Shane-mania hits fever pitch as goal hero needs garda escort
ALL-Ireland hurling hero Shane O'Donnell needed a garda escort to bring him away from a mob of delirious fans during a charity match.
Inspector Tom Kennedy said: "It was something akin to a pop-star situation with Shane being mobbed by the screaming fans."
O'Donnell is only 19 but his life has been turned upside down since his three goals helped fire Clare to All-Ireland victory over Cork in the replay last weekend.
After a charity match on Wednesday night, the teenage star had already spent an hour signing autographs, but the crowd did not subside.
Insp Kennedy said that "Shane O'Donnell was, without sounding dramatic, trapped or marooned inside the clubhouse and a garda intervention was requested to get him safely out of there".
He added: "Such was the number of mainly teenage girls seeking his autograph, Shane was effectively pinned against the dressing room door. He couldn't get out – there was a lot of pushing and shoving and such was the enthusiasm from the fans that Shane had to retreat into the clubhouse."
O'Donnell and the Clare team were at Davy Fitzgerald's home GAA ground to play the annual GOAL charity match. An incredible 6,000 fans attended to celebrate Clare's All-Ireland win and meet their heroes.
Clare teammate Podge Collins yesterday retweeted a picture from the scene asking "first man to get a garda escort out of a GAA dressing room?".
Insp Kennedy said that the Clare team and management exited the dressing room to the waiting team bus without encountering any difficulties from the waiting fans.
But he said that the UCC genetics student "was quite fatigued from a lot of the pushing and shoving outside the dressing-room door when he was signing the autographs. He endured over one hour of it".
Insp Kennedy said that gardai came to the dressing-room door to escort O'Donnell past his adoring fans into a waiting garda patrol car outside the building.
Insp Kennedy said that the garda patrol car drove O'Donnell "one hundred metres or so" to the waiting team bus to take the Eire Og clubman and his Clare teammates out of Sixmilebridge.
O'Donnell has been feted since his 3-3 Man of the Match performance in the All-Ireland hurling final last Saturday.
Pat Daly, club chairman of O'Donnell's Ennis Eire Og club, said of the star: "Shane is a very solid young fella and will be able to handle all of this."
He added: "We are very, very proud of Shane here at Eire Og."
However, tomorrow Shane returns to Sixmilebridge GAA grounds for a do-or-die club championship match for his Eire Og club against Smith O'Briens where he is likely to receive a different type of attention from the opposition's full-back line.