Gareth Dillon in action for Portlaoise. Pic: Alf Harvey.
Gareth Dillon was another of Portlaoise’s big players playing on Sunday, and his medal haul will confirm that.
He contributed a number of scores for Portlaoise throughout the championship season, but it was his hard work and unrivalled pace that he displayed on Sunday that caught the eye.
As highlighted above, it certainly wasn’t his first county medal on Sunday last, but it felt just as sweet.
“Ah sure it’s brilliant. I was really overcome with emotions near the end of the match. That was an absolute hell of a match. Ballylinan were a credit to themselves, a credit to their community. That was exactly what we expected and prepared for, we were under no illusions at all. Well done to Ballylinan on a super battle.
“I’m feeling relieved at the moment. It was pure and utter relief to get over that.”
Dillon, who is far from a rookie on the team, still knows what it’s like to come into an incredible club like Portlaoise at a young age and the pressure that goes with it.
“The five lads who didn’t get much game time last year were brilliant today. Even in the last ten minutes, there was Frank Flanagan and Chris Finn bursting out of defence. That’s the type of stuff that soldiers us older lads all the way down. You get pure inspiration when you see that sort of courage coming out.”
While immediate thoughts and concerns were looking ahead to the long celebrations (probably made even longer by Hurricane Ophelia!) Portlaoise now look like a squad ready to give Leinster another lash.
“Hopefully we can give it a good go. To be honest, we haven’t really talked too much about it this year. After what happened to us last year, it was just all about getting back here first of all. Today was a totally new challenge and that will prepare you as good as anything will for the next round. Hopefully we’re in a good position now.”