Tom Brophy embarked on his 28th year in between the posts for Erin’s Own this season.
Thankfully for Brophy and his teammates, there was to be no repeat of their 2002 or 2006 relegations (the second of which they lost to bitter rivals St. Martin’s) as they defeated Rower-Inistioge in Clara on Saturday afternoon in the St. Canice’s Credit Union Senior Hurling Relegation Final.
Speaking following his side’s crucial victory, Brophy emphasised the importance of staying up.
He said: “It’s very important to us to keep senior, as it is for any club. There is enormous pressure on these games and it’s all about putting your body on the line.
“It’s not always about playing the best hurling. It’s just about getting over the line and we’re happy to be playing senior hurling next year.”
Relegation finals are renowned for taking on lives of their own as form goes out the window with both sides desperate to avoid the drop.
The legendary Erin’s Own goalkeeper explained exactly what it takes to come out on top in “the final that nobody wants to be involved in.”
“These games are dogfights, and you have to be willing to die for the jersey. Maybe that’s something that we didn’t do enough of during the year.
“It’s been a very frustrating year for us because we have trained well and played well but we were punished by silly mistakes. But thankfully we got what we deserved here today because we put the effort in all year,” said Brophy.
Brophy broke down the reasons why staying at the top level of club hurling in Kilkenny was an absolute must for the team.
“Nobody wants to be relegated and it’s very difficult once you go down.
“That’s why we wanted to remain in senior so that we can play against the best. It also gives us a chance to reassess and look forward to playing next year.”
One of the best goalkeepers in Kilkenny hurling for almost three decades, Brophy has been present to see the transition in club hurling with regard to commitment levels and what it takes to compete at this level.
Following Saturday’s victory, he compared club hurling today to that of intercounty hurling a decade ago.
“The commitment now is massive at club level. Its where intercounty level was 10 years ago. But if you enjoy it, it’s not that big a commitment.
“We all want to be in a county final like Ballyhale Shamrocks and O’Loughlin Gaels. Unfortunately, we couldn’t make it this year but we’ll be back next year and hopefully we can improve.”