Homecoming Heroes: 'I'm not able to describe it, this is just the best day of my life'
Thousands roared and screamed on the Green and Gold through 60 minutes of pulsating, glorious football in Croke Park yesterday reaching a crescendo at approximately 5.30pm when the final buzzer sounded and All-Ireland glory was in the hands of Meath.
Last night the noise levels barely dipped as Eamonn Murray's All-Ireland champions arrived back into Knightsbrook Hotel in Trim to a welcome that will live long in the memory banks for all there to witness it.
Two buses carrying the squad and staff edged into the hotel carpark packed with supporters young and old waving Meath flags. One entrepreneurial soul was even selling merch to those who wanted it but everyone just wanted a glimpse of their champions. Vikki, Niamh, Orla, Monica, Stacey, Megan, Emma and all the newly-minted legends of Meath Football, for that's what they are.
Meath manager Eamonn Murray was first off the bus and with freshly poured pint in hand saluted the county’s ‘heroes for life’ after his team created a piece of history by lifting the Brendan Martin Cup at Croke Park.
"What this mean for everybody here, that's the important thing for me," said a shellshocked Eamonn, not normally stuck for words but now struggling to articulate the enormity of the achievement above the noise of 2,000 ecstatic Meath supporters.
"It's very, very special, but it hasn't sunk in yet," he said, "But it will," he said flashing that big broad smile and raising his own little black and white trophy, much to the delight of all those around him in the hotel foyer.
Then the roars grew louder as Shauna Ennis, captain and leader of this very special bunch of women led the team into the hotel, splitting a sea of fans roaring their admiration for their new heroes.
Earlier on the steps of the Hogan Stand the Na Fianna woman had delivered a passionate speech fed from the disappointments of the past and the herculean effort to reach the Promised Land.
"Nobody believed that we could do today, but we believed we could and now we're going home with the Brendan Martin Cup.
"Winning this cup is not just for the team standing here before me, it's for every woman that's gone before us and that's put on a Meath jersey.
"Girls we played with, girls I've watched play for many many years. Without those girls, we wouldn't be where we are today.
"So for anyone who has ever put on a Meath jersey. I'd just like to say thank you very much."
Now, just a few short hours later, the words were a little harder to find.
"I'm literally not able to describe it, this is just the best day of my life, the support we have had, all this, just the best day of my life" she told the Meath Chronicle as she headed towards the victory dinner for players and their families and the back room staff.
Goalkeeper Monica McGuirk who made a superb save to deny Dublin a first half goal was blown away by the reception for the players and staff and said the support they had received in the run to All-Ireland victory.
"This is what dreams are made off, to play on All-Ireland final day but, to go on and win it, it's just absolutely fantastic.
"I looked around at one stage at the Cusack and it just seemed to be all Meath, unbelievable really. I'm so delighted for the girls, for the county.
"Blood, sweat and tears went into that final there today. There was a lot of talk about us being lucky to get there and all but absolutely not, the girls gave it everything today and deserving winners there in the end I feel."
See more in this week's paper on an historic weekend for Meath GAA.