Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Stradbally’s Captain Tommy Connors holds the Conway Cup high following the presentation by Paddy Joe Ryan, Chairman Waterford GAA Board.
Stradbally beat the holders The Nire 1.15 to 1.14 after extra time in the Waterford Co. Senior Football Final. Photo Sean Byrne//Deise Sport.

County SFC Final Reaction – Stradbally Captain Tommy Connors

Lifting the Conway Cup made all the pain and suffering worthwhile for Tommy Connors.
The Stradbally skipper endured a rotten run of luck with injuries since September, missing out on the second round win over The Nire as well as the county semi-final against Kilrossanty. “The Saturday before the All-Ireland I fractured my leg and I was out for six weeks. I came back for two weeks and then I was laid up with the thumb. I had it in a cast for three weeks. I took off the cast the other day, bandaged it up and supported it very well. Luckily enough, it held up. I’m not after a great run to be honest but luckily enough I was able to play a part today.”
Even with a heavily strapped right hand, manager John Grey summoned the number eleven at half time and he landed a point within two minutes from a swift counter attack. “I was just glad to be able to play a part today with the lads.”
In a thoughtful acceptance speech, he dedicated their nineteenth county triumph to the late James Keane, a member of the victorious Stradbally side in 1987. He also remembered former manager Sean Aherne. The sixth anniversary of his passing fell last week.

The captain hailed the progression of John Grey from stats man to boss man. He didn’t forget the work of the ladies committee either.
The 2017 football championship took a staggering 212 days to complete. Although Stradbally had a much lighter schedule than their opponents (four matches compared to The Nire’s seven), Connors explained that the red army began preparing for this twelve months ago. “We started off training early in December 2016 doing a bit in Sallyfort farm in Stradbally, doing conditioning circuits. It’s been a long aul year, the boys put in a great effort. It’s a real credit to them today that we lasted the eighty minutes and done the job.”
An additional twenty minutes didn’t perturb them. “Once we got to the sixty minutes and found out that there was extra time, we knew that it was in the legs. We knew we had the training done and we knew that we had it in the tanks. There were no worries that way.”
Connors earned his fifth county medal on Sunday. Their forward division showed three changes from their previous win in 2015 and the young guns performed on the big occasion. “The likes of Ger Crowley, Daniel Weldon and Eoin O’Brien really stepped up to the plate this year. When questions were asked of them, they produced the goods. They did very well and I’m proud of them today that they have the Conway Cup in their hands.”

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By Tomás McCarthy
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