Limerick hero Dowling celebrates All Ireland triumph with jockey Mark Enright
Few would have savoured Limerick's dramatic victory in the All Ireland Hurling Final more than long-standing team sponsor and leading racehorse owner JP McManus, who watched the Shannonsiders defeat reigning champions Galway by a point to bridge a 45-year gap to their last title.
McManus named a number of horses after members of the last winning team in 1973, including Punchestown Champion Hurdle and Galway Plate winner Grimes, who was named in honour of the team's legendary captain Eamonn Grimes.
While he is not expecting to see a horse named in his honour any time soon, Limerick hurling's man of the moment Shane Dowling spoke of his passion for racing and admiration of those in the sport, with Sunday's post-match celebrations featuring the sharpshooter's Galway Plate-winning friend Mark Enright.
Happiness is!!! pic.twitter.com/HyIs9FjOip— Mark Enright (@Markfishenright) August 19, 2018
The Na Piarsaigh clubman, whose goals from off the bench in the semi-final and final helped his team lift the prestigious Liam MacCarthy Cup, has previously been involved in racehorse ownership and got to know fellow Limerick man Enright through popular racing figure Ken Whelan at a Limerick racecourse fixture.
"I have a huge interest in racing and knew about Mark as a rider. He has a huge interest in hurling so we sat down at a table upstairs and just clicked," said the All Ireland winner. "He wants to talk to me about hurling and I want to talk to him about racing!
"I've always been a massive National Hunt fan and most of my friends are in the jumping game. I've seen Istabraq and we were lucky enough to visit Jackdaws Castle in 2014 and Jonjo O'Neill on a holiday thanks to JP McManus.
"Getting to see how that operation worked was fantastic – I was like a child at Christmas."
"I met Davy a number of years ago and I could relate to what he said in his post-race interview about winning the Grand National many times over in his head but not winning it in reality," he said. "I was the exact same as him when it came to winning an All Ireland with Limerick."
He added: "The mindset of a jockey and a hurler are very similar. We're very driven people and a jockey's lifestyle in terms of weight is very tough – I was always taken by the McNamaras from Croom and how they handled that side of things – the common denominator between us is hard work.
"I know that's a boring answer but we get what we want because we work hard. Mark [Enright] is driving up to Gordon Elliott's, taking in the length and breadth of the country, and is now reaping the rewards."
"Take for example when we beat Cork in the semi-final this year. It took three days for me to then have this massive comedown before getting ready to play in an All Ireland Final.
"Even last week you have 80,000 people in the stadium with over a million people watching at home, meet 100,000 people at the homecoming the next day, but at the end of it all you still have to sit at home on your own on your own couch and try to adapt to normality after that.
"That's not easy for a hurler or jockey or any sportsperson to handle."
"His association with racing will always be there but one thing I know for certain is that he badly wanted Limerick to win the Liam MacCarthy Cup," said Dowling. "He's supported us amazingly and we're all very grateful for what he's done.
"I appreciate his support hugely and to provide the people of Limerick with something that JP and many others may never have believed would happen in their lifetime is special."
When asked about the potential of seeing future runners in the green and gold McManus hoops named after the All Ireland winning heroes of 2018, the forward laughed: "I don't know what he's going to do and he can obviously call his horses whatever he likes but the one that stands out to me is Grimes, named in tribute to the great Eamonn Grimes.
"Whether we've earned the same status to have a horse named after us, I'm not so sure."
Mark Enright on Limerick's All Ireland Final victory
It was mental, crazy, mayhem.
I celebrated with Shane and the boys in the Citywest Hotel on Sunday night and it was unbelievable. Myself and Shane have known each other for a good few years and have had plenty of nights out together – he's racing mad.
I'd be talking to him every third or fourth day and to see him achieving what he's achieved is brilliant, he's a great fella and a mighty hurler.
It was some feeling when the final whistle went - as good a feeling as I've ever had. I was bawling, crying.
Compared to riding winners it's so different. You're hugging everyone in celebration, whereas, although riding a winner is great, you're more on your own in that moment.
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