Despite the funeral of little Annabel Loughlin, daughter of former Westmeath hurler and Clonkill stalwart Enda, having taken place only a few hours earlier, the Leinster SHC club quarter-final between Clonkill and Ballyboden St Enda's went ahead last night with the blessing of Annabel's family.
It proved to be an emotionally-charged occasion with the Clonkill men giving a wonderful account of themselves in the most trying of circumstances before eventually losing to their much-fancied Dublin counterparts after extra-time. A very sporting Ballyboden St Enda's played their part too by providing a guard of honour to the grief-stricken visitors after an epic battle while, in a lovely touch, the words 'Rest In Peace Little Annabel' appeared on the electronic scoreboard at one stage.
A minute's silence was also impeccably observed before the throw-in.
Very proud to manage a great group of men in the @Clonkillhurling senior team. Sorry we didn't get the job done. Thanks to everyone for their support. I hope we did Enda and his family proud. Best of luck to @Bodengaa. Rest in peace Annabel.— Kev O'Brien (@kevobrien12) November 7, 2018
Serious effort and performance by clonkill lads tonight, regardless of result. Couldn't have been easy 👏 @Clonkillhurling— Ger Egan (@geregan10) November 6, 2018
@Clonkillhurling @Bodengaa @westmeath_gaa little Annabelle was on the shoulders of every clonkill players as she pucked everyball along with them tonight in a fantastic performance by each player including her cousin @LukeLoughlin13 who gave a fantastic performance #annbelle❤️— Westmeath Gaa NY (@westmeathgfcusa) November 6, 2018
Wonderful gesture lads. The GAA is one big family and we stand together in times of need. Congrats Ballyboden and well done Clonkill for the effort you put in after a tough few days. Rest in peace Annabel 💕— Deniese O'Flaherty (@deniese_o) November 6, 2018
Huge gallant performance from Clonkill in desperately difficult circumstances. https://t.co/L5GgpuAfFN— Dermot Crowe (@Shamenfreude) November 6, 2018