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Tannion set for All-Ireland semi-final battle with St Thomas

The Galway club are gearing up for their first showdown on the national stage against Loughgiel Shamrocks next Saturday.

Image: Sportsfile

FOR A REAL sense of what it meant when St Thomas’ finally garnered a Galway senior hurling title, you needed to be standing next to Enda Tannion at the final whistle.

The 34-year-old self-professed “Daddy of the team” had produced a storming performance in last November’s final win over Loughrea.

That relentlessness as he threw himself into every challenge was fuelled by pain.

And now the Galway club are getting set for next Saturday’s AIB All-Ireland club SHC semi-final against Loughgiel Shamrocks in Parnell Park.

“I’ve seen the bad days as well as the good days and it means a lot” says Tannion. “I know what it takes to win something. There’s been a lot of broken fingers, broken bones and missing teeth.

“When I started off I’d have been senior in  1995 and we got relegated the same year. We came back up the following year and went back down again in 1997. We struggled a bit then and came back up in 2004. Ever since then we’ve been making steady progress.

“I remember a game we got beaten by 25 points and it was like You’ve Been Framed. You were just waiting for someone to come out and say it was a joke.

“Nothing went right and you felt embarrassed. You had kids going to school the following day and other clubs, basically laughing at you.”

Throughout it all, he only really considered throwing in the towel two years ago when he was dropped. After a brief period of soul-searching, he decided to redouble his efforts on the training pitch and show that he wasn’t a beaten docket at 32 years of age.

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So it all came back flooding back when referee Eoin Shaughnessy called a halt to proceedings at Pearse Stadium last November.

“There would have been a huge amount of emotion at the final whistle. My two-year-old son Matthew was there as mascot and little Kayla, the Burke brothers’ niece. There was a tear shed on the field.”

A self-employed electrician, Tannion isn’t overburdened with work these days. Right now, he doesn’t mind though, as he considers himself more of a professional hurler, such is his focus on St Thomas’.

He thinks of the likes of John Burke, Cyril Kelly, John Fahy, Martin Fahy, Kevin Cunningham, Jojo Cooney and a few other diehards, who laid the foundations for this and put in the hours when it wasn’t fashionable to do so.

The nucleus of the team is provided by the minor champions of 2008. Many of them had been part of the team that won the U12 title six years earlier. They competed in four U21 finals in a row, only winning one, but these youngsters are comfortable on the big stage.

It might be new to Tannion but he has endured so much to become a headline act that there is no way it is going to faze him.

“It’s bonus territory” he smiles. “It’s given a huge lift to the parish. Everyone is going around with a pep in their step. It’s hard to describe. After the county final, you had grown men crying. All we’re hoping is we give a good account of ourselves.”

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