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.