Monday 30 December 2013

Hurling Bits in Brief

Jamesy O'Connor, outstanding forward on the Clare senior hurling team in the 1990's and 2000's, was also captain of the St. Flannan's College team that won the 1990 Dr. Harty Cup (Munster Colleges Senior "A" Hurling Championship). The team panel also included his brother Christy, Liam Meaney (who later played for Cork), Stephen Sheedy, Billy Woods, Andrew Whelan and Stephen McNamara (who also played with the Clare senior hurlers during that time and was a grand-son of the late Jackie Power, the great Ahane and Limerick hurler, who won All-Ireland Senior Hurling medals with his county in 1936 and 1940).

Fergal Ryan, who played on the Cork senior hurling team for a number of years following his debut in 1999, was a nephew of former Cork and Munster hurler, Terry Kelly. Terry won an All-Ireland minor hurling medal with Cork in 1951, a team captained by Johnny Clifford. He played for Cork in the 1956 All-Ireland Senior Hurling final, won by Wexford, and also won Railway Cup medals with Munster.

The late Dr. Bill Loughnane from Feakle, Co.Clare, was at full forward on the Dublin team that defeated Waterford in the 1938 All-Ireland Senior Hurling final. Also playing for Dublin was Rathdowney native, Harry Gray, who played with Laois in the 1949 All-Ireland Senior Hurling final won by Tipperary. Playing for Waterford in the 1938 final was John Keane, who won an All-Ireland Senior Hurling medal with his county in 1948.

Saturday 28 December 2013

Short but Sweet

Galway can claim the distinction of conducting the shortest hurling league campaign on record...which lasted only eight days. This was in the 1946-47 season which was disrupted by the exceptionally bad weather, although it wasn't the weather that was responsible for Galway's brief campaign, but the fact that by the time Galway were ready to play their third round match, Limerick had won out the group and had qualified for the final.

Galway's "campaign" had started at Loughrea on November 3 when they lost to Limerick by a wide margin. One week later they took on the holders Clare at Ennis and created a big surprise by winning on a 3-4 to 1-3 scoreline. That provided ample revenge for the defeat suffered at the hands of the same Clare team seven months previously in the 1946 semi-final. But that was the extent of the Westerners' satisfaction as Limerick's progress made any further activity pointless. However, it certainly can be said that Galway's 1946-47 campaign was short...and sweet.

Friday 27 December 2013

A House Divided

When Galway won their second National Hurling League title in 1951, it marked the end of a 20-year period of frustration since the county's initial success in the early Thirties. It was a wonderful occasion for great players like Seanie Duggan, "Inky" Flaherty, John Killeen, Josie Gallagher, Mick Burke and Hubert Gordon who had toiled for years with so little reward.

But one man who had served the maroon and white for years in the company of the above players did not share in that long-sought triumph, although he was on the pitch that day and played a splendid hour's hurling. For when Galway overcame New York at the Polo Grounds on September 30, 1951, Steve Gallagher from Gort was in the New York line-out while his brother was doing duty for Galway. And the Gallaghers left an imprint on that game for Josie was the winners' top scorer with 0-6 while Steve shared the New York top spot with Kilkenny's Terry Leahy. This was the first occasion on which brothers played on opposite sides in a National League final.

Tuesday 17 December 2013

All-Ireland Football Final 1947

The 1947 All-Ireland SFC final was the only decider ever played outside of Ireland. Cavan and Kerry qualified for the final which was played at the Polo Grounds, New York. The main driving force behind the GAA Central Council decision to give the US Gaels this honour was Canon Hamilton of Clare. He was a powerful man both in physique and character. His courage and strength of character were never more dramatically demonstrated than on the occasion of the first entry of the newly-formed Irish National Army into Ennis at the height of the Civil War, which had tragically divided the people of Clare. His presence in the front seat of an open lorry, at the head of the Army convoy, gave an imprimatur to the event which was not challenged. He gave a lifetime of service to the promotion of Gaelic Games, the Irish language and music. He died as he had lived while attending a County Hurling Final in Cusack Park, Ennis.

The final at the Polo Grounds drew an attendance of 34,941 and was played in intense heat. Kerry matched the weather with a blistering start. A point by Gega O'Connor early on was soon followed by a brilliant solo goal from Batt Garvey, and fifteen minutes after the throw-in, the Munster champions were eight points in front. But then, the Northern captain and centre-half back, John Joe O'Reilly really stormed on the scene. He inspired and prompted his team in magnificent style as Cavan went resolutely about improving the depressing position. And with strong support from Mick Higgins, who led the attack superbly, and the accurate Peter O'Donoghue, who hit eight immaculate points, Cavan battled back to achieve probably the county's greatest ever win: 2-11 to 2-7. The Cavan captain, John Joe O'Reilly, led his county to success again the following season at Croke Park against Mayo. The Army man, who with his brother 'Big Tom' had first worn the Cavan colours in 1937, was a born leader of men. He died in November 1952 and is remembered in the ballad "Lament for John Joe O'Reilly".

Saturday 14 December 2013

My Grandfather would be Proud

The following letter appeared in the Irish Independent on 24th February 2007. On that day history was made when Ireland played England in a rugby International game played at Croke Park.

I take the liberty of reproducing the letter, having known the writer's grandfather, father and two uncles. His father, Pete Lanigan, played at mid-field on the Tipperary senior football team in 1950 when he partnered the great Mick Cahill of Mullinahone:
At about two in the afternoon on 21st November 1920, the players of Tipperary lined up for a team photograph before the match against Dublin. At the rear, three good friends from the village of Grangemockler stand side by side: Jerry Shelly, my grandfather Richard (Dick) Lanigan and Mick Hogan. 
Within minutes Hogan would be dead, shot by British paramilitaries, along with 13 other people, the youngest a fourteen year old boy. 
In recent weeks much has been written about men like my grandfather. They would be "turning in their graves" when England play Ireland at Croke Park today. My grandfather is buried in the village cemetery where Mick Hogan is. Nevertheless, he accepted the partition of Ireland in 1922, like the big majority of the electorate, and got on with his life. 
More likely my grandfather would be proud that a team representing Ireland is playing in the stadium where he won his All-Ireland medal in 1922. Perhaps he would even want to thank the British officer who came into the changing room preventing more players being shot. It is Irish people that will raise the English flag in Croke Park today, not a queen. 
And if people are objecting to the singing of the British national anthem, what about the Danes and Norwegians who also raped and pillaged Ireland in the past? 
All those people who claim to be indignant about Bloody Sunday, where were they on the 50th anniversary in 1970 when they unveiled the plaque in the Hogan Stand? 
I attended with my father and granddad. There was only a handful of people at the commemoration. Today, Granddad would also be reminded that England gave his son and many Irish people a living when the Irish republic could not provide work for them in the '50s and '60s. 
I spent many happy times with granddad when my parents broke up in the '60s and he never commented that his grandson considered himself to be English back then. 
Today his great grandchildren have an English mother and a plastic Paddy for a father. If he were alive, he would be cheering the Irish like the rest of the family, hoping sportsmen can set an example where politicians have failed. 
Dr.Richard Lanigan
Park Road
Kingston upon Thames
Surrey KT2 6DQ

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Patrick and Annie Maguire

One of the saddest events that sprang from the Terror campaign in Northern Ireland and England was the wrongful conviction and imprisonment, in March 1976, of the Maguire family on the false charge of running a bomb factory in their home in the Brixton area of London.

The parents, Patrick and Annie, spent almost fourteen years in prison; other members of their family also served prison sentences including the youngest son, Paddy, who, at the age of thirteen, was sent to an adult prison for four years.

Patrick and Annie were two honourable and hard-working people who reared their children to be law-abiding and honest. They were never involved with subversive groups; in fact Patrick served in the British Army in the fifties.

The family were arrested following false statements made to the police by their nephew Gerard Conlon and his cousin Paul Hill—two of the Guildford Four.

In January 1994, the film In The Name of the Father was produced covering the Maguires' arrest and conviction. Like all films of this nature, which are made to appeal to viewers, it contained distortion, exaggeration and untruths.

The Maguires issued a statement pointing to a number of inaccuracies:
  • The Maguire seven were not tried with the Guidford Four.
  • The Maguires were not accused of the same offences as the Guidford Four—the Guildford and Woolwich pub bombings—but of running a bomb factory in their London home.
  • The film's depiction of Paul Hill and Gerard Conlon arriving in London to a meal at the Maguire house in 1974 is false. Although Mr. Conlon stayed with them in 1973, his conduct was such that he was no longer welcome there again. The first time Mrs. Maguire met Mr.Hill was with Mr. Conlon two weeks after the Guildford bombings. No other member of her family had met Mr. Hill before and she had not been aware of Mr. Conlon's presence in England until then.
  • Mr. Conlon did not sign a blank statement into which the police inserted Annie's name but wrote out two long statements implicating her.
  • The Conlon family never sent food parcels to the Maguires.
  • Lawyer Gareth Pierce did not become involved in the case until 1988 (eight years after Guiseppe Conlon's death) when she began representing Mr. Conlon, not the Maguires. "We do not owe the quashing of our conviction to her" says the statement.
  • The evidence of police perjury and fabrication which led to the quashing of the Guidford Four convictions—and therefore re-examination of the Maguire case—in 1989 was found by Avon and Somerset police when they searched the Surrey police files.
The family were exonerated in 1991 and received a public apology from Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Saturday 30 November 2013

Irresponsible Behaviour

With Ireland showing many signs of slowly recovering from the disastrous economic situation which came to a head five years ago, the anarchistic types are becoming more vocal in their urging of people to agitate and engage in protest. This carrot is being dangled mainly by the media who, like the predator in the animal world, thrive on other people's trouble. Bad news gets more listeners, viewers and readers. They facilitate, without question, the rubbish being spouted that the present government is just as culpable as the previous one because they continued the austerity programme. These individuals are never asked how they would deal with the situation.

At the present time the ESB trade unions have served strike notice on their management to come into force on 16th December next. They are doing this without any justification. This is the curse of having a single company monopoly controlling an essential service—especially a state-owned company with a pro-communist trade union. The leaders of the ATGWU have paid visits to the communist government of Cuba. It is a bizarre situation when one considers that free trade unions are not allowed under communist regimes, merely government puppet unions.

Monday 25 November 2013

The Jimmy Cooney Case

In 1938 Tipperary beat Clare by 3-10 to 2-3 in the Munster Senior Hurling championship game played at Limerick, but later lost the game in the Council chambers after a controversy that is now recalled as the Cooney Case.

Tipperary star hurling mid fielder, Jimmy Cooney, who played with the Carrick-on-Suir Davins club, and was based in Dublin as an officer in the Irish Army, fell foul of the notorious GAA Rule 27, commonly known as the 'ban'. In February 1938, he accompanied his brother, who was on holiday from his priestly duties in New Zealand, to a rugby international in Dublin. He received three months suspension and in due course was reinstated by the Leinster GAA Council. Tipperary were delighted that he would be available for duty in the Munster championship.

But alas, their dream was shattered!

Ten days before attending the rugby game, Cooney forwarded his signed declaration form to the Tipperary County Board, as was required at that time, but for some reason it was not forwarded to Central Council until around Easter and the then President of the GAA, Padraig McNamee from Antrim, ruled the declaration invalid because Jimmy Cooney was debarred from all GAA activities (even making a declaration) while suspended, and would thus be unable to play in the Munster championship.

The Tipperary County Board were furious over the decision and threw caution to the wind by playing Cooney in the Whit Tournament in London and in the Munster semi-final against Clare. Before the game, Clare captain Paddy Callaghan informed referee Jim O'Regan from Cork that Clare would object if Tipperary won.

Clare duly objected to Cooney and were awarded the game by the Munster Council. Tippperary counter-objected on the grounds that a member of the Clare team also attended the same rugby match. The only evidence was a statement by Jimmy Cooney which was not admissible because of his status as a suspended player. A further objection to another Clare player whose declaration was held to be invalid was not proved to the Council's satisfaction.

Tipperary, who had been impressive winners of the 1937 All-Ireland championship, only won a solitary All-Ireland title in 1945—when five members of the 1937 team played—until 1949 ushered in a golden era for the county.

Back through the years, having spoken to hurlers and supporters from that era, I became aware that Jimmy Cooney was the greatest mid-fielder of his time. However, his star waned after the 1938 debacle.

Leaving aside the demerits of the 'ban' rule, which was kept in place by brain-washed extremists, the fault for what happened lay squarely with the Tipperary County Board. Firstly, for not forwarding Jimmy Cooney's declaration form to Central Council promptly; and, secondly, by playing the player when they knew that it would be in breach of the rules and would result in loss of the game.

After winning the objection in 1938, Clare lost to Waterford in the Munster final—played at the Cork Athletic Grounds—on a score of 3-5 to 2-5 giving the Decies their first Munster Senior Championship title. Waterford overcame Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final, but were beaten by Dublin in the All-Ireland final.

An interesting aspect of the 1938 All-Ireland hurling final was that both captains were born in Carrick-on-Suir. Mick Hickey, the Waterford captain, was born in Carrickbeg on the Waterford side of the river. As a youth he moved with his family about 8 miles to a farm south of Portlaw, Co.Waterford. Mick Daniels, the Dublin captain, was born on the Tipperary side of the River Suir, and was a member of the Irish Army based in Dublin in 1938.

Saturday 23 November 2013

Where was 'Knocknagow'?

From the James Maher edited Romantic Slievenamon

Writing in Tipperary's Annual for 1911 (page 105), Richard M.O'Hanrahan, of Fethard, states :
An erroneous idea prevails amongst a section of Tipperary men regarding the location of 'Knocknagow'. It has been stated that Mocklershill, mid-way between Cashel and Fethard is 'Knocknagow'. Such is not the case, as 'Knocknagow', as Kickham wished it to be understood, embraced the parishes of Mullinahone, Grangemockler, Drangan and Cloneen, though some of the characters, such as Fr.McMahon (who was in reality Dean MacDonnell of Cashel) were drawn from other places, notably Fethard, Cashel and Killenaule districts. Charles J.Kickham gave the title 'Knocknagow' to the book for the simple reason that 'Crickeenagow' (the smith's little hill) was his mother's native place, and I have it on reliable authority that it was at Crickeennagow—and not Mullinahone—that Kickham was born. At the same time Mullinahone can claim Kickham as her own, as his home was there from his infancy, and the best part of his boyhood and manhood days were spent in the historic little town that nestles beside the Anner, at the foot of Slievenamon.

Monday 11 November 2013

Armistice Day

Today is known as Armistice Day.

In the First World War, the Armistice sought by the Germans from the Allies came into force on November 11, 1918 and ended all fighting in that war. The Armistice had to be renewed three times before the Allied peace terms were finally presented to the Germans on May 7, 1919.

During the period 1919-38, the date "November 11" was kept as Armistice Day (also known as Poppy Day and Remembrance Day) when two minutes silence was observed throughout the British Commonwealth, starting at 11 am.

The ceremony lapsed during the Second World War but was resumed in 1945. The following year it was decided to observe a Remembrance Day for both World Wars, to be held annually on the Sunday before Nov 11, unless either Nov 11 or 12 was itself a Sunday.

Monday 4 November 2013

Notable Double for Tipp Champions

County Tipperary SFC Final:

Loughmore-Castleiney 3-10; Aherlow Gaels 0-9

At Semple Stadium, Thurles, yesterday, Loughmore-Castleiney became the first club in Tipperary to win both hurling and football senior championships in the same year. Very few clubs in other counties, where there are serious championships in both codes, have achieved this—when it happens it is nearly always by clubs situated in populous urban areas. Loughmore-Castleiney is a rural club in a small parish. In the face of so much negativity, they are a great example of what can be achieved when the proper spirit and ambition is present. Yesterday was the fourth Sunday in a row in which they were engaged in tough competitive games. Last Sunday (27th October) at Semple Stadium, they played Limerick champions, Na Piarsaigh, in the Munster club senior hurling quarter final. One of their players was sent to the line after 4 minutes; another suffered the same fate later in the game; and they were beaten by a last minute goal.

While rightly praising the winners of yesterday's game, we must give credit to Aherlow. They are drawn from half-a-parish, with a small population, on the slopes of the Galtee Mountains. They have produced fine teams, with some great players, especially over the last 20 years. They won the county Intermediate hurling championship some years back and were beaten by 1 point in the Munster club final. On this occasion they were helped by players from Lattin-Cullen, their neighbours, on the west side of the mountain.

Sunday 27 October 2013

Nellie Shortall's 100th Birthday

Nellie Shortall
On Thursday last, 24th October, I had the privilege of being present for the celebration of the 100th birthday of Nellie Shortall, The Valley, Fethard, Co.Tipperary. Nellie and my late mother, Margaret Callanan, were first cousins. I lack the required ability to describe adequately Nellie's fine qualities, and I will merely write that she is a very special lady.

Originally Fitzpatrick, in 1949 Nellie married Larry Shortall from Gowran, Co.Kilkenny. Larry died suddenly, while doing his work, in 1978. Happily, their children Marie, John, and Ann were all present with their own families for Nellie's special day last week.

The Fitzpatricks were evicted from their farm in Tullaroan, Co.Kilkenny, in the 1880's, when their first cousin, and neighbour, paid the rent to the landlord and took over the land. The land should have been restored to the Fitzpatrick's under the 1905 Land Act, but never was. The family went to reside with a relative near Grangemockler, Co.Tipperary, quite close to the famous Hogan family of Currisila.

Nellie's father, Paddy Fitzpatrick, was an outstanding ploughman who won five All Ireland horse ploughing championships in a row. He also worked on the Bagwell Estate at Marlfield, Clonmel and joined the Irish Guards. At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, he was called into action. He, thankfully, survived and, shortly after returning home, took up employment as a linesman at Jonesborough, Co. Armagh. He was killed in very suspicious circumstances while working at the Station in 1920 during a violent period in Irish history. Nellie was only seven years old at the time. Her mother was distraught with three young children and expecting a fourth. Her husband's body was taken back to Fethard where the family had a connection. They had no grave of their own, but a kind gentleman from Fethard came forward and offered his own grave as he knew, and respected, Paddy Fitzpatrick. The offer was accepted and Paddy was laid to rest in the old grave yard on the New Inn Road out of Fethard.

Nellie worked in Kildare, Dublin, and London. On her marriage to Larry she resided in Fethard where she remained to the present day. Her sister, Josie, died last year at her home in the Bronx, New York, aged 101. Her brother, Tommy, aged 93, resides in New York, where he has been for many years.

The mass in the Church of The Holy Trinity, Fethard, on Thursday was highlighted by the beautiful music provided by Nellie's grandchildren, her son John and daughter Ann; and the magnificent singing of cousin Cherrie Betts-Hally. When Cherrie sang How great thou Art with an arm around Nellie, my tears came down. A wonderful occasion for a wonderful person.

Monday 14 October 2013

Loughmore-Castleiney Claim Crown

County Tipperary SHC Final:

Loughmore-Castleiney 1-17; Nenagh-Eire Óg 1-16

Loughmore-Castleiney defeated Nenagh-Eire Óg by one point in a dramatic finish to yesterday's Tipperary Senior Hurling Final played at Semple Stadium, Thurles. Nenagh had many chances to win the game as they were well on top in the first half, but it just was not their day. They have a lot of good young players in the club at present and their day will soon come. Loughmore-Castleiney were much improved in the second-half when Noel McGrath moved towards mid-field and gave a superb performance.

Loughmore-Castleiney is the leading GAA club in Tipperary in the promotion of both hurling and Gaelic Football. Until the early '70's it was primarily a Gaelic Football club in the heart of a strong hurling area. Then a big effort was made by Fr. O'Rourke, and others, to promote hurling at juvenile level. During the '70's, they won many titles, in both hurling and football, at under-age level both in the Mid division and in the county. They progressed to senior hurling in 1981 having won the county intermediate title in 1980. They won the Mid senior hurling title for the first time in 1983 having been beaten in the two previous finals. They won the county senior hurling title for the first time in 1988 when they beat Borrisoleigh in a replay—they had been beaten by the same opposition in the 1983 final. They had also lost the 1987 final by a point to Cappawhite.

The present members of the McGrath clan who play for Tipperary teams are the the third generation of that family to do so in my lifetime. In the '50's, brothers Dick and John played on the Tipperary senior football team. In the '70's and '80's, Tom and Pat played both hurling and football for Tipperary. Tom's son, Liam was the captain of the Tipperary minor football team on that never-to-be-forgotten day when they won the the All-Ireland crown for the first time since 1934. Wouldn't it be great if Pat's son, Noel, led Tipperary to victory in next year's All-Ireland senior hurling championship--compensating for the disappointment of 1989 when Pat should rightfully have been captain when Tipperary secured All-Ireland senior honours.

Thursday 10 October 2013

Ode to Christy Ring

The following is taken from Gaelic Sport magazine published in September 1984. It was written to Jack Mahon, editor of Junior Desk, from Charles Heywood, 1 Blagdon Place, Bath, Avon, England.
Christy Ring—God rest him!
A legend of our time,
On the Gaelic fields of Erin
Bestowed his skills sublime... 
Unrivalled with the camán,
Unchallenged for the crown
He nobly won as champion
In battles of renown... 
From the 30's to the 60's
He paved his way to fame,
His camán twinkling like the stars
In the forefront of each game... 
Like Cuchulainn, and the Red Branch Knights,
He vanquished friend and foe
In the art of hurling on the green
Fair land where shamrocks grow... 
A tribute to our hero—
The pride of Cloyne and Cork,
The maestro of Glen Rovers,
And the idol of New York... 
May the crossed-camáns and sliothar
The emblem of "Our Boys",
Forever with the Green Flag wave
'Neath sunlit Irish skies.
Iconic photo of two hurling greats: Mick Mackey and Christy Ring

Monday 30 September 2013

Clare Make No Mistake in Replay

All-Ireland SHC Final Replay:

Clare 5-16; Cork 3-16

Clare deservedly won the All-Ireland senior hurling final replay at Croke Park on Saturday evening last. Three goals by teenage corner forward, Shane O'Donnell, in the first half were decisive to the result. Poor defending by the Cork full-back line contributed in no small way to these goals. The Cork backs were much improved for most of the second-half and their team were in contention to steal a victory for a period. Clare upped the tempo for the final quarter and the Cork backs were again found wanting—taking the wrong options on a number of occasions. Clare were the better all-round team with skillful players in all positions. Cork had some fine individual displays but lacked the all-round skill and cohesion of Clare.

Monday 23 September 2013

Mayo Heartbreak

All-Ireland Football Finals

Senior: Dublin 2-12; Mayo 1-14
Minor: Mayo 2-13; Tyrone 1-13

Yesterday, in Croke Park, Mayo suffered a one-point defeat to Dublin in the All-Ireland senior football final. Neither team reached the level of performance they had displayed in the earlier rounds of the championship—as a consequence the standard of the game never reached expected heights. For television viewers, the poor quality of the production did not help matters. The Mayo forwards found great difficulty in getting into good scoring positions and, when they did so, their shooting lacked confidence. Their kick-outs should have targeted mid-field where the O'Shea brothers usually dominate; this, coupled with quicker use of the ball going forward and better back-up for the player in possession, would have tilted the balance in their favour. Mayo will win a senior All-Ireland in the next year or two, and I hope that the gallant trio from' 51 will still be around to celebrate it. In the meantime, it is congratulations to Dublin!

In the minor final, Mayo had a fairly sluggish first half and were lucky to be leading by one point at half-time. Tyrone had the better of the first half but spoiled a lot of good approach play by poor shooting—either the ball being sent wide or into the goal-keeper's hands. Mayo won the match by scoring 1-4 without reply in the early stages of the second half. A good Tyrone team fought back well and were only a goal behind at the final whistle.

Monday 16 September 2013

Great Day for Galway Camogie

All-Ireland Camogie Finals

Senior: Galway 1-09; Kilkenny 0-7
Intermediate: Galway 0-12; Limerick 0-10

Galway achieved a notable double in Croke Park yesterday when they won both senior and intermediate camogie titles. I must confess that I only saw patches of both games on television. I was very impressed by the high standard of striking displayed by the girls. The men folk could learn from the ladies that there are more ways of putting pressure on an opponent in possession of the ball without wrapping the arms around them. A disappointing aspect of the day was the fact that seven members of Galway's intermediate team were also on the senior panel. They should not have been expected to play both games on the same day; the intermediate final could have been played in Croke Park previously with hurling or football games.

Monday 9 September 2013

Waterford's Great Day

All-Ireland MHC Final:

Waterford 1-21; Galway 0-16

Waterford's long wait for an All-Ireland minor hurling title came to an end in Croke Park yesterday when they had eight points to spare over Galway. Waterford's display, for minors, must have been one the best ever seen in Croke Park. Besides their great team work, they had some outstanding individuals. Galway are a good team but they lacked the all round ability of Waterford.

The great work that has been done in Waterford, for a number of years, in developing the game from juvenile stage up is starting to pay dividends. In recent years they have been very successful in post-primary school competitions, and that success is now transferred to their county teams. There is a high standard of club hurling at all grades in Waterford, with promotion and relegation operating. They have at least six club teams at senior level capable of holding their own with any club in the country. The future looks bright for their senior hurlers.

I was very pleased that Tom Devine had such a good game for Waterford yesterday. His mother Mary was my nurse when I spent a day as a patient in South Tipperary General Hospital, Clonmel last year.

Amazing All-Ireland Hurling Final

All-Ireland SHC Final:

Cork 3-15; Clare 0-25

It was a thrilling, but strange, All-Ireland Senior Hurling final played at Croke Park yesterday. Clare controlled the play for much of the game, yet the match ended in a draw. The goals, coming when they were really needed, and the point scoring of Pat Horgan, kept Cork in the game. The Clare players showed great skill and harried in packs. It must have been disappointing for Cork that so many of their players under performed. Their excellent goalie, Anthony Nash, continued to puck the ball to his half-forwards and it was constantly taken by a Clare back or mid-fielder. It was strange that the Cork players and management did not take steps to counteract this. The point scoring for Clare, from frees, by Colin Ryan, showed once again the futility of fouling.

The fixing of the replay on a Saturday in late September is a retrograde step: it will take completely from the occasion and the All-Ireland final could end in a damp squib. If the ladies wanted their day in Croke Park they should have been given a Sunday in August.

Monday 26 August 2013

Bravo Mayo!

All-Ireland SFC Semi-Final:

Mayo 1-16; Tyrone 0-13

Mayo came good in the second half to qualify for the All-Ireland senior football final on September 22nd. The weight of favoritism seemed to get to Mayo for a long period in the first half. They seemed nervous and indecisive and kicked a lot of bad wides. Tyrone's grinding play contributed to this. Mayo started to move much more smoothly before half-time and got within one point of Tyrone which was very important for their morale. They played with much greater confidence in the second half and had players getting into space all the time; and were capable of taking their scoring chances when they presented themselves. The loss of Peter Harte and Stephen O'Neill was huge for Tyrone as was the loss of Cillian O'Connor to Mayo. I thought that the Mayo full-back line played very well, as they have being doing all year.

I would have sympathy for Mickey Harte; but I am pleased that a large section of Tyrone supporters will not be in a position to display their boorish ignorance in Croke Park on All-Ireland final day, as they have done in the recent past. What a sad contrast to the days when followers from the six counties arriving in Croke Park following their Ulster final wins (mostly for the first time) were like a breath of fresh air to the place. Many of those present from other counties, who had never spoken to anyone from Northern Ireland before, were fascinated by their accents and expressions.

I was present as a spectator when Down, in their first All-Ireland senior football semi-final, were beaten by Galway in 1959. I was also present for the historic final the following year when Down, led by their captain Kevin Mussen, became the first team from the six counties to win an All-Ireland senior title. On both occasions, from my standing position under the old Cusack Stand, I spoke to a number of Down supporters who would not normally have attended Gaelic Games. They were obviously from a different tradition than mine and the vast majority of those present, but they were wholeheartedly supporting the Down team. I have often considered since what great work could have been done to unite communities, and indeed North and South, if the right approach of responsible people had been supported. Unfortunately, the evil of terrorism intervened and the blight it emitted has left many blotches.

Monday 19 August 2013

Disappointment Again For Limerick

All-Ireland SHC Semi-Final:

Clare 1-22; Limerick 0-18

Once again Croke Park proved to be an unhappy hunting ground for Limerick. Following on their previous bitter disappointments in All-Ireland finals, nobody would begrudge Limerick an All-Ireland win. I had a feeling that Clare's all-round skill would blossom on a fine day in Croke Park. Limerick have some skillful players and great heart drawn from the tradition of "Old Ahane" and the "Great Mick", but they lack scoring forwards.

They had a fine minor team this year who met an even better one in Galway in a great game that could have gone either way. They had a very good under-21 team this year; there is plenty of talent coming and the glory day will come. In the mean time, best of luck Clare!

Thursday 15 August 2013

A Hurler's Prayer

The following are some of the things that Clare manager, Davy Fitzgerald, might say to his players during next Sunday's All-Ireland senior hurling semi-final between Clare and Limerick at Croke Park:

Grant me, O Lord, a hurler's skill,
With strength of arm and speed of limb,
Unerring eye for the flying ball
And courage to match them what'er befall.
May my aim be steady, my stroke be true,
My actions manly, my misses few;
And no matter what way the game may go,
May I rest in friendship with every foe.
When the final whistle for me is blown,
And I stand at last at God's judgement throne,
May the Great Referee when He calls my name,
Say "you hurled like a man, you played the game".

Tuesday 13 August 2013

Ireland's Most Storied Mountain

By W.C. Darmody

O, sweet Slievenamon, you're my darling and pride,
With your soft swelling bosom and mien like a bride,
How oft have I wandered in sunshine and shower,
From dark Kyleavalla to lonely Glenbower;
Or spent with a light heart the long summer's day,
'Twixt Suidhe-Finn and the Clodagh above Kyleatlea.

- Charles J.Kickham.

Monday 12 August 2013

Well Done Waterford!

All-Ireland MHC Semi-Final:

Waterford 2-12; Kilkenny 0-16

Congratulations to Waterford minor hurlers on their two-point victory over Kilkenny in yesterdays All-Ireland minor hurling semi-final played at Croke Park. For more than ten years many people have worked hard at developing hurling at juvenile level in Waterford. During that period Waterford teams have been successful in inter-county competitions at under fourteen and under sixteen level. In post primary school competitions Waterford schools have achieved success at Munster and All-Ireland level; now their minors are one game away from winning the All-Ireland title for the first time since 1948. The winning team then contained players who went on to play leading roles with successful Waterford senior teams in the fifties and early sixties.

In respect to yesterday's team, I liked the way they used a certain amount of first-time striking: this is an essential element to the success of the hurling game which has disappeared for many years. There is a problem with the type of refereeing we have nowadays: if a player pulls first time on the ball and unfortunately makes contact with an opponent, he could get a red card. A transgression which is obviously accidental should not warrant a card of any colour. Another thing I have noticed at the present time is that when a player falls without having contact from an opponent he gets a free. Finally, players should keep the spare arm away from an opponent in both hurling and football—there are other methods to harass and prevent him from playing the ball.

Wednesday 31 July 2013

GAA Facts and Folklore

In the mid 1860's a hurling game was played at Kyleragranagh Hill, Cloneen, Co.Tipperary overlooking the present day Anner Park, which is the grounds for the local GAA club, St.Patrick's. The teams were from Cashel and Carrick-on-Suir, and were big brawny men. They wrestled before commencing the hurling and fighting broke out. Peace was restored and the hurling commenced, but fighting again broke out with the result that the game was stopped for a while. During this stoppage many of the spectators went to the Thatch pub in Cloneen for refreshments. The game recommenced and continued until darkness. Many of the spectators spent up to three days in the area before departing for home.

Clonmel native, Mick Kennedy, played on the Tipperary minor hurling and football teams in 1953. He played for the Tipperary senior footballers in the mid fifties. He played with a South Tipperary selection in the Tipperary senior hurling final of 1957 when they were beaten by Thurles Sarsfields. Having moved to Dublin for employment, as a member of the Dublin team he took part in the All-Ireland senior hurling final in 1961 when they lost by one point to Tipperary. He was a Dublin senior hurling selector in the late eighties.

Niall Quinn
When Mick Kennedy played on the Tipperary minor hurling team in 1953 he partnered Billy Quinn of Rahealty, Thurles, at mid-field. Billy was then playing in his third consecutive year for Tipperary minor hurlers. Billy made his debut with the Tipperary senior hurlers who beat Galway in the National Hurling League semi-final played at Thurles on the last Sunday of April 1954. His direct opponent that day was Colm Corless of Kinvara and Galway. On the following Sunday, May 2nd., Billy Quinn scored three goals from the full forward position in Tipperary's 3-10 to 1-4 victory over Kilkenny in the National Hurling final played at Croke Park. His direct opponent on that occasion was Pat "Diamond" Hayden. In the latter part of the fifties Billy Quinn emigrated to London for employment. He later returned to reside in Dublin, and played with Dublin senior hurlers for a short while. His son Niall, who played with Dublin minor hurlers in the 1983 All-Ireland final when beaten by Galway, went on to gain over 100 caps while playing with the Republic of Ireland international soccer team. The aforementioned Mick Kennedy won a Railway Cup hurling medal with Leinster in 1962.

The Clonmel GAA pitch situated alongside the Western Road, had it's official opening in June 1930. Two hurling games were played on the day. In the first, Waterford beat Limerick by 6-5 to 1-1, and the referee was Tom Keating of Fethard. In the second, Cork beat Tipperary by 4-5 to 2-1, and the referee was Willie Walsh of Waterford.

Thursday 25 July 2013

Remember '79

When Tipperary and Galway contested the National Hurling League final played at Croke Park on April 30th 1989, Galway were victorious on a score of 2-16 to 4-8. Tipperary were handicapped by the non-availability of star forwards Nicholas English and Pat Fox; also absent were regular defenders John Heffernan and John Kennedy.

The two counties also contested the National Hurling League final played at the Gaelic Grounds Limerick in May 1979. Tipperary had a surprising win by 3-15 to 0-8 over a fancied Galway team. The game featured an outstanding display for Tipperary by Kilsheelan native, Jim Kehoe, who scored 1-5 from play. Jim played many a fine game for Tipperary hurlers and footballers during the seventies; and played leading roles in winning Railway Cup medals with Munster in football (1975) and hurling (1976). He has been residing in Los Angeles for more than 20 years where he owns a successful haulage business.

The following is the substance of an article from the match programme for the National Hurling League Final of 1989:
Remember '79 could well be the catch-cry for Tipperary hurlers as they take the field today against a fancied Galway. Galway were favourites for the 1979 National Hurling League final between the counties at Limerick but in a one sided encounter, Tipperary triumphed by a surprisingly large margin, 3-15 to 0-8. Without an All-Ireland for eight years and struggling to reassert themselves in hurling after a spell in division 1B, Tipperary were not expected to match mighty Galway but with Jim Kehoe starring for the Premier County, they recorded a most impressive win. 
Tipperary had the use of the breeze in the first half and got off to an ideal start after seven minutes when Francie Loughnane netted. They led at the interval by 1-8 to 0-4 but with Galway due to have the breeze after the break, the game was finely balanced. Galway were not playing to form and were expected to step up a gear afterwards, but Tipperary, with Jim Kehoe roaming to devastating effect, produced a great second half performance. 
Galway fought hard in the early stages to establish control, with John Connolly a key figure at mid-field, but the turning point came at the end of the third quarter when Kehoe steered the ball to the net after a Francis Loughnane free was only partly saved. 
Subsequently, Galway heads bowed and Tipperary went on to record a sixteen points win and their fourteenth National Hurling League title. 
Jim Kehoe was the star of the Tipperary team that day but the contributions of Gerry Stapleton, Michael Doyle, Francis Loughnane, Pat Fitzelle and Tadgh O'Connor were also vital to the Tipperary win. 
Galway never reached their true form despite the inspiration of John Connolly at mid field. Niall McInerney, Joe Greaney, Frank Burke and P.J.Molloy were others to figure prominently for Galway. 
Tipperary scorers: J. Kehoe 1-5; F.Loughnane 1-4; P.Queally 1-0; N O'Dwyer, S.Power 0-2 each; M.Doyle, G.Stapleton 0-1 each. 
Galway scorers: P.J. Molloy 0-3; J.Connolly 0-2; M.Connolly and F.Burke 0-1 each. 
P. McLoughney
P. Williams

K. O'Connor
J. Keogh

N. O'Dwyer
T. O'Connor

P. Fitzelle
M. DoyleG. Stapleton
E. O'Shea

F. Loughnane
J. Williams

J. Kehoe
P. Queally

S. Power
Subs: T. Butler for J. Kehoe

F. Larkin
N. McInerney

J. Greany
J. McDonagh

S. Silke
I. Clarke

J. Cooney
J. ConnollyS. McMahon
M. Connolly

N. Lane
Joe Connolly

F. Burke
P.J. Molloy

P. Ryan
Subs: M. Earls for Silke, F. Gantly for M. Connolly

Wednesday 17 July 2013

The Women of Clonmel

"At the Siege of Clonmel, the women displayed the utmost devotion to it's indomitable defender, Hugh Dubh O'Neill, and helped to draw mortar, stones and timber to form barricades. Standing beside their menfolk, on the walls, they relieved the shortage of ammunition by pouring down boiling water on the heads of the attacking Ironsides"
Altho' on Limerick's battered wall Her daughters nobly died,
Let history's pages still recall their chivalry with pride.
We'll drink to-night with spirits bright, and loving hearts as well,
Perhaps as bold in days of old—The women of Clonmel! 
The women of Clonmel, my boys,
The women of Clonmel,
We'll proudly toast Tipperary's boast,
The women of Clonmel! 
When Cromwell's sacrilegious horde-
A base ignoble crew—
Resolved to crush with fire and sword our own immortal Hugh,
Who cheered him on till victory shone, and many a tyrant fell—
While freedom's song re-echoed long—The women of Clonmel. 
Clonmel! The memory of the past is in thy heart to-day;
Thy sons await the trumpet blast, impatient for the fray.
And colleens, too, with eyes of blue, within thy bosom dwell,
Who'd gladly fight for Ireland's right—The women of Clonmel.

Friday 12 July 2013

Sieges of Clonmel

Clonmel was twice besieged. In 1516, when it was surrounded by walls and strongly fortified, it was besieged and taken by the Earl of Kildare. It's greater claim to fame was when it was attacked by Oliver Cromwell in 1650. It was defended by Hugh Dubh O'Neill of the Northern Ui Neill.
Hugh Dubh O'Neill defends Clonmel May,1650. 
And now, behold, against Clonmel. They vainly flung their bands!
Battered and bayed but undismayed the town defiant stands.
Battered and bayed but undismayed it meets each fresh attack;
With soldiers few and faint—but true—It hurls the foemen back! 
Undismayed by the frightful massacres at Drogheda and Wexford, Hugh Dubh O'Neill (nephew of Owen Roe) commanding 1,600 Ulster and Tipperary troops, decided to hold Clonmel while his ammunition lasted. Opposing O'Neill was a Cromwellian force of 9,000 well-armed veterans, supported by field-guns and howitzers.

The following notes are taken from a chapter in Romantic Slievenamon which it describes as "a graphic picture of the famous Siege penned in 1685 by Capt.Mulholland, a British Officer who seemingly admired "Hugh Dubh":
Cromwell sent two or three regiments of horse and foot to block off Clonmel at a distance a month before he appeared on the scene himself. Hugh Dubh defiantly turned down Cromwell's offer for him to surrender on good terms. 
Despite a valiant defence, Cromwell's canons breached a section of their defensive wall. At night-fall, O'Neill sent 200 men and officers with local guides who knew a secret pathway to where they the fell on the backs of those in a fort not fully finished, killing the sixty occupants with the loss of half-a dozen. They returned safely through another gate which was opened for them. 
With this respite, O'Neill set troops with men and maids to work reparing the breach in such a way that when English troops later came through, it was like entering a box canyon, and they suffered many casualties. The Siege having gone on for five or six weeks; O'Neill, having had several losses and with others wounded and sick and with ammunition low, advised Mayor Whyte that himself and his troops would leave two hours after night fall. Mayor Whyte was to wait until he had judged that O'Neill and his men were half a dozen miles from the town; then he should seek Cromwell and look for favourable terms without telling him that O'Neill had left. He succeeded in achieving this objective. Cromwell was furious when he was told that O'Neill had left and wanted to tear up the agreement. The Mayor, with the use of diplomacy and flattery, succeeded in getting him to keep his word despite the fact that he had lost about 1,500 men, more than he lost in all the towns he stormed before and since he came to Ireland. Clonmel made military history as revealing how Irish valour was well adapted for modern warfare. After the Siege, Cromwell was recalled to England.

Friday 28 June 2013

An Bhfuil Fhios Agat?

Egan Clancy walked from Grange to Limerick Railway Station to join his team-mates on the train for Dublin on the morning of the 1910 All Ireland Senior final against Wexford. The game was played at Jones's Road (later Croke Park), Dublin, on 20th November when Wexford (Castlebridge) defeated Limerick (Castleconnell) on the score 7-0 to 6-2.

Mick Sexton of Bruree played for six years on the same club team with three of his sons—James, John and Michael. And for good measure his daughter, Margaret, represented Bruree club at several county conventions.

Dave Clohessy of Fedamore scored four goals in the replay of the 1934 All-Ireland Senior Hurling Final in which Limerick beat Dublin by 5-2 to 2-6.

Timmy Ryan, John Mackey and Mick Mackey each hold 20 Limerick Senior Championship medals—15 won in hurling and 5 in football.

John J. Fanagan of Kilmallock—one of the greatest stars that ever graced the athletic firmament—secured the hammer event for his adopted country (USA) in three successive Olympiads between 1900 and 1908.

Richard J. Casey of Martinstown, near Kilmallock, Co. Limerick, founded the famed Toomevara Greyhounds Hurling club in North Tipperary.

Bohercrowe, Tipperary beat Portlaoise, Laois, in the 1889 All-Ireland Senior football final. Five Ryans played for Tipperary and five Cushions figured with Laois.

Johnny Walsh of Tubberadora won his fifth All-Ireland Senior Hurling medal in 1900 at the age of 23. He was only 17 when he won his first six years earlier, in 1895.

John Joe Callanan, who won 1920 All-Ireland senior honours with Dublin, was captain of the Tipperary team that beat the Liffeysiders in the 1930 final.

Mick Kennedy, Young Irelands, born at the Ragg, near Thurles, is the only Tipperary man to win three All-Ireland Senior Hurling medals with Limerick. A product of Thurles CBS, he played with Tipperary minors in 1928-29.

At the closing of the storied Celtic Park in New York in August 1930, Clarina born Mike Kenny established what is believed to be a world record at rising and striking the hurling ball, with a distance of 122 yards.

Bob McConkey of Young Irelands, captain of Limerick's All-Ireland winning team in 1921 and first to gain possession of the Liam Mc Carthy Cup, played altogether in four All-Ireland finals—the last in 1934 when he was 39 years of age.

Thursday 13 June 2013

1932: Opening of Davin Park

The Maurice Davin Memorial Park, Carrick-on-Suir was officially opened by Munster Council Chairman W.P. Clifford on Sunday August 7th 1932.

Among those present for that historic occasion were:-

Rev. J.J.Meagher, Chairman Tipperary Co. Board GAA;
Johnny Leahy, Sec. Tipperary Co. Board GAA;
Rev. Fr. M.J. Lee, Thurles;
Pat Davin, brother of Maurice;
and the renowned athlete, Tom Kiely.

In his address, Mr. Clifford said that the Park was a fitting memorial in the most appropriate form to the famous Tipperary athlete whose genius brought the Gaelic Athletic Association into being.

The Munster Council gave due recognition to the occasion by staging the Munster Senior Football Final between Kerry and Tipperary as the opening game. Even with home advantage, however, the Tipperary team could never come to grips with a rampant Kerry and having trailed by 2-5 to 0-3 at the break, Tipperary went under finally by 3-10 to 1-4.

Both All-Ireland football semi-finals were played at Croke Park on 21st August when Mayo beat Cavan by 2-4 to 0-8 and Kerry beat Dublin by 1-3 to 1-1. The All-Ireland final was played at Croke Park on September 25th when Kerry beat Mayo by 2-7 to 2-4.

The first Directors of Davin Park were:- Richard Cleary, T.F. Kiely, Jerry Shelly, John Keating, Denis O'Driscoll, Wm. Morrissey, Dick Walsh, James McCormack and John Higgins.

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Great Win For Carlow

Leinster U-21 Hurling Quarter Final:

Carlow 1-13; Dublin 1-11

Carlow Under-21 hurlers achieved a notable victory at Parnell Park, Dublin last evening when a last minute goal, scored by Marty Kavanagh, gave them victory over Dublin in the Leinster under 21 hurling championship. The fact that Dublin have been very strong for a number of years in the minor and under 21 hurling championship adds to the significance of this Carlow win. It shows what a small county, with a limited pool of hurlers, can achieve with the right spirit and proper organization. I wish them the best of luck for the rest of the campaign—they should not fear any one now!

Tuesday 4 June 2013

Tom Kiely of Ballyneale

In the following I will include brief extracts and also a short synopsis from a contribution by Michael Navin in Romantic Slievenamon:
The World's Champion All-Round Athlete 
"Kiely and the Davins always represent to me the ideal type of the Gael and the sportsman. On the athletic field they could beat the best the world could send against them. In hurling or football or handball they were performers well above the ordinary. They could whistle and sing, they could play the fiddle, and they could dance as light and airy as any fairy that ever trod the slopes of Slievenamon" (Patrick Purcell). 
Thomas F.Kiely of Ballyneale, Carrick-on-Suir—still referred to in his native locality as "The Champion". A title well deserved, for his athletic achievements at home and abroad, he proved himself to be Ireland's greatest ever all round athlete. Prompted, no doubt, by the deeds and fame of his great and immediate predecessors and neighbours, the famous Davin brothers of nearby Deerpark, he was a willing pupil and needed no urging. 
In the All-Ireland championships of 1892, held at Jones's Road (now Croke Park), he won seven of the titles. The victories were in the hurdles race, the shot putting, hammer throwing, putting the weights (7 lbs and 28 lbs), long jump and hop step and jump-in the latter event he cleared a distance of 49 feet 7 inches—a few inches short of the world's record. 
On 21st July 1904, at the world's fair in St. Louis on the mighty Mississippi river, he achieved first place with 6086 points—by coming first in the hurdles, first in the hammer, first in the 56 lbs throw and first in the 880 yards walk. He was second in the long jump and third in the shot and pole jump. 
On 23rd June 1906, in the American all round championship decided at Boston, Tom was again victorious, achieving 6274 points, as against 5064 points for his nearest rival, John Bridemus. 
Tom Kiely's last year of competition was in 1908 when on 16th August at Dungarvan he took part in an exhibition of weight throwing with Irish-American athlete, Martin Sheridan. He died in 1951 and is laid to rest in Ballyneale churchyard in the shadow of his beloved Slievenamon.

Thursday 16 May 2013

The Boy Commentator

In 1938, when the inimitable Míchéal Ó hEithir (Michael O'Hehir) burst on the Irish Broadcasting scene, the following appeared in the Clare Champion on 1/10/38:
The GAA Boy Commentator
Our readers will be interested to learn that Míchéal Ó hEithir, the youthful commentator, who has been the subject of so many encomiums for his broadcasting of the All-Ireland Semi-Finals and Football Final, springs from Clare stock.

Some of his forebearers were outstanding figures in National, Educational and Athletic spheres. His father, Jim Hehir, was born near Ballynacally, and was the trainer of the Clare Hurling Team in 1914, when they won All-Ireland honours. 
Michael himself has just obtained his Intermediate Leaving Certificate. He has attended the July session at Carrigaholt Irish college for some years, and spends his Summer holidays at the residence of his aunt, Mrs. Brennan of Clonmore, Darragh.

His many friends in the Banner County are pleased with his achievements and hope that it is a prelude to a very successful career.
Almost ten years on, a still youthful Míchéal Ó hEithir pictured with Cavan and Kerry team captains, John-Joe O'Reilly and Dinny Lyne, on the occasion of the 1947 All-Ireland Final at the Polo Grounds, New York which was broadcast across the Atlantic.

Wednesday 15 May 2013

GAA Bits in Brief

The late Tommy Doyle (Tipperary) won All-Ireland senior hurling medals in three different decades—1937, 1945, 1949, 1950, 1951. His nephew, Jimmy Doyle, won six All-Ireland senior hurling medals—1958, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1971—also in three different decades.

When Eamonn Cregan won his All-Ireland senior hurling medal in 1973, he was emulating his father, Ned, who was a member of the victorious Limerick 1934 team.

The Legendary Goalkeeper from Tulla—Dr. Tommy Daly—died in 1936. It was September 21st when Dr. Daly was involved in a fatal car accident near Tuamgraney, and died almost immediately. Waves of shock and grief spread through the County, and indeed throughout the GAA world when the news broke. The late Bryan McMahon has recorded:
And from the broken north land
From Burren bleak and bare,
The dirge of Thomas Daly
Goes surging on through Clare.

Monday 13 May 2013

Pat Davin of Deerpark

Pat Davin was a renowned all-round sportsman and athlete, born at Deerpark, Carrick-on-Suir in 1857, to a farming family who also conducted a river transport business. He was the youngest and most outstanding of three famous athletic brothers. He broke the world high jump record on the 5th July, 1880 in Carrick-on-Suir with a leap of over 6'2" and in 1881 he won the British AAA titles in both high jump and long jump at Monasterevan in 1883. He was the first man to jump over 6 ft. in a high jump, and at one stage held six world records (including the 100 yards in 10 seconds, the 120 yard hurdles in 16 seconds, the high jump at 6 feet two and three quarter inches for long jump off grass). Apart from his involvement with athletics, he took part in many other sports including rowing and cricket, both of which were popular in the Carrick-on-Suir area at the time. Along with his brother Maurice, he was a founder member of Carrick-on-Suir athletic and cricket club and drew up the clubs first set of rules.

In September 1888, Pat Davin travelled to the United States with a group of 45 hurlers and athletes on a trip sponsored by the newly founded GAA which became known as the "American Invasion". In Boston, he defeated the champion of America in 120 yards hurdles and also took part in several hurling games during the tour. The hurley which he used on the tour to America is inscribed with the names of many of the cities Davin visited. On further examination, the hurley shows it was fashioned not from ash but from a hardwood, probably oak. Davin played cricket at an earlier stage of his life and when it came to hurling, it seems that he used a harder wood, more suitable for a cricket bat, to fashion his hurley. Nevertheless,in a long puck competition, he used this rather unsuitable hurley and the large and heavy 10 ounce sliotar of the time to good effect, pucking almost 85 yards.

Pat Davin's athletic achievements have never attracted the renown they deserved, partly because he never achieved the prestige of an Olympic medal for the simple reason that he was a man before his time and the games did not exist when he was in his prime. Also he has tended to be overshadowed by his brother Maurice who attracted much more notoriety not only because he was a great athlete in his day but also because he was the first President of the GAA. Nevertheless, Pat Davin could lay justified claim to being Ireland's best ever athlete. He brought much honour to Carrick-on-Suir and Ireland at a time when national prestige was at a low level and he did much to raise public interest in sport which undoubtedly contributed to the successful formation of the GAA.

The hurley and sliotar that Pat Davin used on the "American Invasion" are now given pride of place as part of the Davin showcase collection at Lár na Pairce, the National Visitors Centre for Gaelic games in Thurles.

Saturday 11 May 2013

The Sweet River Suir

The following is taken from Romantic Slievenamon:
From Devil's Bit to Thurles, from Golden unto Cahir,
By castle-crowned Ardfinnan running pure,
Past Carrick and Kilsheelan, ever sparkling, ever wheeling,
Flow the waters of the sweet river Suir. 
The Galtees and Slieveardagh send their torrents to it's flood,
Bright Anner comes from storied Slievenamon,
The sunshine and the shadows follow fast across the meadows,
Till the dews of the morn are gone. 
By the rich flowery fields of the pleasant Golden Vale,
By broken Norman tower and hamlet white,
The whispering of the Suir, saddest bosom would allure,
When it's glad waters dance in the light. 
The winds croon and sob thro' ruined abbey walls,
Weird music echoes from the fairy ground,
And the sad mystic rhymes of long forgotten times,
In the murmur of the Suir resound. 
In cool sheltered glens where glossy hazels nod,
The wild linnet trills a joyful lay,
The thrush and blackbird singing, sweetest melodies are flinging,
Thro' briar-scented groves all day. 
Ah, fair is Killarney, where the smile of God is seen,
And dear to me thy woodlands, Glenmalure,
But when this life is ended, and cold earth with earth is blended
Let me rest by the sweet river Suir. 
- Monsignor J.B. Dollard

Friday 10 May 2013

The Solitary Mountain

It's Charm and Mystery

In a contribution to Romantic Slievenamon, J.J. Halpin writes an account of how himself, and two companions, cycled from Clonmel one Sunday morning for the purpose of climbing Slievenamon. He describes arriving in good time "in the hamlet of Ballypatrick, a little beyond which we deposited our bicycles in a shady garden beside a friendly farmer's house. Having walked to Kilcash, where we were fortunate in securing as guide a genial, companionable soul, one thoroughly acquainted  with the mountain".

Having suffered the pangs of travelling through a long line of furze bushes chest high, and with tired bodies and aching limbs, they eventually reached the summit. There they consumed the contents of a large basket of food which they had taken with them. Then they rested for a long period. He described the view as a "wonderful panorama that brings within it's scope the greater part of a province and a large part of an adjoining one".

In the final chapter of a four page contribution he writes:
The Kickham Country 
To Tipperary folk this solitary mountain is of all others the most beloved. Tipperary without Slievenamon would be unthinkable. And Tipperary men—and Irishmen in general for that matter—can scarcely think of or look at Slievenamon without associating it with that most beautiful, most tender, most realistic story of Irish rural life by our own Kickham-Knocknagow. Slievenamon, it is upon whose slopes and around whose foot are grouped those "Homes of Tipperary" with their wonderful human epitome of gaiety and pathos, of laughter and tears. Down in the valley, in the quiet church-yard of his beloved Mullinahone, Charles Kickham lies at rest. Monuments have been carved by the sculptor's hand to commemorate him, but no monument will be more enduring than the mountain that looks down on the spot where he lies sleeping, and that will be associated with his stainless name until he hearkens to the last clarion call.

Monday 29 April 2013

Tipperary's GAA Story: 1884-1934

The Late Canon Philip Fogarty wrote Tipperary's GAA Story covering the first fifty years from it's birth in 1884. With reference to the year 1887 he wrote the following:
First Hurling All-Ireland—Thurles Champions 
Five counties contested the first national championship in the native pastime—Galway, Wexford, Clare, Tipperary and Kilkenny. Galway beat Wexford, and went into the final. Thurles, representing Tipperary, met no opposition from Dublin. Their first game was in the second round at Nenagh against the Clare "Smith O'Briens". The score was Tipp 1-8 to Clare 0-4. The Tipperary—Kilkenny (Tullaroan) match was played at Urlingford on a Friday and was refereed with much difficulty by Frank Maloney. Tippeary won by 4-7 to nil. Easter Sunday 1888 was the date of the final—a date that for Tipperary Gaeldom will retain a glamour all it's own. Birr was the venue and Galway the opposition. Heartened by their smashing victory over Kilkenny, the Thurles hurlers, bold and confident, made the journey by special train. The game was an "epic", with the tension at a climax near the finish. At the interval Thurles led by a point—a margin that was a reflex of the play. When sides changed, the fighting blood of the West became aroused, and danger threatened for a while, but the Fates decreed that the honour should go to Tipperary when Tommy Healy scored a goal. The final score was Tipperary 1-2 Galway Nil.
 Canon Fogarty wrote the following concerning the GAA activities within Tipperary in 1887:
All-Star Handigrippers—Kilcash "Redoubtables" 
The handigrippers of Kilcash, the most dreaded team in Tipperary, disappeared in 1888 because of the parish rule, but up to then they were: Tom and Ned Kelly; Pat Ryan; Jim and John Kehoe; Tom and James Butler; William and James Shea; Mick and Peter Tobin; Tom and Pat Lawless; Pat and Tom Stokes; Mick Dee; Jim Slattery; Tom Carey; Jack Commins; Tom Prendergast; Mick Fleming; William Gibbs; Dick Crotty; Phil Callanan; Mick Lyons; Jim Hennessy; John Harney; Patsy Neill and Pat Foran.

Sunday 28 April 2013

Jim Stapleton: First Among Captains

The first All-Ireland senior hurling championship took place in 1887. The final was held in Birr on 1st April 1888. It was a 21-a-side game and was won by Tipperary—represented by Thurles—who defeated Galway—represented by Meelick—with a score of 1-2 to Nil. Jim Stapleton was captain of the winning team. Charles Steward Parnell and Michael Davitt were the leading political figures in Ireland at the time. Both were among the first patrons of the GAA. The land of Ireland was in the grip of landlords—many of them absentee—and the plight of the tenants was, in many cases, woeful.

In 2002, in his book Captains of the Ash, the late Bob Fullam wrote as follows:
Jim Stapleton was born in Thurles town in 1863. It was hurling territory and he grew up playing the game and loving it. In his hurling prime he stood 5'10'' in his stockinged feet and turned the scales at 12st 7lbs. Add to that a powerful pair of shoulders and arms, and you had what an old-timer once described as "a powerful bullet of a man". Jim had courage and stamina in abundance. All in all, he was a tower of strength to his colleagues and a formidable proposition for opposing teams. Off the field and on, he was known as a sincere and honourable man.
Bob Fullam also wrote that in 1947—two years before he died—Jim Stapleton did an interview with a well known GAA writer of the time, P.D. Mehigan-Carberry, in which he recorded the correct list of players that played on the Tipperary team on that historic occasion as follows:

James Stapleton (captain), Martin McNamara, Edward Murphy, Thomas Burke, Jer Dwyer, Matthew Maher, Thomas Maher, Andrew Maher (all of Thurles); Thomas Carroll (Moyne); John Dunne and Pat Leahy (Fennor); Edward Bowe (Leigh); John Mockler (Newhill); Thomas Healy (Coolcroo); Thomas Stapleton (Littleton); Dan Ryan, Jer Ryan (Ballybeg); Jer.Dwyer (Ballyvinane); Pat Leamy, Pat Lambe, M.Carroll (Drombane).

Jim Stapleton was not the original captain of the team, but due to a dispute over the Railway travel expenses, seven players, including Thurles captain Dinny Maher, were left standing on the station platform on the morning of the match. Five of the others were J.Sullivan, E.Leamy, C.Callanan, D.Davoren and T.Butler.

Monday 22 April 2013

Romantic Slievenamon

Romantic Slievenamon was first published in the Autumn of 1954. It was described as a "Tipperary Anthology of History, Folklore and Song". Its editor was James Maher of Kickham Street, Mullinahone, Co. Tipperary—sadly no longer with us. I will, as best I can, reproduce hereon a letter which Mr. Maher received from the then Minister for Education, the late General Richard Mulcahy. The letter eruditely highlights the quality of the contributions to the Anthology:


Lissonfield House,
5th October, 1954.

My Dear Mr. Maher,

In fascinating detail and resounding tones you have assembled a story whispered to us many years ago by our Carrick poet, Denis A. McCarthy, when from his Boston exile he wrote "The Wind from Slieve-na-mon":- 
The magic wind from Slieve-na-mon—sometimes it was a blast
Of faint enchanted bugles blown from Ireland's glorious past
How many a dream it brought of days when Ireland's banner shone
And Irish cheers were mingled with the wind from Slieve-na-mon
As I glance through your pages, this poem comes clamant to my mind as an appropriate overture to your work. I am attaching a copy hoping that you may find room for it as such—an epitome of your material and your intent. 
It is vividly clear that here in your Anthology is no backwater pool where some flotsam of history and of literature has collected itself from a current which flows no longer. Each succeeding page testifies that here is part of the living seed-bed of a people's tradition; part of the vital bloodstream of a nation's spirit. We have here, truly imaged, the heart and the will of a nation that still moves purposefully in a wide world, in which it is of much importance that it would even more purposefully to-morrow. 
To-day Ireland has risen above the causes of her former woes; she is rising above their effects; she is free to sing the song of her own heart. We preserve the remnants of Carrick Castle, but its walls re-echo the words addressed to them by McCarthy:- 
O, ruined keep; I may not weep
your darkness and decay,
Your hour is fled,your power is dead-
the people rule to-day; 
The root of the strength and purpose which will maintain that rule lies in our language, our literature, our music, our architecture, our folklore. Our gratitude and admiration go out to you for the teeming measure in which you have signposted the pathways of the Valley which has sheltered and fostered so much of this treasure; and for the monument of example you have given to those who with similar faith and purpose—do chum gloire Dé agus onóra na hEireann—would signpost other regions of our tradition. May these paths continue to be travelled in the confidence that prays: 
Ar eagla na h-abhann do bheith doimhin,
Á Rí na Foidhne, glac mo lámh;
Ar eagla na tuile bheith tréan, A Mhuire, féach agus ná fág.
Beir mo mholadh agus mo chéad bheannacht, 

Saturday 30 March 2013

Waterford: The Great John Keane

One of the greats of Waterford hurling was the late John Keane who died suddenly in 1985 at the age of 58. In 1934, Waterford captured the All-Ireland Junior Hurling title at the expense of London. John Keane was still a minor, but he won his All-Ireland Junior Hurling medal while playing at full-back. The following year John was elevated to the county senior team.

From 1937 to 1949 he wore the blue jersey of Munster with distinction. In 1937 Waterford played Limerick in the Munster Senior Hurling championship and a youthful Keane put the shackles on Mick Mackey from the centre-back spot. Old timers told us that this was John Keane's finest hour. From 1938 to 1951 Keane the great won eight County Senior Championship medals with Mount Sion. He was club captain from 1941 to 1951 and was leader of the Decies in seven Munster championship campaigns. The year 1948 saw Waterford crowned as All-Ireland Senior Hurling champions for the first time when they defeated Dublin by 6-7 to 4-2. At club level John won two County Minor Hurling medals, one County Junior Hurling medal and two County Junior Football  medals. In 1948 he won a Munster Junior Football medal. Six Railway Cup hurling medals were also included in the Keane collection. A remarkable record from a hurler and sportsman who can take his place in the all time greats Roll of Honour.

Hurling League Classic from 1963

On 5th May 1963, at Croke Park, Waterford and Tipperary produced a classic game of hurling on the occasion of the National League "Home Final"—so-called because the winners were due to play against New York for the title proper. When this thrilling contest ended, Waterford were in front 2-15 to 4-7. Waterford went on to beat New York 3-10 to 1-10 in a replayed National Hurling League final.

The teams who played in the "Home Final" were:    

P. Flynn
T. Cunningham

L. Guinan
A. Flynn

M.O.G. Morrissey
J. Byrne

J. Irish
J. CondonM. Dempsey
M. Flannelly

S. Power
T. Cheasty

J. Barron
F. Walsh

P. Grimes

R. Mounsey
J. Doyle

M. Burns
M. Maher

A. Wall
K. Carey

M. Murphy
S. EnglishT. English
J. Doyle

D. Nealon
J. McKenna

L. Devaney
T. Ryan

S. McLoughlin

Friday 29 March 2013

Waterford GAA Snippets

The Dungarvan club stands alone as the only Waterford club to win championships in all grades of hurling and football.

The Munster Council held it's Annual Convention in the Dungarvan Courthouse on March 8th 1936.

Former star John Galvin was the first Waterford hurler to be honoured with selection by the Carrolls All-Stars in 1974.

The Bank of Ireland Awards were introduced in 1975 and John Galvin became the first Waterford man to receive the Personality of the Month Award in June 1982.

Monday 25 March 2013

From the Diary of Michael Collins

The following is a reproduction of an item that appeared in the Michael Collins Memorial Foundation Supplement of August 20th 1966. It is a copy of a page from the diary of Michael Collins written at Christmas 1921 following the signing of the Articles of Agreement with the British representatives, and before it was brought before Dail Eireann for approval or rejection. Extract:

For Xmas 1921
You ask me for a message to the American
people regarding the Treaty. I can only say
that the rights established for Ireland by the
Articles of Agreement do give this country
a starting point. It puts the future largely in our
own hands and if we are only strong enough
and bold enough we shall go through triumphantly
to the end.

Great Mayo Goal

Allianz Football League Division 1:

Mayo 1-10; Donegal 0-9

In the National Football League match played at McHale Park, Castlebar yesterday, Mayo defeated their All-Ireland Final conquerors, Donegal. Michael Conroy's second-half goal for Mayo was one of the finest I have ever seen. The build up was superb and the finish was brilliant. While the quality of the finish of any goal is a one off, Mayo's approach play showed how Gaelic Football should be played. The film of same should be shown to every young—and not so young—player being coached around the country. It would be far more beneficial than an hour of talking.

Wednesday 20 March 2013

Tipperary GAA Milestones

W.J. Spain, a Nenagh man who never played for his native Tipperary, had the distinction of being the first person to win All-Ireland honours in both hurling and football. He helped Limerick Commercials to win the first ever All-Ireland Football title in 1887 and, two years later, he was a member of the Dublin Kickhams team that beat Clare in the 1889 All-Ireland Senior Hurling final.

1886: The first Tipperary County Board was set up in December at a convention held in Nenagh and attended principally by North delegates. The elected officers were: J.K. Bracken, Templemore (President); Pat Hocter, Nenagh (Vice-President); E.M. Walsh, Nenagh (secretary); and R.F. Maloney, Nenagh (Treasurer). On the committee were: Pat O'Brien, Nenagh; Hugh Ryan, Thurles; John Cullinane, Bansha; and John Hackett, Fethard.

The North Tipperary Board was formed on June 30th 1901. The elected officers were: Ned Keeshan, Roscrea (President); John Spain, Roscrea (Secretary); and Michael Kelly, Nenagh (Treasurer).

The South Tipperary Board was formed in 1907. The elected officers were: James Meehan, Clonmel (Chairman); Martin Brennan (Secretary); and Bob Quane (Treasurer).

The Mid Tipperary Board was also formed in 1907. The first officials were: John Cahill, Cashel (Chairman), Andy Mason (Secretary); and Mickey Maher, Tubberadora (Treasurer).

The West Tipperary Board is the babe of the divisions, having been formed only in 1930. It's first officers were: Rev. J. Maloney, Clonulty (President); William O'Dwyer, MCC (Chairman); Tim Gleeson and Sean Stapleton, Solohead (Vice-Chairmen); D.B. English, Rossmore (Secretary); William O'Dwyer and N.T. Donaskeigh (Joint Treasurers).

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Clare GAA Snippets

1914: Clare became the first county to win two All-Ireland Hurling titles in the one year. Ennis supplied William (Dodger) Considine, his brother Brendan, James (Sham) Spellisy and Martin Maloney to the senior team; and Jack Spellisy, Dan Minogue, Fred Garrihy, Paddy Gordon and M.J. Baker to the junior team.

Pat (Fowler) McInerney, who figured with his native Clare in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling finals of 1914 and 1932, played for fourteen years with the Dublin Garda club with whom he won six Dublin senior championship medals. A member of the 1927 Dublin All-Ireland team that beat Cork in the final, he was one of five Clare men on that Metropolitan side—the others were Tommy Daly, Jack Gleeson, Tom O'Rourke and Ned Fahy.

The late Dr. Bill Loughnane TD won a Harty Cup Medal with Limerick CBS in the Munster Colleges Championship of 1932.

Dr. Tommy Daly of Tulla won an All-Ireland Senior Hurling medal with his native Clare in 1914 and kept goal for the Banner men against Kilkenny in the 1932 All-Ireland Senior Hurling final. In between, he won senior All-Ireland medals with Dublin in 1917, 1920 and 1924, and a Railway Cup medal with Leinster in 1927.

Clare's Larry Blake and Tull Considine played for Ireland in the Tailteann Games of 1932.

Former Clare footballer, P.J. O'Dea of Kilrush, has the distinction of playing with the most clubs in either hurling or football. He figured with clubs in Clare, Cork, Dublin, Birmingham, London, Toronto, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago. A total of twenty all told for he played with more than one club in some of these places.

Thursday 14 March 2013

GAA Championship Milestones

1921: Limerick, captained by Bob McConkey, beat Dublin in the hurling final in May to become the first winners of the Liam McCarthy cup.

1923: Mick Gill played in two finals with different teams inside a few months—and was on the winning team each time. He had a fine game for Galway as they beat Limerick on September 14, 1924 in the delayed hurling final of 1923 for the western county's first championship. Gill was then a Garda stationed in Dublin and played club hurling in the capital. But as he had earlier played with Galway in the long delayed 1923 series, he was eligible for the final. There was no declaration rule then and Gill lined out with Dublin in the 1924 final played on December 14. He had an outstanding game as the Dubs beat Galway. He became the only man to ever win two Senior All-Ireland hurling medals in the one year.

1928: Bill "Squires" Gannon led Kidare in their successful defence of the All-Ireland Senior Football title against Cavan in the final, and was later presented with the Sam Maguire Cup. This was the first time that the trophy was awarded to the winners of the championship.

1931: The only occasion that the All-Ireland senior final, in either hurling or football, went to a third meeting. Cork and Kilkenny played two draws before the Munster county came out on top in the concluding game by 5-8 to 3-4. The three games attracted an aggregate attendance of 91,519 and, in sharp contrast to today's prices, the receipts amounted to just £7,759.

Friday 8 March 2013

World Hurling Championship 1931

In a room in Thurles CBS stands a magnificent cup bearing the inscription:
Trophy presented by Major James J. Walker for World's Hurling Championship Ireland v. America 1931 
How this cup was won by Tipperary for Ireland is a glorious chapter in our hurling history and well worth recalling.

The team that travelled to America in 1931 was that which won the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship in 1930: J.J.Callanan (capt.), J.O'Loughlin, J.Maher, M.Ryan, J.Harney, J.Lanigan (Thurles); T.O'Meara, M.Kennedy (Toomevara); P.McKenna (Ballingarry); P.Purcell (Moycarkey); P.Cahill (Holycross); M.F.Cronin (Lorrha); T.Butler, T.Leahy (Boherlahan); T.Treacy (Templemore).

The party also included: M.McGann, J.Stapleton, T.Butler, T.Connolly (Thurles); J.McKenna (Ballingarry); Johnny Leahy (Manager); Rev. J.J.Meagher CC (Thurles), President of the County Board, and Rev. M.J.Lee DI. The tour was sponsored by Mr. Dan Breen TD who was in New York at the time.

The party sailed from Cobh on 8th September. On arrival in New York, the team and officials received a very enthusiastic welcome and were received by deputy Mayor McKee at the City Hall. In the course of their tour from East to West, they were feted everywhere they went.

The team played seven times—three in New York and one each in Boston, Detroit, Chicago and San Francisco. In the opening game in New York, Tipperary defeated a picked team representing the USA by ten points. The next game was in Boston before an attendance of 30,000 where Tipperary defeated a Massachusetts selection by 4-4 to 2-3. The second game in New York was attended by 20,000 which Tipp won by eight points. Tipperary continued their winning way in Detroit, Chicago and San Francisco, and climaxed a successful run by winning the magnificent Cup which was presented by the donor, Mayor Walker, to Vice-Captain, J.O'Loughlin at a farewell supper. A triumphant tour had ended.

Thursday 28 February 2013

Jimmy Smyth: A Hurling Giant

I—and, I feel certain, many others—will have been greatly saddened to learn of the death of former star Clare hurler, Jimmy Smyth.

Jimmy Smyth in action against Wexford in 1953
Jimmy was one of the all time greats. He had a unique record in minor hurling with Clare. He first played on their county minor team at fourteen years of age and played for a further four years afterwards. He won three Harty Cup medals while playing at mid-field with St.Flannan's College, Ennis, and went on to win All-Ireland college titles with the school in the same years. He won eight Railway Cup medals while playing with Munster between 1952 and 1965. He also won five Clare senior hurling titles with his club Ruan. Jimmy first played for the Clare senior hurling team when only seventeen years of age. He was a member of the Clare junior hurling team beaten in the All-Ireland final by London Irish in 1948. From that time until the mid sixties he was a star performer on the Clare senior team. In a Munster senior championship match against Limerick, played at Ennis in June 1954, he put up a championship record score of 6-4. In the same year, he won an Oireachtas medal with Clare, beating Wexford in a replay.

In the GAA magazine, Gaelic Sport, of January 1973, Jimmy—then an executive officer at GAA headquarters—had a long chat with Owen McCann. I will quote some of the comments he made:

Having been a contemporary of some of the biggest names in hurling, he had no hesitation in putting one above them all—"Christy Ring, whom I regard as the supreme artist". He rated Eddie Keher as the outstanding man of the previous twelve years, and made former Tipperary ace, Galway-born Tony Reddan, the best goalkeeper.

As a forward, Jimmy came up against many great backs. He recalled wistfully the skills of Matty Fouhy and Tony O'Shaughnessy of Cork, and John Doyle and Tony Wall of Tipperary. Dan McInerney—a team mate of his in the Clare side—he puts in a special class as one of the greatest leaders Clare hurling has ever produced. McInerney played at full back of course.

Jimmy had a high opinion, too, of Ray Cummins, Cork: "One of the great full forwards". After much thought and consideration, he came up with his top eight hurlers:
1. Christy Ring
2. Nicky Rackard
3. Eddie Keher
4. Jimmy Doyle
1. Pat Stakelum
2. Bobby Rackard
3. Jimmy Finn
4. Mick Roche
On the club theme, he made the point that: "Like most inter county players, I gained more satisfaction from playing with the club than the county".

May the green sod of his beloved Ruan rest lightly on this noble son of Clare.