Emotional scenes as Thurles dedicate victory to late O'Brien
Tears of joy and sadness flowed as an emotional Thurles squad paid tribute to their late team-mate Vinnie O'Brien with a resounding victory in the AIG Pierce Purcell Shield final.
The Tipperary men wore black ribbons as they beat Connacht champions Gort 3-1 at Carton House, just four weeks after the sudden death of one of their most popular team-mates at the age of 52.
Stephen Quigley, who clinched the winning point alongside his brother Shane in a team that also featured their father Tommy, confessed that they had promised the late man's widow that they would bring home a gold medal.
"That was for Vinnie," Stephen said. "He was the joker, the character of our team. His widow Joan asked us to win it for him, so we said we'd do our best. It's great to be able to give her his gold medal."
It was Thurles' second AIG Pierce Purcell pennant since 1997 but there will be a new name on the AIG Irish Senior Cup trophy today after Knock defeated Limerick 3.5-1.5 to set up a clash with Maynooth University in today's final.
Limerick's Pat Murray beat Michael Sinclair by one hole in the top match but the tie went Knock's way when international Colin Fairweather sank a six-footer for half at the 16th to remain one up and then escaped disaster off poor tee shots at the 17th and 18th to clinch a one-hole win over Sean Poucher.
"That's my fifth loser's medal in Senior Cup or Barton Shield," Murray lamented. "There won't be too many more chances but it was a tight match today.
"It could have gone either way. . . . if we'd got the breaks Colin got on 17 when he could have been up against the wall in the ditch. Or on the 18th, where he could have been out of bounds."
Even without internationals Robin Dawson and Stuart Grehan or Leinster inter-provincial Alan Lowry, who are on duty in the European Universities Championship in Switzerland, Maynooth University still eased to a 4-1 win over Athlone.
And while there have been mutterings of discontent that a college team fuelled by Paddy Harrington Scholarship stars is dominating inter-club competitions, not everyone is complaining.
"To win an All Ireland you want to play the best and beat the best," said Athlone's Niall Carroll, who lost 2&1 to former Irish Youths champion Kyle McCarron.
Maynooth captain Donal Scott said simply: "We're blessed with a lot of talent."
In the Jimmy Bruen Shield, Ballybunion beat Fortwilliam 4-1 and will face Castlebar, who beat Greystones, in the final.