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Dublin: 14 °C Sunday 12 July, 2020

Tipperary All-Ireland hurling winner at the heart of club football title bid

Former Tipp hurler Eamonn Corcoran hopes to see his club JK Brackens lift a senior football title on Saturday.

Eamonn Corcoran (right) in action for Tipperary against Galway's Alan Kerins in 2001.
Eamonn Corcoran (right) in action for Tipperary against Galway's Alan Kerins in 2001.
Image: INPHO

A COUNTY FINAL double success with a twist.

Eamonn Corcoran could not have asked for a better outcome to last Sunday’s programme of hurling showdowns in Tipperary.

A Templemore native and now a Borris-Ileigh resident, the 2001 Liam MacCarthy Cup winner had a keen interest in both matches. 

The JK Brackens chairman saw his home club claim the Seamus O Riain Cup (second senior level in Tipperary), high drama as Lyndon Fairbrother’s injury-time goal from a free snatched success.

Then he watched Borris-Ileigh lift the biggest prize in Tipperary hurling and next Saturday JK Brackens make their bow in a county senior football decider. Mid winter and yet plenty action to savour.

“It’s been a fantastic week for the club,” admits Corcoran.

“First time we’ve got the big matches at this time of the year. It was great to be inside in Templemore on Sunday and then at the end of the night to come back out and meet the lads in Borris-Ileigh.

“It was a great way for us (JK Brackens) to win it and an awful way to lose a game. We were fortunate to get that free at the end and Lyndon Fairbrother hit the back of the net and then the final whistle goes. The scenes afterwards, that comes from not being successful over the years with the crowd that came onto the field.

“My wife Deirdre’s family are all Borris-Ileigh. Her father would have hurled for them for years. My young lad plays underage for Borris-Ileigh and I’m living there. I’d be very close with Philip Maher (Borris-Ileigh selector and ex Tipperary team-mate) over the years with the hurling. There’s so many lads there that stayed involved with the club, I was delighted to see them close that gap because there’s great tradition and they live for hurling out here.”

Corcoran amassed a great array of honours during his Tipperary days – a couple of Munster medals, a trio of National League wins and the crowning glory in September 2001 in Croke Park.

But for all his playing exploits at the heart of the Tipperary defence, he is relishing the current club success.

“I was listening to Tommy Walsh there recently after they won their competition in Kilkenny. It doesn’t matter what level you’re playing at, if you win a county final, it’s super. We fielded a Junior B, Junior A and senior team in the hurling and the very same in the football this year.

Source: #OurGame/YouTube

“We’ve about 80 adults playing, it doesn’t matter what competition you win, you could see what it meant to the parish of Templemore and the players. For me the biggest honour is to win a county title with your club and the lads you’ve grown up with.”

Corcoran called time on his Tipperary hurling career a decade ago. Administrative roles in the GAA may not have a wide-ranging appeal but for the 2001 All-Star winner it has been a means of payback to all those that assisted him in his rise to the top level of the county game.

“I was coming to the end of my career from a hurling point of view and I always said the club was great to me over the years. At the time Seamus O’Dwyer was the chairman and he’d five years done. I was talking to him one night and he was looking for someone else to take it on.

“Maybe it’s not the most glamorous role but I was fortunate that the former secretary, she came back in and involved with me, and there’s a very good committee there of 15 people. This is my third year. When you finish playing, most people talk about getting into management rather than being a chairman. That’s something I think down the line I wouldn’t mind doing myself but while I can, it was just about putting something back into the club.”

To witness the club making strides in Tipperary senior circles has lifted Corcoran’s spirits. They are keen to promote both codes. 12 of the team in last Sunday’s hurling victory were in the starting side when they knocked out reigning Tipperary football champions Moyle Rovers at the semi-final stage recently.

Corcoran flew the club flag during his Tipperary hurling days with Kevin Mulryan a football stalwart in the county ranks and then Colin O’Riordan shining before he switched to AFL side Sydney Swans.

A new highly-rated crop has come along. Six JK Bracken’s players won the highest honours in schools hurling in 2017 with the Dr Harty Cup and Croke Cup victories. Fairbrother and club captain Paddy Cadell won All-Ireland U21 honours with Tipperary last year, Cadell replicated that feat in August with their U20 success alongside club-mate Andrew Ormond.

lyndon-fairbrother-and-brian-timmons Lyndon Fairbrother in action for Tipperary against Limerick in 2018. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“The big thing was seeing this year the likes of Paddy and Andy with Tipperary, then coming back and giving the very same commitment for the club,” says Corcoran.

“Seeing Paddy lifting the cup last Sunday and out on the field afterwards and what it meant to him and all the other players. It’s great to be privileged enough to wear your county jersey but it’s good for these lads to realise the club will always be there for you no matter what you do with Tipperary.”

paddy-cadell-and-craig-morgan-celebrate-at-the-final-whistle Paddy Cadell (left) celebrating Tipperary's 2018 All-Ireland U21 success. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Saturday in Thurles represents unchartered territory, a November date in one of the last county senior finals of 2019. JK Brackens have never featured at this stage. Opponents Clonmel Commercials are aiming to round off a decade that has already yielded three county senior crowns and a Munster club title. They have recent All-Ireland senior winners (Seamus Kennedy) and All-Star recipients (Michael Quinlivan).

“It’s the same bunch of players for the football and the hurling,” says Corcoran.

“They’re on a great run at the moment but we’re going in against a Clonmel team who are hot favourites for it. The county senior final, it’s the top match you can play in. I probably was a bit vocal about the Saturday at half two timing because I would have taken calls from businesses around the town but it is what it is. We’ve moved on.

“In an ideal scenario you’d like to play a county final on a Sunday but we’re not going to complain. Lads just get on with it, they want to play matches. After winning last Sunday, it’s good momentum, it’s our first county final, we’re going to make the most of it.”

We thought there might be a post-World Cup comedown, but then Saracens went and Saracened. Andy Dunne joins Sean Farrell and Gavan Casey as the pod segues from the international to club season.

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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