Wednesday 30 January 2013

1935: Tragedy for Tipperary

Tipperary began the 1935 football campaign with a visit to Ennis to play Clare. The game was a hectic one with Tipp emerging winners by 1-8 to 0-8. Fermoy was the venue for the Munster final against Cork. In the early stages, Cork made all the running with only the brilliance of Jim Williams in goal keeping the Leeside forwards in check. Tipp settled down and points from Kieran Holland, Dick Lonergan and Dick Allen, followed by a goal from Jim Noonan, had them ahead at the break. By the three quarter stage Tipp were well clear. At the finish, nine points separated the teams as Tipp bridged a thirteen year gap to win 2-8 to 1-2.

Rare Pathé Newsreel Footage
On then to Croke Park on August 18th where Cavan, All-Ireland champions in 1933 and beaten semi-finalists the following year, provided the opposition. At the time Cavan fielded some of the all time greats including Tom O'Reilly, Jim Smith, Louis Blessing, Packie Boylan and M.J. McGee. Tipp were not overawed by the opposition, however, and began well with Dick Allen shooting the opening point. The Premier county were having the better of matters but faulty finishing cost many scores. At the interval, Cavan—despite fewer chances—led by 0-5 to 0-2. Tipp found their scoring range in the second half and points from Kieran Holland, Dick Lonergan and Waltie Scott raised Tipp hopes. Twenty minutes of the second half had elapsed and scores were level at 0-6 each. With eight minutes remaining, Dick Allen placed Dick Power for the lead and Kieran Holland added a point. Cavan came back for a point at the other end but, going into lost time, Tipp still clung on to a one point lead.

The Tipp defence conceded a "50" and as Cavan captain, Jim Smith, stepped up to take it, referee Paddy McDonnell of Dublin was seen to speak to the player. Tipp players and supporters waited with bated breath for what seemed certain to be the last kick of the game. As the ball dropped short Tipp were certain that the game was over but no whistle sounded. Blessing broke the ball to Tom O'Reilly who deflected it past Jim Williams for a sensational goal. Despite Tipp protests, the green flag was raised, the match was over and what seemed like certain victory for Tipp ended in tragedy. Over the hour Tipp had a total of seventeen wides to Cavan's five.

Jim Williams
Clonmel Shamrocks
Mick Morrissey

Bill Purcell
Bob McGann
Clonmel Shamrocks

Ned Scott
Paddy Denny

Jimmy Lonergan
Tommy O'Keeffe
Kilsheelan / Shamrocks
Tommy McDonald
Clonmel Shamrocks
Dick Lonergan
Moyle Rovers

Dick Allen
Kieran Holland

Jim Noonan
Dick Power
Clonmel Shamrocks

Waltie Scott

The Tipperary full back, Bob McGann, was a member of the Garda stationed in Clonmel at the time. He was a native of Galway and played at centre half-back with his county's hurlers when they lost to Cork in the All-Ireland senior hurling final of 1928. He married one of the Moloughney ladies whose family were Clonmel publicans. They moved to Cork city and one of their sons, Barry, played rugby for Ireland in the late sixties and seventies.

Saturday 26 January 2013

We Killed Them With Kindness

History tells us that, on 8th July 1928, Kerry played Tipperary in Tipperary town in the Munster Senior Football Championship. Kerry were hot favourites to win the game but Tipperary won by 1-7 to 2-3. Kerry had been unbeaten in the Munster Senior Championship since 1923; during that time they won All-Irelands in 1924 and 1926. In the years that followed they won four-in-a row All-Irelands from 1929 to 1931. During this period their teams contained such household names as Dan O'Keeffe, Joe Barrett, Paul Russell, Con Brosnan, Bob Stack, John Joe Sheehy, Jackie Ryan and the Landers brothers, among others.

I reproduce here an article by an unnamed writer penned in the match programme for the Erin Foods sponsored challenge games played at Semple Stadium, Thurles on 26th January 1990. The event was promoted by Friends of Tipperary Football. Tipp played Cork in the hurling and Down in the football:
We Killed Them With Kindness: Tipperary v. Kerry - 8th July 1928 
As the 5.45pm train steamed into the station at Tipperary Town on the Saturday evening, the Kerry players, officials and supporters could scarcely have anticipated the tremendous welcome that awaited them. 
Local enthusiasts had gathered in great force—both local bands were present—and the members of the Tipperary Urban Council provided an official welcoming party. As the team stepped from the train, the C.J. Kickham band struck up the National Anthem—an inspiring moment. In the course of the official address of welcome, it was stated that Tipperary can appreciate "the stimulating influence which a visit from such redoubtable upholders of the code is sure to exercise over the local fostering of the game". 
The famous John Joe Sheehy—the Kerry captain—in the course of his reply said: "We did not indeed expect such an extraordinary greeting and we appreciate very much the great compliment that has been paid to us. And I can assure you that we reciprocate fully the great tribute of respect that you have paid to our County". 
With the formalities over, the team checked in and had a meal at the Royal Hotel. A local paper concludes it's account of that Saturday evening by merely stating: "The team left at 7 o'clock for a tour of the Glen"—but thereby hangs a tale. The official version of that evening would say that the Kerry team was taken on a scenic tour of the Glen of Aherlow, and that light refreshments were served. The unofficial version would say that whatever happened that evening in the Glen had a disastrous affect on the Kerry performance the next day. 
Now many a good man went to the Glen and left intoxicated—with the beauty of the place. But that would not affect any Kerryman—they have more than their share of scenic spots. And any good Kerry man could drink pint for pint with any Tipp man. No, the problem did not lie there either. The unofficial version would say that it was the water coming from the Galtee streams, they were told, served late in the night that did the damage. Perhaps, perhaps! 
Tipp's performance the next day showed that they had a good night's rest for one thing. In the first half they led the Kerry defence a merry dance and went in at half-time leading 1-5 to Kerry's 0-2. The men from the Kingdom found their feet much better in the second half, but the Tipp defence held firm. The final result was Tipperary 1-7, Kerry 2-3. The moral of the story must be that there is more than one way to win a championship match!!
Tipperary team: Jack Weston, Dan Mullins (Fethard); Dick Heffernan, Tom Carthy (Clonmel); Paddy Arrigan, Paddy Kenny (Carrick); John O'Leary, Ned Lonergan (Ardfinnan); Tom Lee, Mick Barry (Bansha); Dick Mockler, Bill Barrett (Mullinahone); Tom O'Keeffe (Kilsheelan); Con Keane (Thurles); Jim Davey (Templemore); Sub: John Merrick.

Tuesday 22 January 2013

The Irrepressible Mick Mackey

The following is a reproduction of an article written by Paddy Doherty of Thurles in the match programme for the Munster hurling finals played at Semple Stadium on 15th July 1990. The senior final featured Cork (winners) and Tipperary.
The Irrepressible Mick Mackey 
"Upon his native sward the hurler stands, To play the ancient pastime of the Gael, And all the heroes famed of Innisfail are typified in him...."—taken from an introduction by J.B. Dollard (Sliabh na mBan) for the book "The GAA in its Time" by Pádraig Puirséil.
Mick Mackey (1912 - 1982)
Upon reading the above verse, the name Mick Mackey immediately came to my mind. For me, he was the Cúchulainn of modern day hurlers. He had that swash-buckling arrogance about him that endeared him to all who were fortunate enough to have seen him in action on the hurling field. My own memory of Mick was watching him as a young lad from the sideline, lumbering along with the ball hopping rhythmically on his stick heading for the Killinan goal. As the defender closed in on him, he caught the ball in his left hand and, with right arm raised and hurley held shield-like in front of him, he cut through the defence—leaving men falling like nine-pins in his wake—and as he got to within striking distance of the goal, struck with the speed of a cobra's tongue and the net bulged. I can still hear that roar of approval ringing in my ears from the thousands of supporters. 
Yes, Mick Mackey's fame will live for many's the day to come. The stories told about him are many and colourful, not just for his skill as a hurler but also for the character he was on and off the field. 
I had the pleasure of meeting Mick at his home in Ard na Crusha, Co. Limerick, in the afternoon of July 1st 1981. I brought along four young lads from Thurles—Noel Scanlon, Ian Darling, George Shaughnessy and Stephen Purcell—to meet the legendary king of hurlers. I will always cherish that day and I know those boys—now young men—will too. Mick looked a picture as he came out to greet us. He had made a great recovery from a recent illness and was in great form. After the introductions we were taken into the sitting-room and made feel at home by Mrs. Mackey who gave us a lovely tea later in the evening. We sat back in our comfortable chairs. At first the play was tight as they say, but then I turned on a recording I had made with the following former Tipperary hurlers—John Maher, Ger Cornally, Tommy Doyle, Tommy Semple, Bunny Murphy, Tommy Butler and Mickey Byrne—all sending Mick their best wishes. As he listened, he seemed to relax and a twinkle came into his eye as he recounted the happenings of the glorious days gone by. I include here a few of the events he spoke of:
Q: Mick, what does the memory of Thurles hold for you? 
Mick: It was my happy hunting ground. You would always meet someone in Liberty Square on Munster Final day. Thurles was a great town and if you couldn't hurl in Thurles, you couldn't hurl anywhere. 
Q: Which of the Tipp men do you remember best? 
Mick paused for a moment.
Mick: Well, myself and John Maher, we were marking one another several times, you know. We never had a cross word between us in all the years. He was a tough, bony divil—he was fair though—you'd know if you passed him, said Mick with a chuckle. 
Mick spoke of his father,Tyler. He remembered seeing him hurl only once back in 1922. He was a very strong man and, pointing to the door, Mick said: "Do you see that door? If he (Tyler) came to that door he'd take it. He was very strong". 
I asked Mick how did his father get the name Tyler. Mick replied: "My father had bought a strong pair of boots at Tyler's shop in Limerick and he was kicking football one day and scored a great point when someone shouted from the sideline,"Good Tyler there", with reference to the boots, and that stuck to him. 
At this stage Mick was getting into his stride, and continued: "We never came home the day we went out", he laughed. "There was an old man, Davy Conway, with us one day we went to Thurles. Davy was in the Limerick team in 1910 and he was a founder member of the Ahane Club and he came with us. He was a man that never drank; all he did was chew tobacco. He was sitting in the car waiting to come home in the early hours of the morning. He was a postman in Lisnageragh. But, anyway, we arrived home in Castleconnell at seven-thirty in the morning, and my father (Tyler), Lord have mercy on him, was coming home after milking the cows. When the car pulled up, my father said: "I thought, Davy, you had a bit of sense". Davy never went to a match after that until the day he died, God rest him. When Tyler said that to him, he decided it was time he stayed at home". Mick laughed at the telling; he was clearly enjoying himself. 
I asked Mick what he thought of the rules of the game now. "Well", replied Mick, "the frontal charge was there then. When you were coming in, they could take you. You wouldn't come in against John Maher and them, but they would take you anyway", he chuckled. 
"I was twelve stone, ten pounds, and fit", he continued. "I had great strength then, thank God. I kept very fit by walking and running. I did a lot of walking. In 1940, I trained as no one ever trained before. I could have hurled two matches". 
Referring to Tipperary's style of hurling, he commented that "they hurled shoulder to shoulder, and when they got going at all, they would come in waves to you".
Finally, Jim Devanney (R.I.P.) of Borrisoleigh recalled how Mick was always ready to upstage you, like when he was waiting for a car to come out from Thurles to collect him and bring him in to play against Limerick in the Munster final final of 1936:
There was no sign of the car coming as Tom Delaney and myself sat outside Bill Maher's. This car came from the Nenagh direction and pulled up about a hundred yards down the Thurles road and reversed back to where we were sitting. The window was wound down and who stuck out his head only Mick Mackey. "Are you coming in?" shouted Mick. "I'm waiting for a car", replied Jim. Mick shouted back: "Get into the bloody car!" and we all went to Thurles together. Final score: Limerick 8-5 Tipperary 4-6. Mick Mackey scored a then personal best of 5-3. 
The following week's headlines on the sports page of the Tipperary Star: "Limerick's victory over Tipperary in Munster final" and in bold headlines over the story of the game was: "The irrepressible Mick Mackey".
P.S. The Jim Devanney mentioned in the article was father of Liam Devanney, star forward on Tipperary senior teams in the fifties and sixties.

Monday 14 January 2013

Important Tipperary Win

McGrath Cup Quarter Final:

Tipperary 2-9; Cork 1-9

Yesterday's Tipperary win over Cork in the McGrath Cup senior football competition would matter little to many people. But to a lover of Tipperary football like myself—and many others—it was very significant. For many years, Kerry and Cork have proven to be insurmountable hurdles for Tipperary senior footballers. Up until the mid-forties, more often than not, Tipperary had the better of Cork in senior football clashes. One has to go back to the mid-twenties to find a time when they could hold their own with Kerry at senior football level, except in 1928—which was considered a freak result at the time—when they beat them in a Munster semi final played in Tipperary Town.

The last time Tipperary beat Cork in the Munster senior football championship was on 18th June, 1944 when they won by 1-9 to 1-3 in the semi-final played at Clonmel sports field. In the final of that year, played in Limerick on 9th July, Tipperary lost out to Kerry by 1-6 to 0-5 in a game played in atrocious weather conditions. At mid-field for Tipperary that day was an 18 year old from Mullinahone: the late, great Mick Cahill. Partnering him, as he often did before and after, was the great William "Bunny" Lambe of Old Bridge, Clonmel who passed away a few years ago. It was generally accepted then, and ever since, that they had the edge, on the day, over the renowned Kerry partnership of Paddy Kennedy and Sean Brosnan.

In the Munster senior football semi-final played in Dungarvan on 24th June 1945, Tipperary lost to Cork by 1-7 to 1-6. Cork went on to win the All-Ireland, beating Cavan in the final. Tipperary did beat Cork in a national football league game played in Fermoy on 27th November 1949. The last senior victory over Kerry was in a national football league game played in Clonmel in 1945. Despite the efforts of the 'true blues', who felt that both hurling and Gaelic football should be promoted in Tipperary—with football needing an extra effort—the game declined due to the small-minded attitude at board level and among many of the clubs. With the great success at under-age level in recent years, a revival is at hand.

Sunday 13 January 2013

Lowering the Bar of Irish Society

Societal Ireland is continuing to drift further into the mire. Certain elements—and they are increasing in number—are so perverted and blind as to be devoid of any remnants of humanity and are being facilitated by prominent sections of the media who find it most profitable to be the public voice of the corner-boy cut-throats.

There were many examples of what I am on about at the Joint Oireachtas Hearings on abortion which took place during the past week. I will mention the comments of two contributors which I happened to see in the press. When people who represented the-right-to-life of the unborn were making submissions, they were described as being 'anti-woman' and being guilty of 'misogyny' by one female member of the Oireachtas. Another heavily-pregnant lady made the cold remark that 'what is inside me is a foetus, not a baby'.

The pro-abortion agenda is being driven by an interpretation of Article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution made by The Supreme Court in 1992 to the effect that the probability of a pregnant woman being suicidal was a legal basis for an abortion to be carried out. The judgement is so flawed that it defies all logic.