Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 July 2015

The Donegal gathering: fans flock home to give All-Ireland stars heroes' welcome

By Greg Harkin

Published 25/09/2012 | 04:57

GAA Football All Ireland Champions Donegal Homecoming, Pettigo. Donegal manager Jim McGuinness and captain Michael Murphy carry the Sam Maguire across the Termon river from Co Fermanagh into Co Donegal
GAA Football All Ireland Champions Donegal Homecoming, Pettigo. Donegal manager Jim McGuinness and captain Michael Murphy carry the Sam Maguire across the Termon river from Co Fermanagh into Co Donegal
GAA Football All Ireland Champions Donegal Homecoming, Pettigo, Co. Donegal 24/9/2012Fans turn out to welcome Sam Maguire to PettigoMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy
GAA Football All Ireland Champions Donegal Homecoming, Pettigo, Co. Donegal 24/9/2012Donegal manager Jim McGuinness and captain Michael Murphy carry the Sam Maguire across the Termon river from Co. Fermanagh into Co. DonegalMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Donegal manager Jim McGuinness shows the Sam Maguire to fans in Pettigo, Co Donegal
GAA Football All Ireland Champions Donegal Homecoming, Pettigo, Co. Donegal 24/9/2012Fans await the arrival of the Donegal team in PettigoMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy *** Local Caption ***
GAA Football All Ireland Champions Donegal Homecoming, Pettigo, Co. Donegal 24/9/2012Donegal manager Jim McGuinness and captain Michael Murphy carry the Sam Maguire across the Termon river from Co. Fermanagh into Co. DonegalMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy
GAA Football All Ireland Champions Donegal Homecoming, Pettigo, Co. Donegal 24/9/2012Fans await the arrival of the Donegal team in PettigoMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy *** Local Caption ***
GAA Football All Ireland Champions Donegal Homecoming, Pettigo, Co. Donegal 24/9/2012Donegal manager Jim McGuinness and captain Michael Murphy carry the Sam Maguire across the Termon river from Co. Fermanagh into Co. DonegalMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy
GAA Football All Ireland Champions Donegal Homecoming, Pettigo, Co. Donegal 24/9/2012Fans turn out to welcome Sam Maguire to PettigoMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal manager Jim McGuinness celebrates with players after winning the Sam MaguireMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy *** Local Caption ***
Donegal manager Jim McGuinness, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012
All Ireland Final - Donegal v Mayo Fans Pictures - 23rd September 2012Round - Copyright Presseye.comMandatory Credit Declan Roughan / Presseye(L-R) Sarah Mc Donald, from Armagh and Naimh Brittan from Ballybofey.Donegall Fans watch the match at the Botanic Inn Belfast- (Chris VoxPop)
All Ireland Final - Donegal v Mayo Fans Pictures - 23rd September 2012Round - Copyright Presseye.comMandatory Credit Declan Roughan / PresseyeFans watch the closing stages of the All Ireland Final in the Botanic Inn, Belfast
All Ireland Final - Donegal v Mayo Fans Pictures - 23rd September 2012Round - Copyright Presseye.comMandatory Credit Declan Roughan / PresseyeFans watch the closing stages of the All Ireland Final in the Botanic Inn, Belfast
Mary Bradley closing her BandB to watch the final in Downing Co.Donegal for the Final. Puc By Philip Fitzatrick
Donegal fans celebrating the victory of the Donegal team in the All-Ireland final with Mayo in Downings, Co Donegal. Pic by Philip Fitzpatrick
Donegal fans celebrating the victory of the Donegal team in the All-Ireland final with Mayo in Downings, Co Donegal. Pic by Philip Fitzpatrick
Donegal fans celebrating the victory of the Donegal team in the All-Ireland final with Mayo in Downings, Co Donegal. Pic by Philip Fitzpatrick
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal players console Keith HigginsMandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoMayo's Donal Vaughan dejectedMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer *** Local Caption ***
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoLee Keegan of Mayo is consoled by Jason Doherty at the end of the gameMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer *** Local Caption ***
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoMayo's Seamus O'Shea dejected at the final whistleMandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoCaptain's Michael Murphy and David Clarke with referee Maurice DeeganMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer *** Local Caption ***
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal's Michael Murphy celebrates scoring a goalMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy *** Local Caption ***
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal's Colm McFadden celebrates scoring a goalMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy *** Local Caption ***
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoMichael Murphy of Donegal scores the first goal of the gameMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer *** Local Caption ***
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal's Paddy McGrath and Aidan O'Shea of MayoMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan
All Ireland Final - Donegal v Mayo Fans Pictures - 23rd September 2012Round - Copyright Presseye.comMandatory Credit Declan Roughan / Presseye(L-R) Kevin, Meabh and Marie Connolly watch the All Ireland on the big screen at Belfast City Hall.
All Ireland Final - Donegal v Mayo Fans Pictures - 23rd September 2012Round - Copyright Presseye.comMandatory Credit Declan Roughan / Presseye(L-R) Tracey Donaghy from Aughabrack, Co Tyrone, Bronagh Conwell from Donemanna and Orlaith Kerlin from Aughabrack, Co Tyrone get ready to watch the All Ireland final from the Hatfield Bar, Ormeau Road Belfast
All Ireland Final - Donegal v Mayo Fans Pictures - 23rd September 2012Round - Copyright Presseye.comMandatory Credit Declan Roughan / Presseye(L-R) Tracey Donaghy from Aughabrack, Co Tyrone and Orlaith Kerlin from Aughabrack, Co Tyrone watch the All Ireland from the Hatfield Bar, Ormeau Road Belfast
All Ireland Final - Donegal v Mayo Fans Pictures - 23rd September 2012Round - Copyright Presseye.comMandatory Credit Declan Roughan / Presseye(L-R) Tracey Donaghy from Aughabrack, Co Tyrone, Orlaith Kerlin from Aughabrack, Co Tyrone and Bronagh Conwell from Donemanna watch the All Ireland from the Hatfield Bar, Ormeau Road Belfast
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal captain Michael Murphy raises the Sam MaguireMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy *** Local Caption ***
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal captain Michael Murphy lifts the Sam MaguireMandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoMayo's Aidan O'Shea dejectedMandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoMayo manager James Horan reacts during the final moments of the matchMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal captain Michael Murphy raises the Sam MaguireMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy *** Local Caption ***
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoGoalkeeper Paul Durcan and Donegal players celebrate at the final whistleMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDavid Walsh (top) and team mates jump on goalkeeper Paul Durcan at the end of the gameMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer *** Local Caption ***
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal manager Jim McGuinness and Michael Murphy celebrate after the gameMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal manager Jim McGuinness and Michael Murphy celebrate after the gameMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal's winning manager from 1992 Brian McEniff and Donegal manager Jim McGuinnessMandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal's Michael Murphy scores a goalMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy *** Local Caption ***
Donegal fans celebrating the victory of the Donegal team in the All-Ireland final with Mayo in Downings, Co Donegal. Pic by Philip Fitzpatrick
All Ireland Final - Donegal v Mayo Fans Pictures - 23rd September 2012Round - Copyright Presseye.comMandatory Credit Declan Roughan / Presseye(L-R) Ronan Mc Parlandfrom Hilltown, Oisin Mc Kee from Kilcarr, Cahal O' Grady from Kilcarand r Ruairi Keenan from Donegal Town.Donegall Fans watch the match at the Botanic Inn Belfast- (Chris VoxPop)
All Ireland Final - Donegal v Mayo Fans Pictures - 23rd September 2012Round - Copyright Presseye.comMandatory Credit Declan Roughan / PresseyeBronagh Conwell from Donemanna watch the All Ireland from the Hatfield Bar, Ormeau Road Belfast
Donegal fans celebrating the victory of the Donegal team in the All-Ireland final with Mayo in Downings, Co Donegal. Pic by Philip Fitzpatrick
Donegal fans celebrating the victory of the Donegal team in the All-Ireland final with Mayo in Downings, Co Donegal. Pic by Philip Fitzpatrick
Donegal's Jim McGuinness is congratulated with fans
Supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Donegal Town shops. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Paddy McGrath is hungry for success and wants to get his hands on an All-Ireland medal
US President Barrack Obama, whose ancesters came from Mayo, supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Ballybofey shop window, Donegal. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
One of the more novel ways Donegal fans are showing their support for the county team ahead of this weekends All Ireland Final. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 20.09.12
A giant bear is just one of the more inventive ways Donegal fans are showing their support for the county team ahead of this weekends All Ireland Final. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 20.09.12
Donegal fans, Gertrude Kelly, Anthony McLaighlin and Marian Kelly pictured in Malin ahead of this weekends All Ireland final. PIcture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 19.9.12
Two sheep outside Malin which have been dyed in Donegal County colours ahead of this weekends all Ireland Final and one dyed with the red and green colours of County Mayo. PIcture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 19.9.12
A message painted on a field outside Malin village in County Donegal refering to Jim McGuinness, manager of the All Ireland finalists. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 19.9.12
The Carman's Bar outside Muff, County Donegal which has been painted in the county colours ahead of this weekends all Ireland Final. PIcture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 19.9.12
Muff businessman Peter McLaughlin whose business Donegal Signs, has boomed in the days leading up to this weekends All Ireland Final. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 19.9.12
Supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Ballybofey Donegal. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Donegal Town. Picture Margaret McLaughlin © please by-line
Supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Donegal Town. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Ballybofey Donegal. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, with the celebration cake in a Donegal Town bakery. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Donegal Town. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
A flag seller sets out his wares for Donegal's All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Ballybofey Donegal. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final, Croke Park 26/8/2012Cork vs Donega lDonegal's Mark McHugh celebrates the final whistle
Donegal Football Press Night, Jacksons Hotel, Ballybofey, Co. Donegal 4/9/2012 Paddy McGrath
Pacemaker Press 14/9/2012 A painted Caravan outside Bundoran in Co Donegal
Pacemaker Press 14/9/2012 From L-R Phelim Brady, Declan Breslin and Tom McHugh and Conor Cassidy with a painted car in Donegal Town
Pacemaker Press 14/9/2012 Declan Breslin with a painted car in Donegal Town
Pacemaker Press 14/9/2012 The scotsman Bar in Donegal Town
Pacemaker Press 14/9/2012 Catriona Ward from Dungloe in Co Donegal
Pacemaker Press 14/9/2012 A painted Car outside Bundoran in Co Donegal
Support from the Garda for the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Donegal. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
The Diamond in Donegal Town where the team will return to following their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
One of the messages of support in Letterkenny County Donegal as fans show their support for the county team ahead of this weekends All Ireland Final. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 20.09.12
A good luck message spelt out in white sand bags which dominates the hills around Malin village in County Donegal ahead of this weekends All Ireland Final. Picture Martin McKeown. Inprespics.com.
County Donegal GAA fan Fiona McHenry from Moville. PIcture Martin Mckeown. Inpresspics.com. 19.9.12
A woman passes a mural supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Donegal Town. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Donegal Town. Picture Margaret McLaughlin ©
Supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Donegal Town. Picture Margaret McLaughlin ©
County Donegal GAA fan Robert Bredin from Moville. PIcture Martin Mckeown. Inpresspics.com. 19.9.12
Stones mark out the Malin Head community's support and confidence that the County Donegal team will win the All Ireland Final. Picture Martin Mckeown. Inpresspics.com. 19.9.12
Cork vs Donegal Donegal fans Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer
Bredagh Breslin from Creeslough, Co. Donegal beside a mural of Jim McGuinnessMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Kieran Murray
Mark McHugh fulfils a vital role at |the heart of Donegal’s tactical blueprint

A sea of gold and green greeted the All-Ireland heroes as they swept in to be welcomed by 20,000 adoring fans in Donegal town last night.

Jim McGuinness and his team were cheered into the Diamond to shouts of "Jimmy, Jimmy" from fans, many of whom had waited in the pouring rain for four hours.

And the noise reached a deafening pitch when singer Rory Gallagher sang his football anthem 'Jimmy's Winning Matches', with captain Michael Murphy and the players singing along.

"This is what it's all about," said the proud manager.

Donegal's greatest ambassador, Daniel O'Donnell, made a special trip home for the event after revealing he almost missed the game.

"I was due to fly to North Dakota in America on Saturday morning and when I got to Dublin Airport there was a six-hour delay announced," said the singer.

"I just thought, 'right I'm staying', and I managed to get a ticket for Croke Park and re-arranged my flight for Tuesday.

"I missed the 1992 homecoming, so I'm delighted to be home for this one. It's incredible," he added.

Gardai had to seal off the town from 4pm, such was the interest in the homecoming parade, which was organised by the local Four Masters club.

Earlier the team carried the Sam Maguire back into Donegal for only the second time, passing over the bridge from Kesh in Co Fermanagh into Pettigo.

So concerned was the County Board with directing fans to Donegal town, they tried to keep the Pettigo stopover a secret.

But that didn't work.

More than 3,000 people lined the streets in driving rain to cheer the moment when McGuinness and his captain Murphy got off the team bus and walked across the border from Co Fermanagh into Co Donegal just after 8pm.

The boss climbed on the back of a lorry with his team as Murphy sang a rendition of 'Jimmy's Winning Matches'.

And then Jimmy told the crowd: "To cross over that bridge tonight with the Sam Maguire back here into Donegal is something which will live on in the memories of me and these players for the rest of our lives."

And to cheers he added: "People are saying we don't have the hunger to do this again but these boys are hungry for more.

"Kilkenny are there every year and they show that hunger and these boys, who are all decent, hard-working people, have that hunger."

Star forward Colm McFadden said: "This is just incredible. It's just so hard to describe this feeling."

Triona Britton, who helps run the family pub in Pettigo, told the Irish Independent: "I can't begin to tell you how much this means to us here in Donegal.

"There was a local in here at the final whistle. He had a hip replacement last year and he was dancing around the bar so well, he could get a gig with Riverdance.

"Talk of the recession is banned until Christmas -- and into next year if we can get away with it."

Rita Gallagher (80) had waved off the team to Dublin last week from her home, the last house in the county before Fermanagh.

Last night, she was standing in the rain to welcome them home again.

"I remember 1992 very well and I never thought I'd see this again so I am so happy for Pettigo and for Donegal. It's just fantastic for everyone because it means so much," she said.

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