*Our Senior hurling final coverage is in association with Clement Herron Real Estate
Rewind to that magical day back in July when the Laois hurlers shocked the nation.
It was an emotional day for fans, families and players alike. In just about every interview with the Laois players after the game, nearly all pin-pointed the Dublin victory as their ‘sweetest’ or most memorable victory - and understandably so.
Fast-forward a couple of months and stood in almost the same position as when we spoke after the Dublin game, Rathdowney-Errill’s Mark Kavanagh, unprompted, produced a familiar line:
“I think that’s the sweetest one.
“I said to you already earlier on in the year after the Dublin match, that that was the sweetest victory I ever had. But I think today we were written off, a lot of people said we were a team in transition but I think today we came out and brought the hurt from 2016 and 2018 and I think we showed the county that we’re still truly alive anyway.”
For a young man, Kavanagh has experienced more than his fair share of lows. Two serious knee injuries almost back-to-back. Two lost county finals too. And he’s only twenty-two years old.
“Sometimes you have to take a step back to take a step forward. I think we brought so much hurt and anger from last year not just to today, but I think to training at the start of the year, to the team meeting we had this time last year.
“We met on the October bank holiday last year and we said, we made a promise to each other, that there was going to be no regrets. That if we came out this year and we didn’t win it and we put everything we had into it, we’d say ‘fair enough’.
“But we showed today that all the hard work, everything, came to fruition and we were so tuned in today. Our work rate won that game. There was nothing pretty about it. No 2-26 a piece like there was three years ago. We just came here to do our jobs and I think we can all be satisfied with what we’ve done.”
“We came here, we knew if we gave Borris-Kilcotton time and too much respect - look, on paper they’re probably the best team there is - they’re going to wipe you out if you give them room and respect.”
Even in the aftermath of his county final success, Kavanagh already had his eyes set on the Leinster championship:
“We’ll enjoy tonight, we’ll enjoy tomorrow. We’ll go back at it in training on Tuesday, and we’ll go again.
“We don’t want to stop here because we’ve come close to many times in the past. In 2012 we had close runs with Kilkenny clubs, Dublin clubs, but we want to give this a real rattle. When we have a side like we do we have to go and see where it can take us.”