We were around two minutes into our conversation with Wayne Quillinan when the Austin Stacks manager put his hand over his face to cover the tears that were fast approaching.
Quillinan had just been asked what it meant to him - someone who has poured themselves into the club both as a player and manager - to have been involved in bringing the Bishop Moynihan Cup back to the Tralee club.
“It’s a dream come true,” replied Quillinan after he gathered himself and his emotions.
“I sound like John Mullane now as I was going to say I love my club! You cut me open, I bleed black and amber. I’m just so happy for the players.
“For me, management is all about the players and seeing them getting the reward. Looking around and seeing the emotions of some of the players is just fantastic to see.”
One player he was particularly delighted for was his “best auld buddy” Kieran Donaghy.
“He’s just an amazing man. You have all these sporting accolades but Kieran Donaghy the person is a special man.
“He’s a driving force for us, as well. All of his experience. And for such a young team, it’s vital to have him around the place. I can’t even put into words how happy I am for Kieran. I’m sure I’ll tell him later after a few pints!”
When recounted to Quillinan the two hugely important plays Donaghy made late on after Rahillys had narrowed the gap to three, the response of the Stacks manager was to say, “Does that surprise you? No, it doesn’t”.
“That’s what Kieran Donaghy does. It’s amazing to see it; but it’s just his drive, his passion. He’ll go through mountains and walls and climb them. He just doesn’t know how to lose. He’ll always find a way.”
After winning a third consecutive Kerry club title earlier this year, Stacks have finally succeeded in translating their early season form into county championship silverware.
“We always felt the talent was there. We had this group at minor level in 2017, and we just felt with a lot of hard work, yeah we won the club championships but we didn’t push on in the county championship in the last two years, losing to Crokes and East Kerry, and we felt it was time that we needed to take that step up. And thankfully it came to fruition today.”
Victorious captain Dylan Casey was a 13-year-old boy sitting in the stand when Stacks last tasted county glory in 2014. That he would be the next man in black and amber to hold aloft the Bishop Moynihan Cup is, for the now 21-year-old defender, beyond belief.
“It was hard to believe in 2014 that I’d be the next captain to lift the Bishop Moynihan Cup for this club. Being asked to be captain on Zoom in the middle of a lockdown, I am incredibly proud to be captain of such an unbelievable group.
“We have worked so hard for this. The last four years, we have really slogged it out with Wayne. We hadn’t got the rewards, but it is days like today that you really want to play football.
“We knew it was going to be a tough and tight battle. Kerins O’Rahillys are a great side, they have proven that all year. We knew at half-time that it was going to be tough to come back out and drive it on. But we drove on in the 15 minutes after half-time and made sure we still had the lead at the second water break.”