Senior Hurler of the Year – Paudie Lappin

Middletown successfully overcame Keady 2-17 to 1-13 in this year’s Senior Hurling Championship final to regain the top status in Armagh. A stand out performer that day for the men in the black and white stripes was Paudie Lappin who continued his terrific form all throughout the championship.

He was part of a physically powerful half back line that could control the tempo of the game and continually drove the Middletown men forward.  While Lappin undoubtedly earned the award, he didn’t expect to be named this year’s Senior Hurler of the Year and paid tribute to the combined talents of his teammates.

“It was yeah (a surprise), anyone of us could have got that award this year for the club, the starting 15 all played their hearts out and then the four or five subs that came on during the championship, they all done their bit so it was a surprise. There were that many boys who were able to get that award, it’s a big surprise.”

What makes Lappin’s Senior Hurler of the Year achievement all the more impressive is the fact that he, like so many of his teammates, play for both codes within their club. Most of the Hurling panel makes up the football panel as well and this obviously brings its own challenges year on year and it can be demanding on the body, but there’s no doubt in Paudie Lappin’s mind that it’s all worth it.

“It’s tough during the year, for the first couple of months then round the championship time you quit one, you do the hurling for a month and then do the football for the rest of it and then after you get knocked out of the football its back to the hurling.”

“It is tough being a duel player, you’re out four or five times a week, training, recovering, gym, all that type of stuff so it is tough but it has to be done, hopefully we can do a bit better in the football next year and the same with the hurling, win the championship again obviously and build on from then.”

Middletown enjoyed a tremendous year in concurring the Armagh Hurling Championship but came up against a different animal when they faced Slaughtneil in the Ulster Championship Semi Final. A goal just before the break seemed to knock the stuffing out of Middletown while the Derry Champions ran out comfortable 12 point winners in the second half but Lappin feels the Armagh Championship was perfect preparation for Middletown and suggests they had more to give than what they displayed in Ulster.

“Every match in Armagh is tough no matter what. Derrynoose this year ran us close; Keady’s always going to be Keady so you can never treat these games as handy. As far as Ulster goes this year we felt we let ourselves down a wee bit against Slaughtneil, we know we’re better than that, hopefully next year we can get back, get a good long summer out of us and you never know what way it could end up.”

Armagh will always be the first target at the start of the year, and Middletown must worry about that before thinking about competing at provincial level, “The first targets always going to be Armagh, at the end of the day you have to win your club championship and anything after that is a bonus so we’ll take it as it comes next year, Armagh’s always going to be first and foremost, the main one.”

While Lappin and a lot of Middletown players try to focus on playing both hurling and football, there is always going to be the possibility that, if one is successful, the other will suffer and the balance seems to be an eternal struggle for dual clubs.

This season, Middletown failed to win a single Intermediate Football Championship match and crashed out at the earliest junction. They also suffered relegation to Division 2B for next season after only winning two games throughout their league campaign. Lappin feels the club are viewed from the outside as a hurling club rather than a dual club and he hopes to rectify that opinion next season.

“It’s hard to know really (if the hurling takes away from the football), I think a lot of people still see us as a hurling club but hopefully if we could get to a football championship semi final, quarter final, even a final, people might see us as a proper duel club instead of seeing us as a hurling club.”