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Ulster Club Junior Hurling Champions 2010

posted 29 Oct 2010, 03:48 by Jonathan Tavey   [ updated 5 Feb 2012, 04:48 ]
Let joy be unconfined was the message when Seamus Loftus accepted the Paddy O'Rourke Cup and in his acceptance speech he paid tribute to everyone who had made the day possible including the man who had been such an inspiration to them all, the late Paddy O'Rourke.
Loftus was almost at a loss for words in trying to describe just how everyone felt. "There are no words to describe how we feel today, it is just simply fantastic and to come here to Belfast and defeat an Antrim team makes it even more special. Any Antrim hurling team at any level is never going to be easy opposition and we had to work extremely hard all through and I want to pay tribute to all of the lads who stuck to the task and kept their heads because we needed to stay calm and the boys did and they stood up and were counted when it mattered". Seamus Loftus was visibly emotional when he talked of how special it was that the Cup he was holding was in commemoration of Paddy O'Rourke. "It has been a great year, it's been a fantastic year because this is the fourth cup that we have won in Inniskeen this year. We had inspiration out there today and we said before the game that we would give it our all for Paddy O'Rourke and it's very special for me and all of the lads because we started hurling with him at juvenile level and it is just such a great feeling of satisfaction to have come here and won this title".
Team mentors Richie Nash and Brian Murphy were both ecstatic in the aftermath of last Sunday's victory but Richie Nash was very quick to acknowledge that in some ways Inniskeen had made it hard for themselves but even so they had shown great character to come through such a close, tough match. "That is one thing about these lads they have great character and I suppose while we made it tough for ourselves at times this team has something special. They have worked hard all year and Paddy O'Rourke means a lot to a lot of those lads in there and getting across the line today is a testimony to how his memory motivated them and to the work that they have done all year long. We did I suppose cause problems for ourselves with the penalty and a few other chances even from frees that we didn't avail of but those are the ups and downs of hurling and it's really something that we have had to contend with all year because in every game we made it hard for ourselves in some ways. The only thing was that we knew the lads had the confidence to compensate for that and get over the line. This is something we have worked on that everyone keeps going for the full 60 minutes because it's not a 30 minute game or a 40 minute game it is a 60 minutes plus match and we also knew that any Antrim team in a hurling final is always going to be up for it".
There was no doubting the level of inspiration that everyone involved gained by dedicating their efforts to Paddy O'Rourke with Richie Nash expressing regret that he had never met a man who could have such an effect on so many people. "Nearly every one of those lads has come up through the ranks since they started with Paddy. I think there are only two of that team that didn't hurl with Paddy O'Rourke, Philip Brooks and Trevor Hilliard who both married into Inniskeen but they appreciate the inspiration that he is. As I said there is great character in that team and they worked as a team and they worked as a unit and I think they put on an outstanding display there today because we really wanted to win it and win it for one very special reason and one very special person who loved the game of hurling. I never met Paddy O'Rourke and it is a regret of mine that I didn't".
Team mentor Brian Murphy was quick to pay tribute to the defence and described them as the sheet anchor for this victory. "The defence played very well and we needed that because they had a couple of sharp forwards that we needed to look after because we knew they could cause us problems, but we weathered the storm and made a couple of switches and that worked. I didn't mind if it was one point or five points that we won by as long as we won it but there was only one man on everyone's mind today and I know he helped get us over the line".
Inniskeen now move on to the All Ireland series but the pressure is off and they will be able to take a break. Richie Nash though was quick to point out that quite a few of these boys would be in action next weekend in the reserve hurling final. "Yes we will have a break but we have the reserve hurling final coming next weekend and we still have to keep it in our minds that we have a lot of work to do yet. We will get our season completed and get the reserve league final played and then we will enjoy the break because these lads need a good break, they need a good, long break. We'll take a break then until about Christmas and we'll regroup after that but it will also be great at that stage then to get back into the swing of things and try and build on this achievement which to me shows that Monaghan can hurl and there is a lot of hurling talent in the county that hopefully will benefit from our success".