflected green glory, as the council’s bid to get businesses to display the county colours paid off.
For the first time since 1996, Limerick became Munster hurling champions, seeing off Cork by 0-24 to 0-15.
And the minor team also remains firmly in the hunt for All Ireland Glory after coming from eight points down to rescue a thrilling 2-19 each draw with Waterford in the dying minutes. They will replay on Tuesday week.
Although Cork shaded the first half of the senior game, the dismissal of full-forward Pa Horgan just before the break cleared the way for a Limerick win which prompted an outpouring of emotion at a packed Gaelic Grounds.
As members of the 42,730 -strong crowd made their way back into town, dreams were in the air of All-Ireland glory.
The Treatymen will first have to get through a tough semi-final at Croke Park on August 18 - but after today’s events, the belief is that anything is possible.
Caherdavin man John Giltenan, who travelled from London to watch the game said: “I would not want to get too cocky: but at the same time, it is a very realistic possibility.”
Mayor Kathleen Leddin - who celebrated Limerick’s win with “four cups of tea” - said one of her sons is already trying to book a ticket for the All-Ireland final.
“They have come so far, and are a very dedicated team, and I feel they can go all the way,” she said.
The mayor, who lives just metres away from Páirc na nGael, added she is “absolutely elated”.
She said: “My voice is still very scratchy, and my ears are out of action from all the noise in the stands. They deserve it, because they have worked extremely hard under trying circumstances.”
Sean Lally, manager of the Strand Hotel, said judging by the atmosphere, it feels like Limerick are already All-Ireland champions.
“Everything is going right for Limerick: the place is hopping. The buzz and vibe is unbelievable. It is like Limerick has just won an All-Ireland! It is a brilliant result, great for the city, and great for the region,” he said.
Stephen McDonagh, one of the members of Limerick’s last Munster-winning team in 1996, enjoyed a quiet celebration to “bask in the glory of what has been achieved.”
“There have been a lot of disappointing days over the last 17 years. It was extra special the match was on in Limerick. It is a fantastic feeling,” he said.
It is likely there will be a great many sore heads in Limerick tomorrow morning.
But after 17 years of Munster Senior Hurling pain, it is worth it.
And you’d be a fool to bet against more nights like this in the coming months.
See today’s Limerick Leader, print edition, for full match report and analysis.