Thursday 16 August 2018

WATCH: Galway star sings captivating version of the West's Awake as homecoming party kicks off

Crowds in Ballinasloe and (inset) Paul Flaherty takes the mic
Crowds in Ballinasloe and (inset) Paul Flaherty takes the mic
Fans line the streets for the homecoming in Ballinasloe Photo: Mark Condren

Nicola Anderson in Galway

The West's Awake rang out once again as the triumphant Galway hurlers - minor and senior - received a heroes welcome in Ballinasloe, their first stop after crossing the Shannon.

Gardai estimate that some 15,000 people gathered at the Fairgreen in the town to catch their first glimpse of Galway's new superstars.

The excitement was enormous.

People started to arrive at about 1.30 ahead of the scheduled arrival at 3pm. They were late - the senior panel taking the stage shortly after 4.30.

They patiently waited for the Minor team to have their moment in the sun, standing on the steps as they signed hurls and posing for pictures with the Liam MacCarthy cup until the speeches ended.

And then it was their turn, the crowd going wild as each player was named out individually - with a particularly massive roar for Portumna man Joe Canning who scored nine points in the Final and captain David Burke.

Player Paul Flaherty was called forward and launched into The West's Awake - famously sung by Joe McDonagh after Galway won the hurling final in 1980.

Manager Micheal Donoghue urged the crowd to focus on the development of hurling in clubs saying "we can't wait another 29 years and hopefully we will have the Liam MacCarthy back here again soon."

After that, it was back on the bus as the team headed for Pearse Stadium in Salthill.

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