LIKE a good striker, he timed his run to perfection. Michael D Higgins eased his way into the main stand at Terryland Park last night, past the cheering crowds.
Wrapped up in his Galway United scarf, the president elect greeted all. He shook hands, posed with fans and had dozens of photographs taken.
For them he was already president -- president of Galway United -- and he was acclaimed from the moment he appeared for the second leg in the League of Ireland promotion/relegation play-off against Monaghan United.
A massive banner, draped from the stand, told of the fans' feelings. "Welcome home to Galway, Mr President", it proclaimed.
He spoke briefly to the media and was led to his seat in the main stand.
As he climbed the steps flanked by plain clothes minders and club officials, the entire stand rose to give him a round of applause.
"Tonight is a very important night for Galway United and I am delighted to be here. As president of the club, it could be my last visit for a while -- but it will not be my last visit to Terryland," he said.
Our picture by David Maher shows Mr Higgins with Boyzone and 'Coronation Street' star Keith Duffy at Terryland Park.
See sport for the match report