Saturday 23 March 2019

No joy for Easkey but what a year!

Emma Gallagher

As one young fan remarked there wasn't a soul left in Easkey on Saturday and that certainly seemed the case when the Sea Blues travelled by bus, train and car to Croke Park as the west Sligo club became the first from the county to reach an All-Ireland final.

Silverware wasn't to be as opponents Kerry and Munster champions Beaufort proved too strong for Dessie Sloyan's men on Saturday but they can look back on what a momentous year it has been for the west Sligo side.

Becoming Sligo and Connacht champions before defeating the Ulster champions to reach the coveted All-Ireland spot on Saturday will go into the club's history books.

Fans came from near and far to cheer on the Sligo outfit and many came from overseas.

Crowds were gathering from early afternoon outside Croke Park as the atmosphere was building ahead of the 3pm throw-in.

Both Easkey and Beaufort don the same club colours but the Easkey fans were certainly making their voices heard with plenty of flags, banners and scarves supporting the Sea Blues on their historic day.

Supporters travelled in large numbers for the special occasion.

"It is a really proud day for Easkey and we are so excited to be here," Claire Duffy said.

"It is such a huge occasion getting to Croke Park and we are so, so proud of them.

"There is no one left in Easkey! There are so many supporters here. We came up on the Castle Inn bus and the atmosphere was something else, we were all singing Up to Croker.

"My brother Kieran Duffy and boyfriend Joseph Dunphy are on the team too," she added.

There may have been some rivalry for one Easkey supporter on the day who hailed from the Kingdom.

Cassie Orpen was outside Croke Park with her friends Niamh Fitzgerald, Declan Nulty and James Lynch.

They were all there supporting Cassie's boyfriend Éanna Moylan who was playing for Easkey. Cassie said: "I am from Kenmare but today I'm supporting Easkey!

"I have the Easkey colours on. The mood has been great ahead of the game," she added.

Also out in the Easkey colours were Rory O'Beirne and Martina Clarke.

Rory said: "We are from St Farnan's but really wanted to come and support Easkey today.

"It is such a big occasion for Sligo football in general to see them being the first club to reach an All-Ireland final.

"It is a great achievement overall, it is a huge deal for Sligo," he added.

There were many flags in Croke Park and among them was one from the Castle Inn with Michael, Vivienne and Katie-Lee Munnelly proudly wearing the Easkey colours.

Michael said: "We are delighted to be here, it is amazing to see our home club in Croke Park, it is such a massive thing. It is hard to believe seeing all the support here.

"There is no one left in Easkey!," he laughed.

Kim and Robert Moloney were there with son Alex with their other son Flynn coming over from Manchester for the game. Kim said: "We wouldn't miss it, it is such a fantastic achievement the whole place is buzzing."

On Sunday and despite heavy showers, the fans were out to welcome the Sea Blues home to Easkey as their remarkable year came to a close.

Although the result didn't go their way, what fond memories for many years to come.

Sligo Champion