Players arrive home after defeat to Donegal
As he looked out on McHale Park as the rain lashed down on the nearby ring road, Mayo star Barry Moran couldn’t but marvel at the supporters who had turned out to welcome Mayo home yesterday evening.
The management and players returned to Castlebar after losing Sunday’s All-Ireland Final to Donegal and well over 1,000 people turned out despite horrible weather to welcome the county’s heroes back into their embrace.
“This means so much to see yer support here,” Barry Moran told the supporters. “To see the support ye gave us here and welcome us back makes me proud to be a Mayo man.”
Mayo manager James Horan praised both the supporters and his players.
“It is absolutely fabulous to look out and see you all here tonight. It means a lot to the players here, it really does,” he said at McHale Park. “I hope ye realise what an exceptional bunch of players and people ye have here today. They’ve done everything possible, sacrificed huge parts of their lives so they can be as good as they can be to play football for Mayo.”
The players walked onto a temporary stage at the McHale Road side of the ground a little after 5.30pm to the sound of the Saw Doctors’ Green and Red of Mayo and James Horan and his players promised to do everything in their power to return to Castlebar this time next year as All-Ireland Champions.
“This is only the start for us. We had a good year but we didn’t bring home what we planned to get so we certainly intend to go another couple of steps and make sure we achieve what we think we really can,” said Horan.
Barry Moran urged the supporters to continue to back Mayo as they battle for success.
“Stick with us. We’re going to work hard and with the help of God we’ll be back here next year and hopefully it will be better than today.
”We just want to go on and finish the job, and I think that’s what this particular group have in mind. We’ve come here to Castlebar, we’ve seen all the thousands of Mayo supporters and the effort they’ve [gone] to come out here, that we didn’t have something for them. But look, we’ll make a promise to work hard for them.
“I don’t think they (supporters) realise … the lift it gives us. We were coming back here and we were absolutely gutted. It gives you a great lift.”
Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Cllr Cyril Burke said this year showed that ‘Mayo football is alive and well’ and described the players as a ‘huge inspiration’.
Minister of State Michael Ring said ‘this team owes us nothing, they gave us everything this year’.
County Board Chairman Paddy McNicholas promised a ‘bigger homecoming’ next year with ‘an extra passenger on board … Sam Maguire’.
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