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World Cup send-off for a local hero

There was a time that your World Cup heroes came from the favelas of Brazil or the mean streets of Buenos Aires – stars like Pele, Jairzinho, Maradona, Muller, Messi – but they didn’t come from places like Killannin….until now.

Because hundreds of green-clad supporters turned out on the lush green sward of Killannin’s GAA pitch on Saturday to see off their very own World Cup hero, as she heads off to Australia to make history in the latter stages of a career that has already seen her win over a century of caps for her country.

To the soccer world, Niamh Fahey is one of the all-time greats of women’s football – Liverpool captain, Ireland stalwart, a star with Chelsea and Arsenal; three-time FA Cup winner, twice a League winner.

But here, to some, she was the daughter of Richard and Marjorie Fahey, sister of All-Ireland winners Gary and Richie – and to others, the inspiration for a new generation of football fans; she was who they go to sleep dreaming of becoming.

This was a send-off to Australia from her home place, and the people of Killannin were joined by their neighbours from Moycullen and Oughterard – where she’d starred for her school St Paul’s – and further afield.

She was given a Garda escort and a hero’s welcome – and for nearly two hours she signed jerseys, flags, books; she shook hands and posed for photos as those who knew her and those who just wanted to meet her waited in line for their turn.

The star attraction might have Australia on her mind, but Killannin was in her heart – and she was clearly blown away by the reception.

“It’s hard to put it into words, honestly; to see everyone that’s turned up with cards, postcards – people that have supported me my whole life, and then all the young kids as well…I don’t have the words to explain it really – except it’s so heartwarming,” she said.

Get the full story with photos – and an interview with fellow World Cup star Heather Payne – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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