GAA

Fennelly Remembers Deceased Clubmates As Ballyhale Make History

Fennelly Remembers Deceased Clubmates As Ballyhale Make History

Ballyhale retained the All-Ireland club hurling title at Croke Park on Sunday, defeating a valiant Borris-Ileigh side by three points.

It is the Kilkenny team's eighth title and also the first time they have won back-to-back championships. Eight championship titles is the most ever for any club, hurling or football.

"This is a magical day for our club, Ballyhale Shamrocks, accumulating eight Tommy Moore trophies since our formation in 1971," Michael Fennelly said in his captain's speech.

Fennelly, who lined out centre-back for Ballyhale, paid tribute to recently deceased clubmates Brendan Fennelly and Eugene Aylward.

The blueprints were made by the great teams of the 70s, 80s and 90s. In particular, the '81 team, '84 and 1990. One of those players I'd like to mention is Brendan Fennelly. Brendan, in 1981, was top scorer coming off with 11 points, six of those from play here in Croke Park. Unfortunately, Brendan passed away a number of months ago.

Our club and Borris-Ileigh have been through the test of time off the field over the last year or two. Unfortunately, tragedy struck again a number of months ago when we lost one of our teammates Eugene Aylward. Eugene was a top character, a very fun-loving fella and some of his best friends are here today.

The boys here showed true resilience and also their family: his mother Marie, his father Pat and his brother Cian. We'd just like to mention his memory here. We carried him the whole way since his passing. The number 19 jersey is sat in our dressing room for every game.

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Fennelly added that Borris-Ileigh had "lit up" this year's club championship and he paid tribute to their manager, Johnny Kelly.

Kelly is part of Fennelly's Offaly backroom team this year. "Hopefully I'll see Johnny next week at some stage," added Fennelly.

Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

See Also: Shane Walsh Gave The Most Entertaining Captain's Speech Croke Park Has Seen

PJ Browne
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