Monday 29 September 2014

The Great Jack Kyle

Yesterday morning, it was with great pleasure — and a large degree of nostalgia — that I listened to Jack Kyle, at 88 years of age and accompanied by his daughter, in conversation with Miriam O'Callaghan on her radio programme.

Jack Kyle
In my early youth my ambition, with others, was to play Gaelic Football and to try our hands at hurling with all kinds of imitation hurleys. When the International Rugby season began I would listen intently to Liam Brown and Austin Darragh describing the progress of the Irish team. They had some great players at the time, but the shining light was Jack Kyle. He was the greatest out-half of that era, closely followed by the recently deceased Cliff Morgan of Wales.

Following a particularly brilliant Kyle try against France at Ravenhill, Belfast in the early fifties, the great rugby reporter of the time, the late Arthur P. McWeeney, writing in the Sunday Independent, borrowed from the introductory words to the popular radio drama of the time "The Scarlet Pimpernel":
They seek him here, they seek him there,
Those Frenchies seek him every where,
The paragon of craft and guile,
The daring elusive Jackie Kyle.

Sunday 28 September 2014

Bitter Disappointment for Tipperary

All-Ireland SHC Final Replay:

Kilkenny 2-17; Tipperary 2-14

It was another sad evening for Tipperary players and supporters. It is very hard for those of us who lived through the great Tipperary victories of the 50's  and 60's — especially against last night's opponents — to experience such hardship in winning All-Irelands for the county in the past 40 years. The way the game is played now — more especially in the past 20 years — has played into the hands of Kilkenny who were always more adept at the handling game. That is the reason they have been so successful during the past fifteen years especially. It has become a mad scramble for the ball on the ground now; something of a "lucky dip". It was described recently by one former county hurler and manager as "a hurling scrum".

Tipperary's recipe for success in the past was to move the ball on the ground — "first time pulling" as they used say. They need to make much more use of this style of play in future. To keep players sharp, club hurling can be made more competitive by regrading weaker teams and changing the playing format of such contests.

Having written all that, on the evening mistakes were made which could have made all the difference if a little more cuteness was shown. Players carried the ball into cul-de-sacs where not alone were the side exits blocked, the rear one was also then sealed. Instinct will dictate when a player should make a sudden surge towards goal. It would be much better to spread the ball to the flanks and let the receiving players shoot for points. They gave too many long distance passes via the hurley — always something of a lottery — when a shot for a point might have been a better option.

Monday 15 September 2014

The Star-Spangled Banner

The Star-Spangled Banner is the National Anthem of the USA. It was officially adopted by that country in 1931. This year is the 200th anniversary of it's origin. The words were composed in 1814 by Francis Scott Key, an American lawyer. It is sung to the tune of "To Anacreon in Heaven", composed circa 1771 by an English man, John Stafford Smith.

Monday 8 September 2014

Heart-stopping Game

All-Ireland SHC Final:

Tipperary 1-28; Kilkenny 3-22

My experience of yesterday's All-Ireland final, played at Croke Park, was of much stress, great joy at times and then anxiety; so much that I could not watch the second-half live — I had to record it. I then had the pressure of seeing the end of the game live and experiencing great relief at the final whistle.

The players showed unbelievable endurance for amateurs. The game had a high level of skillful point scoring among other great qualities.

Tipperary will win the replay if the backs show more cuteness and craft; when more than one player goes to an opponent in possession, they should make sure he is not allowed to make a long pass to an unmarked colleague who has all the time in the world to put the ball over the bar or to a well placed inside forward. When attempting to block an opponent's effort to strike the ball, a player should concentrate on blocking the ball rather than the other player's hurley.

Tuesday 2 September 2014

In the Burren Country

In the beautiful Burren country of County Clare as you travel north from Limerick to Galway, you come upon the birthplace of Michael Cusack at Moughney, about a mile from Carron. He, with Maurice Davin of Deerpark, Carrick-on-Suir, called the historic meeting at Hayes Hotel, Thurles on 1 Nov 1884 that saw the founding of the Gaelic Athletic Association, the ruling body over the games of Hurling and Gaelic Football. On 18 December 1884, Dr. Croke, Archbishop of Cashel, gave the Association his benediction in a famous letter that was to become known as "The Chapter of the GAA".

The first official All-Ireland Championship final was played on Easter Sunday, 1 April 1888. It was the final of the 1887 championship and Tipperary (Thurles), under the captaincy of Jim Stapleton, said to be a man of powerful physique, beat Galway (Meelick) at Birr.

The Liam McCarthy trophy, which goes to the winners of the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship, was presented for the first time in 1921 and Limerick, under the captaincy of Bob McConkey, were the first team to inscribe their name on it.