It was with shock and sadness that I heard of the sudden death of Jimmy Doyle R.I.P. In my youth Jimmy was looked on as the boy-wonder of hurling. From a young age, through hurling skill and artistry, he could outwit much more senior opponents. He had the natural hurling instinct of being able to protect himself from the 'hatchet' types of his era, thereby never receiving a bad injury.
One of my earliest memories of Jimmy was at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick, in 1957 for the Munster senior and minor hurling semi-finals between Cork and Tipperary. Jimmy was selected on both Tipperary teams. He didn't line out from the start in the minor game, but when things were looking bad for Tipperary he was sent on in the last quarter and in a short space of time he turned the game in Tipperary's favour and victory was attained. Things didn't work out so well for Tipperary in the senior game, where, even though they had more of the play than Cork, serious goal-keeping errors proved their down-fall.
I have other memories from that game: Fr. Ray Reidy, who sadly passed away two weeks ago today, was then a clerical student and was chosen as one of the mid-fielders on the Tipperary team. Due to doubts concerning his legality — he was born in Co. Meath before his father, a member of the Garda Siochána, moved residence to Thurles — was with-drawn from the team and replaced by Phil Shanahan, then very much in the twilight of his career. Phil passed away two years ago.
Fairly early in the second-half of the game, Cork maestro, Christy Ring, had his collar bone broken in a bodily clash with powerfully built Tipperary full back, Michael Maher. Christy had to leave the field and walked from the side line on the North side of the pitch around behind the city goal where the umpire with the green flag was none other than Limerick and Ahane legend, the great Mick Mackey. They exchanged "pleasantries" and were captured on film by Clonmel photographer, Willie Boland, and appeared in the Clonmel Nationalist on the following week. It has appeared in many a place since, including a well-known tavern in Clonmel.
Jimmy Doyle went on to have a glittering career with the Tipperary senior hurling team during their golden era of the sixties, winning six senior All-Ireland medals, nine Munster senior, and numerous other awards.
He remained an unassuming, gentle, man. May he rest in peace.