‘This is one of the best days of my life’
AUGHRIM manager Liam Keenan Snr shed tears of unbridled joy last Saturday afternoon after guiding his beloved hurlers to the Philip Doyle Junior ‘B’ hurling crown by beating Arklow Rocks in the decider in Aughrim.
A long and barren decade has passed since an Aughrim adult team competed in Wicklow competitions but the Granite City men returned with a bang this season and the importance of and the passion for the small ball game in the village of Aughrim could be clearly seen once that final whistle sounded on Saturday afternoon.
‘This is one of the best days of my life,’ said Liam Keenan Snr after the final whistle in Aughrim. ‘10 years ago, I was with Christy O’Brien keeping hurling going in Aughrim. It floundered. But this year I took it on myself, the club gave me support to go ahead with it. I went through thick and thin, got my lads back, some of them played with me 11 years ago, young lads coming up, we’ve seven Minors coming into the panel next year and the juvenile structure is going so well, we’ll have hurling in Aughrim, we are thriving. We’ve two under-11 hurling teams and two under-12 hurling teams coming, so the panels are there,’ he added.
What made it different this year? ‘There were seven lads coming in next year and we had no club for them, the team is there for them now and they have something to look up to,’ said Liam.
Liam was full of praise for all his players but especially for the stalwarts who ansered his call and who emptied the tank for Aughrim hurling all season.
‘Paul Whelan, Sean O’Neill, Max Molloy, Ciaran Byrne, captained the last team (and man of the match on Saturday), and David Whitty, that man got two injections yesterday, and injections this morning, and he couldn’t be bet on the line.
‘I am proud as could be and I will keep hurling going here. Hurling was always my game and always will be.
‘The only problem I have now is that they all want to drink out of the cup, and I am a pioneer,’ he said.
Liam said that the introduction of Sean O’Neill and some other mature players steadied a shaky ship at half-time.
‘In the first half the game seemed to be passing them by, they came out very nervous.
‘The younger lads have been winning hurling for the last few years, it wasn’t so bad on them.
‘But the older crew, the elder statesmen, it passed them by a little bit.
‘But with Sean O’Neill and a few more coming on at half-time. it steadied things,’ he added.
A delighted Shane and Sophie O’Loughlin after Aughrim’s fantastic win in the Junior ‘B’ hurling final.
Diarmuid and Paul Whelan with the Junior ‘B’ cup.
Liam Keenan Snr celebrates with Aughrim supporters after the game.