Tipperary Rule the Roost between 1958 & 1968

County Tipperary Senior Hurling Semi-finals match program, October 26, 2014


Tipperary dominated the hurling scene during the years from 1958 to 1968, contesting eight All-Irelands. They won in 1958, 1961, 1962, 1964 and 1965 and their three losses came in 1960, 1967 and 1968.

First of all the losses. Wexford came out on top in 1960 and 1968. In 1960 they were very much underdogs with the pundits rating their chances next to zero. One pundit stated that while Wexford were ‘skilled, seasoned but no longer in the full flush of youth, would be exposed to a merciless pounding by the searing, searching persistency of this most talented of all attacking machines.’ The reality on the day was so very much different. Tipperary were only a shadow of what was expected of them, scored only eleven points and were outclassed by a Wexford side that scored 2-15. 

Wexford’s second success in 1968 was sensational. Trailing by ten points after twenty-six minutes, they stormed back to be eight points in front as the game entered the last quarter, reminiscent of their great comeback in the 1956 league final, and while Tipperary got two late consolation goals, Wexford were deserving winners.

Tipperary’s other loss was to Kilkenny in the 1967 All-Ireland, their first defeat by the black and amber in a major competition since 1922. On a blustery day Tipperary with wind advantage led by double scores at half-time and their lead would have been much greater but for some brilliant saves by Ollie Walsh between the posts for Kilkenny. In the second half Kilkenny got on top at centrefield where John Teehan and Paddy Moran out-hurled Mick Roche and Theo English. The supply of ball was cut off to the Tipperary forwards who were limited to just one point and Kilkenny should have won by more than their four-point margin of victory. John Doyle was seeking his ninth All-Ireland medal on the day, in his nineteenth year of senior hurling for Tipperary. 

The Victories

The first of Tipperary’s victories was over Galway in 1958, after beating Kilkenny in the semi-final. Tipperary were hot favourites and only 47,000 attended the final, the lowest number since 1944. Although playing against the breeze in the first half, Tipperary led by ten points at half-time, two early goals shattering Galway’s chances.  However, Galway changed goalkeepers and put up a better performance in the second half before going down by 4-9 to 2-5. Following this defeat Galway made their debut in the Munster championship and this arrangement stood until 1969.
Tipperary were expected to beat Dublin easily in the 1961 final because of the latter’s record in the championship since 1948. They beat Wexford sensationally in the Leinster final but not many gave them a chance against Tipperary in the All-Ireland, the first hurling final to be televised. Although Tipperary led at half-time Dublin went ahead in the second-half and looked likely victors. Two events halted their progress. The first was the sending off of the inspirational Lar Foley and the second a brilliant save by Donal O’Brien in the Tipperary goal. In the end Tipperary were very lucky to win by a point.

A year later Tipperary’s opponents in the final were Wexford, who unexpectedly defeated Kilkenny in the Leinster final. This game was a thrilling encounter. It was nip and tuck right through with the lead changing on numerous occasions. Tipperary’s superior freshness in the closing stages ensured their two-point victory on a scoreline of 3-10 to 2-11.

Having lost sensationally to Waterford in the 1963 championship, Tipperary were back with a bang in the 1964 campaign and their progress to the final was uninterrupted and spectacular.  Kilkenny were their opponents in the final and were slight favourites following impressive displays in the Leinster championship. In fact they went down to Tipperary by 5-13 to 2-8 and suffered their greatest defeat since the 1937 loss at Killarney.

Tipperary’s progress to the 1965 final was equally impressive. They inflicted a crushing defeat on Cork in the Munster final and were favourites against Wexford in the All-Ireland final  The foundation of Tipperary’s success were laid by two goals by Sean McLoughlin in the first quarter and an impregnable inner line of defence.  In the end they won by 2-16 to 0-10.

In the five finals Tipperary amassed a total of 14 goals and 64 points and conceded 7 goals 46 points. Three players. Donie Nealon, Jimmy Doyle and Liam Devaney, played in all eight All-Irelands. This great period of dominance came to an end for Tipperary with the 1968 defeat.  There was to be one more flash of brilliance in 1971 but after that the ‘famine’ arrived and the county had to wait for eighteen years for the next All-Ireland success.


The Achievements of the 1964 & 1965 Players.

Path to Glory in League, Championship and Oireachtas

National League 1963-1964
Sept. 29, Nenagh: Tipperary 9-14 Galway 1-4
Oct. 13, Ennis: Tipperary 5-7 Clare 2-8
Nov. 10, Thurles: Tipperary 3-14 Cork 1-3
Mar. 22, Kilkenny: Tipperary 2-12 Kilkenny 3-9 (draw)
Apr. 19, Nenagh (SF) Tipperary 3-16 Limerick 2-5
May 10, Croke Park (HF) Tipperary 5-12 Wexford 1-4
May 31, New York (F) Tipperary 4-16 New York 6-6

Munster Championship
July 5, Limerick (SF): Tipperary 6-13 Clare 2-5
July 25, Limerick (F): Tipperary 3-13 Cork 1-5
Sept. 6, Croke Park (F): Tipperary 5-13 Kilkenny 2-8

Oct. 4, Croke Park (SF): Tipperry 2-11 Dublin 2-4
Oct. 18, Croke Park (F): Tipperary 5-7 Kilkenny 4-8

National League 1964-1965
Nov. 22, Nenagh: Tipperary 8-10 Clare 2-4
Nopv. 29, Cork: Tipperary 4-8 Cork 2-12
Feb. 7, Ballinasloe: Tipperry 4-12 Galway 0-9
Apr. 4, Thurles: Tipperary 5-7 Kilkenny 7-10 (defeat)
May 9, Croke Park (SF): Tipperary 2-18 Waterford 1-9
May 23, Croke Park (HF): Tipperary 3-14 Kilkenny 2-8
Sept. 19, New York (1): Tipperary 4-10 New York 2-11
Sept. 26, New York (2): Tipperary 2-9 New York 3-9 (defeat)
Tipperary win on agregate by 6-19 to 5-20.

Munster championship
June 27, Limerick (SF): Tipperary 5-8 Clare 3-3
July 25, Limerick (F): Tipperry 4-11 Cork 0-5

Sept. 5, Croke Park (F): Tipperary 2-16 Wexford 0-10

Oireachtas (Tipperary had free passage to final.)
Oct. 17, Croke Park (F): Tipperary 2-12 Kilkenny 2-7

Analysing these scores is a fascinating exercise. Tipperary played 24 competitive games in the two years, winning 21, losing 2 and drawing 1. They won the National League the All-Ireland Championship and the Oireachtas (when it was a major tournament) in both years.
They scored remarkably the same each year, 51 goals and 154 points in 1964 and 52 goals 148 points in 1965. Combined this worked out at an average of approximately 4-13 per game for the 24 played. They conceded 27-69 in 1964 and 24.94 in 1965 which combined averaged out at 2-7 per game, or approximately half of what they scored themselves.

One indication of Tipperary's strength at the time was the number of players picked on the Munster Railway Cup team in 1965, 10 in all: John O'Donoghue, John Doyle, Kieran Carey, Sean McLoughlin, Mick Roche, Babs Keating, Liam Devaney, Theo English, Tony Wall and Jimmy Doyle. 
The full list of players involved was as follows: Michael Murphy (Capt. 1964), Jimmy Doyle (Capt. 1965), Mick Burns, Kieran Carey, Liam Devaney, John Dillon, John Doyle, Paddy Doyle, Theo English , Len Gaynor, Michael 'Babs' Keating, Larry Kiely, Michael Lonergan, Seamus Mackey, Michael Maher, John 'Mackey' McKenna, Sean McLoughlin, Donie Nealon, John O'Donoghue, Noel O'Gorman, Peter O'Sullivan, Mick Roche, Pat Ryan, Tom Ryan, Tony Wall.