ONE Direction star Niall Horan made a special trip home from London yesterday for his friend John Joe Nevin's homecoming party.
The teenage pop superstar, who performed at the Olympic Games closing ceremony on Sunday night, cancelled his engagements yesterday to join the crowd of 6,000 who welcomed the silver medal hero home to Mullingar, Co Westmeath.
While he didn't serenade the crowd, he took to the stage to introduce his friend and neighbour, John Joe.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, he revealed how he had talked to John Joe every day for the past three weeks.
"I wasn't going to come home at all but I had to be here. I was at three of his fights. It was the only thing I was at. He is such a legend," he said.
"I grew up across the road from him. I've known him all my life," he added.
The singer revealed how he hadn't been able to see the athlete between the fights and even attempted to sneak into the Olympic village to see the boxer, but was turned away.
"It was like a prison for them in the village. Once they were in they weren't let out. And they wouldn't let us in," he added.
Thousands lined the streets of Mullingar yesterday evening as the Olympic medalist travelled through the town on an open-top bus to Cusack Park.
The boxer was met by cheers and chants and a sea of green and gold as his fans made their gratitude known.
In Cusack Park, the crowds were kept entertained by a number of local musicians including nine-year-old Ashley Tubridy who recently charmed President Michael D Higgins during the Volvo Ocean Race finale in Galway.
As John Joe Nevin and Irish equestrian Olympian Joseph Murphy finally entered the GAA ground, they received a massive roar from the crowd.
John Joe, who performed his now famous 'Mullingar Shuffle' for the crowd, described the occasion as a "dream come true".
Both athletes ran up and down the length of the pitch shaking hands with fans.
John Joe revealed that he hasn't let his silver medal out of his sight since he won it. "I have slept with it," he laughed.
The boxer added that one of his best moments was being able to put his silver medal around the neck of his two-year-old son Martin.
"I looked up to a lot of people and hopefully this young man can look up to me," he added.
The boxer also revealed that he has not yet decided on his future career plans.
"I'll take three weeks off and we'll see where we go from here.
"I'd love to go back and fight for the gold medal, but I'm thinking about my life after the boxing and where I'm going to go from there," he said.
During the celebrations, Brian McKeown, of John Joe's boxing club in Cavan, made a promise that delighted the crowd -- he will have a home fight in Cusack Park next year.
Irish equestrian Olympian Joseph Murphy was also honoured at the event last night.
He revealed he had put his wedding and honeymoon on hold for the Olympics but promised his fiancee Jill they'd be tying the knot later this year.
The event had been organised by Marty Mulligan, who had been working on it well before John Joe had secured any medal.
"It didn't matter if he brought nothing back, we were doing this for him.
"Everyone helped out free of charge, all the bands, all the equipment.
"What he achieved was so good for Mullingar and we wanted to show him what it meant to us," he added.