Part of a winning team led by John Kiely: Limerick’s kitman Ger O’Connell, fifth from left, beside County Board chairman John Cregan Picture: Sportsfile
GER O’Connell’s Pallasgreen notes in this week’s Limerick Leader say a lot about the man.
They were sent in on time and there wasn’t one word about his involvement in Limerick’s All-Ireland hurling success. That’s Ger, humble as they come.
Limerick’s kitman is always the first to training and match venues and last to leave. His first year was 2007 when they lost to Kilkenny in the final.
“There's a big difference this year alright! It’s only beginning to sink in. At the final whistle it was just mayhem - it's a sense of pure elation. You're there for years looking at other teams going up those steps in Croke Park, lifting that cup and now your time has come.
“I have never met a team to actually bond and get on so well as this bunch. They’re just a nice bunch of guys, and the back room team too – everyone gets on so well,” said Ger, who had another reason – if one was needed – to celebrate on Sunday. It was his and his wife’s Mary’s wedding anniversary.
“We got married on August 19, 1994 and actually flew in the night before the All-Ireland final from our honeymoon. We couldn't have gotten a nicer anniversary. To go up those steps in the Hogan Stand and hold that cup - it’s the stuff of dreams,” said Ger. They were joined by children – Eadaoin 21 , Roisin 18 and Ailbhe 16.
“Eadaoin came home from America especially. She was in San Diego on a J1. She said before she left about three months ago, ‘If Limerick get into the All-Ireland final, I'm going to come home’." Ger had a good luck charm on Sunday from ten-year-old Jack Fraher, Pallasgreen.
“Jack goes to all the games with his dad Garry and grandfather Eddie. They only got two tickets so Jack’s mum Dara rang me last Friday,” said Ger. Garry Fraher played Jesus Christ in Pallasgreen’s 24 hour restaging of the Passion in 2014 but this time it was Ger who worked a miracle. He sorted a ticket and told Dara he would drop it round
“Jack made me a special good luck card. He wrote, ‘Thank you, Ger, and when I play in Croke Park I’ll get you a ticket’. It was very touching. I told him I would bring it with me and it brought us luck.” They needed it in the dying minutes.
“I thought it was 1994 all over again. When it got to injury time it went on and on. I kept looking up at the time on the screen. I thought it would never finish." What was he thinking when Joe Canning stood over that last free to draw the game?
“It’s like this - Joe Canning is Joe Canning. We were all praying he would miss it but to make it worse look where it landed. You think of Kilkenny in 2014, a deflection into the back of the net. Fair play to the lads, Tom Condon especially. It's an amazing feeling, you think you're actually in a dream." Ger was very proud to lift the cup at the homecoming with fellow club man Colin Ryan “Malachy”. Noah Deere from Pallasgreen was a flagbearer while the Ryan family played music in Croke Park. They all can’t wait to have Liam MacCarthy in Pallas!