THIRTEEN lucky Lotto players are celebrating after sharing almost €4.9m in a syndicate.
But one of them is probably the luckiest of them all. Maria Doherty (21) only started work at Forward Emphasis International - a call centre that provides customer care for leading financial companies -in Malin Head, Co Donegal, on Monday and only joined the syndicate 24 hours before Wednesday's midweek rollover.
Maria and her dozen colleagues won €374,695.85 each on the €4,871,046 jackpot. "I'm absolutely shocked," said Maria.
"Talk about being lucky. I only started work here four days ago and here I am with an amount of money I could only ever dream of.
"I was working in a hotel until last week and gave two weeks' notice and then asked if I could leave after one and they allowed that. If I had stayed the extra week I would have missed this.
"It's pure class, there's no other way to describe it."
Eleven of the syndicate all turned up for work yesterday to celebrate their winnings.
Kelly McMonagle, however, was at home on maternity leave, while Claire McElhinney was the subject of frantic phone calls from the rest of her work colleagues - she's in Tenerife.
"We need her signature and her flight is not due back (until) Monday, but I think we can manage until then," laughed James Bradley who collects the €2 a week for the syndicate.
The lotto winners are now all planning a trip to Dublin on Sunday to see Donegal take on Kerry in the All-Ireland final. "We're hoping for a Donegal treble on Sunday," said Anne-Marie Jordan from Carndonagh.
"Our luck is in and with Maria Doherty in the Hogan Stand at Croke Park, we're on for it."
Inishowen Motors car dealer Sean McLaughlin has even offered them a Kia car painted in the Donegal colours for the journey.