Paul Kinnerk, Maggie Maloney, Karen Kinnerk, Anna Kinnerk, Martin Kinnerk and Sean Finn at the medal ceremony in Adare Manor on Sunday night Picture: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
ONE of the most memorable years in Limerick’s proud hurling history ended with a celebration to beat all celebrations at Adare Manor on Sunday night.
Over 300 guests attended undoubtedly the function of the year in Limerick, when our All-Ireland winning hurling heroes eventually received their medals, which they won with that memorable victory over Galway on August 19.
It took 45 years to bring back the Liam MacCarthy Cup to Limerick and it took another four months before the players got their hands on their medals.
But it was worth the wait as players, family and friends attended the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Medals presentation at the magnificent ballroom nestling on the banks of the Maigue.
It was a night of laughter, smiles, speeches and numerous celebrations and a song or two thrown in for good measure by a number of talented entertainers.
It was a night when John Kiely, the manager, and his team were acknowledged and feted with a celebration party thrown by JP and Noreen McManus.
One man who didn’t make the All-Ireland final as he was ill was long-serving Limerick and Munster Council treasurer Declan Moylan, but he did make the celebration on Sunday night, as did 1973 captain Eamonn Grimes and team mates Joe McKenna and Pat Hartigan.
Others spotted included former champion jockey, AP McCoy, Charlie McCreevy, all the local TDs and senators and Mayor of Limerick Cllr James Collins.
The famous victory has resulted in celebrations in virtually every town and village in county Limerick; in every school and nursing home and GAA club - but not in public houses.
Three books have been written to commemorate the win and there is a DVD and much more memorabilia. It has been a year to remember.
Host JP McManus in a short but telling speech, thanked RTE’s Petula Martyn for compering the event, and praised John Kiely and his team.
“You have no idea how much pleasure we got from watching you throughout the years,” said JP. “You have given us and everyone in the county a sense of pride, it is something you couldn’t buy,” he told the team.
JP and other speakers noted the exemplary fashion the team went about their business off the pitch and he thanked players who also helped promote and take part in the Team Limerick Clean-up on Good Friday.
The president of the GAA, John Horan, said the Limerick hurlers had warmed the hearts of the nation with their success.
“In success the bigger impact was made by the way you carried yourselves with that success, I think that is what impressed everyone, that success did not get buried in alcohol.”
He also praised team manager, John Kiely, who, he said, did not go after headlines and left the players take the credit.
John Cregan, chairman of Limerick GAA, said it was a “remarkable year in the history of Limerick GAA”.
He praised not only JP and Noreen McManus but also JP’s brother Gerry McManus who has played a major role in funding the underage academy ensuring success and minor, U-21 and now senior level.
John Kiely, in his speech, explained that he had not met the full group since that famous day in Croke Park, and he went on to individually name each member of the backroom team, all of whom later received presentations. Along with the 36 players, there is a backroom staff of 24 including people involved in various coaching roles, selectors, hurley carriers, stats at the matches, kitman, medical team and logistics.
As a result John Kiely’s speech was, quite rightly, the longest of the night, but also very well received.
The presentation of medals included commentary from RTE’s Petula Martyn on the role played by each member, all of whom got a rapturous round of applause.