Gardaí praise Limerick hurlers for All-Ireland celebrations amid pandemic

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The All-Ireland hurling champions in Limerick were tucked up in bed hours after their historic winter victory. Photo: INPHO/Tommy Dickson.
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By David Raleigh

The All-Ireland hurling champions in Limerick were tucked up in bed at home, hours after their historic winter victory at an eerily silent Croke Park, as homecoming celebrations were marred due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Following their emphatic victory over Waterford, the 2020 hurling champions were forced to leave the Liam MacCarthy Cup behind at Croker, in line with public health advice, so to avoid large crowds on Shannonside gathering with the prized GAA chalice.

The Limerick squad dined at a Dublin hotel and enjoyed a party on board a train from Heuston Station, Dublin. Upon arrival at Limerick’s Colbert Rail Station they made their way home via buses organised by the Limerick County Board.

The traditional All-Ireland winning homecoming celebrations have been put on ice until next year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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However, according to an informed source, a low-key private dinner is being planned for the Limerick players and management to take place at the five-star hotel and golf resort Adare Manor before the end of the year.

Without incident

Senior gardaí praised the hurling champions, after players appealed to the public to celebrate the All-Ireland victory safely and in line with public health guidelines.

Superintendent Brian Sugrue of Henry Street Garda Station said overnight celebrations in Limerick took place “without incident”.

“We had a strong policing presence in the city last night and everyone was very well behaved, it all ended well. In fairness to the fans, it wasn't a celebration you would expect from having just won an All-Ireland title, but these are the times we are living in,” Supt Sugrue said.

“The Limerick team has acted very responsibly encouraging supporters to comply with the public health guidelines and everyone seems to have played their part in that,” he added.

“The gastro pubs all closed by 11.30pm and there was no disorder on the streets. The message I would give everyone is to hold firm and continue to do your best.”

Limerick’s mayor, Cllr Michael Collins, also praised Limerick supporters for adhering to the rules when celebrating last night.

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“2020 has been such a difficult year for many but it has been made that bit brighter thanks to the Limerick hurlers, and winning the final today, is an unbelievable Christmas present. What a great way to finish the year on such a positive note,” he said.

[The win] has been a gift to us all this year

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The Bishop of Limerick, Brendan Leahy, said Limerick’s Christmas win at Croker was “a tribute to resilience, unity and focus” in the midst of the pandemic.

“This has been such a hard year for everyone but to have a group like this Limerick team and management putting so much time and effort into something, that would not alone give joy to them but to so many others, has been a gift to us all this year,” he said.

“They have entertained us but also in an extremely difficult year for everyone, a year of incredible disconnect, they have brought Limerick people across the county and across the world together. They gave them something to cheer, something to distract from the challenges of Covid.”

Bishop Leahy said that Limerick had “bounced back from bitter defeat last year” which he argued should be “a metaphor for us all, when they were down, they just got back up, dusted themselves off and went again”.

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