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'It is very emotional. Tough times but they have given us a bit of joy'

Journal.ie logo Journal.ie 12/09/2022 Maurice Brosnan
© Bryan Keane INPHO

IT WAS AN emotional day for Clonoulty-Rossmore as they overcame Thurles Sarsfields 1-18 to 1-16 in the Tipperary senior hurling championship to secure a quarter-final spot.

A late Stephen Ferncombe penalty proved decisive in Sunday’s preliminary quarter-final which brought an end to Sarsfields’ campaign. The draw for the final eight is due to take place tonight. 

For Clonoulty, the tie carried added significance. The month’s mind mass for Dillon Quirke was held on Saturday evening at their GAA field. Clonoulty and Tipperary star Quirke died after collapsing on the pitch at Semple Stadium while playing for his club.

“We’ve had a tough five weeks. There is no point saying different,” said centre-back John O’Keeffe post-match, speaking to Tipp GAA TV. 

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“It has been an emotional five weeks. We had the month’s mind last night. Emotionally it was tough for us to get up to that level today that you need to be at for championship but we got there.

“The dressing room inside, even though it was a win, it was a huge relief for us to get over the line. We feel this team is coming and there is more in us.”

Club member and former Tipperary All-Ireland winner Joe Hayes paid tribute to Quirke’s family in Semple Stadium. 

“What a match. I think it is the best match I was ever at in my life. It is very emotional. Tough times but they have given us a bit of joy. The way they fought.

“I am delighted for Declan and Ryan and the whole team. To see Dan here, Shannon and Kelly, it must be so difficult for them but they are so brave. You could see through the match the boys gave everything.”

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In a moving interview, Hayes pointed to the post-match scenes as a sign of what it meant for the club.  

“I think all the neutrals wanted us to win. That is the way it seemed. After the final whistle, everybody went in. There were a lot of tears there. It is highly emotional. Dillon was a very special man. Our hearts are broken.”

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