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Treasures of Lár na Páirce Munster Senior Hurling quarter-final, Cork v Tipperary at Thurles, May 21, 2017.

Treasures of Lár na Páirce

Munster senior hurling quarter-final, Cork v Tipperary at Thurles, May 21, 2017


In an effort to inform people on the exhibits to be seen on a visit to Lár na Páirce, the Museum of Gaelic Games in Thurles, we have started a weekly post on our website, called the Treasures of Lár na Pairce.

We started with Pat Madden’s hurley. Pat, as you know, was the Meelick man, who captained Galway in the first All-Ireland. Recently, a very impressive monument to a hurler was erected in Farrell’s Field, Birr, where the game was played. Pat’s hurley is anything but impressive, a roughly-hewn piece of timber that would probably be disallowed today on health and safety grounds!
Incidentally, Thurles Sarsfields are re-enacting the first All-Ireland at the Thurles Sports Fest on July 1. The two teams will be suitably outfitted in the playing gear of the period and there will be a vintage parade as well.

Another ‘treasure’ posted was the Tubberadora Cap.  Part of the playing gear of the famous Tubberadora team of the end of the 19thth century was a cap. The navy blue caps bore the embroidered letters T H C, Tubberadora Hurling Club, in gold. The caps were part of the playing gear presented to the Tubberadora team by Tipperary Grocers’ Assistants, residing in Dublin. The players wore the caps not solely for the team photograph but also wore them while the game was in progress. 

What was regarded as the first inter-county hurling game under G.A.A. rules, was played in the Phoenix Park, Dublin on Tuesday, February 9, 1886. The teams involved were North Tipperary and South Galway. Tipperary won by 1-0 to nil, the only score got by Charles McSorley of the Silvermines club. Michael Cusack organised the game and had a cup sponsored. It is regarded as the oldest G.A.A. trophy and it’s on permanent loan to Lár na Páirce, courtesy of the Silvermines Club, where the cup ended up and got its name.

The dress of the early camogie players in 1904 aped the Victorian dress fashions then in vogue. The players wore long skirts and a blouse and one of the rules stated that ‘Skirts to be worn not less than 6 inches from the ground.’ One of the curious rules at the time stated that ‘intentionally stopping the ball with the skirt was a foul’! When one looks at the dress in Lár na Páirce today one’s immediate reaction is: How was it possible not to stop the ball with a dress so long?

To date there have been eight posts of the treasures and it is intended to continue to post one a week or, as often as time constraints allow. Of course, you can see all the treasurers mentioned as well as many more by visiting the museum.



Ned Treston’s Photograph

One of Michael Cusack’s efforts to promote the game of hurling soon after the foundation of the G.A.A. was an exhibition match in the Phoenix Park, Dublin on February 16, 1886. The teams came from South Galway and North Tipperary and they travelled by train to Dublin on the previous day. They were greeted by Cusack and marched to the Clarence Hotel, where they stayed.

Following a meal, Cusack held a meeting with both sides in which the rules of the game were discussed and agreed. These were the days when most hurling rules were local and the new common set hadn’t yet been widely accepted. 

The next item to be discussed was the sliotar to be used. The Tipperary side introduced their sliotar, which was larger than that used in Galway, and it wasn’t well-received by the Galway players. The latter were then invited to show theirs and it was only then they realised they had left it at home in Gort! 

This was where the Galway captain stepped into the breach. Ned Treston was a saddler by trade and he decided to make the Galway ball. Before he retired for the night he made the cork core of the sliotar and waited until morning to find a harness maker to cover it with leather. 

As soon as businesses were open he did the rounds of the streets in the neighbourhood of the Clarence. There were quite a number of harness makers but five of them refused his request to cover the cork core with leather. The sixth man he came across said to him:  ‘Maybe you could do it yourself?’ which Ned did. It was the forerunner of the modern sliotar, based on the design of the cupped hand. 

The teams marched from the Clarence Hotel, four deep, with their hurleys on their shoulders to the Fifteen Acres in the Phoenix Park. According to Galway G.A.A. historian, Padraic Ó Laoi ‘The substitutes carried the goalposts.’ The field was marked with the players’ coats. There was no charge to see the game, which had been billed by Cusack as ‘The Championship of Ireland’.
It was nearly three o’clock before the teams lined up with Cusack as referee. Before the game started Dan Burke objected that the Tipperary team wasn’t properly dressed, as they wore neither shoes nor short pants. In the invitation to the teams Cusack had requested that the teams wear a distinctive dress. Cusack agreed with Burke that the Tipperary players were breaking the rules, yet he allowed them to play. 

The Galway men got a great reception when they stepped on to the field dressed with green caps, white jerseys. knickerbockers and shoes.

The Tipperary ball was used in the first half and the sides were level at halftime. The smaller Galway sliotar was used in the second half but it didn’t do Galway any favours. Ten minutes from the end Charlie McSorley of the Silvermines scored a goal for Tipperary and the only score of the game gave them victory.

Ned Treston’s ball, which became the prototype of all subsequent sliotars, no longer exists but his photograph holds pride of place in Lár na Páirce with the Silver Cup, which was presented to the Tipperary captain after the victory.


Jimmy Brohan - The Prince of Corner Backs Munster S.H. championship semi-final, Cork v Waterford, at Thurles, June 7, 2015

Jimmy Brohan - The Prince of Corner Backs

Munster S.H. championship semi-final, Cork v Waterford, at Thurles, June 7, 2015


Jimmy Brohan was unfortunate to have been a great hurler at a time when Cork were least successful. A regular on the Cork senior hurling team between 1954-1964, his rewards were meagre for a player of his ability.

Born in Ballintemple in 1935 he made his debut in the 1953 National Hurling League and impressed sufficiently to be drafted into the championship panel in 1954. He replaced the injured Tony O'Shaughnessy in the All-Ireland semi-final against Galway but O'Shaughnessy was recalled for the final against Wexford.

A Munster and  All-Ireland medal may have been a good start to an inter-county career but during the remaining ten years of his senior period he enjoyed only one other championship success, when he won a Munster medal in 1956, before going down to Wexford in the All-Ireland. He was also on the losing side in four other Munster finals.

Jimmy was regarded as an outstanding corner-back. Christy Ring included him in his greatest ever team. Regarded as a tidy and economical player, his great ability was being able to bat the ball a great distance out of danger to the great frustration of the opposing forwards. He was also very good at catching the ball in the air

Jimmy's impressive talent was first recognised as a student at O'Sullivan's Quay CBS, where he played Harty Cup for three years, 1949-1953, unfortunately without any success. However, he had some consolation when he was picked on the Munster team which won the All-Ireland Colleges in 1952 and 1953. He was a member of unsuccessful Cork minor teams in 1952 and 1953.

Jimmy played his club hurling with Blackrock and made a major contribution to their county success in 1956, when they won the title after a gap of 25 years. In the same year he won a county junior football title with Blackrock's sister club, St. Michael's. He also won a Munster junior football medal in 1957, before losing to a Mayo team, that included Mick Loftus, in the All-Ireland. He won a second Cork senior hurling title in 1961 and also lost two finals..

Probably the greatest tribute to his greatness as a hurler was his Railway Cup record. At a time when selection was extremely competitive, Jimmy was a regular on the Munster team, making the first of seven successive appearances in1957 and winning six medals, missing out in 1962 only when Leinster were victorious.

Jimmy was later a selector on the Cork senior teams that won All-Irelands in 1976, 1977, 1978, and 1986, when he had the satisfaction of seeing his nephew, Tom Cashman, captain Cork to victory.
Jimmy's father hailed from Fethard, Co. Tipperary, before going to Cork to work in the Metropole Hotel, where he met his mother, Mary Murphy from Ballintemple. The couple had seven children of whom Jimmy was the middle one. Two of his brothers enjoyed sporting success playing soccer in the League of Ireland.

Jimmy retains a connection with Tipperary through his work as a gatechecker for Munster Council at Semple Stadium.



Clonoulty-Rossmore Celebrate 1989 Victory County Senior Hurling Final match program, November 2, 2014

Clonoulty-Rossmore Celebrate 1989 Victory 

County Senior Hurling Final match program, November 2, 2014


Clonoulty-Rossmore's victory in the 1989 senior hurling championship may have been partly overshadowed in the rest of the county by Tipperary's return to All-Ireland glory after eighteen years in the wilderness, but there is no denying what the success meant to the parish.
There was good reason why this should have been so. It was thirty-eight years since the club won a West senior hurling title and all of one hundred and one years since county honours had been annexed.

There wasn't much inkling of a dramatic breakthrough when the club met Golden-Kilfeacle in the first round of the West senior championship at Cashel on May 28 with Aengus Ryan as referee and gate receipts of £1848. There was a hint of something special about the team the previous year when they defeated county champions, Cappawhite, in the first round but the feeling was dissipated by a heavy defeat at the hands of Cashel King Cormacs in the semi-final.

Clonoulty won easily by 2-19 to 3-2 and went on to an equally facile victory over Kickhams by 2-14 to 1-5 at Golden on July 16. Cappawhite, who looked well against Cashel in the other semi-final, were their opponents in the West final at Emly on August 20. Beforehand Len Gaynor was drafted in as coach and training took on a new dimension as a result.  Sessions brought out full numbers, fitness levels were increased, team spirit was improved and a strong desire for success was generated.

The expectation of a rousing contest was reflected in the gate receipts of over £6,000 at Emly. Clonoulty got off to a stunning start and led by 2-3 to 0-0 mid-way through the first half. However, Cappawhite struck back to leave only two points, 2-8 to 2-6, between the sides at the interval. A goal but Peter Hayes soon after the resumption set Clonoulty on the road to victory which they eventually achieved on a scoreline of 3-20 to 4-6. It was a richly deserved breakthrough for the team, with T. J. Ryan as captain and the man-of-the-match award going to Peter Hayes.

The winning side was: Andrew Fryday, David Ryan (H), Cecil Ryan, Noel Keane, Seamus Hammersley, John Kennedy, Phil Shanahan, T. J. Ryan (R) Capt., Kevin Ryan, Declan Ryan, Joe Hayes, Michael Heffernan, Dan Quirke, Peter Hayes, Tommy Kennedy. Sub: John Ryan (J) for Tommy Kennedy.

County championship

Clonoulty faced reigning champions, Loughmore-Castleiney, in the county quarter-final at Thurles on September 24. In spite of having the better of the exchanges in the first half, they could manage only a three-point lead, 0-8 to 1-2, at the interval. Loughmore levelled with a John Treacy goal early in the second-half and for a good while the game hung in the balance. With nine minutes remaining Peter Hayes netted to give Clonoulty a three-point lead. However, the lead remained vulnerable until Kevin Ryan scored an insurance point near the end and this gave Clonoulty a 1-14 to 2-7 victory, Joe Hayes had a very fine game.

Clonoulty's next date was with Toomevara in the semi-final at Semple Stadium on October 8. Tommy Kennedy had a goal within two minutes of the start and that score signalled an easy passage for Clonoulty to a half-time lead of 2-6 to 0-1, the second goal coming from Declan Ryan. They eventually ran out convincing winners by 2-12 to 0-5 against an opposition that played way below par on the day. Tommy Kennedy topped the scoring list with 1-3.

The final set up Clonoulty against neighbours, Holycross-Ballycahill, at Semple Stadium on October 22. The build-up to the game was fantastic. Francis Kearney described it thus in his Yearbook article: 'Hurling was practically the only topic of conversation, banners and bunting in green and gold decked the village and every household lofted the colours in flags and a nultiplicity of banners. The hearts of young and old beat faster in anticipation of the great event.

A palpable tension infused the air on the morning of the match. The message 'Declan is Magic' emblazoned on the road at Cross of the Hough by some covert night-walkers, lifted all hearts on the long road to Thurles and epitomised the euphoric spirit of the occasion..'

Clonoulty were slight favourites, The first half was dour and close. Defences ruled but Clonoulty had marginally the better of affairs and retired leading by three points, 0-8 to 0-5, at the interval. Nine minutes into the second half came a crucial score when Peter Hayes swept the ball to the Holycross net. A pointed penalty by Kevin Ryan soon had Clonoulty six points up and seemingly headed for victory. However, Holycross came back in a bid to save the day. They cut the lead to four points and then substitute, Donal Ryan, goaled to leave but a point between the sides and still two minutes to play. At the end the last word came from outstanding centre back, John Kennedy, who pointed a '65' to secure Clonoulty's win by 1-11 to 1-9 amid unrestrained euphoria.

The victorious team was as follows: Andrew Fryday, David Ryan, Cecil Ryan, Noel Keane, Seamus Hammersley, John Kennedy, Phil Shanahan, T. J. Ryan (capt.), Kevin Ryan, Declan Ryan, Joe Hayes, Micheal Heffernan, Dan Quirke, Peter Hayes, Tommy Kennedy. Subs: Paddy Bourke, Alan O'Dwyer, Neil Ryan, John Kennedy, Tim Shanahan,  Timmy Corcoran, John Ryan, John Fitzgerald, Philip Quirke, Patrick Ryan.

Selectors: Tom Ryan, Michael Ryan, Owen Ryan. Coach: Len Gaynor.
Referee: John Moloney (Galtee Rovers).

Scorers in the championship:

Kevin Ryan (0-28), Joe Hayes (2-16), Dan Quirke (2-13), Peter Hayes (4-3), Declan Ryan (2-8), Tommy Kennedy (1-10), Michael Heffernan (0-5), T. J. Ryan (0-4), Noel Keane (0-2), John Kennedy (0-2).

For: 11.91; Against: 11-34.

Path to Final:

West championship:
(28/05/1989) First round: Clonoulty-Rossmore 2-19 Golden-Kilfeacle 3-2
(16/07/1989) Semi-final: Clonoulty-Rossmore 2-14 Kickhams 1-5
(20/08/1989) Final: Clonoulty-Rossmore 3-20 Cappawhite 4-6

County championship:
(24-09-1989) Quarter-final: Clonoulty-Rossmore 1-14 Loughmore-Castleiney 2-7
(08/10/1989) Semi-final:Clonoulty-Rossmore 2-12 Toomevara 0-5
(22/10/1989) Final: Clonoulty-Rossmore 1-11 Holycross-Ballycahill: 1-9


Munster Progress

Clonoulty headed for Munster at Bruff on November 5 but their progress was halted by Limerick champions, Ballybrown, in the semi-final. John Kennedy was missing, having flown out to the U.S. the same morning. The Limerick side led by 0-6 to 0-4 at the interval and went seven points in front on the resumption before a Peter Hayes goal gave Clonoulty hope. However, this was dimned when Noel Keane was sent off for a foul on Terence Kenny and, later in the half, by the dismissal of David Ryan. Down to thirteen players Clonoulty fought like demons to rescue the day and came within a whisker of doing so. Points by Joe Hayes and Declan Ryan left just one between the sides with time almost up. Two minutes into added time a Kevin Ryan free from the sideline about forty yards out veered wide and ended Clonoulty's hopes of Munster glory on a scoreline of 1-10 to 1-9.



Tipperary Rule the Roost between 1958 & 1968 County Tipperary Senior Hurling Semi-finals match program, October 26, 2014

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, {they} 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.


Des Dillon (1926-1964), Clare Hurler and More Munster Senior Hurling semi-final, Thurles, June 15, 2014

Des Dillon (1926-1964), Clare Hurler and More

Munster Senior Hurling semi-final, Thurles, June 15, 2014


In his column in the Irish Press soon after his death, Padraig Puirseal had this to say about Des Dillon: 'He might easily have been either the greatest handballer or the greatest hurler of our time. He had the size, the strength, the acquired skill and the immense natural ability to become a dominant figure in eather game, or possibly in both. To my mind the only reason he failed to reach even greater prominence in either game than he did, was because sport always remained sport to him.'

Born in Lisdoonvarna in 1926 it appears the family moved to Birr when his father became a Garda Sergeant in Lorrha. Des went to school in Mount St. Joseph's, Roscrea, where he excelled as a hurler, as well as other sports, on college teams between 1941-1945. He won two Offaly senior hurling championship with Birr in 1944 and 1946 and lost a final in 1947, while at the same time turning out for Offaly in the championship between 1945-47.

In the latter year he went to U.C.D. (1947-54) to study medicine. He won four Fitzgibbon Cup medals in 1948, 1950, 1951 & 1952 during his term there and a Dublin senior hurling title in 1948. He captained the Combined Universities against Ireland in the first game in the series  in 1952. His performances with the college brought him to the attention of the Dublin county selectors and he was a sub on the team that lost to Waterford in the 1948 All-Ireland and played with the county in the 1949, 1950 and 1951 championships. He was also picked for Leinster in the inter-provincial series.


First Retirement

He retired from hurling in 1951 in order to concentrate on his medical studies and we next hear of him in 1954, when he made his debut for Clare at midfield in a Thomond Feis game on May 9th.

His hurling career with Clare was very short – a mere 14 senior hurling games in all, including three championship games in 1955 – but he left lasting impressions on those who remember him. As a student in St, Flannan's in the early fifties, I recall him as a big man, black haired and legs that appeared to have been perma-tanned, striding with power and skill through the field of play.

He won an Oireachtas medal following a brilliant display against Bobby Rackard at the end of 1954.

His last game for Clare was another Oireachtas game against Wexford in October 1955. In the same year he won a Railway Cup medal with Munster.



Although still only 28 years of age, he retired from hurling to concentrate on his second great love, handball. In 1955 he won the Gael-Linn trophy for the first time and repeated his victory in 1957. In 1955 he also won the Munster senior doubles with John Slattery. His profession took him away from the game for a couple of years after that. He also won many Dublin titles but an All-Ireland medal always evaded him. He was beaten in the All-Ireland singles final in 1962.  In 1964 he qualified with Joey Maher (Louth) to play in the World Championships in the U.S.A.

He spent some of his professional life in England, in London, Liverpool and Wigan. When he returned from England he set up a pharmacy in Booterstown and it was at the railway station there that he was killed tragically by a train on November 24, 1964. He was survived by his wife, a seven year old daughter and an infant son.

Des Dillon was a larger than life personality, who excelled in other sports as well as hurling and handball and who left an indelible impression on all who knew him during a short life. For him sport was a pastime to be enjoyed and his carefree attitude to games was greatly at odds with the modern attiitude to sport.



Ned Power - A Great Goalkeeper Munster GAA SH Championship Quarter-Final replay at Thurles on June 8, 2014

Ned Power - A Great Goalkeeper 

Munster GAA SH Championship Quarter-Final replay at Thurles on June 8, 2014


Probably the best known Waterford player to hurling followers of a certain vintage is Ned Power (1929-2007), who played his club hurling for Dungarvan and Tallow, and as goalkeeper for the Waterford senior hurling team between the years 1957-1966.

Most people remember him because of the famous photograph, a classic action shot that has appeared in numerous locations around the world. The photographer was a man named Louis McMonagle and it was entitled 'Hell's Kitchen'. It's a mixture of 'physical force, danger, speed and pure skill'. It was taken in this stadium on July 8th, 1962 in a Munster semi-final match between Cork and Waterford, which the latter won by 4-10 to 1-16. 

The Cork man in the photo is recognisable to any hurling fan – particularly if he/she is from Cork because it is none other than the famous Christy Ring, who died a relatively young man at the age of 58. The Waterford defender he's tangled with in manly embrace is Tom Cunningham, while the third Waterford player in the picture is Austin Flynn.

It seems as if Ned Power is at the top of his game in the picture. In fact he was far from that. He had been dropped from the county side following an uncharacteristically poor display in 1961 and his playing days appeared over. Then after a frustrating year on the sideline he got a phone call that he was wanted again. He gave vent to his feelings and said to the team mentor that 'he must have been the best of a bad lot.' 'So along he came and the months and weeks of pent-up frustration and preparation for this moment launched him into a sparkling display that peaked with that famous leap into the sky, caught magically here for eternity.'

Ned won three Munster finals with Waterford, 1957, 1959 and 1963, one All-Ireland medal in 1959, one National League in 1963 and an Oireachtas medal in 1962.

After his hurling life, Ned Power turned his attention to coaching. He didn't believe that hurlers were dependent on heredity and became a great disciple of coaching. In fact he identified 131 individual skills that are part of the game of hurling. He believed that Kilkenny hurling was so strong because their players had mastered the skills of the game better than any other hurlers.

Ned Power's widow, Gretta, presented his All-Ireland winning medal of 1959, a Munster medal and his Oireachtas medal to Lár na Páirce in November 2013. The museum was thrilled to get this collection which is on display, together with the famous photograph, in a special case.

You can read all about the man, the photograph and how Ned Power brought revolutionary ideas to coaching when his playing days were over in his biography, My Father: A Hurling Revolutionary by Conor Power, which was published in Dungarvan in 2009



Cashel Intervention Results in Aghabullogue's Suspension in 1955 Munster Under-21 Hurling Championship Match Programme, Limerick v Tipperary, Thurles, May 31st, 201

Cashel Intervention Results in Aghabullogue's Suspension in 1955

Munster Under-21 Hurling Championship Match Programme, Limerick v Tipperary, Thurles, May 31st, 201


'Come listen awhile my countrymen and hear my mournful news,
Although my song be sorrowful I hope you'll me excuse
The tears roll down my cheeks like dew whenever I recall
Aghabullogue's long suspension now from playing a hurling ball.'

This mournful tale began in 1955 after Aghabulloge won the Mid-Cork intermediate hurling championship. By the time the county quarter-final came up, five of the players, who were clerical students, had returned to their respective seminaries and could not get out for the remainder of the championship, which was the rule at the time.

At the celebrations after the divisional final there was plenty of drink-filled talk that they'd be county champions, 'But someone then grew windy saying 'boys, we'll ne'er survive,/ So we'll pick a team to be supreme and no one will be wise'.

In crises there is always somebody to step into the breach and in this case it was Cashel native, Gerry Buckley, who was a member of the Aghabullogue club. He came up with a solution to their depleted forces: bring in a few replacements from Cashel:

'They are senior men, both big and strong, as I will let you see,
So fix the date and pay the rate and leave the rest to me.'

As a result of his contacts with Cashel his brother, Mickey, who won an All-Ireland minor medal with Tipperary in 1949, Mick Davern, Larry Harding, Billy Hickey and Sean 'The Glamour' Walsh, agreed to travel down in Mickey's van, under strict instructions to remain incognito and to talk to nobody.

In spite of the instruction Sean Walsh, who wasn't know as 'The Glamour' for nothing, wore white boots on the day! Aghabullogue defeated Banteer and prepared to meet Castlelyons in the semi-final. All appeared to be going to plan.

In the meantime, Cashel King Cormac's secretary, Martin Hackett, got wind of the word of it and informed the Cork county board that some Cashel players were travelling to Cork for the semi-final. The board informed Aghabullogue of the information received but the club went ahead and used the players.

Aghabullogue won but Castlelyons objected and won at the Cork county board hearing of the case.

They claimed to have identified Mickey Buckley in Clonmel Hospital, where Mickey ended up following a crash the day after the game. Mickey still denies the evidence, not that he played but the two witneses couldn't have seen him as he was inintensive care! Aghabullgoe appealed to the Munster Council that Castlelyons had an illegal player with the result that both teams were thrown out of the championship and Ballyhea won the championship by default.

'No more down at the enclosure gate will our local heroes stand,
No more will our supporters crow about this team so grand.
Aghabullogue are spectators now as you can plainly see,
But early in the New Year again they'll hoist the white and green.'

The Cashel boys were subsequently suspended by the Tipperary county board.

The twelve-month suspension of Aghabullogue had a devastating effect on the club. Many players left and joined other clubs and the club remained in decline for years afterwards.



Sam Melbourne – A Special G.A.A. Man Munster Hurling Championship, Tipp v Limerick, Semple Stadium, May 27, 2012

Sam Melbourne – A Special G.A.A. Man

Munster Hurling Championship, Tipp v Limerick, Semple Stadium, May 27, 2012


Sam Melbourne is alive and well and still sprightly at the age of 89 years. His collection of G.A.A. material forms the basis of Lár na Páirce, the Museum of Gaelic Games.

Over seventy years ago he started his collection which includes over 300 hurleys, signed by their star owners, photographs, whistles, jerseys, footballs and sliotars, newspaper cuttings and trophies, all relating to the history and deeds of great hurlers and footballers.

Born in 1923 at Curraheen, Horse & Jockey, Sam was a Church of Ireland man of farming stock whose boyhood heroes were Jack Gleeson and Tim Condon, who won three and four All-Irelands respectively at the turn of the century. Sam himself played hurling with success and was a member of the Mid minor team in 1940 and 1941. Cycling was another important sport for him and he recalls cycling to the 1945 All-Ireland.

His greater claim to fame was his collection of G.A.A. material, which he started in 1937 with Johnny Ryan's hurley. Johnny and the rest of the famous Moycarkey family were also his heroes.

He continued his collection when he moved into Thurles in 1948 to open a sports shop in Friar Street. The oldest hurley in the collection dates back to Ennis in 1870. According to Sam he never met with a refusal when he asked a player for an item.

John was married to Charlotte Smyth from Killenaule by this stage and they decided to move to Dublin in 1956. His collecting never ceased and over the course of years he had amassed a large amount of material.

Sam entered a new stage of his life after coming to Dublin, Someone suggested he should put the material on show and he jumped at the idea. One of the first places he brought his exhibition was to Ballycotton on the invitation of Jack Lynch and Fr. Bertie Troy. He never looked back after that.

He used load up his collection in a Hiace van on a Friday evening and drive to some G,A,A, club or community centre anywhere in the country, set up his exhibition on Saturday and return home on Sunday evening. He would give a talk, answer all kinds of questions and even add to his collection during the visit. He admits this was a wonderful part of his life and he used to love doing it.

He continued this way of life into the eighties when his collection had grown so large his garage was no longer big enough to contain it. The years were also catching up on Sam and the energy wasn't as great as previously. He decided to find a new owner for the collection. Eventually the Tipperary county board purchased it from Sam in 1988.

The county board looked around for a location to house the collection and, in conjunction with Thurles Development Association and Shannon Development, the old Bank of Ireland building on Slievenamon Road was purchased, refurbished and opened as a Museum of Gaelic Games by President Mary Robinson on November 8, 1994, one hundred and ten years and a week after the foundation of the G.A.A. in Hayes's Hotel. It ensured that Sam Melbourne's collection would continue to be available for viewing by the general public.


The Late James Holohan, Kilsheelan-Kilcash Allianz G.A.A. Hurling League, Tipperary v Cork, Semple Stadium, April 1, 2012

The Late James Holohan, Kilsheelan-Kilcash

Allianz G.A.A. Hurling League, Tipperary v Cork, Semple Stadium, April 1, 2012


James Holohan, Ballyknockane, Kilsheelan, was buried recently in Gambonsfield Churchyard after 12 o'clock Mass, on a sunny day when death should have been far away.

Our paths crossed in three areas of G.A.A. activity. We were both stewards on match days at Semple Stadium and used to meet with others for the tea and sandwiches before the game. The occasion was always a time for previews and speculations and James was good at having all the latest information on the players available.

We were also members of the United Sports Panel in Clonmel. In fact we were invited on to the panel in the same year 2001 and I got to know James even more closely as this 11-man panel used to meet over a three-month period on eight occasions to work out the Annerville Awards in a variety of sports. While James was a G.A.A. man he was always curious about other sports and his contributions were respected. Invariably we had to postpone the chairman's dinner in January because James and Bridget always took their big trip early in the month. This took them to many exotic places and it revealed a great curiosity about the world and other cultures by one who was solidly based and thoroughly identified with the culture and community of Kilsheelan.

My longest association with James was on the G.A.A. Yearbook Committee, where he was a member since 1995. He took this membership very seriously and was completely conscientious in the obligations the membership entailed. But, he was more than that. He was always seeking to make it a better book and his mind teemed with ideas on how it could be improved. He came to me a few years ago with copies of yearbooks from other counties to see where we could get ideas to enhance our own publication.

James wasn't content to be just another member of the committee. As well as contributing ordinary articles on G.A.A, events such as the opening of pitches and clubrooms, interviews with players and officials and reports on club achievements, James also came up with three original contributions. One of these was the Tipperary Yearbook Awards in which James summarised the year through the awarding of honours or criticism. It showed his thorough knowledge of what was happening within the the county and beyond.

Another of his contributions was to name different kinds of teams. For instance he named a team of 'right hand unders', which began with Brendan Cummins – who else? - in goals. There was a team of players with names beginning with O and Mac, etc. All fascinating pieces and great for Christmas reading.

Probably the best thing he did was a series of tales about the Cill Beag Gaels, the imaginary, rural G.A.A. club that worked so hard for the honour of the little parish and which was occasionally successful. I think this series tells us more than anything what James stood for. The Gaels represent honest, generous effort on behalf of the club, which is a vital part of the parish structure. There is no ego involved just wholesome and honest effort for the welfare of the club and the betterment of the community.

James didn't set the world on fire but he contributed significantly to life in many different ways. He impressed those he met and they took notice of him. Probably his greatest contribution was the dedication and commitment he brought to anything he did, to any club he belonged to, to any organisation he was part of. He didn't join anything for the sake of joining.

On the same day he was buried the report of the Mahon Tribunal was released. It revealed that corruption affected every level of government from cabinet minister to local councillors during the two decades of political dominance by F.F. James Holohan's life of unselfish and unremunerated service to club, parish and the wider community stands out in stark contrast. His life was a shining light against the backdrop of such darkness.

The best tribute to him and a measure of the impact he made on life and on the people who knew him was the large crowd that called to sympathise with Bridget, and his brother and sisters on the day of the removal of his remains and the overflow crowd that filled the church of Gambonsfield at noon for the funeral Mass.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis




West Senior Football Championship Winners 1940-2010 West Senior Football Final program, September 25, 2011

West Senior Football Championship Winners 1940-2010

West Senior Football Final program, September 25, 2011


The championship commenced in 1940 following a proposal by Emly at the convention held in the Golden Vale, Dundrum on January 14. Three teams affiliated, Arravale Rovers, Emly and Galtee Rovers and the championship was to be run on a league basis. There's an incomplete record of what transpired and it appears to have been unfinished because, in the following April, Emly were nominated to represent the division in the county championship.

In 1941 Arravale Rovers, Golden and Emly affiliated and the championship was to be played on a league, home and away system. All G.A.A. activity was dogged that year by the petrol shortage as a result of the Emergency and the Foot and Mouth disease. There is no record of how the championship progressed but it would appear that Arravale won it.

Three teams affiliated for the 1942 championship, Arravale Rovers, Emly and junior champions of 1941, Galtee Rovers. Again, information on the games is skimpy but we do have a record of the final, which was played between Arravale and Emly at Sean Treacy Park on November 4, with victory going to Arravale by 2-2 to 0-2.

There was no championship from 1943-46 inclusive.

1947 Galtee Rovers 5-6 Arravale Rovers 0-4. (The Galtee Rovers G.A.A. history gives the result as 5-8 to 0-4 and adds: ' 'The winning margin of 19 points has never been equalled or surpassed in subsequent finals, and for that reason alone, the final holds a special niche in the Annals of West Tipperary football'.)

1948 Arravale Rovers defeated Cashel Area. Because only two teams, Arravale Rovers and Galtee Rovers affiliated in the championship the board decided to organise three area teams drawn from junior clubs, Cashel, Dundrum and Emly. The Cashel Area team was drawn from Abbey Rangers, Cashel King Cormacs, Rockwell Rovers and Golden Kilfeacle.

1949 Galtee Rovers 3-2 Arravale Rovers 1-2. The Hennessy Cup was presented for the first time. It was presented by John Hennessy, chairman, Emly G.A.A. to the winning captain, Larry Maher.

1950 Galtee Rovers 1-3 Clonpet 1-0

1951 Galtee Rovers Five teams affiliated and the championship was run on a league basis. It got very little coverage in the local press. Galtee Rovers appear to have won but there is no record of what team they beat.

1952 Galtee Rovers 2-6 Rockwell Rovers 1-5

1953 Galtee Rovers 1-6 Rockwell Rovers 0-2

1954 Galtee Rovers 0-2 Rockwell Rovers 0-1 This was the completion of Galtee's fantastic six-in-a-row, never emulated by any other club except Galtee themselves between 1999-2004.

1955 Arravale Rovers 1-9 Rockwell Rovers 1-4. This was the fourth year in a row for Rockwell Rovers to be beaten in the final. Their next appearance was in 1962 when they were again on the losing side against Galtee Rovers.

1956 Solohead 1-7 Galtee Rovers 1-4

1957 Solohead 2-8 Arravale Rovers 0-5

1958 Lattin-Cullen 2-5 Emly 1-7

1959 Emly 2-2 Lattin-Cullen 1-4

1960 Emly 1-7 Galtee Rovers 2-2

1961 Lattin-Cullen 1-8 Galtee Rovers 0-2

1962 Galtee Rovers 1-7 Rockwell Rovers 0-3

1963 Galtee Rovers 2-3 Lattin-Cullen 1-5

1964 Lattin-Cullen 2-5 Emly 1-5

1965 Lattin-Cullen 3-7 Galtee Rovers 2-7

1966 Lattin-Cullen 3-4 Galtee Rovers 0-5

1967 Lattin-Cullen 0-5 Arravale Rovers 0-3

1968 St. Ailbie's (Emly/Aherlow) 0-13 Lattin-Cullen 1-4

1969 Lattin-Cullen 1-6 Solohead 0-3

1970 Solohead 0-10 Lattin-Cullen 0-6

1971 Lattin-Cullen 2-3 Newport 1-2

1972 Arravale Rovers 1-6 Lattin-Cullen 0-4. This was the end of a fantastic run by Lattin-Cullen during which they appeared in ten finals in a row, winning six, four of them in a row. They didn't appear again in a final until 1982, when they beat Cappawhite.

1973 Arravale Rovers 3-4 Galtee Rovers 0-8

1974 Galtee Rovers 1-3 Solohead 0-4 (R)

1975 Galtee Rovers 2-12 Solohead 0-5. The Brother Hennessy Cup was presented for the first time. It was presented by the board in memory of the late Tadhg Hennessy.

1976 Galtee Rovers 2-6 Arravale Rovers 1-1

1977 Solohead 1-6 Galtee Rovers 0-5. This fourth title turned out to be Solohead's last victory in the championship. It was a bad-tempered game between two bitter rivals. 'It looked as if everything went, the boot, the fist, the short-armed tackle, the lot,' reported Divot in the Nationalist.

1978 Cappawhite 0-7 Galtee Rovers 0-5 (Second replay).

1979 Galtee Rovers 1-14 Golden/Rockwell 2-6

1980 Golden/Rockwell 3-5 Cashel King Cormacs 1-2

1981 Arravale Rovers 1-6 Solohead 0-3 (R)

1982 Lattin-Cullen 2-3 Cappawhite 0-5

1983 Galtee Rovers 0-9 Solohead 0-2

1984 Arravale Rovers 6-5 Galtee Rovers 0-8

1985 Galtee Rovers 1-4 Cappawhite 0-4

1986 Golden-Kilfeacle 0-12 Arravale Rovers 0-8

1987 Emly 1-7 Arravale Rovers 1-5

1988 Golden-Kilfeacle 0-8 Galtee Rovers 0-5. The game was a re-fixture after the original game was abandoned following the death of referee, Timmy Hennessy.

1989 Galtee Rovers 0-8 Clonoulty-Rossmore 1-4

1990 Cashel King Cormac's 3-10 Lattin-Cullen 0-8. This was Cashel first title in the grade and they also created history in becoming the first club in the division to win both senior titles in the one year. The crowd that turned up for the final was one of the biggest ever for a senior football final.

1991 Galtee Rovers 2-11 Arravale Rovers 3-7

1992 Arravale Rovers 2-10 Lattin-Cullen 0-8

1993 Arravale Rovers 1-9 Cashel King Cormacs 2-4

1994 Lattin-Cullen 2-19 Galtee Rovers 3-8 (R)

1995 Golden-Kilfeacle 0-9 Lattin-Cullen 0-6 (R)

1996 Golden-Kilfeacle 2-19 Lattin-Cillen 3-5

1997 Aherlow 2-9 Kickhams 0-10. This was Aherlow's first appearance in the final and since then they have really made an impact in the division in football.

1998 Kickhams 0-12 Arravale Rovers 0-4

1999 Galtee Rovers 1-10 Golden-Kilfeacle 0-5

2000 Galtee Rovers 1-5 Aherlow 0-5 (R)

2001 Galtee Rovers 1-12 Arravale Rovers 0-7

2002 Galtee Rovers 3-12 Aherlow 0-6 (R)

2003 Galtee Rovers 2-12 Eire Óg 1-6

2004 Galtee Rovers 2-5 Aherlow 0-7. This victory completed Galtee's second six-in-a row to put them way ahead of other teams in the division. During the same years they won six divisional titles at under-21 level. Between 1999 and 2010 Galtee have appeared in 11 of 12 finals, winning seven.

2005 Aherlow 0-11 Galtee Rovers 0-8

2006 Aherlow 0-8 Galtee Rovers 0-5

2007 Aherlow 1-10 Eire Óg 1-9

2008 Galtee Rovers 1-14 Eire Óg 0-7

2009 Aherlow 1-7 Galtee Rovers 0-6

2010 Aherlow 1-8 Galtee Rovers 1-4. Aherlow, having come late on the senior football scene, have a great record in the last six finals, winning five of them.

Roll of Honour: Galtee Rovers 24, Arravale Rovers 10, Lattin-Cullen 10, Aherlow 6, Golden-Kilfeacle 5 (once with Rockwell), Emly 4 (once with Aherlow), Solohead 4, Cappawhite 1, Cashel 1, Kickhams 1.

Losing finalists: Galtee Rovers 15, Arravale Rovers 9, Lattin-Cullen 8, Rockwell Rovers 5, Solohead 5, Aherlow 3, Eire Óg 3, Emly 3, Cappawhite 2, Cashel 2, Golden-Kilfeacle 2, Cashel Area 1, Clonpet 1, Clonoulty-Rossmore 1, Kickhams 1, Newport 1.

County Final Record: Prior to the beginning of the West senior football championship in 1940 teams from Tipperary Town had won the county championship 8 times: 1888, 1889, 1894, 1895 1896, 1899, 1902, 1910. Since 1940 teams from the West division have won 10 county championships: Galtee Rovers 6 – 1949, 1950, 1976, 1980, 1981, 2008; Arravale Rovers 2 – 1941, 1985; Aherlow 2 – 2006, 2010.




John Kelly - Cappawhite Player of the Past West Senior Hurling Final Program, July 31, 2011

John Kelly - Cappawhite Player of the Past

West Senior Hurling Final Program, July 31, 2011


John Kelly recalls when growing up in Cappawhite in the fifties and sixties the belief that the only players from the West Division who made the county senior team were goalkeepers! Terry Moloney, Donal O'Brien, John O'Donoghue and Peter O'Sullivan immediately spring to mind but there were underage examples also. When he and Dinny Ryan were picked for Tipperary they showed that the division could produce backs and forwards as well.

John made his debut with the county minors as a panel member in 1964 and as a team member in 1965 and 1966. He was captain his last year. There was no success in any of the years, defeat in the Munster final in 1964 and 1965, and in the semi-final against Galway at Ballinasloe in 1966. This was a shock result, according to John, as Tipperary believed all they had to do was turn up!

John had revealed his hurling talent some years earlier with Cappawhite when he won two under-15 juvenile titles in 1962 and 1963. The former victory qualified the team for a trip, sponsored by John Player cigarette company, to the All-Ireland hurling final. Based on this rich vein of talent in the parish Cappawhite went on to become the first West team to win a county minor title in 1965 and John was unlucky not to win a second county minor title the following year when Cappawhite were defeated by Roscrea in a replayed final.

Cappawhite, fielding eleven of the victorious county minor team, won the county under-21 championship title in 1965 also, becoming the first West club to do so as well as being the first club in the county to do the double in the same year.

John had very respectable G.A.A. antecedents even though most of them were of the football inclination. He is a grandson of Dick Ryan (George), who was captain of Cappawhite 'White Caps' football team in the 1900s and also of John Kelly, who was a noted footballer from Donohill. Tradition has it that he helped Bohercrowe to their All-Ireland success in 1889. John is also a grand-nephew of Pat Furlong, who was a member of the Tipperary junior team the year of the Triple Crown victory in 1930.

John attributes the failure of the club to progress to senior achievement in the late 1960s to emigration. This is substantiated by a couple of sentences from his account of 1968 in the Cappawhite Club history: 'Since 1965, nineteen players, all promising ones, have left the parish. Five, it is interesting to record, became clerical students. Had they stayed in the parish Cappawhite would certainly have been a force in county hurling.' In a recent conversation John adds that the smallness of the farming community in the parish was a major contributory factor to emigration at the period.

Four Years at Under-21

If John didn't achieve much in the line of club under-21 honours, he enjoyed a long innings with the county team. He was involved for four years, in 1966 as a sub, in 1967, when he won All-Ireland honours, in 1968 and in 1969, when he captained the team. In the last two years Tipperary were beaten in the Munster finals.

It came as no great surprise in 1967 when John graduated to county senior status, making his debut in an Oireachtas semi-final game against Clare at Ennis on September 24, which was lost. He played during the league but wasn't retained in the 1968 championship and may have been lucky as there was a big clean-out of the team after the 1968 All-Ireland defeat. He was back for the Oireachtas and won the first of three Oireachtas medals, when Tipperary defeated Cork in the final on October 27. The other two medals were won in 1970 and 1972.

As a result of John's involvement with the team in the 1967/68 National League, which Tipperary won, when they defeated Kilkenny in the 'Home' final in May 1968, there was a trip to New York in June. It was an eventful trip. The first leg of the two-leg final was cancelled because of torrential rain. The postponed leg was called off again because of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy and the two legs played on successive days, 15th and 16th of June. Tipperary won by an aggregate score of 6-27 to 4-22. The Tippeary party paid their respects to the remains of Robert Kennedy, who was lying in state in St. Patrick's Cathedral. When they arrived at the Cathedral they found a queue several blocks long and didn't have the time to wait. During consultation s about what to do Babs Keating recognised a New York cop, who came to their aid. He got them in a side-door of the Cathedral so that they avoided the queue and paid their rspects without undue delay!

The highlight of John's senior intercounty career was winning the All-Ireland title against Kilkenny in 1971 in the first 80-minute final. He still has the sliotar from that game, being the last man to catch it after the final whistle. He enjoyed the trip to San Francisco with the team the following March, as he did trips to Wembley in 1969, 1971, 1972 and 1973, with success on two occasions. He was also a Railway Cup medal holder in 1970..

Played with Three Senior Clubs

He continued to play with Tipperary until 1975, all the time in the full-back position, except in the latter year when he played left corner-back. He also played at full-back during his underage years and the only time he played in a different position was as a junior hurler with Cappawhite, when he turned out at centreback in 1982.

John played his early club senior hurling with University College, Cork rather than Cappawhite, turning out with the college for three years, 1968-70. In the first year they met Glen Rovers in the county quarter-final and the game ended up as a free-for-all. The inevitable investigation took place as a result of which the Glen Rovers full-forward was suspended for life and eleven players were given suspensions for from one to six months. Both teams were thrown out of the championship. Following this game Dr. Paddy Crowley, who was playing on the occasion, introduced helmets to Ireland for the first time.

The two sides met in the final in 1969 and the Glen won. U.C.C. revenged the defeat in 1970 when they defeated Glen Rovers on the way to the final. This is John's only county senior medal. Incidentally the trainer of the Cappawhite team today. Conor Ryan (Hanna) was later to win one with St. Finbarr's.

John returned to Cappawhite in 1971 and played at centre-back against Clonoulty-Rossmore in the West championship and lost the replay. They lost to Burgess in the Open Draw county championship and to Cashel in the Crosco Cup.

By now John was teaching at Borrisokane and living in Kilruane and he threw in his lot with the latter for two years, 1972 and 1973. He had no success, losing a North final and a county final, during his time with the club.

John was back with Cappawhite in 1974 and enjoyed no success at senior level. The club lost four senior division finals during these years, in 1976, 1978, 1979 and 1981, as well as four Crosco Cup finals, in 1975, 1977, 1979 and 1982. He was regraded junior for the 1982 championship and won the West championship. Cappawhite qualified for the county final only to lose to Roscrea by 1-5 to 0-5, the same club as had beaten him almost twenty years earlier in the replayed minor final.

Before John's hurling career came to an end he was already involved as a selector and in club administration. At the county level he was a minor selector in 1979 and a senior selector at two different periods, firstly for a year in 1978 and then from 1983-85. At the club level he was chairman of the club from 1981-84 and also a senior selector at different periods. Currently he is a Life President. His is the author of the History of Cappawhite G.A.A. Club 1887-1989, which appeared in 1989. He is working on a Cappawhite Parish History at present.

Married to Mary Regan from Moycarkey the couple have five children, two boys & three girls. The older boy Denis is playing today and his other son Daniel played minor football against Kerry in the Munster final some years ago. Catherine, the youngest of the girls, has played underage camogie and football for the county. She also had success in the athletic world being successful at underage at team and individual All Ireland level.

John Kelly was a tough, uncompromising hurler, who strove to give his best on every occasion. His hurling was very much a reflection of the man, straightforward and committed to whatever task was to hand. His commitment could be seen in a constant desire to improve his game. He was one of the most dedicated of players when it came to training. There is a story told that he was going so strongly at one training session in Thurles that Mick Roche, lacking some of his fervour, shouted at Tommy Barrett to give him a ball and send him to the outside field! The same dedication is probably reflected in his decision to throw in his lot with Kilruane for two years, regarding North hurling to be on a higher level than that in the West. Overwhelming every other consideration was a determination to improve his ability and be at his best whether playing for Cappawhite or Tipperary.



Kilruane MacDonagh's Championship Sucess 1975 County Football Final program, October 25, 2009

Kilruane MacDonagh's Championship Sucess 1975

County Football Final program, October 25, 2009


As Kilruane MacDonaghs footballers began their 1975 football campaign few if any players harboured ambitions of ultimate success. The county senior football championship was played on an open draw and twenty teams participated.

The first round pitted Kilruane against southern kingpins Clonmel Commercials in Holycross. Scores were level four times in the first half but a John Quinlan goal gave MacDonaghs a two-point interval lead. Jim O Meara added a second goal in the 41st minute and four minutes later Kilruane moved the ball swiftly the full length of the field where full forward Sean O'Meara raised a third green flag. This crucial score spurred MacDonaghs on to record victory on a 3-7 to 1-9 scoreline, which was an upset for the books to say the least.

Seven times champions Fethard were to provide the opposition in the second round in Thurles. A brace of goals from Jim Williams and Sean O'Meara saw MacDonaghs take a three-point lead into the dressingroom at the break. On the resumption Fethard piled on the pressure but goalkeeper Tony Sheppard made some inspirational saves and Kilruane held out for a two-point win with the score 2-6 to 1-7 in their favour. 

In the quarter final they faced Fr. Sheehys of Clogheen at Holycross. The North team was always in control of this game and ran out comfortable winners on a 1-11 to 0-6 scoreline. 

County Semi-Final

The 1972 champions Kilsheelan-Kilcash blocked MacDonaghs path to the final. This was a tense low-scoring game, played at Cashel on August 10, with Kilruane leading I-4 to 1-2 at half time. Scores were even scarcer on the turnover but as time was running Kilsheelan edged a point ahead. Then Paddy Williams lofted a long range free into the Kilsheelan square where his brother Gilbert flicked the ball to the net. The score stood despite Kilsheelan protestations that it was a square ball. MacDonaghs added an insurance point to book a final spot on 2-5 to 1-5 scoreline. 

Against all the odds Kilruane MacDonaghs had reached the decider. The hurlers were also cutting a path to the final. All training was focused on the hurling but the week of the football final the small ball took a temporary backseat. 1973 champions and football specialists Loughmore Castleiney stood between the team and a fairytale ending. 

The newspaper pundits didn't give Kilruane much chance. One of them screamed: 'Loughmore-Castleiney set for County Football Title'. However, they were also covering their backs and one of them stated that 'the North Tipp side were outsiders in most of their games in the competition and didn't let that trouble them.' Another spoke of Kilruane's 'peak condition' and that they would have an advantage in their 'home ground' of Nenagh.

County Final

Few in the 4,000 attendance in MacDonagh Park, Nenagh ˆ the crowd was swelled by the county senior hurling semi-final between Moneygall and Moycarkey-Borris which preceded it - would have given Kilruane a chance at halftime. They had squandered innumerable opportunities in the first half and trailed by five points at the break with the score 1-7 to 1-2. 

The second half was a different story, however, as McDonaghs shed their inhibitions and thundered into the game. Just two minutes had elapsed when full-forward Sean O'Meara flicked the ball to the net and Kilruane were on their merry way. They had drawn level by the 58th minute and hit the front when Sean O'Meara passed the ball to substitute Noel (Sonny) Killackey who tucked it in the corner for the golden goal. Loughmore laid siege to the Kilruane goal in search of the equailser but had to be content with a point. MacDonaghs were not to be denied and were crowned champions on a scoreline of 3-6 to 1-10. Selectors Paddy Quinlan, Hughie McDonnell and Frank Brady had worked the oracle. 

The winning team was as follows: Tony Sheppard, Donnchadha Minogue, Denis O'Meara (capt.), Brian O'Reilly, John Kelly, Paddy William, Dinny Cahill, Tom Killackey (1-0), Phil Reddan, Seamus Hennessy (0-1), Jim Williams, Jim O'Meara, Gilbert Williams (0-1), Sean O'Meara (1-4), John Quinlan. Sub: Noel Killackey (1-0) for John Quinlan.

Referee: George Ryan (Lattin-Cullen)

It was the first time Kilruane had played in the senior football final and it was the first time in sixty years that a club team from the North division had been victorious.

Munster Club

Kilruane must have exhausted their effort in the county final. They had a bye to the semi-final of the Munster club football championship and played the Cork champions, Nemo Rangers, at Ballinlough on November 1st. The result was a massacre, 7-15 for Nemo and 0-3 for the Tipperary champions.

The North senior football championship was a separate competition to the county championship. Five teams affiliated., Kilruane played Silvermines in the semi-final on February 15, 1976 and were defeated.



Borrisoleigh's Three County Senior Titles in the Eighties County Hurling Final program, October 18, 2009

Borrisoleigh's Three County Senior Titles in the Eighties

County Hurling Final program, October 18, 2009


On this day we honour the Borrisoleigh teams who became county senior hurling champions in 1981, 1983 and 1986. The eighties were a great time for the club and when they won the county final in 1981 they were returing to the winners enclosure in senior hurling for the first time in twenty-eight years.

There were seven teams in the North senior hurling championship in 1981 and it was run on a league basis with six games for each team and the top four qualifying for the semi-finals. Borrisoleigh defeated Kilruane-MacDonaghs by 2-12 to 2-7 at Nenagh on August 8, and Roscrea defeated Lorrha by 3-10 to 2-10 at Borrisokane on the day after. In the final at Nenagh on September 27, Borrisoleigh toppled the champions, Roscrea, on a day when the ball was thrown in by the famous Tipperary full-forward, Martin Kennedy. 

Already the quarter-finals had been played at Thurles on August 30. Borrisoleigh defeated West champions, Eire Óg by 2-19 to 1-7, and went on to overcome Moycarkey-Borris by 1-15 to 3-8 in the semi-final at Templemore on October 4. Roscrea came through on the other side of the draw so that the two sides met in the final at Thurles on October 25. Borrisoleigh repeated the North result, on a scoreline of 1-14 to 0-12, to take their first county final since 1953.

The victorious side was: Owen Walsh, Michael Ryan, T. F. Stapleton, Timmy Stapleton (capt.), Timmy Delaney, Gerry Stapleton, Francis Spillane, Timmy Ryan, Pat Ryan, Brendan Kenny, Bobby Ryan, Noel O'Dwyer, Michael Coen, Tommy O'Dwyer, Pat Kavanagh.

Great Euphoria

There was tremendous euphoria in the parish as a result of the victory and one of the biggest ever receptions was afforded to the team on their return to the town. However, the jubilation of the victory came to an abrupt end at Waterford six days later when they were beaten by Mount Sion, 2-12 to 0-12, in the first round of the Munster club championship.

Borrisoleigh appeared to be returning to their old ways in 1982 when they were defeated in the first round of the North championship by Silvermines. However, they returned to the kind of form, that had brought success in 1981, the following year. Seven teams affiliated in the 1983 North championship with the semi-finals played at Nenagh on July 24. Lorrha defeated Kilruane-MacDonaghs by 2-9 to 2-8, and Borrisoleigh defeated Eire Óg by 2-15 to 1-10. In the North final at Nenagh on August 14, Borrisoleigh defeated Lorrha by 1-11 to 2-6.

In the county quarter-final at Holycross on August 28, Borrisoleigh were convincing winners over Eire Óg, Ballingarry on a scoreline of 1-14 to 0-6. Because of the re-development of Semple Stadium, it wasn't possible to play the semi-finals or finals there, and Borrisoleigh were severely tested before defeating Moycarkey-Borris by 1-13 to 1-12 at Cashel on September 25. The final was played at the same venue on October 30. Their opponents were Loughmore-Castleiney and nine members of the respective panels were members of Templemore C.B.S. All-Ireland Colleges champions team in 1978. The former school colleagues were rivals at Cashel and Borrisoleigh triumphed by three points, on a scoreline of 1-14 to 1-11.

The winning side was as follows: Owen Walsh, Mick Ryan, T. F. Stapleton, Timmy Delaney, Richard Stakelum. Gerry Stapleton, Noelie Maher, Timmy Ryan, John McGrath, Philip Kenny, Bobby Ryan, Aidan Ryan, Mick Coen, Timmy Stapleton, Noel O'Dwyer (capt.)*.

*Frank Spillane was team captain but didn't play on the day because of injury. Vice-captain, Noel O'Dwyer, substituted on the field but Frank came in to receive the trophy from county chairman, Mick Frawley, after the game.

Beaten in Replay

The winners were better prepared for the Munster club championship on this occasion. They had a bye in the first round and defeated Patrickswell by 2-6 to 0-11 at Kilmallock in the semi-final. In the final against Midleton at the same venue two weeks later, the Cork champions grabbed a draw with a 65 in the last minute of the game on a scoreline of 1-12 to 3-6. Borrisoleigh lost the replay by 1-14 to 1-11 on December 4, although leading by four points with a number of minutes to go.

Local poet Gerard Ryan celebrated Borrisoleigh's county final victory:

Once more the premier trophy returns to Borris town.

The vanguished have retreated, the victors won renown,

But all combined in sportsmanship a heritage to uphold,

A Gaelic pastime to renew, its pleasures to unfold

On wards, onwards men of Borrisoleigh, to the year of '84

Help restore Tipp to its rightful place, standard-bearers as before.

There was little joy for Borrisoleigh in 1984. Eight teams affiliated in the North senior championship and were divided into two groups with the top two in each qualifying for the semi-finals. Borrisoleigh failed to qualify. Nine teams affiliated in 1985 and were divided into two groups. Borrisoleigh qualified for the semi-final but were badly beaten by Kilruane-MacDonaghs.

Backdoor Entry

Borrisoleigh came back with a bang in 1986. Matters didn't look so good earlier in the year when they were defeated by Kilruane, 1-15 to 0-7, in the semi-final of the North championship, played at Nenagh on July 26. It looked as this was the end of the road for them once again. Kilruane went on to defeat Toomevara in the championship final.

However, Borrisoleigh had been runners-up in the Hogan Cup, which had been given a new status that year of allowing the winners to play the runners-up in the championship for the right to represent the division as the second team in the county championship. As Kilruane were championship and league winners, Borrisoleigh gained the right to play-off with the runners-up in the championship, Toomevara. The game was played at Roscrea on August 24 and resulted in a comprehensive win for Borrisoleigh of 3-19 to 2-9.

Borrisoleigh went on to defeat Carrick Swan by 3-17 to 5-3 in the county quarter-final at Boherlahan on August 31. They beat Holycross-Ballycahill by 3-10 to 1-7 at Templemore on September 14. Their opponents in the final at Semple Stadium on September 28 were Kilruane, who had defeated them twice already and were definite favourites to do so again, On one of the warmest days ever for a county final, the game was gripping all through but Borrisoleigh were the faster, hungrier and more determined team and won by 0-14 to 0-7, a big reverse on the results in the earlier matches, 0-14 to 2-6 in the North league, and 1-15 to 0-7 in the championship. Philip Kenny was the star of the success, scoring six points in all, and many gave great credit to trainer, Paddy Doyle, for Borrisoleigh's improved performances during the year. The mascot of the Borrisoleigh team, a cock, was in attendance, under the charge of Shane Tierney.

The team was: Noel Maher, Francis Spillane, Timmy Stapleton, Mick Ryan (capt.), Richard Stakelum, Gerry Stapleton, Bobby Ryan, Timmy Ryan, Francis Collins, Aidan Ryan, Noel O'Dwyer, Conor Stakelum, Michael Coen, Philip Kenny, John McGrath.

All-Ireland Glory

Borrisoleigh had a bye to the semi-final of the Munster club championship. They played Claughaun at Limerick on November 16 and won by 2-10 to 1-9. Their opponents in the final, played at Limerick on November 30, were Clarecastle. In a very disciplined performance they defeated the Clare champions by 1-13 to 1-9, to take their first Munster club title. The champions continued their good work into the new year with a 3-16 to 3-8 victory over Ballycastle-McQuillans at Thurles on February 8. The final was played at Croke Park on March 17 with Borrisoleigh gaining victory by 2-9 to 0-9 over Rathnure. 

The winning side was as follows: Noel Maher, Francis Spillane, Timmy Stapleton, Mick Ryan (capt.), Richard Stakelum, Gerry Stapleton, Bobby Ryan, Timmy Ryan, Francis Collins, Conor Stakelum, Noel O'Dwyer, John McGrath, Mick Coen, Philip Kenny, Aidan Ryan. Sub: Brian Kenny for Timmy Ryan. The other members of the panel were John Glasheen, Philip Delaney, Pat Ryan, Seamus Devaney, John Joe Maher, John Ryan, Joe Loughnane, Timmy Delaney.

Longest-Serving Member

Noel, or Noelie, Maher, who was a member of the three victorious county teams, is the longest serving senior hurler in the club. He came on the senior panel at the age of seventeen years and finished at forty-two years, a total of twenty-five years, two more than Noel O'Dwyer. During his career he played in goals for six years and outfield for eighteen years until his retirement in 1994.

He captained Borrisoleigh in 1987 when they won the Yoplait All-Ireland Hurling Sevens. Currently he is in his tenth year as secretary of the club.

The Borrioleigh Cock

The cock is synonymous with the Borrisoleigh club and occupies a prominent place on the club crest. There are a number of stories as to its origin. One is that on achieving unity in 1948 the Borris and Ileigh players were so proud that they would strut confidently, regardless of the opposition, on to the playing field like bantam cocks. Others point to a much older origin to the days of the faction fights. In the glory days of the early fifties Paddy D'Arcy of Ileigh used to sell the team colours on match days and he used to have as his 'assistant' the cock, resplendently dressed up in the club colours. With his business for the day complete, Paddy would attend the match parading around the field with the proud and colourful cock by his side.




The Influence of the G.A.A. in Irish Society Munster Hurling Final program. Semple Stadium, Thurles, July 12, 2009

The Influence of the G.A.A. in Irish Society

Munster Hurling Final program. Semple Stadium, Thurles, July 12, 2009


In a collection of essays published in connection with the 125 anniversary of the foundation of the G.A.A. (The Gaelic Athletic Association 1884-2009 (Dublin, 2009), NUIG Professor Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh, believes that significant progress has been made in recognising the importance of the G.A.A. in Irish society. However, he goes on to state that whereas the issue has been addressed in histories of the association, club histories and other specialist studies of the G.A.A.'s history, the social importance fo the G.A.A. 'remains curiously understated' in general histories of modern Ireland.

Ó Tuathaigh adds: 'This continuing under-valuing of the G.A.A.'s social influence may well be due to a general neglect until recent years in professional historical scholarship of the role of sport in Irish social and cultural history. But it is strange, nevertheless, that a more substantial body of work has not been published on an organisation that stands second only to the Churches, and perhaps the trade unions, as a force in the associational culture of Ireland for a century and a quarter. This may seem a large claim, but it can be supported.'

The G.A.A. has some 2,600 affiliated clubs dispersed across the island of Ireland with a further 242 clubs among the Irish diaspora overseas. Its active adult membership was estimated in 2004 at circa 300,000, with more than twice that number estimated as membership and active supporters combined. It has a larger membership than any other Irish sporting organisation, and its spread of membership across age groups and social classes is broader than any other sporting body. Over 40 per cent of all sports volunteers in Ireland are G.A.A. volunteers, with a relatively high percentage of active women volunteers, not only in the separate organisations concerned with camogie and ladies football, but in the core organisation dealing with male sports. The G.A.A. owns and has developed an impressive network of grounds and club facilities, and its national stadium – Croke Park, rebuilt at a cost of some €260 million between 1992 and 2005 – is among the finest in Europe. Over 60 per cent of the total attendance at sports fixtures in Ireland are accounted for by G.A.A. games.

The main Gaelic games – football and hurling and, increasingly, camogie and ladies football – enjoy extensive media coverage, print and broadcasting, at national and local level. The quality of its leadership and its general level of organisational competance is highly regarded by informed commentators on sports culture internationally. The leading senior players of the main games enjoy high public recognition and, in certain occupation categories with a prominent public relations dimension, enhanced employment and career prospects, while their G.A.A. background, as players or as high-profile officials, regularly serves as a promising launching pad for a career in politics, at local or national level.

Ó Tuathaigh goes on to discuss the question, is the G.A.A. an organisation or a movement?

'In truth, it is both,' he replies. 'It is clearly an organisation – and a highly efficient one – for the running of games, at all levels, combining a cohort of full-time, salaried professional administrators with an army of volunteers, giving their services freely (or with no more than modest expenses) out of commitment to the games and a love of the camaraderie of the social life that involvement in the association brings. But this latter socialising function is also part of what makes the G.A.A. a movement, in the sense that it seeks to embody a cultivate a sense of community loyalty and pride – at parish, county and national level – and deploy that 'community' sentiment in the creation of significant social capital, a network of community facilities and amenities, and a sense of discipline and civic responsibility as something to be valued by players and the wider membership. These virtues are, of course, espoused by most sporting organisations driven by idealistic volunteers; but the identity of the G.A.A.'s network of clubs throughout the island, at parish and local community level, gives it a particularly influential presences in Irish social life.'

Ó Tuathaigh concludes on a very optimistic note: 'In short, at the beginning of the twenty-first century the G.A.A. finds itself more broadly representative of all sections of Irish society and more highly regarded, for its organisational capacity, progressive leadership and dedication to community development, than in any previous era in its history. It has also substantially shed the rhetoric (and rules and regulations) of ethnic exclusivism which critics regularly emphasised in their explanations of their antipathy towards the association or their inability to participate (or to feel at home) in its activities. A more open attitude towards the complexity of cultural traditions and identities in Ireland, and a move towards engaging with versions of a more inclusive civic nationalism (without abandoning its own special commitment to distinctive forms of Irish cultural expression) together with a commitment to contributing to cross-community tolerance, respect and, in time, shared cultural activities, including cross-community participation in Gaelic games, leaves the G.A.A. well-positioned to prosper in the more pluralist Ireland that is emerging. At a time of unprecedented change in virtual every aspect of Irish social and cultural development, no other organisation has been as impressive as the G.A.A. in terms of its capacity to adapt and manage these changes in a manner that strengthens its own influence in Irish society.'