This year, Loughmore-Castleiney became the first club in Tipperary history to win both the county senior hurling and football titles.
Loughmore-Castleiney went on to compete in the provincial hurling and football championships, losing to Limerick’s Na Piarsaigh and Kerry champions Dr Crokes respectively.
Declan Laffan, who managed both senior teams, admitted frustration as he watched Na Piarsaigh beat Sixmilebridge in Sunday’s AIB Munster club hurling final. At the quarter-final stage, 13-man Loughmore came desperately close to beating Na Piarsaigh and Laffan reflected: “We could have held on by even keeping 14 men on the field. I’ve looked at that [Willie Eviston] sending off again and there was no venom in it.”
But Laffan admitted huge pride at the club’s season: “Obviously having achieved something that hasn’t been done before is huge. Only in time will we realise what we’ve done, maybe in 10 or 20 years. But after the Dr Crokes defeat, we had a little chat on the field. I said very little but I did say that there’s only one thing better than doing what they’re after doing and that’s to do it again. I appealed to everyone that hopefully nobody will hang up their boots.”
Laffan’s highlight of the campaign was a hard-fought victory over Arravale Rovers in the county SFC quarter-final — shortly after one of Loughmore’s key players, Eddie Connolly, was diagnosed with a brain tumour.
Laffan recalled: “It was a couple of weeks after we won the hurling semi-final and Eddie Connolly had got sick. The emotion of that night was something that I’d never seen before and I doubt I’ll see again. We would have gone through hell and high water to win that game. I said it to a few people that Arravale were the one team I felt sorry for, of all the teams we played. They got us on the one night when we would have beaten anybody and they were nearly the best team we played.”
Meanwhile, Laffan admits he is unsure about his future ahead of the 2014 campaign.
He said: “I don’t know, as of yet. I’ll be honest with you. I’ll see in a couple of weeks’ time — I’ll know before Christmas.
“It probably does take a little bit extra [managing both teams] but it’s the same 30 players on both panels. It’s not like any other club or a big city club where you only have a couple crossing over. It’s manageable.”
Proud Loughmore-Castleiney chairman Dick Egan said: “It came as some surprise when I got the call [about the award]. We had no idea the club would be honoured in such fashion. It’s a tremendous achievement for a club picking from 30 players, with almost all of them playing both hurling and football.
“When news emerges via the Irish Examiner, I’ll be over the moon! I’ve had to keep this award under wraps for a little while.”