Garda Clodagh Doyle shows off the O'Moore Cup. Picture: Willie Dempsey
When the first anniversary of the accidental death of a young Ballyhale man was commemorated in his native parish last week, one group had a special reason for remembering him.
When Ballyhale Shamrocks won the All-Ireland club senior hurling championship final at Croke Park a few weeks before, their joy was tempered by the fact that a valued team member was missing from the celebrations.
It was 24-year-old Eoin Doyle, who died tragically in a road accident a year ago.
Eoin’s loss and valued role within the group had been a theme that ran through the club’s efforts in the county, provincial and national club championships into 2019.
Manager Henry Shefflin and captain Michael Fennelly mentioned it constantly as both a cause of grief and a motivation to win.
When it all came right for the club on St Patrick’s Day, Eoin’s memory and role in their success was foremost in their minds.
The club and players took the unusual step of calling up Eoin’s sister, Clodagh to the Hogan Stand to lift the Tommy Moore Cup as a signal of Eoin’s presence in spirit.
Clodagh Doyle was in Croke Park in an official capacity.
The 29-year-old passed out as a Garda in March 2018, just two weeks before her brother died, and was on duty from Mountjoy Station at GAA headquarters for this year’s club final.
There also to see the moving tribute were Eoin and Clodagh’s parents, and great Shamrocks supporters, John and Ber (nee Aylward) and sister Dearbhla, 17, who captained the Shamrocks minor camogie team to victory in the county championship in 2018.
A notable sportswoman herself - she is a former Shamrocks camogie player and footballer, and a six-times All-Ireland champion canoeist - Clodagh is part of a great tradition of sporting involvement by members of the Garda Siochana.
The force was represented on the Hogan Stand on the day alongside President Michael D. Higgins.
The force has a noted GAA performer in its top management in Deputy Commissioner John Twomey, a former Dublin senior hurling team captain currently associated with the Cuala club, All-Ireland senior hurling club champions in 2017 and 2018.
Meanwhile in Ballyhale, for his team-mates, as for his family, the great sense of loss at Eoin Doyle’s passing in 2018 will always be tempered by their happiness at the sporting triumph he helped to secure in 2019.
Eoin did so through the influence of his personality and the memory of his contribution in the past.
For more on Kilkenny People sport read here.