As far as full league debuts go, this one was memorable for Tipperary’s Dillon Quirke.
Five points from play, a man-of-the-match award and a place in the GAA’s Hurling Team of the Week – not a bad return from the 22-year-old.
He came in for high praise from manager Liam Sheedy following the game who praised the Clonoulty-Rossmore man for his work ethic during training.
“He was very good, he got on the ball, he’s a very good striker of the ball, very energetic. In fairness, I think he picked off five points in total which is no mean feat.
“With the way he applies himself in training, it wouldn’t surprise you. He’s a very up-and-at-it guy and he brings a lot of energy to the pitch and he brought that energy to Semple Stadium.”
For Quirke, who won an All-Ireland U21 medal with Tipperary under current Waterford boss Liam Cahill in 2018, lining out for Tipperary was “a dream come true”.
“It was unreal. I waited all my life for this, it’s a dream come true. Just the play with the lads, the likes of Noel McGrath and Seamus Callanan, it’s a dream.
“I was just lucky to get a chance and it could have been anyone on the panel. We’re training hard at the moment so it was nice to get a chance.”
At times over the past year, Quirke must have wondered would that dream ever come to fruition. He took a year away from hurling in 2019 after being diagnosed with a heart condition, myocarditis.
“The lining of your heart gets swollen, it comes under stress, it can often happen when your immune system is low,” explained Quirke.
“I collapsed at home one day after work and I went down to hospital and after a good few tests, they eventually found out what was the problem. I had to take away physical contact, no training for three months and then I was able to come back in.”
Though he was eager to return to physical activity, another incident after the recommended rest period of three months set him back once again.
“I collapsed and then I came back after three months and I collapsed again and was taken down in the ambulance again. That’s why I had to take a break.
“I was coming back in last year and the boys had their hard preseason in and I just wasn’t able to catch up so I thought it was best to take a break for the year.”
As his poor luck would have it, on his return to the club after his break, Quirke contracted the shingles due to his low immune system. However, following the string of health concerns, he is delighted to finally grab his chance for the Premier County on the national stage.
Quirke’s performance against Waterford on Sunday may have earned him a spot in Tipperary’s starting XV for their crucial Allianz League showdown with Galway next weekend with the winner progressing to the quarter-finals.