With nine Senior All Ireland final medals under his belt, and as one of Ireland’s shrewdest hurling pundits, Jackie Tyrrell has plenty of All-Ireland match-day memories of his own.
So with the Final taking place this day next week. we joined Jackie for a chat to find out about his most memorable All-Ireland Final moments.
Kilkenny v Tipperary 1991
I’ve been lucky enough to have had many special moments with a great Kilkenny team over the course of my career but one of the memories that first comes to mind is going to the Kilkenny v Tipp final in 1991 as a nine-year-old supporter. It was my first Final and I went with my Father, we headed off on the Seamus Delaney bus that morning excited, sandwiches in the bag and jerseys on.
We were in the Hill that day, it was my first time to Croke Park and the atmosphere and the buzz was unreal. By halftime, we were neck and neck with Tipp, and it was still all to play for. But, when Tipp’s Michael Cleary miss hit a twenty metre free that landed in our net, Tipp gained a bit of momentum and they went on to win. Nothing can mask the disappointment of a Final loss, but the day was still magical. To lighten the mood we had a quiz on the bus home – what player played for what club. Even if we weren’t winners that day, I’ll always cherish that memory of my first Final.
Kilkenny v Cork 2003
2003 was a real milestone in my hurling career. By then I had played Minor for Kilkenny and had a Leinster medal under my belt and that same year I progressed to the Under 21 panel and collected my first All-Ireland medal as captain of that U21 team.
Being also added to the Senior panel that year was the icing on the cake. I was a sub for the final against Cork and I picked up my first Senior All Ireland final medal that day. Playing for Kilkenny was a dream I had carried with me from that first Final in 1991. I didn’t make it off the subs bench that day but just making the panel was a huge motivation for me to go on to make the first fifteen for the 2004 campaign.
Kilkenny v Cork 2006
Captaining the team for the 2006 campaign was a huge honour. In the end, we took a three-point lead over Cork and when the whistle went all I can remember is a sea of fans on the pitch. One lad tried to grab my hurl and helmet and I was just so overwhelmed by it all, those first moments were surreal for me. As we got closer to the Hogan Stand I caught my father’s eye, and I could hear Tommy Walsh’s father say ‘let that man out to his son, he has just captained the Kilkenny team’.
When I finally made it to Dad he just hugged me, he said nothing but we both knew the value of the moment. It’s one I’ll never forget.
Kilkenny trilogy 2007-2009
Captaining Cork in 2006 and then going on to meet Limerick, Waterford and then Tipperary in the subsequent finals was a special time. Because they were back to back wins there was a lot of pressure on the whole panel. We needed to stay focused and not buy into the hype and we certainly didn’t have time to think about what was happening.
Now that I’m retired I can see that each final has its moments – and of these particularly the final in 2009 when we were literally toe to toe with Tipperary, who are our oldest rivals. Every final has its own bit of magic, and I’m looking forward to seeing some more this Sunday, it’s going to be a cracker that’s for sure.
Jackie Tyrrell is a Brand Ambassador for Littlewoods Ireland. Littlewoods Ireland are proud sponsors of the All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship. Keep yourself up to date with all the #StyleOfPlay action this weekend on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts!