Losing All-Ireland Hurling Teams 

Tipperary G.A.A. Yearbook, 2008


I got a phonecall during the summer from a collector of photographs of All-Ireland finalist teams, who was looking for help with the Tipperary teams on his list. They included 1909, 1913, 1917, 1922, 1960, 1967, 1968 and 1988 All-Ireland losing sides. There was no difficulty getting the photograph of the losing side in 1988 as the cover of the 1989 Tipperary G.A.A. Yearbook carried it. Finding the others was to be much more difficult.

In the course of my searches for the photographs I came to the conclusion that supporters as well as players tend to shun losing teams. They definitely don't buy photographs of them. It is as if they hope that the bad memory of losing will go away if there is no image of the team left hanging around.

Also, the county has no archive of photographs from the earlier years. The County Yearbook didn't come into existence until 1970 and since then it has become an increasingly valuable archive of G.A.A. activity in the county. Understandably it has become a better source of such material as the production expanded and the quality of the production of photographs improved.

If one goes back before 1970 the archive is very poor. Canon Fogarty's history is very good on winning teams and we owe him a debt of gratitude for including such good copies of winning All-Ireland photographs. But, there are no losing teams in his publication. The local newspapers no longer keep an archive of photographs and it is significant that none of the papers had a copy of the 1967 or 1968 losing All-Ireland sides.



In the case of photographs discovered from the earlier years the problem was one of identifying the players. The 1922 picture was a case in point. With the help of Seamus Leahy we got the names of about thirteen or fourteen of the players. The others remained a problem until Donie Nealon got P. J. Maxwell's help and they were identified.

We don't know the actual lineout for this All-Ireland, which was played on September 8, 1923. The practice at the time was to give the captain, and then the goalkeeper, and it is difficult to decide in what order the rest of the players were named. From the match report in the 'Tipperary Star' it was possible to identify the subs, who were John Conway, Dan O'Brien, Phil Cahill, Bill Ryan and Martin Mockler. If one studies the picture closely it is possible to identify sixteen jerseys that were the same. Dan O'Brien, as well as the fifteen who played, are wearing them. Does this indicate that the number of jerseys in the set was sixteen and that the rest of the subs had to make do with their own jerseys?

The interesting thing about Phil Cahill is that it came as a surprise to some of the older generation that he was on the 1922 team. John Cleary, who poses a striking figure on the right of the second row, was later Parish Priest of Lorrha. He told me of his disgust at losing the final, by 4-2 to 2-4, and how he gave expression to it by dumping his hurley and boots into the River Liffey as he walked from O'Connell Bridge to Kingsbridge to catch the train after the match.

The names of the players who appeared in the photograph are as follows: Jack Power, John Conway, Pake Spillane, Jack Darcy, Pat Browne, John Joe Hayes, Martin Kennedy, Dan O'Brien, Phil Cahill, Joe Fitzpatrick, William Dwan, Johnny Leahy, Arthur O'Donnell, Jack Cleary, Jim O'Meara, Bill Ryan (K), Tom Dwan, Paddy Power, Martin Mockler, Stephen Hackett.



Losing in 1968 must have been a very bad memory because finding a photograph of the team was very difficult. Most of the usual expectations proved negative. A banker for such photographs, Sportsfile, didn't have a copy. They did send me on what they thought to be a copy but it turned out to be the photograph of the side that won the National League final in the same year. I was told that a picture of the team was in the clubhouse of Carrick Davins because there were three Davin players on the team, captain, Mick Roche, P. J. Ryan and Jimmy Ryan. However, my journey was in vain: there was a colour picture of the 1968 side but it was of the fifteen who played in the Munster final. Noel O'Gorman, who was sent off in the semi-final against Clare, wasn't eligible to play and was replaced in the final by Matt Stapleton. Noel was back for the All-Ireland final. Eventually I got a fine black and white picture of the full panel in Croke Park on All-Ireland day from Donie Nealon.

The bad memory that people may have had about the 1968 final may have been due to the nature of losing it. Tipperary led by 1-11 to 1-3 at half-time but Wexford, powered by Tony Doran, came at them with a great rally in the second half and went into the lead. A very late rally by Tipperary, that brought goals in the twenty-eighth and twenty-ninth minutes, ran out of time and Wexford were winners by 5-8 to 3-12 at the final whistle. Until the two late goals Tipperary had scored a mere point in the half despite having a forward line of Babs Keating, Jimmy Ryan, Jimmy Doyle, Mackey Mckenna, Sean McLoughlin and Liam Devaney.

The names of the players in the photograph are as follows: Matt Stapleton, John O'Donoghue, Noel O'Gorman, Mick Burns, John Gleeson, Liam devaney, Mick Roche (capt.), Sean McLoughlin, John Costigan, Brian Kenny, Francis Loughnane, Jerry Doyle (assistant trainer), Ossie bennett (trainer), Len gaynor, John (Mackey) McKenna, Donie Nealon, Jimmy Ryan, P. J. Ryan, Patsy Roland, Seamus Shinnors, Michael (Babs) Keating, Phil Lowry.



I got the photograph of the beaten finalists of 1967 from Len Gaynor. Again, I had to ask a lot of people before I found a copy. Few of the team kept a copy of the photograph. Maybe they were so used to winning up to then that they didn't bother.

The 1967 final was another bad experience for Tipperary losing by 3-8 to 2-7 to Kilkenny on September 3. Not only was it galling to lose to a side that hadn't beaten us since 1922, the nature of the defeat was worse. Tipperary led by 2-6 to 1-3 at the interval and looked comfortable. However, in the second half, Kilkenny got on top at midfield, where John Feehan and Paddy Moran outhurled Mick Roche and Theo English. As a resultTipperary forwards were deprived of a supply of ball and succeeded in scoring only one point during the half. Added to that were severe probl;ems in the fullback line where Kieran Carey and Noel O'Gorman had a most unhappy hour. There was also the eye injury suffered by Kilkenny's Tom Walsh. All of these matters made it a game to be forgotten although beforehand it was hoped it would bring a ninth All-Ireland to the great John Doyle. Dermot Gilleese summed up matters well in his match report in the Daily Mail: 'Kilkenny proved beyond all doubt that hurling is a young man's game. The bitter truth which Tipperary must now face is that they had little chance of taking their 22nd All-Ireland with eight players over thirty in the side, and the result was that their oldest player, John Doyle, was deprived of a record ninth All-Ireland medal.' Four of the team, John Doyle, Kieran Carey, Tony Wall and Theo English, did not appear the following year.

The photograph of the 1967 is of the team alone: John O'Donoghue, Noel O'Gorman, Theo English, John Doyle, Kieran carey, Sean McLoughlin, Tony Wall, Michael Keating, Len gaynor, John Flanagan, Jimmy Doyle, Michael Roche (capt.), Donie Nealon, Liam Devaney, Mick Burns.



The photograph of the losing 1960 team also required some searching. The usual suspects proved negative. I then called in the services of Denis Walsh of the Sunday Times. Newspapers have ways of sourcing photographs that ordinary folk don't. Denis came back with the information that a photographer in Enniscorthy had a copy, and a fine photograph it turned out to be. It stood to reason he should have seeing that Wexford were there on the day and won.

This final was one in which our oponents led from the start and early in the third quarter it was plain to see that Wexford were heading for victory. They were in control at centrefield and had almost totally eclipsed the Tipperary half-forward line. The only time in the game when Tipperary looked like rising to the occasion was during a ten-minute spell before the interval when they scored four points to leave Wexford only two points in front at the interval. However, it was a revitalised Wexford rather than Tipperary that re-appeared after the interval and within a short time they were heading for their well-deserved 2-15 to 0-11 victory.

Interestingly there were only three changes on the team that narrowly defeated Dublin the following year in the All-Ireland. Donal O'Brien had replaced Terry Moloney in goals, Matt O'Gara replaced Tom Ryan at centrefield, while Sean McLoughlin replaced Billy Moloughney in the full-forward line.

The full panel of players was as follows: Billy Moloughney, Noel Murphy, Liam devaney, John Doyle, Michael Maher, Sean McLoughlin, Tom Moloughney, Kieran Carey, Donal O'Brien, Ray Reidy, Donal Ryan, Mick Burns, Theo English, Jimmy Doyle, Tony Wall, Donie Nealon, Terry Moloney, Matt Hassett, Liam Connolly, Tom Ryan.



We jump forward to 1988 when we lost to Galway after reaching the All-Ireland for the first time since 1971. We qualified as a result of beating Antrim in the semi-final, having gone into that match as red-hot favourites and relieved to win by eight points.

There were two major talking points coming up to the final. One was the decision by management to conduct most of the pre-final training behind closed doors, ostensibly to relieve pressure on the players.The second issue was the dropping of the captain, Pa O'Neill, who had captained Tipperary to victory in the National League final earlier in the year and in the Munster final.

In spite of these matters there was huge expectation when we played Galway on September 4. There was a great desire to avenge the defeat by the same opposition in the semi-final the previous year. In a medicore game before 63,545 spectators, Tipperary succumbed to Galway's superior physical strength, and were beaten by 1-15 to 0-14. And yet things might have been different had a John Leahy goal not been disallowed and had Galway's, John Commins, not saved a great shot from Pat Fox, both in the second half. At half-time, having played against the breeze, Tipperary were a mere four points behind on a scoreline of 0-10 to 0-6, and looked poised for victory. Instead there was nothing but frustration as Tipperary's forwards were stymied by the Galway backs, brilliantly policed by Tony Keady, who prevented them from getting clean possession.

The complete panel was as follows: Ken Hogan, Paul Delaney, Conor O'Donovan, John Heffernan, Bobby Ryan, Noel Sheehy, John Kennedy, Colm Bonnar, Joe Hayes, Declan Ryan, Donie O'Connell, John Leahy, Pat Fox, Nicky English (capt.), Aidan Ryan, Cormac Bonnar, John Leamy, Richard Stakelum, Seamus Gibson, Pa. O'Neill, Michael Cleary, Conor Stakelum, Austin Buckley, Conal Bonnar.


1909, 1913, 1917

Tipperary lost three more All-Irelands, all of them back in the early decades. The first final to be lost was in 1909 when the Thurles Blues selection lost to Kilkenny (Mooncoin) by 4-6 to 0-12 at Cork on December 12. It was the first time Tipperary failed to score a goal in a major final. The team lined out as follows: Tom Semple (capt.), J. O'Brien, T. Kerwick, P. P. Burke, J. Fitzgerald, J. Mockler, J. Moloughney, A. Carew, M. O'Brien, P. Fitzgerald, J. Mooney, R. Mockler, H. Shelly, T. Gleeson, J. Burke, P. Brolan, J. Hackett. Sub. E. Hayes.

A Toomevara selection were defeated in the 1913 All-Ireland. They lost to Kilkenny (Mooncoin) by 2-4 to 1-2 at Croke Park on November 2 in the first 15-a side final. Tipperary defeated Roscommon by 10-0 to 0-1 in the semi-final. The team was known as the 'Toomevara Greyhounds' because it was anchored by eight players from the famous club and captained by Wedger Meagher. They were strong favourites going into the final, having routed Kilkenny by 5-4 to 1-1 in the Croke Cup final a few months previously. As Tipperary were noted for their speed, Kilkenny trained as never before, and on the day were able to stay with their opponents. It was a wonderful game, played at a hectic pace. Kilkenny revealed a sharpness from the start while Tipperary were stale and lifeless, showing none of the zest they had displayed in the Croke Cup final. Kilkenny deserved their victory. It brought to an end one of the greatest eras in Kilkenny hurling during which they won seven All-Irelands between 1904-1913.

The losing Tipperary side was as follows: P. Widger Meagher (capt.), Jack O'Meara, Frank McGrath, Stephen Hackett, Jack Harty, Ned Gilmartin, Ned Cawley, Bill Kelly (Toomevara), Paddy Brolan, Hugh Shelly (Thurles), Jimmy Murphy, Bob Mockler (Horse & Jockey), Ed O'Keeffe (Templetuohy), Tim Gleeson (Drombane), Jack Raleigh (Emly). Sub: J. McKenna (Borrisokane).

Tipperary, represented by a Boherlahan selection, were defeated by Dublin (Collegians) in the 1917 final. Played at Croke Park on October 28, they lost by 5-4 to 4-2.. Dublin's victory was to usher in the greatest period of hurling in Dublin. Over a span of eleven years the county was to dominate the All-Ireland championship, playing in six finals and winning four. The county was strengthened by an influx of players from the country. There wasn't one Dublin-born player on the 1917 side, which included players of the calibre of Tommy Daly and Brendan Considine from Clare, Sean Hyde from Cork, Joe Phelan from Kilkenny, Bob Mockler from Tipperary and Dr. John Ryan from Wexford. Coming into the 1917 final they had a losing sequence of six All-Ireland defeats and Tipperary may have suffered from over-confidence going into the game.

The Tipperary team was as follows: Johnny Leahy (capt.), Jack Power, Willie O'Dwyer (L), Joe Nagle, Paddy Leahy, Jack Doherty, Dick Walsh, Willie O' Dwyer (Boherlahan), Hugh Shelly, Mick Leahy (Thurles), Tom Shanahan (Killenaule), Stephen Hackett, Jack O'Meara (Toomevara), Jer Collison (Moneygall), Joe Fitzpatrick (Two-Mile-Borris). Subs: Arthur O'Donnell, Paddy O'Dwyer, Paddy Power, Jack Gleeson, Dan O'Brien (Boherlahan), John Joe Hayes (Two-Mile-Borris).

As far as my researches go there is no photograph of any one of these three losing All-Ireland sides in existence. I should love to be proved wrong as it would be great to see their faces.