Tipperary Minors Beat Cork in 1929 for the First Time
Tipperary G.A.A. Yearbook 2008
The first-ever meeting of Cork and Tipperary in the recently-established under-18 hurling grade took place in 1929. This championship commenced the previous year and Tipperary had only one game, which resulted in a heavy defeat at the hands of Waterford in the semi-final.
Having defeated Clare by 3-3 to 2-0 before a sparse crowd at Limerick on September 15 with a team, according to the contemporary report, 'drawn from Thurles, Roscrea, Newport and Boherlahan', they came up against Cork in the semi-final at Mitchelstown on October 27 in conditions anything but conducive to skillful hurling.
Tipperary had the better of exchanges in the first half and led by 2-0 to 0-1 at the interval. The second half was dominated by defenders on both sides. Cork, with a greater share of the outfield exchanges, threatened the Tipperary defence on numerous ocasions, but their finishing was poor. In the course of the half each side could manage but a single point to leave the final score 2-1 to 0-2 in favour of Tipperary.
The Tipperary team was M. Murphy (capt.), J. Ryan and E. Wade (Boherlahan), M. Kennedy (Inch), J. J. Maher (Roscrea), W. Long (Holycross), Jack Coffey and Jimmy Coffey (Newport), P. Russell, G. Heavey, J. Lanigan, J. Maher, T. Harney, J. Russell (Thurles), J. Riordan (Nenagh).
The only survivor from the team is Jimmy Coffey, who was 98 years on October 27. His brother, Jack, was also on the team. According to Jimmy 'the brother was a desperate character, who wouldn't train.' John Joe Maher of Roscrea was to give distinguished service as a hurler and later as an administrator to his club. Mick Kennedy from Inch went to work in Limerick at an early age but used to cycle home every Saturday night to play with his club. He was on the county junior team in 1930 that won the All-Ireland. Apparently he had some falling out with the county as a result of being dropped after a drawn game in the Munster semi-final and never played for Tipperary again. He declared for Limerick and went on to win three senior All-Irelands with the greatest team of the thirties.
The important thing to be said about the team was that they fielded illegal players. After the victory in the semi-final, the Cork minor selection committee were unanimously of the opinion that an objection should be lodged against Tipperary on the ages of five individuals. The objection was sent to the Munster Council and the Cork County Board debated on whether to proceed with the objection. The chairman, Sean McCarthy, said he was against the objection. According to him Cork had gained many successes during the year and in the interests of the harmony prevailing among the counties, he advised leaving the matter to the board's representatives on the Munster Council. Other delegates disagreed and thought they should proceed with the objection. Eventually it was put to a vote and it was decided, on a vote of 22 to 13, to withdraw the objection.
Asked if the Cork minor selection committee were right in their belief that five Tipperary players were overage, Jimmy 'Butler' Coffey has no hesitation in saying that they were. He himself was two years overage having celebrated his twentieth birthday on the day Tipperary defeated Cork at Mitchelstown! He is convinced there were four others though at this distance he isn't quite sure who they were.
Tipperary lost to Waterford by 7-5 to 0-2 in the Munster final, played at Waterford on November 3. Maybe the choice of Waterford as the venue contributed to such a huge defeat, though the referee on the occasion was Tom Keating from Fethard. Was it a case of 'you can have venue as long as we have the referee'?! One is inclined to believe, without much evidence I might add, that Waterford may have been flexible about the ages of the players, just as Tipperary were. At any rate Waterford went on to beat Meath in the All-Ireland.
Tipperary had their days in the sun the following year when they won the Munster and All-Ireland minor hurling finals. Seven of the 1929 team played, Eddie Wade, Jack Coffey, Jimmy Coffey, Ger Heavey, John Lanigan, Tim Harney and Jack Russell, who captained the side.
Tipperary and Cork have met in the minor championship on 54 occasions since 1929 with victory going to Tipperary 34 times to Cork's 20. According to these results we ought to be doing better that Cork at senior level!