Home are the Limerick hurling heroes: Doon GAA Club’s Barry Murphy, Pat Ryan ‘Simon’, Richie English and Darragh O’Donovan with the Liam MacCarthy Cup Picture: Dave Gaynor
WIDE-EYED and full of wonder, children crept closer and closer to the stage on Doon GAA field.
They looked up at these young men who made their mammies’, daddies’, grannies’ and grandads’ dreams come true last Sunday week. Richie English, Darragh O’Donovan, Pat Ryan “Simon” and Barry Murphy waved and smiled back before each lifting the Liam MacCarthy Cup high into the air.
As Richie looked out at the masses he said: “You would know every face some way, some connection. It is the first time the cup has been back to the east!” The place went wild.
“We’ve been to so many places around Limerick it is great to finally get back to Doon with the cup. Everybody in the club has given us unbelievable support. Thank you,” said Richie.
Gardai estimated 2,000 attended the homecoming that was created and crafted in Doon.
The four Doon GAA lads and Barry O’Connell, Colin Ryan “Malachy”, Seamus Hickey, Seamus Flanagan, Tom Morrissey, Aaron Gillane, Kyle Hayes and Ger O’Connell, kitman, were driven into the field in vintage cars by the Irish Rovers club.
Country star Jimmy Buckley had the crowd singing and MC was Trevor Anderson, of Limerick’s Live 95FM.
Mike Ryan, Doon GAA chairman, said it was a great privilege to have four club men bring the Liam MacCarthy Cup to Doon.
“It is 45 years since Willie Moore, Seamus Allis and Jim O’Donnell did it and they are here tonight too,” said Mike.
Darragh said it was a “touching moment” to see all the people that were there.
“There are so many people out there who helped us in our underage and senior careers. Thanks to everyone for being here this evening,” said Darragh.
Pat said it was “absolutely unbelievable”.
“I’ve been asked what is it like to win an All-Ireland. A lot of us have said it hasn’t hit us yet but I will tell you since I came here tonight it has proper hit me. This is the most surreal thing I have ever seen in my life .
“Your club is absolutely everything. The club is where you go on days you are feeling down and you come here on the days you are feeling good like today,” said Pat.
Barry said he was “so lucky” to have grown up beside the three other lads and learn from the three of them
“I’ve three best friends for life,” said Barry.
Next on their hit list is bringing a county championship back to Doon.
Barry O’Connell, of Kildimo-Pallaskenry, has strong connections to Doon.
“It is a special privilege to be able to come back to dad’s club and grandad’s club,” said Barry.
Once the questions ended, all the players jumped down onto the pitch to the awaiting children. They signed jerseys, hurleys, and took selfie after selfie.
As Ger O’Connell said: “They are all wonderful ambassadors for their families, clubs and for Limerick.”