Loughmore’s Derek Bourke is desperate to make amends in football final

Loughmore-Castleiney captain Derek Bourke is desperate to make amends to his teammates in next Sunday’s Clean Ireland Recycling Tipperary SFC final against Aherlow Gaels (Semple Stadium, 2.30pm).

Loughmore-Castleiney captain Derek Bourke is desperate to make amends to his teammates in next Sunday’s Clean Ireland Recycling Tipperary SFC final against Aherlow Gaels (Semple Stadium, 2.30pm).

Bourke, 29, was sent off after just four minutes in last Sunday’s AIB Munster club hurling quarter-final defeat to Limerick outfit Na Piarsaigh.

And Bourke is anxious to atone for that disappointment, admitting that he would have endured a sleepless Sunday night had he not had another big day out to look forward to.

Bourke said: “Personally I feel I let the team down. This is just a way for me to prove myself next weekend and give something back.

“I couldn’t have been more proud of the way the lads fought back after going a man down so early. I can see that spirit continuing on to next Sunday and we’ll pick it up again.”

Bourke, who came on for the last eight minutes in the county football semi-final victory over last year’s champions Clonmel Commercials, manfully attended last Sunday’s press event to promote the football decider, less than an hour after full-time in the hurling tie.

He could have been forgiven for slipping quietly away from Semple Stadium and leaving media duties to somebody else but the prospect of winning the first county senior football and hurling double in the history of Tipperary GAA is fuelling Bourke and Loughmore.

Dual demands have been non-stop for the club in recent weeks but winning against Aherlow Gaels would cement Loughmore-Castleiney’s place in history.

Manager Declan Laffan said: “It would be huge – we’ve come close twice before. In 1983 and ’87 we lost the hurling and won the football. “It’s the first time we’ve gone into the football having the hurling won. “Hopefully it’s a good omen.”

And Bourke admitted that if Loughmore could lift more silverware, it would represent a “huge achievement” for a club last crowned football kingpins in 2004.

Loughmore have won the county SFC on eleven previous occasions, with opponents Aherlow Gaels seeking a third crown, and first since 2010, when they defeated next Sunday’s opponents.

Bourke said: “It would be a huge achievement, it would be massive. It is something to aim for. I know teams in the past, when they won the hurling in ’88, they had lost the football prior to that.

“To do the two in the same year would be massive.

“Some players would get the key to the city – I think we’d have the key for the parish!

“And it definitely is the best tonic to pick ourselves up after today. “Because we felt like we could and should have won today, only for a few stupid things happened that cost us. Without it, I honestly couldn’t see myself sleeping tonight after today. At least I have something to aim for.”

Behind the scenes, Eddie Connolly is providing huge inspiration to Loughmore-Castleiney, as he embarks on his own personal journey.

Connolly, captain of the Tipp team that won the 2012 All-Ireland intermediate hurling title, underwent surgery recently to remove a brain tumour but he requires further treatment.

And Bourke revealed: “Eddie was the first man to put his hand around me after the game and said, chin up, let’s go again.”

Meanwhile, Aherlow go into next Sunday’s final knowing that they won’t be competing in the Munster club championship if they lift the silverware.

A combination of Aherlow and Lattin Cullen, Aherlow are deemed ineligible for the provincial competition and instead, Loughmore-Castleiney will fly the flag for Tipperary in Munster.

Philosophical Aherlow Gaels manager Derry Peters said: “That’s the rule that’s there. What it means long term, I don’t actually know. You have to be joined at U12, 14, 16 and every level up along. But we’re not at the minute. We’re looking into it to see what the technicalities are over the next couple of years. But it’s great to be this far.

Aherlow Gaels needed three late points from Barry Grogan to see off a spirited JK Brackens side in the recent semi-final in Cashel. And Peters knows that his side is in for another dogfight.