IT was just not to meant to be in 2012, however the future of Kerry ladies football is bright and 2013 could well be the year when a 20-year gap is bridged and the Brendan Martin Cup returns to the Kingdom.
Kerry battled valiantly against raging-hot favourites Cork in the All-Ireland final in Croke Park on Sunday but in the end they had to give way to the superior firepower and all-round excellent play of the Rebelettes, who captured their seventh crown in eight years.
Though the eventual winning margin, 0-16 to 0-7, was decisive, the girls from Kerry, under the stewardship of William O'Sullivan, can hold their heads high after an impressive year on the playing fields which saw them qualify for their first decider in 19 years.
The pain of defeat was somewhat salved by the thousands of Kerry supporters and well-wishers that turned out to greet their heroes when they returned home on Monday evening.
Knocknagoshel and Castleisland were pit-stops on the route, however the main homecoming event was in Killorglin where the team and management were paraded over the bridge and onto the podium by the Killorglin Pipe Band.
Kerry Ladies chairperson Donal Barry told The Kerryman this week that the warmth of the waiting crowds helped ease the pain of defeat for the team.
"The disappointment of the game disappeared when hundreds of people waited for them. It was exciting. For the girls, it was very special and I think it will make it easy to decide whether to go for it again next year. It does the heart good," he said.
"They deserved the homecoming. Brian Cody said one time that when Kilkenny won an All-Ireland they were met by a huge crowd but when they lost there was a massive crowd altogether," Donal added, before graciously paying tribute to champions Cork.
"This year was a huge learning curve. It was nine points in the end but the margin may have been a tad unfair. The best team won, there's no doubt about it and Cork are true champions."