Following an emotional few days, the Clonkill hurlers' interest in the Leinster club SHC came to an end last night, but manager Kevin O’Brien couldn’t be more proud of his players.
The lead up to the game against Ballyboden St Enda’s at Parnell Park was marred in tragedy as former Clonkill and Westmeath hurler Enda Loughlin and his wife Eileen lost their daughter Annabel (3) in a tragic accident last Friday.
The game was due to be played last Sunday, but was put back until Tuesday night, although the scheduling of the game on the same day as the funeral saw a public outcry entail. However, on consulting with the Loughlin family, it was decided that Clonkill would play the game.
With heavy hearts, they took to the field and the minutes silence before the game was nothing short of exemplary, but no one could have predicted the performance that Clonkill would give.
They battled throughout forcing the game to extra time, but alas their efforts just fell short as Ballyboden claimed a 2-25 to 2-19 victory.
Speaking to RTE Sport after the game, Clonkill manager Kevin O’Brien stressed that he could not be anymore prouder of his players.
"I spoke to the players last night and we said we’d try and give the people of the club a bit of a distraction," said O’Brien.
"Sometimes sport can be a good distraction, after the awful tragedy we had in Clonkill last Friday. We lost a little girl, three years of age, Annabel Loughlin.
"Her father Enda Loughlin would have been a star from Clonkill and Westmeath and her uncle Sean is my Maor Foirne on the senior team this year and her two cousins Adam and Luke Loughlin would have been playing.
"So they’re steeped in Clonkill and we went out and honoured them tonight. It’s a very tight group of players and as manager I’m very proud of them. They were asked last night to leave every bit of them out on the pitch for themselves, for our club, for Enda, and try and give the people of Clonkill a small little bit of a distraction with a game of ball. They did that."