The dream of the nineties is alive in Waterford, it seems.
Dan Shanahan, 40, whose feats in the white and blue of the county hurlers go all the way back to 1998, struck for two goals in Lismore’s quarter-final win over Abbeyside last weekend.
Not to be outdone, Eoin Kelly, 35, hit the decisive goal in Passage’s victory at the same stage of the championship over Dungarvan.
Neither man was keen to blow his trumpet this week, mind.
“Would you stop,” said Shanahan. “A few breaks, that’s all.” “I did nothing,” Kelly protested. “The ball broke to me on the edge of the square. I could barely move in that game.” It’s not the first time Shanahan senior has gone on a goal spree this year, of course.
Earlier in the championship Lismore overcame a 16-point deficit to win one game, with Dan hitting an unbelievable 4-1 over the hour.
That game was against . . . Passage.
“Dan’s been scoring goals for fun,” said Kelly.
“In this case that’s not a cliche. He can still make that space and go for the goal. When he was with Waterford he always had his eye to go for goal no matter where he was on the field, he’s still the same with Lismore.
“That means a lot to him, and to Maurice (Dan’s brother). Lismore being relegated was a blow to them all that time, they’d be very determined to keep them up senior now.”
As for Shanahan, he’s not surprised his old Deise teammate found a way to get Passage over the line in a tight game last weekend.
“Eoin always had a great touch. In a game like that he’s exactly what you’d want, a guy with experience who’d do the right thing at the right time.” Neither man claims to be as fleet of foot as they were when they were lighting up Thurles and the old Páirc Uí Chaoimh, but that experience is vital at club level.
“I’d still train as much with Lismore as I can,” said Shanahan.
“The commitments with Waterford mean that I’m not around as much I’d like, but it’s important to show up when possible.” The commitment with Waterford is a selector’s bib with manager Derek McGrath, who faced some tongue-in-cheek questions this summer about a possible recall for the in-form forward in the local championship.
“That was never going to happen,” laughed Shanahan.
“I joke with the boys that I’m only playing to keep an eye on their form with the club, to make sure their touch is in. Getting down and dirty as a selector, if you like.”
For Kelly, there’s an element of freshness in his autumn form as a result of an earlier knock:
“I broke my finger six weeks ago, so I missed the games against Mount Sion and Fourmilewater, and even last week I wasn’t in top shape.
"But missing out on that training, while it wouldn’t help your fitness, obviously, does mean you’re a bit fresher, the appetite is good. And that’s a huge part of it, isn’t it, the craic you have with the lads when you’re training.”
Both Lismore and Passage are up against it this weekend. Tomorrow Lismore face hot favourites for the title, Ballygunner, while Passage take on De La Salle, considered by many the only side which can stop the Gunners.
“The funny thing is people regard Passage as minnows,” said Kelly.
“We won the county in 2013 with two goals in the last five minutes, but we’ve won Waterford leagues, we do well in the championship every year - we’re a lot more consistent than people realise.
“Our success hasn’t been a fluke, despite what some people think. I’d say three or four of the lads could be on the county panel along with Noel Connors, but because they’re not, we have a very strong, consistent line-up all year.”
For Shanahan the odds may favour their opponents, but that’s no reason to be downbeat.
“Because of the relegation a couple of years ago, we had to take stock in Lismore and drive it on to get back senior, which we did.
“People might think we’re in bonus country with the semi-final, but we’ll go all out against Ballygunner. The jersey means a lot to us.” By the way, Shanahan and Kelly are cousins. Maybe that longevity is genetic.
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