By Randal Scally
Playing a game of hurling is the last thing on any of the Clonkill players' minds right now.
Six days after they celebrated winning a record-equalling 15th Westmeath SHC title at the expense of their great rivals Raharney, the heart was ripped out of the Loughegar-based club on Friday with the terrible news that three-year-old Annabel Loughlin had died following a freak accident at home. The only daughter of former county player and club stalwart Enda Loughlin, who captained Clonkill's second team in their IHC final replay loss to Crookedwood the previous Monday, Annabel's tragic passing shocked the entire GAA community and resulted in the postponement of yesterday's Leinster club SHC quarter-final between Clonkill and Ballyboden St Enda's.
The game, which seems inconsequential now, has been rescheduled for Parnell Park at 8pm tomorrow. This is hugely disrespectful to Clonkill given that the little girl's funeral will take place only a few hours earlier. How could any of the Clonkill players, including Annabel's cousin and Westmeath football star Luke Loughlin, be in the right state of mind to play?
With the winners' Leinster semi-final against Coolderry not taking place until November 18, what's the rush? What's wrong with playing the game later in the week or next weekend?
There's no question of Clonkill not honouring the fixture, but making them play tomorrow night just isn't right. The club and the Loughlin family - who have given so much to the GAA over the years - deserve better.