Playing in his sixth divisional final today, Donal O'Donoghue has given long and dedicated service to Lorrha. Since he made his first senior debut in 1979, the thirty-six year old Rathcabbin farmer has played in every championship. This year is his eighteenth and this makes him the longest serving member of the team and a player who had played longer than most in the history of his club.
His hurling ancestry is impeccable. His father, Danny, and his uncle, Mick, gave long and distinguished service to Lorrha. When Donal came to the senior team in 1979 he slotted into the full back position in place of Felix Cronin. In the following year he was at corner back and, during his long career, he has played in every position on the field with the exception of goals. He has been one of the most versatile of players, always willing to play where requested. In latter years he has reverted to the fullback position and has made a good job of the position despite his low stature.
Although he has given away height and weight to many opponents, he has more than compensated with guts and determination. A lion-hearted player, he is noted for his swashbuckling style of dashing runs and daredevil abandon. His do or die spirit has often inspired his fellow players to lift their game. His skill level has always been quite good. He is a good reader of the game and a hard, fast tackler especially on the ground ball. His commitment to training has always been first class and his attendance at training sessions has been an example to all.
Perhaps it can be said that Donal's return from the game after so many years and so much commitment has been meagre, but it reflects the fortunes of Lorrha over the period. Of the five North finals in which he has played he was successful in 1984 and 1989 but unsuccessful in 1983, 1987 and 1992.
The highlight of his career was winning the divisional final in centenary year and one of his greatest regrets is defeat in the county final of the same year. In fact, he is of the belief that there were more low than high points in his playing career. Another great regret is losing the North semi-final to Roscrea in 1985. He hoped to go all the way that year and make up for failing at the final hurdle in 1984. Still another disappointment was the loss to Holycross in the county semi-final of 1989. He reckons Lorrha could have got to the county final that year but for some refereeing decisions and some injuries which saw him retire after only five minutes of the game and Ciaran Hough also injured.
Hurling has been his life and now in the twilight of his career nothing would please him better than to win a county final. Before that can be achieved victory has to be won today. After hurling, football has been a lesser interest in which he has .won divisional honours at intermediate and senior level. His favourite player at the inter county level has always been Nicky English. He has had his share of injuries in the course of his career, including a broken leg on two occasions and a broken ankle also. To an extent the nature of these injuries reflect the courage and determination of the player, a spirit and a heart that has always put his team and his club above any other interest.
North Tipp senior hurling final program page 27, September 8, 1996