It was a proud moment for a member of the Tipperary All Ireland Senior Hurling team when he had the opportunity of bringing the Liam MacCarthy Cup to his home village where he was received with a rapturous reception. The parish Community Centre in the village of Killoscully overflowed for the homecoming of local hurling star, Shane McGrath with the coveted All Ireland Senior Hurling trophy, when he became the first time ever from the parish to have such an honour.
Hurling colleagues on the successful team that deprived Kilkenny of the five in a row, the much applauded team manager, county officials and politicians were among those who joined with the local community for a long evening of celebration. The MacCarthy Cup was the centrepiece of a collection of trophies when it was surrounded by trophies for the Munster Under 21 Hurling, Munster Under 21 Football and All Ireland Under 16 Hurling. Capable MC for the evening was Pat Hayes who welcomed players, officials, and the community as Shane was honoured and received a presentation of crystal from the community in appreciation of his achievement. A highlight of the evening was a video of his hurling career through his college days and as a member of the Tipperary County Senior panel and an All Star player. It was a truly great occasion for the Ballinahinch-Killoscully GAA Club, based in the smallest parish in the archdiocese, to have one of their own a leading member of the All Ireland team. It was also a particularly joyful evening for Shane's parents, Cllr John 'Rocky' McGrath and his wife, Mary as the eldest of their four sons was honoured in his home parish. Present also were Dinny Kennedy who represented the parish on the hurling field of the past and Michael Ryan, who won an All Ireland Intermediate Hurling medal with Tipperary in 1991.
PJ Lynch, club chairman, described it as a very special night for Shane McGrath and for the Ballinahinch GAA Club recalling that over the years since he joined the club. Shane had won many medals in both hurling and football within the club, to which he had added his first All Ireland Senior Hurling medal, having already to his credit a Fitzgibbon Cup Medal, and National League Medal. "The most important of all is the medal which he won at Croke Park last September and this club is really proud of what he has achieved,” he said. Shane's father, Cllr John 'Rocky' McGrath who was also representing North Tipperary County Council as Deputy Mayor expressed the thanks of the County Council to everyone who has been so good to the team members since they won the championship. "While the Liam MacCarthy has been in the parish before, this is a very special occasion when we have someone from the parish on the team and I'd like to thank the chairman and committee for the reception here tonight,” he said thanking everyone on behalf of the family for all the messages and cards which they had received.
Timmy Floyd, County GAA Secretary said that both Shane McGrath and Conor O'Mahony (Newport) had been great ambassadors for the GAA since winning the final "It is a tribute to Shane, who has put Ballinahinch on the map that so many of his colleagues have come to be with him here tonight,” he said. He said that while there are 72 clubs in the county there are only 33 places of the senior panel in the county and it is great tribute to any parish to have a player on one of those places. Very Rev Fr Bobby Fletcher, PP, said that Shane and Conor O'Mahony were great ambassadors and true gentlemen and huge congratulations to them on their achievements. Michael Lowry, TD, said: "This is a fantastic night for Shane and his parents John and Mary and all of the lads and for the entire community here in Ballinahinch and Killoscully. It is a privilege, a reflection and an honour for Shane which reflects on the whole community here and Shane would be the first to accept that it has come the full circle, because his career started here and he got the support and advice of a lot of people in the club from juvenile right up to senior level,” he said The GAA is a great way of bringing a community together and tonight you are here to celebrate an unique occasion and to celebrate the achievements of Shane,” he added.
Shane McGrath said that as team members they were delighted to bring the Liam MacCarthy Cup around the county, but the weeks since the final had been hectic and "playing the match was easier". "I have been all over the county with the cup but the old saying is that there is no place like home and it is wonderful to be here tonight,” he said. "Since I started hurling with Ballinahinch it was always a dream to play in an All Ireland Final, but when you play in one it is no good without winning one and this year that dream came true,” he added. He attributed their success to the determination of the team going into the final. “We were determined that we were going to win no matter who we were playing,” he commented.
All Ireland-winning manager, Liam Sheedy said that the parish and his family should be very proud of Shane and the way he carries himself not just on the day of a match but equally so at training sessions. "Since I took over I have gauged a team on work rate and I always looked to Shane as a great lad. I am delighted to see the crowd that is in this hall tonight because it is true reflection of what the parish thinks of him,” he added. "Shane has been a model of consistency for the past three years and hopefully the Liam MacCarthy Cup will be here for many more years to come,” he added.
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