Ballyhale Shamrocks manager Henry Shefflin has dedicated his side's AIB All-Ireland senior club hurling triumph today to panelist Eugene Aylward, who died last year.
Aylward was killed in a road accident back in October, with Ballyhale captain Michael Fennelly also paid tribute to Aylward in his victory speech on the Hogan Stand steps.
It's the first time Ballyhale defended their crown, and the eighth time overall the Kilkenny and Leinster champions have become national champions.
TJ Reid scored eight points, including three from play, as they saw off Tipperary and Munster kingpins Borris-Ileigh in an entertaining affair.
Shefflin spoke emotionally about his team's spirit, and the impact of Aylward's passing after the 0-18 to 0-15 win.
"Just to win this one was the goal. To put it back-to-back was something we'd never done before.
"That was something that we didn't speak about until probably we got closer to the match. We did want to do it, we really wanted to do it...I think it's a great sign of the team.
Happy men @_tjreid @BallyhaleGAA #OneClubOurClub ☘️ pic.twitter.com/wjxX6yLz1K
— Henry Shefflin (@ShefflinHenry) January 19, 2020
"I do think, as joyous an occasion as it is today, it's a very sad day as well. There's no doubt about it, to do back-to-back you have to have serious desire and want.
"I think Eugene's passing last year has given them that want and desire because they wanted to do something special and have that jersey. You're probably aware Eugene's jersey, number 19, hasn't been seen all year but it was inside with them.
"We got a picture inside with that jersey and the cup. That's a measure of what the lads wanted to achieve today."
Shefflin was also asked after the game about his future at the helm of his home club.
"It's something we're going to reflect on. Tommy, my brother, has been an excellent, excellent trainer, his record is phenomenal. He's heading off to the Kilkenny Camogie team.
"I didn't think when I took on this job over two years ago that two years later we'd be standing here today. It's nearly two years to the day since we met up before the start of the championship in 2018. It's an amazing way to finish it off."
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