A GAA club and a community that suffered profound grief at the loss of an eleven year old boy in a tragic accident has honoured his memory.
A perpetual trophy, the Alan Quirke Cup, was presented for the first time on Saturday by the boyâ€™s hurling idol, Tipp star Padraic Maher, and Alanâ€™s parents Pat and Imelda to the winners of the inaugural Alan Qurike memorial tournament on an emotional day at the Lattin Cullen GAA grounds.
Alan died following an accident at the family home at Brenshamore near Tipperary Town last August. He was a fun loving young boy, an all round sportsman who died the day before he was to meet his hurling hero Padraic Maher at the clubâ€™s summer camp the next day.
Instead of enjoying the summer camp with all his friends, Alan was laid to rest wearing the Tipp jersey given to the devastated family by Padraic Maher.
On Saturday morning at Lattin Cullen GAA grounds, the community gathered to pay tribute to Alan whose friends on the U/12 hurling team he starred for played Arravale Rovers for the honour of winning the new trophy.
The middle son of Pat and Imelda Quirke, Alan has two brothers, Liam who is 14 and Gary, who is eight. Alan loved the GAA, loved playing football and hurling for his club and school Mount Bruis. Alan also loved music and was learning to play the guitar and tin whistle.
His father Pat is a well known dairy farmer and his mother Imelda (nee Lowry), comes from a family that is very involved in Arravale Rovers GAA club.
The manager of Alanâ€™s U12 team, Michael Quirke, said Saturday was an emotional occasion for the Quirke family, their relations and friends, for the club and for the community.
The No. 5 jersey that Alan wore with such distinction for the U/12 team was â€˜retiredâ€™ for the day and he was named at No.5 in the panel on the commemorative programme.
â€œWinning the match was uplifting for the team but to play well and â€œdo it for Alanâ€ was their motivation.
Lattin-Cullen played like they had an extra man and we believe that Alan inspired the players to fight that little bit harder,â€ said Michael.
He said that it was a difficult day for the Quirke family but they had the support of the entire community.
â€œAlan was a special young man, he was centre back on this team and it was appropriate that the club should honour his memory in this way,â€ said Michael.
He thanked Arravale Rovers for accepting the invitation to play in the inaugural Alan Quirke tournament and said it would become an important event in the GAA calendar in West Tipperary.
â€œThe boys on the team who played by his side at every match were in no doubt about the significance that the occasion held, they played for Alan and their club. We all felt as though he was with us and encouraging the boys on. When team captain Timmy Corcoran, his friend and neighbour, lifted the cup we could all feel it, that sense of joy, elation, sadness, the boys were so delighted, so proud. It was a game for Alan,â€ said Michael.
Michael said that Alanâ€™s tragic death â€˜stopped the club in its tracksâ€™.
â€œEverything just shut down, everybody was so devastated. Alan will be missed by everyone who knew and loved him but we are certain that his memory will inspire our club in the future years,â€ he said.
Michael said the club and the family greatly appreciated Padraic Maher for his support. The Tipp star presented the trophy to the winning captain and presented medals to the Lattin/Cullen and Arravale Rovers players.
The club, he said, were very grateful to referee Michael Lowry and to everyone in the Lattin-Cullen club who helped out on the day, from lining the pitch to providing the teas and refreshments. He paid tribute to fellow U/12 coaches Tadhg Hennessy and Mick Byrnes and said a very special thanks to the Quirke familiy, Pat, Imelda, Liam and Gary who gave their wholehearted support to the occasion.