Some 12,000 people flocked to Nowlan Park this evening to watch Kilkenny hurlers bring home the Liam McCarthy.
Surveying the crowd of thousands last night in Nowlan Park at another victory celebration, Brian Cody was already planting the seeds for more All-Ireland homecomings in Kilkenny.
Once upon a time, he told the devoted, the players who earned a 36th title for the county on Sunday were standing in the crowd of supporters, cheering and watching as their heroes were winning in days gone by.
“That gave them the drive and ambition and dream to get up on that stage themselves, to get to play with Kilkenny and be a part of something like this. It’s certain there are young children and teenagers in the stand tonight, you people have that same dream and same ambition and same determination to some day be up wearing the black and amber and hopefully be part of a team that brings back the Liam McCarthy Cup.”
Sounding an ominous note for other hurling counties, he added: “The players behind me are leading the way now, it’s vitally important that what happens now continues to happen.”
After receiving the loudest cheer of the evening when he strode onto the stage, Cody pointed out that 31 counties were rooting for Galway in Sunday’s final, “and that’s understandable,” hailed their opponents “magnificent” first half, but then reminded everyone what makes this side great.
“I think the display in the second half and the skill and strength of character they showed can be compared to any display by any team in any code, anywhere.”
The Kilkenny manager’s speech was the last of a homecoming event which got under way when the team bus arrived at Kilkenny Castle at 5.45pm, allowing the players to board an open-top bus for the familiar journey through the streets towards Nowlan Park.
Out from the eating houses and drinking establishments, shops and homes came the fans as the bus chugged along, cheering and forming a growing crowd behind the team and management, like the children of Hamlyn following the Pied Piper.