Loyal Cats a crutch for King Henry
LOYAL Kilkenny fans greeted their defeated 'King' on a miserable evening as he limped into McDonagh train station on crutches.
Henry Shefflin managed to play for just 13 minutes in Sunday's All-Ireland final and yesterday he was accompanied by his wife, Deirdre, as he arrived ahead of his teammates.
Henry returned home early yesterday morning but he went to meet the rest of the players who travelled on a special train from Heuston Station at 4.15pm.
The injured hurler managed to force a smile as he patiently posed for photographs and signed jerseys and hurleys for young fans. A dejected looking captain TJ Reid and the rest of the panel arrived on platform two just after 6pm.
Retired school principal of Ballyhale NS, Joe Dunphy, was standing outside the train station to meet his former pupils Henry Shefflin, TJ Reid, Michael Fennelly and James 'Cha' Fitzpatrick. He had a word in Cha's ear telling him, "it'll come back to us, boy".
Thousands of people lined the streets of Kilkenny to see their heroes as they paraded in an open-top bus to a civic reception in the Market Yard.
Kilkenny manager Brian Cody thanked the crowds who gathered by the River Nore for turning out on a "wet night". "It's very important tonight to remember that our minors have come home as All-Ireland champions," he said.
Many of the children who gathered could not remember Kilkenny losing an All-Ireland final. Santana Hernandez-Power from Thomastown (15) had enjoyed Kilkenny's four-in-a-row in her early teenage years. "It's devastating to lose. I didn't expect it at all, but I'm so proud of the lads. They won for the last four years, you can't ask for more."