A local hero is something to be.

And while outside, it was a grey Fermanagh Saturday afternoon the tension and expectation inside the Manor House Hotel was at fever pitch.

For this was the day when a man who grew up in this picture postcard hotel on the banks of the Erne was about to walk in the shadow of Paradise.

And boy did magnificent manager Kieran McKenna and Ipswich Town do it in style after a stunning 2-0 win over Huddersfield to put them back into the Premier League for the first time since 2002.

All eyes were anxiously glued to the television to witness a bit of proud history in the making.

And when the final whistle sounded the iconic Cellar Bar erupted in electric elation in a sea of blue jerseys that included fans from as far away as Portadown and Drogheda who punched the air and cheered in unbridled delight that the local lad scaled the stars.

For magical McKenna (37), an ex-Manchester Utd and Tottenham Hotspur coach, had guided the famed Ipswich Town to two consecutive promotions putting some beauty back into the beautiful game with his style and vision.

For about an hour before upwards on 80 fans all decked out in the blue of the boys from Portman Road which also included well-known figures from Enniskillen Town where Kieran's brother, James is a coach and quite a few stars of the future were there as well to savour the occasion.

Impartial Reporter: Some of those in the Manor House cheering on Kieran McKenna and Ipswich Town.Some of those in the Manor House cheering on Kieran McKenna and Ipswich Town. (Image: John McVitty)

And there were representatives from Coa where Robbie McKenna plays GAA and Enniskillen Gaels as well as some who had travelled great distances to be there.

But the sheer joy and overwhelming bonhomie were truly gripping as those present were rightly celebrating something really special as the cameras clicked and the reporters scurried to get the best quotes.

However, an even bigger cheer went up when Wes Burns nearly ripped the Huddersfield with a real rocket in the 28th minute which made up for an earlier bad miss.

You could cut the tension with a knife in the bar in those early stages as Ipswich dominated the game but could not find the target.

And it was game over and the fans could relax when Hutchinson hammered home the second goal just three minutes into the second half. 

Speaking immediately after the fantastic victory and almost drowned out by the shouts of joy, Sam Vesey, who is married to Rosemary McKenna, Kieran's sister, told The Impartial Reporter that “all the family are hugely proud of Kieran and what he has done at Ipswich over the past few years".

“It is fantastic that Rosemary, Robbie, James and their parents Liam and Mary were there in Portman Road to share in his triumph.

“I got married four or five years ago into this family, and whether it is supporting Robbie in Coa GAA, James in Enniskillen Town or Kieran over in Ipswich they are a very close-knit and hugely supportive family.

“The whole family have a great work ethic and they get that from Liam and Mary.

“They are very down-to-earth people, and you could not meet more humble people and when you look at the scenes on the TV and here in the Cellar Bar it is just fantastic to see everyone so happy today.

“Rosemary and James run the hotel and organized this great occasion here and it is not just for the hotel, it is for Enniskillen, it’s for Fermanagh and the whole county.

“You can see lots of families here; Enniskillen Town and the Gaels and it is a great chance to celebrate one of their own who is about to go and manage in the Premier League.”

And Michelle McKenna (nee McGovern) who is married to James McKenna said they were all just “so happy.”

“It is an amazing achievement for Kieran and the team, and we are looking forward to getting into the Premier League next year.

“This is very much a family thing and there is always football in the house, and we are very happy that Kieran has done so well.

“It is great publicity for the hotel and there is a great buzz about today and we will enjoy it.”

Meanwhile, one man who was not in the slightest surprised that Kieran McKenna has taken Ipswich to the Premier League is Mark Connolly, his former coach at Enniskillen Town.

A delighted Mark said he coached him with his brother James for Town.

“One of the competitions was the Irish Youth Cup and Kieran would have played as a 15-year-old and it was an U18 competition but he was always mature well beyond his years.

“He was a purist and had supreme intelligence and was driven.

“We did not have him long and he went to England when he was 16.

“But he was always so very talented.

“What set Kieran apart even at that young stage of his career was his sheer professionalism, the way he dedicated himself to it.

“He was very focused and was prepared to do whatever it took to achieve his vision.

“Kieran had a great understanding of the game, technically very gifted and he could always see a pass and was a great team player.

“He never had a bad word to say about anybody-he was just so mature,”
Mark added.

“Ronan McCabe and James McKenna organized a trip recently for the children and what a role model he is for the kids.

“This is a great thing today.

“But he got a serious injury when he was over at Tottenham but it did not set him back as his great knowledge of the game led him into coaching.

“Man Utd head hunted him and he coached their Youth team to a League title and Jose Mourinho was very impressed with what he saw and asked Kieran to join his backroom team as a coach.

“And Ole Gunnar Solskjar said he never met anyone as methodical and meticulous as Kieran.

“Ipswich then approached him, and he took over Ipswich and the rest is history.

“He is a real local hero.”

Meanwhile, Ivan Jackson, who is a native of Ipswich drove all the way from Portadown to the Manor House to be part of this most special of occasions.

“We came from Portadown this morning and that is 60 miles and we moved there from Ipswich when Kieran took over two years ago.

“I have been a season ticket holder for over 30 years.

“I remember Kevin Beattie and John Wark, George Burley who were legends of Ipswich when I was young.

“But Kieran and the new owners have just transformed the club.

“The club was going nowhere, and Kieran has got two promotions.

“We wanted to be here as we have great faith in him.

“Kieran is so sincere, and he talks to people, and you can see where he is coming from and where he is going.

“He is the best thing that has happened to Ipswich and it is only a matter of time before he gets a big club.”