Wednesday 22 November 2017

Quirke retains Tipp dual target after winning injury fight

Tipperary’s Stephen Quirke has battled back from injury and hopes to play a key role in the Electric Ireland GAA Minor Hurling final
Tipperary’s Stephen Quirke has battled back from injury and hopes to play a key role in the Electric Ireland GAA Minor Hurling final

Michael Verney

Tipperary minor dual star Stephen Quirke owes a debt of gratitude to his colleagues for giving him the chance to battle back from injury and challenge for two All-Ireland titles in September.

When the minor hurling skipper sustained a serious knee injury in their Munster semi-final victory over Clare on June 25, he thought his season was over prematurely.

But Quirke never doubted the ability of his team-mates in both codes, and after going through a rigorous rehab programme all summer, he made a triumphant return, kicking a crucial point in the footballers' victory over Kildare last weekend.

"Another great motivation for myself is to see that the lads have put in the hard work and one or two of us might have been injured but they've kind of got us there. It's great, I'm really proud of the lads and I have great admiration for them," Quirke said.

"The summer was long, I won't lie, you're trying to do rehab while lads are out training and there are beautiful conditions and all that, it was hard but hopefully all the hard work will be worth it."

The 18-year-old has a refreshingly confident demeanour and declared himself fully fit for tomorrow's hurling final with Galway, part one of a possible minor double. Quirke expects a huge battle tomorrow from a resilient Galway side, who will have a huge crowd present for the senior decider, but he has no fears that the Premier will deal with the pressure having worked with a psychologist all year.

"Galway will get their purple patch where the crowd are really behind them and it'll be hard to zone it out but I reckon our lads are strong enough to do it," the first year UCD student said.

"We have a psychologist with us and she goes through lots of drills, she teaches us a lot. We're good as a unit at talking through stuff and communicating between us so I reckon we'll come through it, we'll beat that side of things."

Eight dual players are aiming to make history this month by replicating Tipperary's minor double in 1934 and Quirke says a special bond has been made throughout a momentous year.

"You'd be nearly sick of seeing those fellas at this stage," he joked. "You have to do an extra few sessions of recovery with them and that. We're like brothers nearly at this stage, it's fair enjoyable.

"Relationships have been built which is brilliant. There are loads of lifelong memories and we'll hopefully have plenty of positive memories. Hopefully we'll all have two medals to show at the end of it all."

His club Moyle Rovers boasts both minor captains with Danny Owens leading the footballers against Kerry on September 20 and Quirke pays tribute to local legend and two-time All Star Declan Browne, who has massively influenced his fledgling career.

"He played a huge role with myself personally. Watching him while I was growing up, winning All-Stars and coming from a hurling county, winning at football, it was huge," he said. "He's a great servant to the club. He's played a huge role."

Irish Independent

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