It's the cup of good cheer as victorious hurlers take Liam to children's hospital
FOR babies, the Liam MacCarthy cup can pose a particular problem.
Unlike the generous dimensions of Sam, the narrow confines of Liam can be a tight squeeze – as more than one little tot found out during the Clare hurlers' visit to Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin.
Davy Fitzgerald's men followed the long-standing tradition of winners visiting the Dublin hospital with the All-Ireland silverware.
And while Liam was a squeeze for 14-month-old Roisin Foley from Clonroche, Co Wexford, little six-month-old Emma Monahan was a more comfortable fit; while Brian Doorley Tierney at three months was practically swimming in the cup.
"He loved it, he's delighted with all the attention," laughed Brian's proud mum Sadie. Despite hailing from another hurling stronghold, Thurles, Co Tipperary, she and husband Paddy were happy to congratulate their neighbours.
And while Brian took the flashes of the photographers' cameras in his stride, after an initial few smiles Emma decided the dazzling attention was all too much as she burst into tears.
Emma's mum Sinead, from Ballymote in Co Sligo, explained that Crumlin had become a home from home for the family since Emma was born earlier this year.
"She has a heart problem. She's been here really all her life, she's only had five weeks at home so far," she said adding that the visit of the hurlers provided a welcome distraction for parents and children.
Indeed, the visit had a visible impact on Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald who admitted it was "very emotional".
"It's an unreal feeling. It makes you understand what life is really about," he said.
"You think you were under pressure yesterday, and we were, but seeing the kids here today, it backs up what I've been saying to the guys... people have a lot more problems than we have."
Aisling Keogh (10) showed off her hurling skills to Mr Fitzgerald from her hospital bed. She and mum Regina were glued to the television for the match.
"I'm a big hurling fan, I play camogie for my club. I'll be here a few days more but I'm feeling good," said the schoolgirl from Raharney, Co Westmeath,
Mr Fitzgerald paid a special visit to the intensive care unit to meet five-week-old Eoin Taaffe, the son of former All-Ireland winning hurler Eamonn Taaffe from Tubber, Co Clare.
Eamonn and his daughter Anna (5), who attended the match at Croke Park, greeted the team at the hospital entrance along with his wife Maebh.
"It was unreal," said Eamonn of the victory. "I know a good few of the lads and I hurled with Davy in '95 and '97. It's great to see them here today."