Loughmore captain Willie Eviston is about to be tackled by Clonmel Commercials’ Jason Lonergan at Semple Stadium during the county senior football championship final. Picture: Michael Boland
It’s one of sport’s great clichés that you can’t write off the Germans, the Germans in this case being that country’s soccer team.
The same can now be said of Loughmore Castleiney. Trailing Clonmel Commercials for most of Sunday’s FBD Insurance county senior football championship final, they once again dug deep into their well of resilience and fortitude to snatch victory with John McGrath’s additional time goal, the only time they were ahead in the game.
They’ve had little time to celebrate another famous victory, with next Sunday’s county senior hurling championship final replay against Thurles Sarsfields looming large on the horizon.
And all of this from a club with the same core of players in hurling and football who are now preparing for a match, and a big one at that, for the 17th consecutive weekend, as they go in search of a double that they previously secured eight years ago.
The McGraths, the Ryans, the Hennessys and company are showing no signs of fatigue and why would they, says football captain Willie Eviston.
“With all those matches we don’t have to do that much hard training,” he said on Sunday.
“We’re playing matches every weekend. That’s what you play GAA for, to play matches. We’re in a dream situation, playing big championship matches week in, week out. There are not many clubs that can say they’re doing that and we’re enjoying every minute of it.”
Taking a break from the celebrations on the pitch, after he had been presented with the O’Dwyer cup, the captain said “there’s no doubt but that we’ve started slowly for a good few matches in-a-row now.
“But 16 weeks or no 16 weeks, have you seen us fail coming down the stretch yet? No, we have full confidence in ourselves going down the stretch. And we knew that today. At half-time today we said we’d hang in there for quarter three, because we knew in quarter four we’d show up. We stayed in the game, stayed in the game.
“We were down a body today in John Meagher. But physically we’re still standing up every week and we’re going well, so no worries about that (fatigue) at all.”
The closing stages were so intense, so gruelling, so exciting that the captain’s head was spinning.
“I can’t really remember the last ten minutes, to be honest with you,” said Willie.
“It’s (the same) all year, we probably left ourselves with a lot to do. But from the comebacks earlier in the year we have that belief that we can stick in it and we got the result today, thank God.”
While they looked in the first half as if they would have no say in the destiny of the title, he said “it’s always tough against Clonmel. You’re expecting to be on the floor after ten minutes against Clonmel and that was the case today, it’s always the same.
“When that happens, it’s not really panic, we’re used to it now.
“But to be fair to Clonmel they’ve had the upper hand on us, so usually we haven’t been able to get back. But today, thank God, we just got the scores at the end to get us over the line.”
In his speech, having accepted the cup, he said that Loughmore and Commercials brought the best out of each other.
The final provided ample evidence yet again of the club and the team’s tremendous spirit, sufficient it seems to stock a distillery.
“We like to think that great spirit is a strength of ours. You can’t rely on that to get you over the line either. We have some big players with big moments, lots of experience, skill, and we just try and bring everything we have on any given day.”
Now there’s the matter of this Sunday’s replay against Thurles Sarsfields.
“We can start thinking about the hurling final now, it’s just week on week with us.
“I haven't thought about the Sarsfields match since last Sunday, because we had today. But from this evening on it’s full steam ahead now for the hurling next weekend. Our mind is fully focused on that from here on in.”
Signing off his acceptance speech, the captain told the delighted Loughmore supporters gathered on the pitch in front of the O’Riain Stand, “we’ll see ye again next week!”
You bet they will.
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