It was nearly 9.15pm before Clare’s victorious team made it to their final stop on an incredible journey, setting foot on a specially-erected stage at Tim Smythe Park in Ennis, where 30,000 fans were waiting patiently to pay homage to their heroes.
As well as the heroes of last Saturday evening’s never-to-be-forgotten All-Ireland final replay win over Cork, the Banner County’s All-Ireland winning U21 side from a fortnight earlier got to bask in the Saffron and Blue glow.
It had taken nearly five hours for winning manager Davy Fitzgerald and his players to make it from the Clare border, which they crossed just after 4pm before stopping off at a number of towns along the way, to Ennis, where the biggest of party of all was ready to kick off.
With them, Fitzgerald and his charges carried the Liam McCarthy Cup – absent from the Banner County for the last 16 years – while the U21s paraded the Cross of Cashel Cup, which they won following victory over Antrim two weeks ago.
When they finally did arrive on stage, the biggest roars were reserved for Fitzgerald, the mastermind, and Shane O’Donnell, the 19-year-old three-goal hero who found out just before 3pm that he was going to start.
"I knew we had passionate players but by Jesus we have passionate fans as well,” Fitzgerald said to tumultuous roars of approval. “We're going to enjoy ourselves, we're in Clare and the recession can go to hell.”