Historic moment: Dan and Tom Morrissey paused for a special photograph with the statue of the legendary Mick Mackey and some young fans in Castleconnell Picture: Dave Gaynor
THE SPUDS were well and truly mashed, sautéed, roasted and boiled at Ahane GAA Club’s historic homecoming for the Morrissey brothers.
First up was a tour of the village with Dan and Tom holding the Liam MacCarthy Cup on the back of a jeep. Streets were lined with cheering fans. There was a respectful nod to the past when a photograph was taken with the statue of the greatest hurler of them all – Mick Mackey. A picture was also taken with Greg Mackey, son of Mick.
Some can remember when Mick Mackey last brought the Cup to Castleconnell in 1940. Dan and Tom followed the old tradition of a successful Limerick side and stopped off first at Castleconnell train station with Liam McCarthy. They also brought the Cup to Shane Lee’s memorial bench at Daly’s Cross.
The last stop was Mackey Park. Harley Davidsons from the Buachaill Dana’s Motor Bike club cut through the crowd to make a path for Dan and Tom. They were joined by Seamus Hickey, Lorcan Lyons, Barry Nash, Pat Ryan “Simon”, Darragh O’Donovan and Richie English.
Ahane’s underage teams, including their U-12 boys hurling and U-16 and U-14 camogie county champions gave them a guard of honour. This is the last of the players’ club homecomings but it felt like All-Ireland final day again. Colm Barry, chairman of Ahane GAA Club, summed up the feelings of many when he said: “On August 19, Dan and Tom, the whole Limerick team and management gave me simply the most wonderful and memorable day I have ever enjoyed on a hurling field. All I can say is thanks a million, lads.”
“We all gather here, where we believe is the real home of hurling, to celebrate the most unbelievable achievement of a young Limerick team to finally bring Liam MacCarthy back to Limerick after 45 long and tortuous years,” he continued.
Colm said Sunday had a special significance for Ahane as they weren’t lucky enough to have representatives on the panel in 1973.
“So in fact it is 78 long years since an All-Ireland senior hurling medal made its way in to Ahane GAA club,” said Colm, who paid tribute to all the former county players from Ahane who didn’t get to win an All-Ireland.
“They represented Limerick with such distinction they deserved more rewards for their efforts,” said Colm. The quarter final against Kilkenny is etched on his memory.
“Who from Ahane can forget that finish with two glorious points from Tom and Dan was voted man of the match. He was even voted better than his brother and we had Anthony Daly’s promotion on The Sunday when he said, ‘The spuds will be boiling tonight in Ahane’,” said Colm.
He finished up by saying Dan and Tom are two local heroes who grew up and learned their hurling skills in Mackey Park. “They have given us memories we will never forget.”
John Meskell, MC, also picked up on the importance of the Kilkenny game when he interviewed the players. He asked Tom what he was doing so far back in defence when he scored that wonder point. Tom said it was because Dan and Riche English were struggling to keep hold of their men!
“I said I’d go back and give them a hand. I took responsibility, I ran up the field, luckily there was space in front of me and it just kind of opened up. I managed to lose my man and thank God it went over the bar.
“It was a huge win to beat Kilkenny. A Limerick team hasn’t beat Kilkenny in a long time. Supporters probably thought for a game we led for so long it had gone out of our grasp. The reply we made after Richie Hogan got that goal to kick on and get a win was massive for us as a group to show we had All-Ireland credentials. We went on and proved it,” said Tom.
He was too modest to mention he was the one who caught Nickie Quaid’s puck out and struck it straight over the bar. Dan shares a unique honour with Nickie – they were the only two players to play every second of the 18 matches in the Munster league, league and championship.
“In extra time against Cork I was ready to put my hand up, my two legs were cramping but thankfully I made it to the end of the game. When you get the chance you have to make the most of it because our panel is so strong. If you have one bad game there is somebody in to take the jersey off you. Thankfully I had a few good games and I got to keep the jersey,” said Dan.
It was his hands cramping on Sunday night from signing autographs. In a touching gesture the club invited the teenagers involved in the recent school bus crash in the parish. They were given the honour of having their photographs taken first with the players and Cup. Then a queue of youngsters formed around the club house. It was like a concert. All to see their local heroes who look like pop stars.