Northern Ireland news

Crowds cheer home Tyrone GAA squad after All-Ireland final

Crowds gather in Aughnacloy for the Tyrone GAA team's homecoming. Picture by Hugh Russell
Brendan Hughes

THEY may not have brought Sam home this time, but they received a heroes' welcome all the same.

Hundreds of cheering fans turned out yesterday to welcome back the Tyrone GAA squad after their gallant display in the All-Ireland final in Croke Park.

Dressed in their county colours, crowds gathered in Aughnacloy and later at Healy Park in Omagh for homecoming events to celebrate the team's achievement.

The Red Hands competed in their first senior final for 10 years on Sunday, but lost out to an all-conquering Dublin team who secured the Sam Maguire Cup for a fourth year in a row.

Build-up in Tyrone to the men's senior football final this year had seen excited fans bedeck towns and villages in red and white – and even a 'Sam-mobile' taking inspiration from the Pope-mobile tour the county.

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte at the Tyrone GAA team homecoming in Aughnacloy. Picture by Hugh Russell

Supporters again waved flags and held aloft banners as they lined the street in Aughnacloy yesterday as the players and coaches crossed the border.

Team captain Mattie Donnelly thanked fans for their unstinting backing throughout the championship.

"It's not the homecoming we had planned, but we really do appreciate from the bottom of our hearts the support that you have shown us throughout the year, from the very start of it," he said.

Tyrone homecoming into Aughanacloy Picture by Hugh Russell.

"We can't wait to get back and start the process of kicking the door down, and we look forward to going on that journey with you as well."

Entertainment was provided by local band The Knights in Aughnacloy and by More Power to Your Elbow at Healy Park.

Tyrone chairman Michael Kerr also paid tribute to the county's loyal supporters.

"The fans have been brilliant, they have always been very supportive of this team, but they have good reason to be supportive, because the fellows have given them anything that any Tyrone fan would want," he said.

Tyrone homecoming into Aughanacloy Picture by Hugh Russell.

"They have given them great days out, we have toured the country in the qualifiers, we had a great Super 8 campaign, and then to get to the All-Ireland final caps a brilliant year for Tyrone.

"We're now back at the top table, and that's where these boys want to be, and sometime in the near future we'll make sure that Sam comes up the road. Hopefully it will be sooner rather than later."

He added: "We have made great progress from last year, and if we make the same progress next year, there's no telling where we could be."

Micky Harte and Mattie Donnelly at the Tyrone homecoming into Aughanacloy Picture by Hugh Russell.

Tyrone homecoming into Aughanacloy Picture by Hugh Russell.

Tyrone homecoming into Aughanacloy Picture by Hugh Russell.

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