An emotional Jim McGuinness after the All-Ireland final in Croke Pak yesterday. Photo Thomas Gallagher 2409TG108
An emotional Jim McGuinness after the All-Ireland final in Croke Pak yesterday. Photo Thomas Gallagher 2409TG108

It will probably be ‘Thursday or Friday’ before the Sam Maguire bandwagon makes it to Inishowen.

That’s the view of Inishowen GAA Board chairman, Gerrard Callaghan who yesterday told the ‘Journal’ that Sunday’s All-Ireland victory over Mayo was the ‘biggest thing to hit Donegal in a generation’

While original estimates had about 7,000 people travelling from Inishowen to the big game Mr. Callaghan said ‘there was a lot more than that’.

A clearly delighted Inishowen GAA chief said last night’s journal to Donegal Town for the official welcome home party for the team, where thousands were expected to show up, would be ‘long, and very slow’ and he expected the players and management would take today off before quickly moving around the county on Thursday and Friday.

He said: “Sunday was a great day for Donegal, and it was a very emotional day for many people. This county and Inishowen has been badly hit by the recession and we needed a lift; this is that lift.

“I travelled home on Sunday night and it was one big cavalcade from Dublin - they were stopped at the sides of the road, at filling stations, at garages and outside cafes and restaurants. It was massive at Emyvale and at Strabane.

“I just wonder how everyone got a ticket!”

Mr Callaghan said he would figure original estimates that 7,000 travelled from Inishowen would be ‘on the very low side’.

“I can’t speak definitely on the numbers but this was the biggest exodus out of the peninsula in a generation. I meet loads and loads of people from Buncrana, Carn, Malin and Moville.

“The fact that Ryan Bradley, Declan Walsh and Tommy McKinney and a whole host of the backroom staff were from Inishowen made for a very inclusive feel to this team.”

And he was confident there would be a knock on effect for the GAA in Inishowen.

“My own club, Burt, celebrates its 125 anniversary this year. Having ‘Sam’ in attendance and, hopefully, some of the stars of the All-Ireland winning team in attendance will boost this function.

“The GAA has now become massive in this country. Far from losing out to the big professional sports like soccer, Gaelic games actually are growing in popularity.

“A boost like this will have a knock on effect in that all the youngesters will be out playing the game dreaming of being the next Michael Murphy or Ryan Bradley.

“Sunday was a once in a life time day’.