Thurles Sarsfields’ Ronan Maher pictured in action. Photo: Eamonn McGee
Thurles Sarsfields were chasing a fourth successive county hurling title on Sunday against Borris-Ileigh and a 36th county senior crown, but that was the very last thing on the mind of team coach Paddy McCormack. All he concerned himself with was getting a performance out of his players.
“All we were thinking about was the 2017 championship - that’s the only one we could win today. We are delighted,” Thurles Sarsfields coach Paddy McCormack said in the aftermath of his side’s sixteen-point county final win over Borris-Ileigh (1-24 to 0-11).
Thurles men like Paddy McCormack can remember all too well the bad old days when Sarsfields failed to win a county title between 1974 and 2005. Indeed, the Blues lost four county finals in-a-row (2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003), but emerged in 2005 into what can now only be described as a golden era for the club. On Sunday, for instance, Thurles Sarsfields won their seventh county title in nine years (2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 & 2017).
Paddy McCormack’s men are the dominant force on the Tipperary club hurling scene, but that dominance is not taken for granted. And, it is that humble attitude that makes the difference. Indeed, it was the performance of his players and not the mention of history which pleased Paddy most on Sunday evening.
“It was probably our best performance of the year - we were struggling a few times; Upperchurch put us to the pin of our collar, Kilruane could have taken us out and we weren’t impressive the last day against Éire Óg Annacarty, but today, from start to finish, we were on top and pushed on. Naturally we will smell the flowers and the bloom. This was nice to win - county finals are hard to win and we will enjoy this one,” Paddy McCormack said with a beaming smile - McCormack was joined on the Thurles management team by manager Tommy Maher and selectors Johnny Enright and Eoin Kelly (Mullinahone).
The Sarsfields management team also featured masseurs Mick Clohessy and Aoife Lonergan, team doctor Paul Ryan and a back room team comprising of Eamon, John & Brian Stakelum, Connie Maher, Tony O’Mara and Gary Loughnane.
“Now there was a spell before half-time where we let them back to four points and a small thing here or there could have gotten them back into the game, but, in fairness, in the second half we started off with the first score and we drove it on from there. Every time they got a score we replied with a score,” Paddy McCormack explained before the Thurles Sarsfields coach eagerly paid tribute to all of those who have contributed so handsomely to this 36th county title.
“It is great; it’s absolutely fantastic. We have so many people who put so much effort into this - it is not just today; it goes back to the primary schools in Thurles, the secondary schools, Durlas Óg and all the work done by some many people. So much work goes into this in Thurles Sarsfields. So, we are delighted to have won another county final. Everyone is important - everyone has a part to play,” Paddy McCormack added.
MUNSTER CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP
In the wake of Sunday’s terrific performance Thurles Sarsfields will be favoured to progress in the Munster club championship - the Tipperary champions are away to their Waterford counterparts in a provincial quarter-final on the week-ending Sunday, October 29th (Ballygunner, Lismore, De La Salle and Passage are still in contention down south).
“We have not thought about that because when you start out the year with Thurles Sarsfields the Tipperary championship is a hard one to win,” Paddy McCormack revealed.
“I am here for the fifteenth time this year in a county final and I have lost half of them. I know the feeling Borris-Ileigh have this evening so you have to enjoy them when they come along,” McCormack added.
“Fair play to Borris - it has been a brilliant year (for them). They won’t realise it today, but they will realise come Christmas Day that this was a brilliant year.”
SEVEN COUNTY TITLES IN NINE YEARS
2017 Thurles Sarsfields 1-24 Borris-Ileigh 0-11
2016 Thurles Sarsfields 0-27 Kiladangan 1-15
2015 Thurles Sarsfields 1-18 Nenagh Éire Óg 3-11
2014 Thurles Sarsfields 2-22 Loughmore-Castleiney 3-11
2012 Thurles Sarsfields 1-21 Drom & Inch 2-15
2010 Thurles Sarsfields 1-16 Clonoulty-Rossmore 1-7
2009 Thurles Sarsfields 0-14 Drom & Inch 0-5