Category Archives: Articles

Tribute to the late Philip Maher

Philip Mahe

Philip Maher

Philip went to school in Ardmayle, with Jim Brien and Miss Kennedy as his teachers. “We did a bit of hurling there but there was no school team, we hadn’t even a field! We used to hurl on the road, with Grubb’s gate as one goal and big stones as the other.” The boys also played a bit of handball against the gable end of the school.
They made their own hurleys. “My father used to make hurleys for me. He had a big timber plane, and he used to finish it off with glass, glass bottles. That was the hardship we had! There was no repairing the hurleys really, you hardly broke them at all”. For a ball they used anything that was round, a tennis ball or a sponge ball.
Philip first played for Clonoulty in 1947 in a junior match. “I can’t remember who it was against. At that time we were playing in the current hurling field, and there was nothing at all there apart from big beech trees along the side of the road. Before that we used to play in English’s field, behind the pub in Clonoulty”.
Philip went to the technical schools in Cashel for about six months. “they had no team either but we played hurling away amongst ourselves”.
When he started playing with Clonoulty in 1947, the club had a number of rivals. “Oh the Kickhams! Cashel were going well at that time too, Jim Devitt was playing at the time and he used to live only up the road here at Ferncombe’s. Golden was a fair tough team too, they had 3 or 4 Donnell’s playing with them, they were all fairly good, fairly tough”.
He remembers the officers of the club at the time: “Tommy Ryan, Billabone, was secretary for a while. Billy Ryan the Mason was treasurer. I took over from him. Dick Purcell was an official as well but I’m not sure what. I was treasurer for 14 years. The club officers mostly would train and look after the teams”.
Clonoulty wore green and gold at the time. “Wherever they got the colours or jerseys from l don’t know. Green and red then were Rossmore’s colours. I don’t know what colours Ballagh wore, they were finished up before l came along”.
Philip’s hurling career was cut short by injury: ”I sprained my ankle in ’51, myself and Paddy Shea met each other in the field one day, we both went down and l never came up! They kept me on the panel for the year then, there were only two games in the West, then we played Holycross and they beat us. Next time l played l was about 43 or 44 years of age, myself and Jim Ryan Hannah went in in a junior match in Dundrum to make 15. That was the last time l played”.
The best player he remembers was Tony Brennan and Mick Kinane was very good as well. Billy Ryan of Knockbawn, Larry Shanahan and John Kearns too. The county men from the West would have been Tony Brennan, of course, Pat Furlong from Annacarty and Willie O’Donnell, who used to play for Eire Og.
Philip played corner forward for Clonoulty and corner back for Boherlahan. “Corner back was my favourite. I remember when l played corner forward l used to be on Tom English of Dundrum, and John Joe McCormack from Tipperary, big fellahs, about 6 ‘ 2”, and weighing 14 stone. When you were coming in with the ball and they hit you, they’d bury you!”
Philip didn’t agree with the Ban: “I went to rugby matches in Cashel, you weren’t supposed to go, you’d be suspended for 6 months if you were reported. Of the two teams lining out – definitely Cashel – you’d see 2 from Clonoulty, maybe 2 or 3 from Golden, and of course 2 or 3 Cashel hurlers as well, half the team lining out would be hurlers. Of course we couldn’t say anything about it because we were there. We were wrong as well. Everyone shut their mouths! Then soccer brought a bit of life into the locality, it didn’t harm hurling l think. Before you had two soccer teams in Clonoulty for the winter”.
He remembers the development of the field when he was treasurer. “The club wasn’t in too bad a state at the time, but l was all the time gathering money to try to do repairs on the field. And it never came to that we didn’t have enough money to do them! It’s a great field now. They got it in the ‘30s and a wall was built around the outside in the ‘50s, with Jim Hannah. We built it in the evenings, by direct labour. Poor Jim was there, and he had a bad heart, and he was carrying big lengths of capping along in his arms. There could have been 20 of us working in our own time there, there was no shortage of men to get the work done. We paid for the cement and sand and blocks, and we got Alec Colville to build the dressing rooms”.
Philip was also a hurley maker: “I made them for 18 years, for Clonoulty, but some went as far as Dublin and America. Fellahs used to bring some to Shannon with them for the flight to New York. I’m repairing hurleys since. If anyone broke a hurley I’d have it mended for them. Jimmy Morrissey of Clune used to get the ash. He’d bring planks of ash to me, about a hundred at a time, and l used to store the planks and make the hurleys in a shed out the back”.
He had some success as a trainer: “l used to train the junior footballers for a few years. It was around the same time that the senior hurlers were going well, in the late eighties. There wasn’t much training done though, for about two months l was going around with two footballs in the boot of the car, and they were never taken out. I remember we played Ballyporeen in Bansha and we beat the stuffing out of them without having trained at all. I was working in Ballyporeen at the time, and they never came near us the following Monday. When they finally spoke to us all they said was”Where did ye get that team of giants!?” Ten of that team were over 6ft. There were 3 Hayes, Tom, Declan and Kenny Ryan, John Kennedy, Andrew Fryday, Dominic and TJ Rody, Dan and Maurice Quirke. TJ Rody was the smallest of them”.
“We won the junior county final, having done maybe a few half hours of training after hurling, in the dark!. Preparations weren’t taken very seriously, but we played away anyway. After going Intermediate, we won the West again, and got to another county final, against Newcastle. 3 or 4 of our lads were knocked out with the ‘flu and we couldn’t field a team, but Newcastle made a bargain that we’d play in the field of their choice, with the referee of their choice. So they chose Cahir and John Moloney as referee!”
“We had a very bad start to the final. But when we got going – Dan Quirke started us off with a goal – we won by about 3 or 4 goals. Of course we had to go senior the next year, and we put in two rounds. Working with that team over those few years was probably the most enjoyable time l spent in the club. Around that time too we won the senior hurling county final, it was a great time for us”.

By John O’Gorman

Player of the Past – Micheal Ryan

Micheal Ryan
There are various words to which you can describe Micheal Ryan’s hurling career. Consistent, reliable, trustworthy and passionate are just some of them. Micheal played most of his Senior career at corner back where he was a great reader of the game, tidy and a very skilful hurler.

Micheal is a well loved and respected member of both the parish and the club. A good club man, who has always answered the call and done various jobs within the club for many years. He is now a player/coach with the club Junior B’s.

On the pitch the highlight of Micheal’s career was winning the Senior County final in ‘97 where they defeated Mullinahone in a thrilling encounter. He has numerous underage titles including two U21 West titles (95, 96), but not winning an U21 County final was a big disappointment to him. He has 3 Senior West titles (96, 98, 02) and one County title.

Micheal was also a keen and prominent footballer with him winning 2 West Junior titles (96,2000) and a County final in 2000. His hurling did not just stop with his club. He represented Tipperary at U16 and Minor level and also played with West Tipp U16’s in a Munster final in Cork in ‘91.

Off the field Micheal has played a major role in many of Clonoulty/Rossmore successes on the field of play. He was a Senior selector for 2 years with TJ Ryan and Andrew Fryday winning two West finals and a county league final in 09, but who were unfortunately beaten by Thurles Sars in the County final in 2010. He was also a selector for 2 years at Minor level winning a West title in 08.

Away from the club scene Micheal is a Sales rep for Better Deal Cash and Carry Clonmel and is married to Louie who together have a beautiful daughter Amy who turns 2 soon. Micheal is a son of Denis and Ann Ryan and comes 2nd in a family of seven. His youngest brother Donnachadh is on the panel for today’s match.

Micheal would like to wish the very best of luck to all players and Management as they bid for an unprecedented 6 title in a row today.

Kieran Ryan PRO

Player of the Past – Peter Hayes

Peter Hayes

Peter Hayes was slightly perturbed at being selected ‘Player of the Past’ by his club, thought it put him in the Gallery of the Ancients, made him feel very much an also-ran.

In fact he is anything but! Not yet forty-eight years of age he is a very active man, might even be persuaded to make an appearance if the Junior Bs were stuck for a full-forward.

He was chosen in recognition of a life of service to Clonoulty-Rossmore, as a player, as a selector, as a team manager, as a former secretary of the club and as a current member of the executive committee.

Peter started playing senior hurling with the club when they affiliated at senior level for the first time. The year was 1981. Up to then Clonoulty-Rossmore had been affiliating at junior and intermediate level and were getting nowhere. Jim Ryan Hanna convinced them they’d be better off at senior level because they would get at least a number of games in the Crosco Cup.

There was no instant success. The championship was played on a knockout basis and Clonoulty were well beaten by Kickhams the first year, lost out to the same opposition in 1982, were badly beaten by Cappawhite in 1983 and 1984, more narrowly in 1985, and again in 1986.

The only success he enjoyed during these years was captaining Clonoulty to a Crosco Cup victory in 1985, his second year as captain of the senior team. Peter won four more Crosco Cup medals in 1988, 1989, 1991 and 1992.

Clonoulty eventually made the breakthrough by getting to the West final in 1987. Played at Cashel they looked certain winners as they led by nine points at the interval. According to Peter they had the chance to go even further ahead after the interval but then Cappawhite came after them with a dazzling display in the second half and beat them by eight points!

Clonoulty got revenge the following year when they defeated Cappawhite, who were then reigning county champions, by six points in the first round, only to lose by a greater margin to Cashel King Cormac’s in the semi-final.

Peter admits there were great teams in the West in these years with three of them winning county finals in a five-year period. What Cappawhite did in 1987, Clonoulty were to do in 1989. In this year they not only made the long-awaited breakthrough in the West but went all the way to win the county title as well.

Clonoulty won impressively against Golden-Kilfeacle in the first round, against Kickhams in the semi-final, and eventually against Cappawhite at Emly in the final. Peter made a major contribution to this victory and it was recognised when he was awarded the Man of the Match Award. He scored one of their two goals in the first half and Clonoulty led by 2-8 to 2-6 at the interval. Peter had a second goal early in the second half and this set them up for a comprehensive 3-20 to 4-6 victory and their first title since 1951. They went on to beat Holycross in the county final, in a game in which Peter scored a crucial goal early in the second half, to record their first victory since 1888.

Cashel knocked Clonoulty out of the West the following year but Clonoulty returned the favour in the final of 1992 when they beat Cashel at Bansha. Peter was the goalscorer in the first half. This was the year of the controversy with the Mid clubs because of their refusal to play as fixed. The county quarter-finals eventually went ahead a month late and Peter is of the opinion that the delay set them back a lot and they were beaten by Thurles Sarsfields. Had the games gone ahead on the original fixture it might have been a different year for Clonoulty and for Peter.

Peter played senior in 1993 for the last time, leving him with two West and one county senior hurling medals. He played junior A in 1994 and junior B for a number of years afterwards but without success.

Peter was a selector on the team when Clonoulty defeated Cashel in the West final at New Inn in 1996. He wasn’t there the following year when the club, having lost out in the West championship, got back in by vicrtue of success in the Crosco and went on to win the county final.

While he was still playing Peter trained underage teams, most notably in 1988 and 1989 when Clonoulty won West titles but lost both county finals. More recently he looked after the under-12 team which won the last of of three county A titles in 2005. His son, Paul, was on the team. In the same year he helped Tom O’Brien to coach Clonoulty N.S. Seven-a-Side team to a county final.

Born in Clogher in 1960 Peter went to Clonoulty National School before going on to Thurles CBS, where he won White, Croke and Fitzgerald Cup medals. He won two under-16 medals with the club as well as an under-21 title in 1981. After secondary school he spent a year at Rockwell Agricultural School before he went farming. While at Rockwell he won an All-Ireland 7-aside competition for agricultural schools.

At the inter-county level he didn’t feature at minor or under-21 level but was drafted on to the Tipperary senior panel after the drawn Munster final in 1987, and has a Munster medal to show for it. He was retained on the panel the following year and won a National League medal when Tipperary beat Offaly in the 1988 final.

Whereas he never took football too seriously he played it when they were gone from the hurling, and did so with success. He won West and county junior medals in 1985 and West and county intermediate medals in 1986.

Peter served as club secretary for two years in the early eighties and has always had some involvement in the running of the club. At the moment he is a member of the executive committee of the club, which is supervising the redevelopment and transformation of their playing facilities outside the village.

Married to Anne, the couple have two children, Paul and Niamh. Peter will be remembered as a tremendous servant of the Clonoulty-Rossmore club, who always played his heart out when wearing the green and gold. His favourite positions were full-forward or center-forward and, because of his size and strength, was a difficult player to watch. He was an important play-maker on a team, good to lay off the ball. Always having the club at heart when he was on the playing field, Peter continues to serve it with the same enthusiasm in many other capacities. He is worthy of recognition as the Player of the Past.

Tribute to the Late Eamon Egan

Eamon Egan

Eamon Egan

A Tribute to the late Eamonn Egan, R.I.P.

It was with deep shock and disbelief that the communities of Clonoulty-Rossmore and Gortnahoe-Glengoole learned of the tragic passing of Eamonn Egan on February 9th this year. During his eighteen years in Clonoulty  Eamonn had endeared himself to the people of the parish with his quiet charm and affable nature.

Family values were paramount to Eamonn and he was a devoted husband to Ann and a model father to David and Laura. For his family the void that his untimely passing leaves can never be filled.

Coming from a well known and widely respected family steeped in Gaelic culture, Eamonn brought a rich G.A.A. pedigree to Clonoulty. He became an active member of the club and gave generously and willingly of his time and efforts to a wide range of club activities. He was to the fore in the big fund-raising effort in recent years to upgrade the club’s facilities.

His main interest, however, was in the Juvenile club and he was a staunch member of the Juvenile Committee for many years before his passing. He served as manager and selector with many teams at underage level and enjoyed many successes on the hurling and football fields with his teams. Eamonn was extremely popular with, and respected by, the players for his interest, commitment, dedication, loyalty and understanding of the young people under his care. Eamonn always strove to find the best in people and never spoke ill of anyone. He treated his players with the same respect that he showed to all mankind.

While Eamonn threw his heart and soul into the affairs of Clonoulty-Rossmore G.A.A. he never forgot his native parish. He followed the fortunes of “the red and white” with avid interest, rejoicing in their victories and reluctantly but graciously accepting their defeats. How proud he was when a Gortnahoe-Glengoole youngster donned the blue and gold of his beloved Tipperary!

A shrewd judge of hurling, Eamonn rarely missed the big club and county games, Minor, Under 21 or Senior, league or championship (unless, of course, the coursing season was in full flow!) He was never short of facts and figures to support his arguments as all match details were carefully noted in the match programme, scorers, wides, frees, substitutions and a host of other interesting data.

Eamonn, we will miss the many pleasant hours of banter in advance of the big games and the hours of analysis we shared in the aftermath.

A true Gael has been taken from us prematurely but we are reassured that he now observes the big and the little games from the great stand in the heavens.

No nicer gentle man has come to live among us in the parish of Clonoulty-Rossmore. Ní fheicfimid a leithéid arís inár measc.

To Ann, David and Laura, to the Egan and Hammersley families and to all those left bereaved by Eamonn’s passing we offer our heartfelt condolences.

I measc na naomh is na n-aingeal go raibh a anam uasal Gaelach.

Player of the Past – Anthony Brennan

anthonybrennanThe team that can boast of a good full back can afford to weak in several positions on the field. He is the keystone of the defence and on him rests the onus of protecting his goalie from encroaching forwards. He has the whole field ahead of him and if he is a shrewd general he can do quite a lot to knit his defence into a work manlike unit, as he is in a position to see the weak points outfield and can suggest remedies. Tipperary has always been fortunate in the matter of good full-backs….The present occupant of that most onerous of positions, Tony Brennan is in the beat traditions of Tipperary last line defenders. Tall and commanding, strong and fearless, with sure hands and hurling brains to burn, this lithe, sinewy Clonoulty Skipper has filled the position with credit to himself, his parish and his county”. This extract, taken from a profile on Tony Brennan published under the pseudonym ”Prefect” in the ‘Nationalist” on January 21st 1950.

James Anthony Brennan was born in Clonoulty on Jan 13th, 1916 to James Brennan, who originally came from Boyle Co. Roscommon and Kate Byrne, of Coolanga, Clonoulty. Tony began swinging a caman as soon as he was able to walk, but his career as a hurler was almost terminated when he fractured his skull at the age of 12. After spending three weeks in hospital he was up and about and carried the mark of this injury on his crown until the day he died.

Tony’s interest in hurling is unremarkable. His uncles, on his father’s side, were outstanding athletes in their day, and from his mother he must have inherited his hurling prowess, for she was the sister of Phil Byrne, Coolanga, who won four All-Ireland medals, three with Tubberadora in 1895,1896 and 1898 and one with the Horse&Jockey in 1899. Another brother Tom Byrne won two All-Ireland Football medals with Dublin in 1892 and 1894. Unfortunately Phil Byrne lived to see only one of his nephews All-Ireland triumphs as he died in 1946.

No record exists of Tony’s deeds with Clonoulty at Juvenile level and, as he was a quiet, unassuming man he revealed little of his exploits on the hurling field, even to those who knew him best. Anthony’s hurling really began to blossom in Thurles C.B.S under the tutelage of such as Brother Lynam and Brother O’Brien. In 1930 he was a member of the Dean Ryan Cup Team and was full back on the team that won the first ever Harty Cup for Thurles C.B.S in 1933, beating North Monastery of Cork in the final. Tony’s final year of secondary school took him to Rockwell college where he won a cup and gold medal for being and outstanding athlete in 1935. That same year he played for the college’s Harty cup team that as beaten in the final by North Monastery who won four Harty Cups in a row from 1934 to 1937. At that time the All-Ireland colleges’ championship was played on an Inter-Provincial basis and Tony was selected for Munster on four occasions from 1931 to 1935.

Tipperary had twice in a row won Munster Minor hurling titles from 1930 to 1935 and from 1952 to ’57. Tony was a member of the team that won the Munster and All-Ireland honours in 1933 and ’34, playing at full back. His senior hurling career with Clonoulty began in 1932 at the tender age of 16 years in what was a glorious era for hurling in Clonoulty. The club won the first four west finals from 1930 to 1933 and Brennan was part of the team in 1932 and ’33. In 1934 Clonoulty’s stronghold on West Tipperary hurling was broken when Cashel won the west final and by ’36 the club was back hurling at junior level. Tony was part of the team the won the west junior final of that year but he was not to hurl for his native parish again until 1945.

In 1937 Tony joined the Irish speaking Battalion of the Army and was stationed at Renmore in Galway for eight years. While there his club team won the Galway junior championship and was a member of the Galway junior team that won the Connaught championship. The following year he was a member of the senior team and played with them in all their engagements until he returned to his native Clonoulty in 1945. On returning Brennan was chosen to play at centre forward in the first round against Waterford and Tipeerary won by 3-6 to 0-3. He was again at centre forward against the Cork side that had won four All-Irelands in a row. Tipperary won by 2-11 to 3-2 with Brennan contributing 0-2. Tipperary went on to beat Limerick in a memorable Munster final on July 15th with Brennan again at centre forward. Tipp reached the All-Ireland final and faced Kilkenny and for this tie Brennan was moved to full forward. A crowd of 64,459 attended Croke Park that day on Sept 2nd to see Tipperary win on a score line of 5-6 to 3-6 with Brennan contributing 1-2. In 1949 Brennan filled the full back position and eased the selectors worries. That year Tipp beat Cork in the National League final by 3-5 to 3-3. It was their first since 1928 and Brennan excelled at full back. Tipperary overcame Limerick in the Munster final that year by 2-8 to 1-9. They had two easy victories over Antrim and Laois respectively. Tipperary won the Oireachtas final by beating Laois on a score line of 2-8 to 1-6 and Brennan collected his second Oireachtas medal. Tipperary put two league titles back to back in 1950 with Tony again at full back. In 1951 Tony collected his fourth All-Ireland medal by defeating Wexford by 7-7 to 3-9.

However the year wasn’t over yet for Brennan, exactly a fortnight after that All-Ireland win Tony captained his beloved Clonoulty to victory in the west senior hurling final against Kickhams on the score 3-2 to 0-3. Despite the rigours of a hard All Ireland campaign Tony gave an outstanding display at centre back to inspire his team to its first west final win in 18 years. Clonoulty-Rossmore went on to cause a huge upset by defeating the highly fancied Borrisoleigh team powered by players such as Jimmy Finn and the Kenny Brothers Sean and Pat. They beat Borrisoleigh by 3-7 to 1-8 in Thurles on Oct 21st. Tony’s remaining ambition in hurling, to win a county title with his club was dashed in no uncertain terms by Holycross on Nov 6th, when they routed a Clonoulty-Rossmore side that failed to live up to its expectations in the final. The final scoreline, 5-15 to 1-4 emphasised the gulf between the teams on the day that even the presence of Brennan could not bridge.

To crown a glorious year Tony won his one and only Railway cup medal on St.Patrick’s day when Munster defeated Lenister by 4-9 to 3-6.Tony one his third and last National medals in 1952 by defeating Wexford with a last minute point from Pat Stakelum. In 1953 Tipperary reached the Munster final only to loose to Cork by 3-10 to 1-11. This marked the end of Brennan’s inter-county career that spanned fourteen years at senior level. Tony played against many well known figures and regarded Jack Lynch (Cork), Jackie Power, Mick Mackey and Paddy McCarthy (Limerick), John Keane (Waterford) and Nicky Rackard (Wexford) as the best players he encountered during a full score years on the hurling fields.

It has been said that only the good die young. So it was for Tony Brennan. On November 4th, 1965 Tony and his father in-law embarked on a shoot from which Tony was not destined to return alive. He had borrowed a shotgun from a neighbour that had a defective catch. While changing the gun from one hand to another to put a pheasant he had just shot into his bag, the firearm accidentally discharged bringing the life of this Tipperary legend to a premature end. Grief and disbelief seized the community as the news of his death trickled. His funeral was one of the largest ever seen in Clonoulty village as neighbours, friends and hurling colleagues and opponents of yesteryear including the great Nicky Rackard of Wexford came to mourn the passing of the giant of the ash. The ‘Tipperary Star” ran a competition to select the Tipperary Team of the Millennium. Tony’s final accolade was to be a posthumous one as he was selected at full back this team by the popular vote of the people of Tipperary, an honour he would have deeply appreciated. I measc na naoimh is na n-aingeal go raibh a anam uasal – Francis Kearney.

Player of the Past – Aidan Butler

aidanUnlike the other players mentioned above Aidan’s contribution to Tipperary Hurling hasn’t been to as grand a scale. On the county scene Aidan was a late bloomer.He didn’t make the county minor grade in ’92 but put that right when he hurled U21 for the County two years running in ’94 and ’95. It was the latter where Aidan enjoyed his success. He had played all year at centre-back, a position he had become accustomed to while playeing there for his club for many years. However Aidan suffered a period where he was out off form leading into the All-Ireland.Come All-ireland final day Micheal Doyle the Tipperary manager switched Aidan to midfield.Tipp played Kilkenny that day and won with Aidan having an excellent game contributing a large amount to a Tipperary victory that day.

Aidan’s senior debut came with the county in 1996 against Kerry in the Munster semi-final down in Tralee when he came on as a substitute. Tipp won that day for a place in the Munster final but were beaten by Limerick. Aidan didn’t appear that day. The following year Len Gaynor was the manager and started Aidan center field beside John Leahy against Limerick in Thurles. Aidan hurled well that day and Tipp won for a place in the Munster final against Clare. On Munster final day Aidan was marking Ollie Baker at mid field and in many peoples view broke even with Baker however Tipp were beaten that day by a superior Clare team by 3 points.

Tipp went through the back door system that year and played Down in Clones. Aidan came on in the second half and gave a very good account of himself and Tipp went on to an easy victory. Aidan didn’t appear for the rest of that campaign and Tipp eventually fell to Clare again in the All-Ireland final. In 1998 Tipp’s first round game was against Waterford in Cork. Aidan started at center back that year on the highly rated Ken McGrath but although Tipp were beaten that day Aidan gave a very solid performance.

In 1999 Nicky English took over the senior team. Aidan played in a challenge game against Limerick in Portroe where he broke his hand that evening and was out for at least 3 months. Aidan didn’t feature anymore for Tipp that year. Aidan came back in 2001 to the Tipp panel for the Munster final against Limerick where Tipp won. He came on in the second half against Wexford in the replay of the All-Ireland semi-final giving a good display. Tipp reached the All-Ireland final winning it, alas Aidan didn’t feature that day but can boast a much coveted All-Ireland hurling medal.

I think’s its fair to say that Aidan’s club career has been more steady than his county career. Aidan started his club career in 1993 at wing forward, the following year he moved to center back where he has stayed to present day. The highlight for him so far has been the clubs county final win over Mullinahone in ’97. In the final that day Aidan was marking Brian O’ Meara currently hurling with Tipp. Aidan gave a top class performance that day. Aidan has been arguably the best club hurler in Tipperary over the last number of years and is highly regarded by his peers.Keep it going Aidan! – Nollaig Heffernan

Player of the Past – Joe Hayes

jhThe revival of Tipperary’s hurling fortunes brought a new generation of hurlers into focus, many of them from the west division. Joe Hayes was part of the revival, an intermittent part admittedly, frequently substituted, but always colourful and often playing an underestimated role.

Joe was a central component in the Clonoulty juvenile upswing in the seventies. 1980 was big year, helping Cashel C.B.S to an All-Ireland B Colleges win and winning the coveted All-Ireland minor hurling medal when Tipperary defeated Wexford by 2-15 to 1-10 in the final. Joe was mid-field in that success, partnering Philip Kenny (Borrisoleigh) and scoring a valuable 4 points. A year later he helped Clonoulty/Rossmore to a County Minor final win, there first ever.

After success at county minor level Joe was unlucky at U21. He played on two losing All-Ireland final teams. In 1983 he partnered Liam Bergin at midfield when the side lost by three points to Galway in Tullamore. A year later it was an all Clonoulty partnership at mid-field with John Kennedy, but Joe had to be satisfied with his Munster medals.

Senior promotion came with ‘Babs’ .At the start of the ’87 championship he was introduced as a substitute against Kerry in the first round and when it came to the replay against Clare in the provincial semi-final he was partnering Colm Bonnar at midfield. The ‘Tipperary Star’ reported on the occasion: ‘Debutant Joe Hayes, confident from the start, grew in stature as the game progressed”. For the Munster final he was again named at midfield and played well that day in Thurles before retiring injured near the end. For the epic replay in Killarney he was again on the substitute bench.

In 1988 Tipperary had qualified for the league final against Offaly and Joe hayes and Colm Bonnar were now performing a regular partnership. The final was in Croke park and the team captained by Pa ‘O Neill won an impressive victory. The Tipperary star reported ”Joe Hayes at midfield and goalkeeper Ken Hogan were others to press for top billing”. Culbaire was more complimentary of Joe ” Attacking eagerness was immediately noted as Joe Hayes led in the provision of low, good ball and forward play stretched Offaly defence to both flanks……Hayes’ blistering first half at midfield was a great source of Tipp’s fast start and sizeable lead-he hit an immense amount of ball from many places”.

Joe Hayes went on to win an All- Ireland medal with Tipperary in ’89. They defeated w Limerick in the first Joe amongst others was listed as the ‘Foundation’ for Tipp success that day. In the final against Waterford Joe was a solid performer at number eleven. Joe started against Galway in the semi-final but was substituted by John McCormack of Loughmore. It was a stormy game but Tipp won though to meet Antrim in the final. Joe was on the bench for the final but as Tipperary strode to a comfortable win he was introduced for Cormac Bonnar.

The 1990 championship campaign saw Tipperary beat Limerick and then fall surprisingly to mark Foley and Cork in the Final. Joe Hayes was at mid-field on Both Occasions. In the fall of the year there was an individual highlight for Joe when he captained Tipperary to an Oireachtas final win over Galway. The game was played in Ennis on November 11th and Tipp won by 1-15 to 0-7.

For the 1991 championship bid he again started at mid-field. Tipp beat Limerick and then had those two epic games with cork. Joe was substituted in the drawn match , replaced by Aidan Ryan, but again had played his part according to ‘Culbaire’ :”Hayes was the better of our midfielders, having a fine first half”. For the replay at Thurles he started on the bench but was introduced for John Madden. Likewise in the All-Ireland semi-final Joe Hayes was introduced as a substitute this time for Ger O Neill. The Clonoulty man collected his second All-Ireland medal when Tipp beat Kilkenny in the final but he viewed the game from the dug-out.

There was one major highlight left in Joe Hayes inter-county career. In May 1994 Tipperary played Galway in the League final in Limerick and won by 2-14 to 0-12. Joe was partnered by Pat King at midfield that day and the Tipp star had this to say about his display ”Joe Hayes and Pat King outplayed the highly rated Galway midfield partnership of Micheal Coleman and Pat Malone to a degree that alarmed Galway Supporters”. It was a second national league for and very much a last hurrah for him with the county. Tipp to Clare in the championship that summer, Joe Hayes was missing that day due to injury.

On the club front Joe Hayes was a central character in Clonoulty’s 1989 county win though he missed out on their success in 1997 before making a comeback in 1998. His job as Garda has brought him to Monaghan where in 1997 he took the county to an All-Ireland junior hurling title as player-manager. Joe Hayes’ medal collection includes two All-Ireland S.H., All-Ireland M.H. & J.H. – thoseU21 defeats deprived him of the full collection. He has five Munster S.H. medals, two leagues and an Oireachtas. It’s a hugely impressive hoard of silverware.- J.J Kennedy

Player of the Past – John Kennedy

johnkennedyClassy, Skillful,Elegant,Graceful. These are just some of the typical adjectives that trip off the tongue when people recall the hurling of John Kennedy. Together with Declan Ryan and Joe Hayes this trio scaled the heights to All Ireland honours and in the process gave their club a profile unmatched since the time of Tony Brennan.

John Kennedy’s senior inter-county career was brief and broken. Yet, at his best, his hurling had an artful quality that drew the admiration from tem-mate and opponent alike. In racing parlance he was a classic thoroughbred. Sleek and slim line he was a sweet striker left or right with beautiful balance. All he lacked was durability, in part caused by susceptibility to injury which interrupted his career at crucial junctures.

In his early years he was part of a successful Clonoulty juvenile crop that eventually graduated to capture the club’s first ever county minor title in 1981. That was a side coached by Borrisoleigh’s Timmy Delaney, then teaching in Ballagh, and contained many names that would eventually carry the colours to higher honours. The previous year John won an All-Ireland colleges ‘B’ title with Cashel C.B.S and already the silky talents were in evidence.

That minor win in 1981 earned John Kenendy a unique distinction in 1982 when he captained Tipperary to an All Ireland minor title. It was the county’s second win in three years and further evidence of a resurgence that would eventually hit the big time at senior level in 1987. In the All-Ireland U21 final Kennedy formed an all-Clonoulty midfield partnership with Joe Hayes,but the side once more lost to Kilkenny. It was third time lucky for Kennedy at U21 level when he finally secured an All-Ireland medal in 1984. The team beat Clare in the Munster final and were back in Walsh park Waterford for a final tilt with Kilkenny. It was tough going but held out in the end for a one point win, 1-10 to 2-6. He now had minor and U21 All-Ireland medals – only the senior remained to complete the coveted career collection.

John was inevitably going to progress to the senior ranks for the County. He was a sub at Ennis in 1986 when Tipp lost to Clare. It would be May of 1987 when finally Kennedy finally played his first game with the Tipp seniors, a challenge match against Kilkenny in Cashel. ‘Babs’ was now in charge and when a line-out for the first round of the championship, versus Kerry at Killarney was chosen, John Kennedy was listed at wing back. It was his championship debut.

In early 1989 Kennedy broke his finger and lost out to Conal Bonnar for most of the championship. He watched from the subs bench as Tipperary again ruled Munster and then finally turned the tables on Galway in a controversial All Ireland semi-final. Ironically the controversy handed the Clonoulty man the greatest ‘break’ of his career, a career which had many hard luck twists. After the Keady affair, an issue had arose over the eligibility of Paul Delaney who had also played on foreign soil. In the circumstances Tipp decided prudently to omit the Roscrea man and in came kennedy for an All-Ireland Medal versus Antrim. A lucky break for sure, but deserved over the span of a career that had more than its share of ill-luck. By now John Kennedy had completed his collection of All Ireland Medals.
John won another All-Ireland medal in 1991 but was unable to retain his place due to injury. Shortly after the All-Ireland John Kennedy played his last game for Tipperary in the spring of 1992, when he travelled to Ballycran to play Down in the league. An injury to the other knee shortly afterwards knocked him out for the 1992 season and that was the end of his inter-county career. There was one famous last hurrah with his club when in 1997 he was on the team that beat Mullinahone in the County Senior final. Kennedy was at left wing back and by general opinion did a good job on Paul Kelly. John Kennedy’s last game with his club was the Munster championship match against Patrickswell following the Co. final win that year.

Always a stylish player with an array of textbook skills at his disposal, John Kennedy was one of the most admired Tipperary hurlers of his generation. He loved to solo run, something that often left him vulnerable to injury. John was a consummate hurler admired by all who appreciate class in a player. At present he works with Tom Hogan Motors in Clonmel where he has been since 1999 following ten years with the bank Of Ireland. – J.J Kennedy

Player of the Past – Declan Ryan

decVwexWith the last hurling championship of the 20th century completed, Network 2’s ”Breaking ball” programme asked Liam Griffin, Nicky Brennan and Eamonn
Cregan to select their team of the decade. The selection was announced in October and included Declan Ryan at full forward. It was deserved recognition for one of Tipperary’s quieter stars of latter years. The placing of the burly Clonoulty man at number fourteen raised an eyebrow or two
because the bulk of his hurling has been on the half line. His inter-county career began at full forward when he marked Limerick’s Leonard Enright in the first round in Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Tipp won comfortably that day, with Declan scoring his first championship point, but more importantly it marked the launch of his career that would harvest three All-Irelands, five Munster finals, three National leagues, two All-Stars and a host of other honours. In the History of Tipperary hurling for the past dozen years or so Declan’s role has been pivotal.

It has all been a long journey from Ballymore and the early tentative steps to hurling stardom. From Cashel C.B.S to Thomastown Vocational School in Kilkenny with whom he won an All-Ireland title beating Borrisokane in the Final. The talent was genetic, his father Tom, a native of Aherlow, having played Senior Football for Tipperary with ‘Babs’ Keating and his Uncle T.J Butler winning an All-Ireland U21 hurling medal with Tipp in 1964 – as a full forward incidentally. Aidan Butler is T.J’s son. Declan was first noticed in the mid eighties being on the Tipp minor football panel of ’85 and playing both county minor hurling and football in1986, though without success.

Interestingly football would have been the inherited game from his father and in a different county that might well have been his future. In Tipperary he played countyU21 Football in ’88 and ’89 but never stepped up to senior because the hurling had taken centre stage. In common with others like Nicky English and John Leahy it’s often claimed that he would have made the grade as successfully at football as hurling. Standing at 6ft. 1 inch and weighing around 13 stone at his peak he certainly had the physique for the big ball game. In more recent years he shyly admits that the weight has slipped up to 15 stone and in this winter he is reluctant to put a figure on it.

His shyness and reticence hides a depth of character, a deep down substance that Nicky English is quick to highlight. Others too have noticed the brain behind the brawn. Former All-Star, Paddy Kelly, describes him as ‘A thoughtful center-forward, always measuring and reading things….as essential to the likes of Fox and English as they were to him.. outstanding skill level…. Central to Tipperary in the past ten years.

Listing off Declan’s trophy collection is the same as listing Tipperary’s since 1988: a league medal ’88, Munster senior medals from ’88,’89,’91,’93 and 2001, further leagues in ’94, ’99 and 2001 as well as Oireachtas, South-east league and Railway Cup. The all-Star statuettes of ’88 and ’97 are prized possessions too as is the Cidona award the latter year. Special too is the All-Ireland U21 of ’89 where he captained Tipp. On the club scene there has been many successes too, capped by county senior titles in ’89 and ’97.

On the Question of his most admired opponents Declan readily names Seanie McMahon and Jim Cashman. He has high praise too for Cappawhite’s Thomas Costello whom he found tricky to handle at club level and he also has high regard for fellow Clonoulty men Joe Hayes and John Kennedy whose example and influence played an important role in his development as an inter-county player. Others who have won his admiration are Tony Doran, whose courage he singles out and Pa Fitzell of Cashel. The ’91 All-Ireland semi-final stands out as his most memorable: ”That was our first meeting since the Keady affair and there was something to prove. It was a great win for us, ”Other games that stand out in his life as a highlight include the league final of ’94 where he scored 2-1,the Mnster replay of ’91 and 1990 game with Limerick where he won man of the match.

Declan a rep for Norbrook Laboratories, plays golf of a 9 handicap at Dundrum and he and his wife Olive have two sons. Declan’s selection on the team of the decade, choosen by two Leinster men and a Limerick man, reflects his high standing nationally. Perhaps at times he has been given less credit within Tipp. Maybe like many great hurlers his true worth will only be appreciated when he finally hangs up his boots. – J.J Kennedy