EVEN Spainâ€™s returning heroes would find it hard to match the homecoming that Richie Tuohy, Eoin Oâ€™Brien and Conor Oâ€™Dwyer got in their local pubs.
The Dromkeen, Cappamore and Pallasgreen men are famous for their roles in the â€œAngela Merkel thinks weâ€™re at workâ€ flag.
With the boys in green flagging on the pitch, the flag became the Irish story of the Euros. It made headlines across the world and they have raised over â‚¬20,000 and counting for charity.
They toured Poland and the tour of East Limerick commenced on Friday night in Uncle Tomâ€™s in Pallasgreen.
It is Richie Tuohyâ€™s local so and he and his dad, Tony, dropped in with the flag for a pint.
â€œThere was a big crowd and good old craic. People were shaking my hands and congratulating us all. Youâ€™d nearly be embarrassed at the reception they were so nice,â€ said Richie. The photos above are just two of hundreds that were taken over the weekend with the flag by smiling locals.
â€œWe hadnâ€™t officially organised fundraising but people still gave us fivers and tenners when we were taking photos. It was unbelievable,â€ said Richie. The next stop on Friday night was Oâ€™Neillâ€™s in Boher where the craic continued and glasses were raised. On Saturday morning they called to businesses in Dromkeen and their old national school - Tineteriffe.
On Saturday afternoon they headed to Cappamore where Eoin Oâ€™Brien is from. They dropped in to Oâ€™Dwyerâ€™s and Hayes where there were a group on a break from a charity cycle from Askeaton to Dundrum. More pictures were taken with the infamous flag which are sure to end up on pub walls. The mini-tour of North East Limerick ended in Oâ€™Dwyerâ€™s in Pallasgreen on Saturday night.
As the proprietors, Cora and Dermot, are Conorâ€™s uncle and aunt they got a special welcome.
â€œWhen we walked in there were balloons and welcome home signs. I said to Cora â€˜who is coming home?â€™ â€˜what party is on tonight?â€™. She said â€˜Theyâ€™re for yeâ€™ and we were shocked,â€ laughed Richie.
Their fundraising efforts continued as they posed with Pallasgreen Residents Association members who are holding a coffee morning this Sunday, July 8 after 11.30am Mass in Nicker hall for the upkeep of the villages. Their phones are still ringing with offers and invites so the lads donâ€™t know what will happen next.
Perhaps the perfect ending would be if Iris â€“ the Barcelona-based company who bought the flag â€“ could arrange for the triumphant Spanish team to sign it.