By Brian McDonnell
The thoughts of Pádraic Maher have already turned to Thurles Sarsfields Munster quarter-final clash with Limerick champions Kilmallock on Sunday, October 28th.
Loughmore-Castleiney (2007) were the last Tipperary club to claim the provincial title on behalf of the Premier County, but Thurles Sars might just have a side capable of challenging for such an honour.
“In fairness to the lads they are level-headed enough and we won’t go celebrating too mad, but we will enjoy it. You have to enjoy these things,” Pádraic Maher said following Sunday’s dramatic win over Drom & Inch at Semple Stadium, Thurles.
“For years Sarsfields didn’t win these at all. We have managed to get a few, but we know what’s ahead of us in two weeks’ time against Kilmallock. We went down there two years ago and it was an absolute war of a game. We know that we have to face that, but we will enjoy this tonight now and get back training on Tuesday night and then it will be all systems go for Kilmallock.”
Pádraic Maher featured on the Sarsfields team which collected the Dan Breen Cup in 2009 and 2010, but Thurles came undone in last year’s semi-final when they were beaten by Clonoulty-Rossmore. That defeat hurt.
“It hurt us a lot. We didn’t turn up at all last year,” Pádraic Maher explained.
“Clonoulty gave us a right hammering you could say. We didn’t show up at all, but we knew that wasn’t the real Sarsfields team.
“People tend to forget that this is our third (title) in four years. So, that’s not too bad for a young team.
“We are a very young team so please God we can push on from here.
County finals now are not enough for the club and the next step is the Munster club championship, but we have some fights ahead of us to get that.”
Despite an early hic-up against Drom & Inch during the Mid championship Thurles Sarsfields built their momentum before capping this season with Sunday’s superb display against the defending champions.
“We only had one blip on our form during the year and that was against Drom in the Mid championship,” Pádraic Maher said.
“We managed to get back into the Mid final and I thought it was vital to win the division. Then, when Tipp were finished, that gave us a couple of weeks to get back into the training - that helped I think.
“Slowly, but surely we upped it each day and thank God we upped it enough today to get the result.”
Following a Séamus Callanan goal Thurles Sarsfields found themselves trailing Drom & Inch (1-16 to 2-14) with ten minutes to play on Sunday.
Sars were also facing into a stiff breeze, but Séamus Quinn’s men battled gamely on and won in dramatic fashion.
“That wasn’t easy, no,” Pádraic Maher said in the immediate aftermath of the game.
“We were put right to the pin of our collar, but it was fair sweet with the way that we won it. Fair play to Drom they gave us a great game.
“We knew it was going to be like that anyway. They were not going to let go of this cup without a fight.
“We put in a lot of hard work. We knew this was going to be a very tough game. I think we battled well there even when they came back at us. We responded straight away and we got the few scores.
“All I can say is that all the players have been fantastic. It’s the proudest day of my life in hurling to be lifting this cup on behalf of Thurles. It’s just brilliant,” Pádraic Maher added.
“Winning an All-Ireland (with Tipperary) is what you dream about, but you also dream about lifting this cup with Sarsfields.
“Anything after Sarsfields is a bonus, but this means the most to me. This is what it is all about and please God it will kick-start us now.”