Brothers in victory

Mayo GAA SHC Final

The Ballyhaunis team await the presentation of the Tyrrell Cup.

The Ballyhaunis team await the presentation of the Tyrrell Cup.

There was no denying the joy of the Ballyhaunis players and supporters at the final whistle in Tooreen on Sunday. Keith Higgins and his brother Pierce were two of the vital cogs in Ballyhaunis' victory and both were bursting with emotion after the game. Keith who played a huge role in the clubs success in the intermediate football final the previous weekend looking back on the last seven days said, “It's been some two weekends not just for the players but for the supporters, they were behind us every step of the way, not just the hurlers but the footballers too.”

The tough nature of the encounter against their near neighbors is exactly what Keith had been expecting. “It was always going to be that way, no disrespect to Tooreen, but last year was a bit of a fluke as when we play there's only ever a few points in it. It was always going to be like that today and fair play to them they battled back to the end and brought it back to two at the end. We probably didn't get enough scores in the second half, but we held on at the end.” It was a sentiment echoed by his brother Pierce who said, “In tight games goals are the key, we let in a soft one and probably scored a soft one. It was a big thing for us too, because last year was hard to take. Fair play to Tooreen they were by far the better team last year and we'd never begrudge them that, but it was the manner of our performance that really let us down. It was never about revenge it was a bit about redemption for us as a team, that's what was driving us.”

Going in at the break trailing after not playing that well, all was calm in the Ballyhaunis dressing room according to Keith who said they knew they had what it took to get the win in the second half. “It's a matter of just assessing what's going good and what's going bad, we said it might take us until the last minute of the game to get ahead, but we were willing to grind it out until the end.”

He went on to say that it's hard to beat that winning feeling with the club despite all the accolades and awards he's picked up as an inter-county footballer. “Winning something with your club is very special, it's hard to describe really when there's family involved it's something different, but these are lads I've played with from eight or nine years of age too. It's always special.”

As for the performance of his elder brother Pierce whose 38, he joked that, “someone will have to drag him off soon enough, but in fairness to him he's been doing it year on year for us.” Pierce's own take on the game was, “It doesn't get any easier, but I'll tell you one thing at this age, it doesn't get any sweeter.” When asked was it really the sweetest of all the county titles he's won he said, “It probably it is now, they're all sweet, but at my age and the clipping we got last night I'd have to say this is something special.

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