Zak Moradi fled Iraq with his family in 2002
Zak Moradi, a refugee who arrived in Leitrim from Iraq at only 11 years old, has realized his dream of playing in Croke Park and winning an All-Ireland hurling medal.
On Saturday, Moradi and his Leitrim teammates won the Lory Meagher Cup after beating Warwickshire in overtime in Dublin’s Croke Park, 2-23 to 2-22.
Moradi, who travels from Dublin to Leitrim to train twice a week, scored a point that helped Leitrim claim the title.
"We went out to win,” Moradi told The Independent. “All the other counties look down at us and we know that, but it was 36 lads in that panel who have the same heart as Kilkenny."
Moradi and his family left Iraq in 2002 when it was still under the control of Saddam Hussein. He told RTE: "No, I didn't have a word of English.”
"It (moving to Carrick-on-Shannon) was exciting because when you're in Iraq, it was a difficult place to grow up because it was a dictatorship - at that time it was Sadam Hussain in charge of the country."
"When you came over to Ireland it was a democracy, you could see everybody was happy - everything was different.”
"Even when I left Iraq - it was 45 degrees - and you come over here in June time and it was lashing rain."
Current teammate Clement Cunniffe, who also scored in Saturday’s matchup, introduced Moradi to hurling: "It probably helped me to make friends easier. We started (playing) in primary school and secondary school.”
"All the mentors in Leitrim were very helpful because they were the ones that used to collect us for training and bring us home, it was brilliant.”
"It's like a family thing, everybody knows each other. Especially if you're down in Leitrim, everybody knows each other."
Watch Moradi speaking with RTE about his exciting win here: