Grey day for homecoming, but fans know Kingdom's rule not done yet
Published 20/09/2011 | 05:00
THE grey suits matched the grey day and the grey mood.
But even though it had rained on their parade, thousands of supporters came out to welcome the Kerry team home last night.
And while the dust settled on Sunday's defeat in the All-Ireland final, big decisions await the Kerry team and its management.
But yesterday Jack O'Connor didn't rule out staying on for another tenure as manager.
O'Connor has served two three-year terms at the helm, though not consecutively, and has brought his team to five All-Ireland finals and won three.
"Today isn't the day to be deciding it," he told the Irish Independent.
"It's no time to be making decisions when you're a bit emotional and I'm sure the lads will make their decision in their own time."
As to his own future he said: "Ah now, we'll leave that for another day."
In Tralee last night, local Austin Stacks man Kieran Donaghy said it had been a difficult day for the team.
"Yesterday (Sunday) was a tough day but this is a tough team and we're a tough bunch and we'll stick together and we'll come back again stronger because of this," he promised.
At Rathmore, the first stop on the journey, it was a subdued team that mounted the platform minus local man Tom O'Sullivan, who hadn't travelled with the rest of the team.
Rathmore GAA chairman Eoin Casey had the supporters fired up to give them a rousing welcome.
"We're all disappointed today but remember they're going to be very disappointed too so give them a big cheer when they come out," he urged the few hundred diehard fans who weren't going to let their team down, even in defeat.
Kerry County Board chairman Jerome Conway said this team was a very special team that had taken part in nine All-Ireland finals in the last 12 years and won five.
"We may be down but we're not out and we'll be back," he said.
In Rathmore Jack O'Connor said there was a great bond between the fans and this team.
"We're just hoping that they'll stick together and that we'll get one more year," he said.
And of course they'll be back. They're genetically programmed to be.
While Dublin celebrates, they will have to win a few more times to threaten the tally of this Kerry team that has 74 All-Ireland medals among them.