Connolly tumour puts Tipperary club hurling victory into perspective for veteran David Kennedy
Hurling with the club for 20 years, Sunday’s Tipperary senior hurling championship final victory over Nenagh Éire Óg David Kennedy was especially sweet for David Kennedy of Loughmore-Castleiney (seen here, left, with Hugh Maloney of Nenagh). Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho
Loughmore-Castleiney are a genuine dual code team and David Kennedy is seen here in action for the club’s footballers. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
n the jumble of celebration and emotion after Loughmore-Castleiney’s thrilling victory in Sunday’s Tipperary hurling final against Nenagh Éire Óg, one player was especially capable of putting it in perspective.
Lining out at centre forward, from where he scored a point, was former Tipp All-Ireland winning centre back David Kennedy, who for the past six years has been hurling with Kildare, where he works.
Thirty-seven this year and in his 20th club campaign, he was asked how the victory compared with the club’s previous win, six seasons ago.
Out of the blue
“2007 was out of the blue and that’s what made it nice. This one I think is more out of the blue. This is my 20th year playing senior hurling and I said a few weeks ago to be hurling 20 years and only play in one final was a massive under-achievement for me personally and a massive under-achievement for the club.
“This is definitely sweeter than the last because I appreciate how hard it is to win it.”
Shadowing Loughmore’s progress to the final was the news that defender Eddie Connolly had needed brain surgery to remove a tumour after the club’s semi-final win.
For Kennedy, especially, the news was a major shock as the families live beside each other but he explained how the situation had brought the community closer together: “Eddie’s my next-door neighbour (in Loughmore) and I was fierce down in the dumps over it.
“For the match on Friday [a football championship fixture the week before last] I didn’t really feel like playing it, to be honest.
“We had a Mass on Wednesday and that was very emotional as well and we went training afterwards and we didn’t know what the story with Eddie was – he didn’t know himself – but we trained and it was the best thing we could have done, therapy for everyone and me personally.
“On Friday night it carried on into the football match and there was fierce emotion that day and I think over the weekend.
“Eddie had his operation on Saturday and word came out that it had gone well and the mood lifted and the sense of relief amongst everybody – outside of the GAA club as well.
“We trained again on Wednesday and Eddie was down there and had a big, pink woolly hat on and we had a good laugh at that.
“The mood was good and people enjoyed it and it put into perspective that at the end of the day it’s only a hurling match and your health is everything. But it’s nice to know Eddie is going to get his county medal. He couldn’t be at the match. He had a minor infection over the weekend and had to go back in for a procedure on Saturday.”
Loughmore are unusual in they are a genuinely dual club. Everyone who started Sunday’s championship win with the exception of goalkeeper Shane Nolan, plays for the footballers, including All Star hurler Noel McGrath.
According to Kennedy, it was the football match last Friday week that set the tone for the hurling success to follow.
“It (the hurling final) was won when we played Arravale Rovers in a really, really, really tough football match. Not much football played but a lot of fitness work done and it was a dirty game under lights but we came through and could have lost it. People walked away from that game thinking, ‘we certainly have the stamina to last a hard 60 minutes’ and it showed.”
This means the fixtures are coming thick and fast: there is a Munster club hurling quarter-final in a fortnight and before that a county football semi-final.
“We’re playing Na Piarsaigh (Limerick champions) in two weeks’ time. By all accounts they’re a serious team and they’ve won it already.
“We’ve a football match to prepare for next weekend, playing the county champions Clonmel Commercials and they’re not going to care whether we’ve won the hurling or not. They’re going to defend their title and we’re going to do our best to take it off them.”