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.