An unusual situation for Borris-Illeigh manager Johnny Kelly yesterday.
Not only had he worked in the past with opponents Kiladangan, an old clubmate Seán Treacy was his opposite number in yesterday’s Tipperary county final.
Kelly wasn’t forgetting them even as his Borris’ side ended a three-decade famine with a three-point victory.
“Every one of those players is very special,” Kelly said of his Borris players.
“I just want to mention Kiladangan as well, I was there for two years and worked with all those guys who were there today.
To see the players they’ve become — obviously I was on the other side today, and they’re gutted, I feel sorry for them, genuinely, but that’s life, that’s sport.
“Portumna is always going to be special because I grew up in that place and worked there for years with Seán on the sideline. And we had awful days, and tragedy, so when we made the breakthrough it was special. I still hold those guys in high esteem in Portumna.”
Kelly acknowledged the quality on show from Tipperary star Brendan Maher. “By his own admission, in some of the group games he mightn’t have been hitting them that well, but you never doubt that man. I wouldn’t. Look at what he did to come back from injury within eight months to hurl with his club.”
Maher himself said: “We’ll definitely enjoy this — 33 years is a long time. With the history of the club and the great men than have gone before us — it’s an unbelievable feeling to join those great names. It’s the lift the parish needed.
“When Johnny Kelly came in he transformed the team really — that’s no disrespect to the men before him — he just brought something that we hadn’t experienced before and brought a different element to it.”
Maher expanded on the ‘lift’ the win would give the parish: “I saw some people embracing Paddy Stapleton and his family... they have had an unbelievably tough year.
A lot of the younger members of the squad have buried two of their best friends. It’s great that the club is together and that everyone from the parish is here.
“We’ll all go back to Borris-Ileigh together and celebrate together.”