Borris-Ileigh man of the match Brendan Maher confirmed that he hit his last point with a broken hurley in his side’s win over St Thomas’. The Tipperary star helped put the game to bed with a late point, even if he only had half a hurley in his hand.
“It broke from the bottom of the grip, it split down the middle. I had the poll side, half the hurley, it was fairly mould to try to put it over, I could have missed it just as easily.”
It was a score that capped another magnificent display by Maher as he and his teammates qualified for the All-Ireland club final in a fortnight’s time.
“With St Thomas’s record we were underdogs and probably deserved to be,” said Maher.
“But we have a lot of a lot of free spirits on the team and they just express themselves and we combine that with, I suppose, a savage work ethic and a serious positive attitude.
We always back each other up, the dressing room is all so relaxed before games, but in the back of our heads we know that we're about to go to battle and then we go to battle for each other and that's what's most important.
“It's great, the first time for everyone here, it’s 33 years (since the last All Ireland club final). It’s the stuff that dreams are made of - I could throw out all the cliche but it's just reality for all of us now, which is unbelievable.
“We have two weeks of lead into a big game in Croke Park, and it’ll be a big day in the maroon and white, playing there.”
Maher is no stranger to Croke Park, having lined out there many times with Tipperary, but this outing will be special: “You're going up there with brothers, cousins, friends that you've grown up with it's different.
It's special, and it should be for everyone to embrace it. We've embraced every day.
“This year, the one thing we said that we want to enjoy every minute of this - we've enjoyed training, the slog over the Christmas, we came down here with a smile on our faces and we're leaving with a smile on our face again today.
“The next day we go out we’ll do everything we can. We’re absolutely gonna be underdogs again. Ballyhale are a savage team, we watched a bit of it (other semi-final) over in Na Piarsaigh - we're going to have to do our homework, to make sure that we prepare as best we can. We’ll go out and give it a rattle and see what happens.”
Maher paid tribute to his side’s heart but stressed their ability and skills also, with James Devaney’s late goal the perfect example of their class.
“I think we've got lots of scores from turnovers and this year, one thing that our forwards are priding themselves on, they’re fighting but I think we saw today as well we get the scores, all the boys can play ball.
“That was something that we spoke about, saying God everyone's talking about our heart and our attitude, it’d be nice to show we can hurl, too.
“He’s (Devaney) fearless and you know he's only gone 18. At the end I would have been roaring to tap it over as long we got the score but to show it like he finished the game for us. He’s a savage talent.
I never dreamed of going back to Croke Park with the club, it’s unbelievable. Winning a county was always the thing.