WHATEVER nerves hurling star Eoin Kelly suffered before facing Kilkenny in the All-Ireland hurling final last September, they were surpassed yesterday as he prepared to meet his match down the aisle.
The Tipperary captain crowned a memorable few months by wedding his long-term partner Sarah Maher in her home town of Ballingarry, not too far away from his own Mullinahone territory.
Team mates and friends turned up at the church in mixed weather to see Eoin and Sarah tie the knot.
The ceremony came just in time for St Valentine's Day and barely five months after the hurling star lifted the Liam McCarthy Cup.
Sarah, who was flanked by her sisters, bridesmaids Laura, Ruth and Emma, didn't keep Eoin waiting too long before the start of yesterday's formalities.
A sister of former Tipperary minor hurler Willie Maher, Sarah knows about the demands placed by the game on its stars. A Valentine's weekend wedding avoided any clash with big summer championship fixtures.
However, if anyone doubted his devotion to his new bride, the fact that the Tipperary captain is missing his team's crunch match tonight against Kilkenny is proof enough.
The couple are jetting off on honeymoon to Italy and the sharpshooting forward will miss his team's National Hurling League opener as a result. In his absence, the team will be skippered by centre-back Conor O'Mahony.
Tipperary manager Declan Ryan promised the county's fans earlier in the week that his players would all be "on their best behaviour" at last night's wedding celebrations in Dundrum House Hotel -- so they will be in top form for tonight's game, which will take place under lights in Thurles.