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'Perfect gentleman and the ultimate hurler' - Tipperary players pay tribute to Dillon Quirke

Barry Hogan and Robert Byrne praised the leadership and friendship of their team-mate.

Dillon Quirke.
Dillon Quirke.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

GLOWING TRIBUTES HAVE been paid today to Dillon Quirke by two of his hurling team-mates that knew him best.

The 24-year-old passed away suddenly last Friday night after he became ill while playing for his club Clonoulty-Rossmore in a Tipperary senior hurling club game, with his funeral mass taking place in his native parish yesterday.

Barry Hogan and Robert Byrne were both Tipperary senior hurling team-mates this year of Mr Quirke, while they won All-Ireland U21 medals together for the Premier in 2018.

The duo shared memories of the hurler and friend they knew when speaking today in a special episode of the Nenagh Guardian’s ‘TippCast’.

“Stories told over the last couple of days, I knew an awful lot of the stories and a lot of the players did, some of the stories his family had never known,” said Byrne, when asked to outline what sort of a character Dillon Quirke was.

“It really did put them at ease hearing these stories about Dillon and what a character he was. He was the absolute life and soul of the dressing-room. He put a smile on everyone’s face every night he came in.

“I remember one time, we were doing a session down in Setanta (College). Everyone was out on their feet. It came to the last circuit. You could hear a lad roaring down the bottom of the hall. I couldn’t breathe up at my end and here he was roaring down at his end, driving everyone on.

“I think he was described yesterday as a perfect gentleman and I would really say he was the ultimate hurler too. He stood behind me in 2018 in a parade, Barry only sent me on the photo there this morning, and he was a cheeky boy back then with a big frame. The work he’s put in to develop himself into a top athlete and filing out that frame, it’s a testament to the type of person he was and the type of family he has around him as well.

“You can say he was in the top of the strength and top of the running but still put down the ball on the ’65 on the sideline and he’d stick it over the bar as well.”

Source: Nenagh Guardian/YouTube

Hogan recounted the key role that the Clonoulty-Rossmore man playing in building a bond in their Tipperary squad.

“Divilment, rogue, up for the craic, all these terms are coming up, it was so true. He was the heart and soul of everything. After a game he’d be organising where we’re going. Even when we weren’t permitted to go out sometimes, he’d arrange something. I remember 2018 we lost the Munster final down in Cork U21, we were beat very well actually.

“It was sombre enough after but Quirke had arranged, we were getting the train to Killarney the day after. We were heading down for a couple of days. Management team weren’t too impressed now I must say because we were due to play Galway in the semi-final a few weeks later, but to be honest with you, I’d say it was nearly the winning of the All-Ireland that couple of days down there. Huge amount of memories created and all led by that man. That was him.”

declan-dalton-with-jerome-cahill-and-dillon-quirke Dillon Quirke (right) in action for Tipperary against Cork in the 2018 All-Ireland U21 hurling final. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The Kiladangan man did also stress how dedicated his team-mate was to improving as a hurler.

“He was very dedicated as well. His hurling was number one always. He’d a perfect balance of having the craic and being in the best shape he could possibly be. I saw a picture of him there after the 2018 county final and he was still a fair athlete then like, but the transformation the last three years has just been unbelievable.

“He took a break from the panel there in 2019, went away and came back 2020 and he was just an absolute unit. He’d let you know too when he’d put you aside and he’d remind you going into the dressing-room. But he was just so dedicated, gym, hurling, diet, sleep, he nailed everything and still able to enjoy life at the same time as well.

“His motto was no issues. That was always to the fore. We were playing Limerick there this year, warming up on the field and big Limerick roar when the players came out. We were pucking a few balls, all we could hear was this roar going on and looked over, here was Quirke giving himself a few roars, getting himself up for it. He’d a great game that day.”

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a-view-of-the-moments-silence-in-memory-of-tipperary-hurler-dillon-quirke-who-passed-away-recently A view of the moment's silence at Croke Park last Sunday in memory of Tipperary hurler Dillon Quirke. Source: Evan Treacy/INPHO

Both players outlined their first introduction to Dillon Quirke, Byrne speaking about their time as minor hurling team-mates in 2015, while Hogan went back a year earlier to a county U16 hurling final between Kiladangan and Clonoulty-Rossmore.

They paid tribute to the friendship and leadership he displayed.

“He was great friends with everyone our age,” said Byrne.

“The way he carried himself, such a lovely character. Look he leaves a great hole and a great void in our group. We’ll just try stick together and try support Dan, Hazel, Kellie, Shannon and his other family.

“The group that we have is unbelievable and they will come together. We’ll do it for him.”

“About 12 of us came into the senior panel at the same time at the one age after the U21 final in ’18 I think,” outlined Hogan.

“(Liam) Sheedy brought about 12 of us in. He was our voice for our age group, he was the guy speaking up at meetings, he’d speak up, give a good insight tactically and he’d speak up having a joke as well. Always to the fore that way.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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