Lisdowney manager, Martin Power, was almost lost for words. The climb to the summit of the junior hurling championship in Kilkenny was draining, but it was an epic journey.
“These are the sorts of days people long for in sport,” he offered, his voice weak with emotion. “The people of Lisdowney have waited a long, long time for this. This is a well deserved success.
“It is a pleasure to be part of something great like this. It is uplifting, thrilling, humbling even. They are a great bunch of lads to work with, and the thing is, they can get better.”
Lisdowney out-gunned Bennettsbridge in a drama filled finish, getting the winning point in the 62nd minute. So, what was it like looking on from the sideline during the gripping closing stages?
Martin laughed: “My heart was in my mouth. Someone said why win by seven when you can win by one in a grand fashion. He wasn’t standing on the line wondering would the whole season fall asunder during the closing minutes!
“It was great we came out on top, but Bennettsbridge must be feeling really hurt after doing so well. In fairness to Bennettsbridge they showed fantastic spirit in the second half. They pushed us to the pin of our colour.
“We kept plugging away and nipping the odd score. That was what got us home in the end. The victory was all about character. When you take over a team you always have expectations. From day one I could see the players had respect for us on the management team.
“That made me feel there something big there among the players. A short time into our reign I felt if we asked them to do anything, they would do it, or make a fair try at it. I knew we had something decent going then.
“Once you have that respect from a group of lads, the sky can be the limit. They are a fantastic bunch. The best of them came out in the end when they had to hold their nerve to win. That took a fair bit of doing. There was nothing I or the other selectors could do to help them. The players won this final.
“Our panel, of course, was vital. We used it throughout the season to great effect. Every time lads came off the bench they made a big contribution. That was important, knowing we could turn to subs and they wouldn’t let us down. They can all feel a part of this success.
“Today is about getting a 53 year monkey off our backs,” the manager insisted. “We will look to the Leinster championship at the end of the week. The players must enjoy the next few days and nights. There has to be a reward and space to enjoy this after the long wait and huge amount of work that went into it.”
He insisted Lisdowney will focus on the Leinster championship quickly enough.
“We have a fine group of young athletes,” he continued. “They should take advantage of what lies ahead. The opportunity they have now in Leinster won’t come around too often.
“When you win a hurling championship in Kilkenny the expectations should be there to drive on. Look at Clara last year, and how doing well in the Leinster and All-Ireland club championships helped them prepare for the senior championship in Kilkenny.
“Playing games against the champions from other counties can only bring on these players, who are still learning, and who are intent on winning as much as they can. When we first met last December, we set out the goals we wanted to achieve.
“The Kilkenny championship was mentioned. Leinster was mentioned among the goals. We will take one step at a time. We got over a massive hurdle today. This win belongs to all in the parish,” he insisted.