Friday 24 February 2017

Village on high after All-Ireland win


Credit: Photo: John Tarrant
Credit: Photo: John Tarrant
Credit: Photos: John Tarrant

NOT only did the first person back from Croke Park turn on the lights in Meelin, they have yet to be turned off since their historic All Ireland victory on Sunday against John Lockes.

As soon as the whistle went and the proud club had bagged a four point triumph, and once the tears and shouting and back slapping had been done with, it was straight into any form of a mechanically propelled vehicle and a cry of 'Home James and don't spare the horses' for the highest village in Ireland. The Corkman understands that the word 'election' has been replaced with the word 'session' and the dour word 'recession' has equally being given the boot, and in its place lies the word 'celebration.' ALL IRELAND club Junior hurling champions Meelin returned home to a true heroes' welcome in a joyous homecoming in Ireland's highest village last Sunday night.

The six hour return trip from Croke Park completed a memorable voyage to the promised land after

Meelin brought the curtain down on a wonderful campaign culminating on their four point triumph over John Lockes from Kilkenny.

Flames from bonfires at Kelly's Cross filled a dark February night as the double garda escort fronted the team bus ahead into the last mile of an epic journey that had begun 12 months previously.

Not for the first time in the campaign, Newmarket Pipe Band paraded the triumphant Meelin team

along a familiar routine. But on this occasion, it was feting All Ireland champions — with team captain Jerry Forrest proudly holding the trophy aloft to the deafening cheers of supporters.

The majority of those present had earlier made the trip to Croker on a fleet of nine buses from Meelin in addition to car and rail. Add in support from all across North Cork, and further afield, and this ensured a carnival atmosphere.

Club chairman Willie O'Sullivan was proud as punch after his young side fulfilled the club's greatest ambition, to lift All Ireland silverware.

"We stood here earlier in the season having won divisional, county and Munster titles. Now, we're All Ireland champions. From Bermingham to Croke Park, we endured tough assignments. The support was fantastic while club fund raisers have met with a massive boost," he said.

Team captain Jerry Forrest pulled back the tears to acknowledge a hugely satisfying win.

"It took upwards of 80 training sessions to achieve our goal. Thanks are extended to the wives, girlfriends, mothers and fathers for bearing with us. The supporters were our 16th man, unbelievable all season. You drove us on to All Ireland glory and by doing so we won everything put before us," he said.

Coach Liam Ryan earned the plaudits for completing the five phase saga that culminated in the highest accolade for any Junior club.

"We put in the hard work, taking it step by step. After the Barna game, and winning by nine points, we were down after our performance. However, the mentality of the boys came right to reach the top. There are 26 guys, committed and everyone is important to the cause," he said.

Likewise, Ryan paid tribute to selectors Willie Fitzgerald, Ben O'Sullivan and Liam Sheahan before offering encouragement to the playing panel.

"Go out and savour the All Ireland for the week. Come back and prepare for intermediate level, it's a grade Meelin are capable of winning a county championship in," he said.

On a night of celebration never before seen in the village, Duhallow Board chairman Richard Murphy and Board secretary Steven Lynch were two among many others who spoke of Meelin as proud ambassadors of the division.

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