Illness to Eddie Connolly inspires Loughmore/Castleiney to double

County Football Board chairman Joe Hannigan; Loughmore captain Derek Bourke; Bill Ryan, Clean Ireland Recycling (sponsors) and Loughmores Noel McGrath at the presentation of the ODwyer Cup following Sundays County Senior Football Championship Final.
Eddie Connolly’s illness had galvanised Loughmore as a unit, manager Declan Laffan stated after the club completed an historic double by beating Aherlow Gaels in Sunday’s County Senior Football Championship Final, writes Eamonn Wynne.

Eddie Connolly’s illness had galvanised Loughmore as a unit, manager Declan Laffan stated after the club completed an historic double by beating Aherlow Gaels in Sunday’s County Senior Football Championship Final, writes Eamonn Wynne.

“They really drove on from there and they really used that as an inspiration to drive them on. It was an extra force behind them”, he said.

Eddie Connolly, captain of the Tipperary team that won last year’s All-Ireland Intermediate Hurling championship, recently underwent surgery to remove a brain tumour. The Loughmore player now requires further treatment.

Manager Laffan agreed that the the senior hurling and football double was some achievement.

“Lots of great teams, even from our own club, have tried before and gone close. We’re the ones that achieved it and it feels really special. It might take a few days to sink in. I’m sure we’ll treasure it”.

Next on the list for Loughmore is a daunting trip to Kerry to play Dr. Crokes in the Munster Club Championship semi-final the weekend after next.

“That’s the reward you get, we’ll go down and give it a rattle”, he said. “We’ll give them (the players) most of the week off, they’ve had a tough 6 or 7 weeks between hurling and football. We’ll give it a lash. If we’re not good enough we’re not good enough but it won’t be for the want of trying.

Hats off to the players, they’re an unreal bunch. We’re lucky enough in the club to have a bunch of players who are willing to die on the field for that jersey”.

As someone had said their season wouldn’t be deemed a success by winning divisional finals, after they lost the Mid finals in hurling and football. “It would be deemed a success by winning a county final and we’ve managed to win two. I wouldn’t say fitness won out in the end, although we are a super-fit team this year. We were going as hard in the last couple of minutes as we were at the start. You can be as fit as you like but if you don’t have ability it doesn’t matter. We have both this year, thank God”.