Not a dry eye in the house as Tribe claim Liam again
THE old stadium on Jones's Road has borne witness to many days of high emotion, and yesterday another chapter, stained with tears of joy and fierce pride, was etched into its story.
Galway and Waterford had never met before in the All-Ireland hurling final, and with both the Tribesmen and the Deise hoping to end agonising waits to reclaim the Liam McCarthy Cup, there were sure to be memorable scenes whoever was left standing at the finish.
And that county was Galway, champions again for the first time since 1988.
The late Tony Keady was man-of-the-match that day, and having passed away just recently, the memory of the Killimordaly colossus was something of a touchstone for the significance of the occasion, with supporters breaking into applause in the sixth minute in honour of the number Keady wore, and a GAA tribute paid at half-time.
At the end of a gripping encounter, Offaly man Michael Duignan, in the commentary box alongside Marty Morrissey was in tears, and was barely able to get his words out.
“Marty, it's unbelievable. Just Tony Keady, I've so much time for the man. It's so heart-breaking for him and his family,” said Duignan.
“Look, whether it was Waterford or Galway today, what it means to both those counties. I'm looking over here at John Mullane, he's heartbroken. And I'm heartbroken for the people of Waterford, but I'm delighted for the people of Galway.
“That's always the way it was going to be today. It's a very emotional day.”
Morrissey, meanwhile, in his first ever hurling final commentary, outdid himself as he recalled one of the most iconic images in GAA history, which also involved the about to be crowned champions, who had been beaten in six deciders since that '88 triumph.
“Back in 1980, the great Joe McDonagh, another great Galway man sang here on the steps of the Hogan Stand, the West's Awake,” declared the Clare man.
“So no matter where you are, in Gort, Loughrea, Ballinasloe, New Inn, Ahascragh, Boyounagh, Oranmore…wherever you are! You can now rejoice because Galway are the All-Ireland champions. The west is truly awake like it was when the great, late Joe McDonagh sang it here.”
The speech of the winning captain David Burke lasted over eight minutes, and although it will perhaps not go down as one of the greats, there was no mistaking the depth of feeling that the St Thomas' club man articulated.
And up in the pundit box, Galway man, Michael Lyster drew another glowing tribute for the Connacht men, this time from Ger Loughnane.
“29 years, for them, is a very long time,” said the former Galway manager.
“Beaten in six finals and today is deliverance day at long last…but no county deserves it more.
“Heartiest congratulations, not alone to the team but every hurling person in Galway because they love the game, they're passionate about it and what better, fitting tribute to the late Tony Keady than to bring that cup back across the Shannon, and into Galway tomorrow.”
So there you have it. One Connacht county ends a silverware famine in 2017. Is this an omen for another in a fortnight's time?
Pundit Watch can only keep its remote controls crossed.