Picture Perfect: 'To capture the emotion you can’t allow yourself to get caught up in it'

Picture Perfect: 'To capture the emotion you can’t allow yourself to get caught up in it'
Nickie Quaid, left, and Cian Lynch of Limerick celebrate following the 2018 All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Final at Croke Park. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

My favourite photograph

My selection came a few seconds after the final whistle of the 2018 All-Ireland senior hurling final between Limerick and Galway.

On the day of the final, we in Sportsfile would have 9 or 10 photographers on duty and each would have individual roles for the day. One of my jobs was to run out onto the field after the game with a wide-angle lens and capture the celebrations.

One of the unwritten rules in these post-match situations is that you try to get the star player - or the one who hit a decisive late score. As I ran out onto the pitch I had a quick glance around and I saw Cian Lynch dropping to his knees. I started sprinting towards him and in the intervening few seconds goalkeeper Nickie Quaid arrived on the scene and grabbed Cian in an embrace. The moment only lasted for about 3 or 4 seconds but I was just perfectly placed to capture it.

I like it because this quiet personal moment between the two encapsulates perfectly what all of this meant for Limerick GAA fans. But if you look beyond the two of them you can also see the Galway players dejected in the background while you can also see a few  Limerick supporters who have made it out onto the pitch as well.

Those are the nice little details which add to the picture in my opinion.

It was obviously a remarkable day for the Limerick team given their All-Ireland famine but as a photographer, you have to detach yourself in a way from all of the emotion.

To capture the emotion you can’t allow yourself to get caught up in it.

The key thing when you run onto the field is to keep your eyes open and stay alert to the opportunities around you. With the lens I was using I was shooting quite close to the players, so for example with this one I was about 3 or 4 feet away from the lads. It is really weird in these kinds of situations, I am so focused on what I am doing that I blank out the noise of the stadium so much so that I could hear the lads talking to one another.

The aftermath of the All-Ireland final is so hectic it meant that I didn’t get to see the picture for about half an hour. Once I saw it, I realised that I had a good one. Thankfully it got a very good pick up on the back - and front - pages of the papers on the following day.

It was also the cover shot of Sportsfile’s Season of Sundays book and I was very pleased with that.

Interview: Colm O’Connor.

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