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Dublin: 12°C Saturday 8 May 2021

Brendan Maher to be reunited with hurley used for wonder point thanks to fan's letter

The Tipperary star on his search for a memento from his brilliant point in January.

Brendan Maher celebrating his point for Borris-Ileigh against St Thomas.
Brendan Maher celebrating his point for Borris-Ileigh against St Thomas.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

IT WAS ONE of the best scores in the short-lived 2020 GAA season but Tipperary’s Brendan Maher has to wait a bit longer for the memento from his wonder point in January’s All-Ireland club semi-final.

Maher struck 0-10 to help guide Borris-Ileigh to the Croke Park decider with the last of his scores the most memorable against Galway champions St Thomas as he pointed a shot despite using a broken hurley at the time.

After the score Maher threw the broken hurley away in celebration and attempts to locate it afterwards the match proved fruitless until he was subsequently contacted by a young hurling fan from Gort.

“After the match then I was saying, ‘God I’d love to get that hurley’,” Maher told ‘The Players’ Voice’ podcast from the GPA.

“I was actually thinking I might actually be able to fix it but as time went on I was thinking it’d be nice to have it just to hold onto it and we couldn’t find it.

“So a few of the lads went back out, searched around the sideline, inside in the stand, no sign of it. So a couple of weeks passed and even some of the lads from the club there got onto the Gaelic Grounds to see if the groundsman wouldn’t mind going in, having a look again. They were mad to get it, just to have it.

“I had kind of given up on it but I think it was towards the end of February, I got a letter from a young fella from Gort. You get letters from young fellas saying you’re my favourite player or I admire you, have you any tips. I thought it was just one of these letters again so I was reading down through it and he said he was 12 years of age from Gort and ‘I was at the St Thomas game that you scored the point with the broken hurley and I actually have your hurley’.

“He said when the final whistle blew, one of the St Thomas lads hit the ball in frustration out towards the open stand and he ran to get the ball, spotted the hurley up in the stand, picked it up and brought it home.

“So I was there thinking how am I going to ask him for it back?

“I wrote a letter back and I explained I was delighted he’d found it because we had been looking for it. I said I’ll send on a hurley, a few signed bits from Bourke Sports there, he’s a friend of mine. I left my number and said if you want to give me a call, I’ll meet you with the stuff.

“Next thing the letter was sent and his Mam rang me and she was all apologies, ‘Oh my God I never even realised that you’d want the hurley back’. In fairness I didn’t ask for it back technically, I just said I’d love to have it back!

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“So we were arranging to meet and then this lockdown happened so we haven’t actually met yet, so they still have it. I’ll hopefully be able to get it back at some stage during the summer.”

ciaran-cowan-and-brendan-maher-celebrates-after-the-game Ciaran Cowan and Brendan Maher celebrate after that All-Ireland club semi-final success. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

That semi-final success was part of a magical winter journey for Borris-Ileigh and even though they ultimately fell to defeat in the final against Ballyhale Shamrocks, Maher still places huge value on that game.

“It was definitely the best day of my hurling career to be able to do it and that might sound funny when we lost that day but just a hugely proud moment. The club here is so important to us, it really is the fulcrum of the place. Obviously through the tragedy that was experienced over the last 18 months or so, it actually made the community even more tight-knit.

“And then to be able to represent that community in the sporting sense and represent your family and your friends and just to do that together was just really special. It’s just created an unbelievable bond among not just the players, the whole parish just feels connected now because of that journey and run we went on. It’s something we’ll never forget. To do it so unexpectedly, that made it all the sweeter. Please God we’ll get the opportunity to do it again but we’re still appreciating what went on.”

padraic-maher-and-brendan-maher-celebrate-at-the-full-time-whistle Padraic Maher and Brendan Maher celebrate after Tipperary's All-Ireland final victory last August. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

With GAA activity currently shutdown due to coronavirus, Maher also spoke about the Tipperary players having to self-isolate when they returned from a training camp in Spain in March.

“We got home and being honest about it we were probably safer where we were than anyone here in Ireland. We were in a private compound where we were coming into contact with literally nobody. The people cooking our food were in a kitchen , we didn’t see them and the food was left out. The cleaning staff were doing that when we were training.

“So it was very safe we had a doctor with us but coming back we had to follow the guidelines and do the same as everyone else, we had to give two weeks to self isolate. And then when the actual full lockdown for the country happened it was just a knock on, we were nearly settled into it at that stage. It really is just a case of keeping yourself busy, that helps me, and having little goals set for each day.”

Maher also spoke about adapting his business during lockdown to run online classes in the gym he runs, life at home as his partner Aoife is a front line worker in the hospital in Limerick and his recovery from a cruciate injury to star for club and county in 2019.

You can listen to the full podcast here.

Source: The Players Voice/SoundCloud

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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