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'We Had To Take The Starlet Back To Your Man. Talk About Preparation!'

'We Had To Take The Starlet Back To Your Man. Talk About Preparation!'
By PJ Browne Updated

The 1994 All-Ireland hurling final is a game which will never be forgotten in Limerick. Though they held a five-point lead over Offaly with five minutes to play, Limerick lost the game.

Their preparation for the match was not without flaws.

"For some reason, we were flying up - I think we met at stupid-o'clock in the morning in UL," says Limerick goalkeeper Joe Quaid in his episode of TG4 series Laochra Gael which airs February 3rd at 9:30pm.

When the team arrived in Dublin on the day before the game, they were unsure about their hotel's location.

"Rory [Kiely] knew a shortcut," says Quaid.

"Now, I might be exaggerating, but I reckon it took us about five hours on the bus, because the shortcut never appeared to be a shortcut. It was dark when we got to the hotel.

"We came down for breakfast the following morning, went back up the room, myself and Mike Galligan. The bus was going to where Glenroe was filming, for mass. Down we came anyway, and the bus was gone. I said 'Oh, Jesus Christ, Tom Ryan will kill us'.

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"We got onto a young lad behind reception. The young fella threw us out the keys of an old [Toyota] Starlet he had belonging to him.

"We went into the car, down the road, pulled up outside Teasy's pub, and went across the road into mass. They were all looking around, 'Jaysus, how did the boys get here?' We came out, the boys got into the bus, and we had to take the Starlet back to your man. Talk about preparation!"

3 September 1994; Johnny Pilkington of Offaly celebrates with team-mate John Troy following the Bank of Ireland All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final against Limerick at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Quaid says he will never forget the roar of the Croke Park crowd when he emerged from the tunnel. "My eardrums were actually sore with the noise," he says.

With Limerick leading 2-13 to 1-11 late in the match, two quick-fire goals from Offaly turned the game on its head. The first came from a  Johnny Dooley free, and the second moments later was scored by Pat O'Connor.

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"The lad that used to keep the hurleys behind the goals, we had agreed that if we were winning well with five minutes to go, he'd come over, take my hurleys because I didn't want to lose them," says Quaid.

"With six minutes to go, he came over to me. He said, 'Will I take them?' We were five points up, comfortable. I said to him, 'No, this isn't over yet'.

"I'll take the blame for not having my goals organised for the free. I'd normally have two [to my left] and two [to my right], and I'd be in the middle. That was grand. We were still two points up with five minutes to go, and we were comfortable.

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"I picked up the ball. Walked around the goals, spotted Ger Hegarty. I pucked the ball out, Ger went up, he won it, turned and get a belt of a shoulder, the ball popped. Daithí Regan or Johnny Pilkington delivered it in [and Pat O'Connor scored a goal]."

In Limerick, Quaid took the brunt of the blame for the defeat.

"From the highs of the dressing in the Gaelic Grounds against Cork in the first round, it couldn't have been further from that," says Quaid.

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"Just the devastation... I felt we let ourselves down, felt we let our families down, we let the supporters down.

"I'll never forget the following morning. I'll never forget it as long as I live. I couldn't sleep really. I got up, and went for a walk down by the canal. There were just people walking past that probably didn't even know there was hurling final on. You just felt so low in yourself.

"Any fella in his 20s that is getting blamed for losing an All-Ireland... It was a thought that'd be running through your head, 'Jesus Christ, how am I going to go back and face this?'"

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Featured image: 4 September 1994; Johnny Dooley, Offaly, takes a free which resulted in a goal late in the game. All Ireland Hurling Final, Offaly v Limerick, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

Joe Quaid: 'Tragically It Probably Ended My Hurling Career At Inter-County Level'


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