Waterford’s John Mullane celebrates a score during Waterford’s win over Galway in their All-Ireland SHC Quarter-Final in July of 2011. Photos: Inpho.
We are now into our second year of the pandemic and consequently a second year of almost total lockdown where sport is concerned and particularly in the case of Gaelic Games with senior county teams having been stripped of their “Elite” status by the government. While followers of county teams would be content to see at least a return to the television screens of intercounty fare such as we had for last year’s championships thousands of youngsters throughout the country in all sports await a green light to return to their club grounds for supervised coaching and more important meeting each other.
For columnists such as yours truly there is nothing to look forward to at this point in time so we fill the pages with recollections of times past. Randomly selecting ten year cycles in retrospect from this year of 2021 we can recall some historic occasions for clubs and county that will stir some memories and in other cases bring to mind some long gone heroes the memory of whom will have faded in the minds of younger generations.
For many the start of the ‘modern era’ in hurling and the first signs of Waterford emerging as a serious hurling county. Founded in 1923 Erins Own reached the county final for the first time in 1925, losing to a Lismore side winning the title for the first time. From 1927 the city side dominated the club scene and in 1931 captured the senior title for the fifth year in a row beating Tallow in the final. That year was a famous year in GAA hurling history as the All Ireland final between Cork and Kilkenny took three games to decide before Cork emerged as victors. What would have been forgotten is that Cork almost went out in the first round of the championship to a Waterford side powered by nine Erins Own players. Having beaten Kerry in the opening round of the championship Waterford faced Cork in the final in Clonmel and in an amazing game they scored four goals to Cork’s 1-9 to take the game to a replay at the same venue. Waterford failed to reproduce the form of the drawn game and went down to a 5-4 to 1-2 defeat.
The Waterford line up – Jim Ware, J. Ryan, C. Ware, J. Fanning, R. Power, Jack Ware, F. McCormack, P. ‘Fad’ Browne, D. Shortall, N. Fardy, J. Carroll, J. Power, M. Wyse, L. Byrne, D. Wyse. Sub J. Butler.
Erins Own beat Tallow in the Senior County Final on a score of 4-7 to 0-3. The Erins Own team was – Jim Ware, N. Fardy, C. Ware, D. Fardy, J. Power, P. ‘Fad’ Browne, J. Fanning, J. Butler, M. Wyse, D. Wyse, L. Ryan, J. Condron, J. Ryan, P. Hannigan, Jack Ware.
Dungarvan, having lost the county finals of 1937, to Portlaw and 1940 to Mount Sion, bounced back to win the club’s first title since 1925. The ‘Old Burrough’ side, beaten in the final by the same opponents the year before and powered by such as Willie Barron, Declan Goode, Christy Moylan, Mickey Landers and Tom Curran, defeated what was regarded a powerful Mount Sion team, going for four titles in a row, on a score of 2-5 to 1-5. The Dungarvan side was as follows – W. Burke J. Waters, J. Burke, T. Sheridan, J. Mountain, T. Nagle, M. Landers, C. Moylan, J. F. Morrissey, W. Barron (Capt.), P. Lannon, P. Daly, T. Curran, J. Murphy, D. Goode. Sub – D. Cullen.
Having drawn with the subsequent All Ireland champions Limerick in the opening round of the 1940 Munster championship before losing out narrowly on a score of 3-5 to 33 in a classic replay Waterford would have faced into the following year’s championship with some optimism. The outbreak of Foot and Mouth delayed the championships and threw things into some chaos. Waterford were away to Tipperary in the opening round and lost a hard fought game on a score of 4-7 to 3-4. Because of the Foot and Mouth outbreak in Tipperary the Munster final was between Cork and Tipperary was put on hold and Cork was nominated to represent Munster in the All Ireland final which Cork won. The Munster final was later played in October with Tipperary beating Cork.
The Waterford team defeated by Tipperary – Jim Ware (Erins Own), Mick Regan (Lismore), Con Curley (Tallow), Jimmy Mountain (Dungarvan), Andy Fleming (Mount Sion), John Keane (Mount Sion), Paddy Dowling (Mount Sion), Jim O’Meara (Mount Sion), Micj Hickey (Portlaw), Willie Barron (Dungarvan), Ned Daly (UCD), S. Feeney (UCD), Julian Rheinish (Army), Declan Goode (Dungarvan), J. Daly (Dungarvan). Subs – George O’Grady (St. Stephens), Mick Feeney (UCD), Wattie Morrissey (Mount Sion), P. Bluett (Portlaw), Davy Power (Portlaw), Christy Moylan 9Dungarvan), M. Lonergan (Lismore), Frank Penkert (Erins Own), T. Vaughan (Blackrock, Cork).
Waterford senior hurling champions in 1951 – Mount Sion.
Shocked by Tourin the year before Mount Sion bounced back to defeat the defending champions in the early rounds before going on to defeat a Dungarvan side, seeking a first title since their 1941 win over the same opposition, in the county final on a score of 7-8 to 0-9. The Mount Sion team was. Johnny O’Regan, Davy Power, Larry Fanning, Paddy Curran, Tom Gallagher, Philly Grimes, Sean Hayden, Mick Healy, Mick Heffernan, Mick Flannelly, Billy Mulcahy, Tommy Hennessy, Tom Vereker, Tommy Keane, John Keane.
Waterford faced defending Munster and All Ireland Champions Tipperary in the opening round of the championship in Cork. Waterford put it up to the defending champions who were to go on and win three All Irelands in a row. Tipperary were deemed lucky to have survived on a score of 2-10 to 1-10. Waterford’s outstanding player on the day was Johnny Kiely in midfield. The Waterford half forward line that day was that which had featured in the minor All Ireland victory over Kilkenny in 1948 namely, Michael McHugh, Mick Flannelly and Mickey O’Connor.
The Waterford team was – Johnny O’Regan (Mount Sion), Larry Fanning (Mount Sion), Davy Walsh (Tourin), Liam Doocey (Tourin), Moss Queally (Dungarvan), Jackie Goode (Dungarvan), Philly Grimes (Mount Sion, Mick Fives (Tourin), Johnny Kiely (Dungarvan), Michael McHugh (Dungarvan), Mick Flannelly (Mount Sion), Mickey O’Connor (Cappoquin), Willie Galvin (Portlaw), Jim Fives (Tourin), John Keane (Mount Sion). It was John Keane’s last game in a Waterford jersey having made his senior intercounty debut against Clare in 1936.
Having lost out as defending All Ireland champions to Tipperary in the 1960 Munster Final Waterford retained high hopes going into the ’61 championship. In the opening round they scored an impressive 4-14 to 4-5 win over a confident Limerick team in Cork. In the Munster semi- final however, a hungry Cork side avenged the Minster final defeats of ’57 and ’59 on a score of 5-7 to 2-7, a defeat that was a huge disappointment on the day. The Waterford team was – Ned Power (Dungarvan), Tom Cunningham (Dungarvan), Austin Flynn (Abbeyside, Joe Harney (Ballydurn), Joe Condon (Erins Own), Martin Og Morrissey (Mount Sion), Jim Byrne (Mount Sion), Seamus Power (Mount Sion), Philly Grimes (Mount Sion), Mick Flannelly(Mount Sion), Tom Cheasty (Ballyduff Lower), Frankie Walsh (Mount Sion), Larry Guinan (Mount Sion), Donal Whelan (Abbeyside), Michael Murphy (Erins Own). Subs – John Barron (De La Salle) for A. Flynn, Percy Flynn (Erins Own) for Ned Power. Jackie Condon (Erins Own) and Tom ‘Doc’ Walsh (Mount Sion) played against Limerick. Joe Harney and Jim Byrne went on as substitutes in that game.
On the club scene Mount Sion were aiming for a ninth successive title to equal the record set by Erins Own in the thirties. A revived Erins Own had contested the 1959 final against the defending champions, unlucky to lose by just a single point and in 1960 the two sides were again in opposition with Mount Sion winning comfortably on that occasion. 1961 saw the teams in final opposition for the third successive year. Erins Own came within an ace of pulling off a spectacular victory but a missed free from a scoring position in the dying seconds left the champions off the hook and it was on to a replay in which Mount Sion made no mistake winning on a score of 5-7 to 1-4.
The teams – Mount Sion – Dick Roche, Michael Gallagher, Jim Hurley, Jim Byrne, Mick Flannelly, Martin O’Morrissey, Tommy Hennessy, Seamus Power, Michael Dempsey, John Flavin, Philly Grimes, Frankie Walsh, Larry Guinan, Tom ‘Doc’ Walsh, Willie Gallagher.
Erins Own – Ignatius Gavin, Billy Kelly, Ted O’Donnell, Joe Coady, Jim Burke, Jackie Condon, Jim Irish, Joe Condon, John Meaney, Michael Murphy, Leo Murphy, John Duggan, Tom Kennedy, Charlie Ware, Percy Flynn.
Erins Own’s persistence was finally rewarded a year later when the teams met again in the final for the fourth successive year and after another replay Erins Own routed the defending champions on a score of 5-7 to 1-4 thus ensuring that their nine in a row record would be shared but not surpassed by their great city rivals.
The latter half of the sixties had seen Ballygunner come to the fore with three senior titles in a row between 1966 and 1968. Portlaw were making great strides at underage level and were competing strongly in an alliance with Ballyduff Lower that saw Tom Cheasty proving a huge addition to their ranks. In 1970, Ballyduff had returned to competitive action by themselves but Cheasty remained with Portlaw. That year Portlaw won the senior title for the first time since 1937 in the most unusual circumstances after Erins Own and De La Salle, having drawn their semi-final were thrown out of the championship by the county board for refusing to play the replay on the date set down by the board. Finalists Portlaw were awarded the title.
One year on Portlaw were back in the final where their opponents turned out to be the shock side of the championship, in their near neighbours from Carrickbeg, St. Mollerans. Intermediate champions from 1970 the Mollerans marched impressively to the final and the rivalry with Portlaw saw a huge crowd in Walsh Park for the final. Portlaw were red hot favourites but St. Mollerans matched them in every department with Jimmy ‘Butcher’ Flynn giving a brilliant display at centre forward and were deemed unlucky not to have won as the game was played out to a draw on a score of Portlaw 1-13, St. Mollerans 2-10. The replay was an equally thrilling game and in the end Portlaw’s greater experience just about saw them emerge as deserving winners on a score of 1-13 to 2-8 with the Whelans, Tom Cheasty, Martin Hickey and Tom Russell very much to the fore. For St. mollerans Jimmy Flynn was again the big man with strong support from Sean and Tony Reade, Seamus Power and Patsy Murphy and Paddy Finnucane.
On the intercounty scene Waterford remained very much in transition with the departure of many of the stars of ’57 to ’63. Limerick were on the ascendency when Waterford played them in the opening round of the championship in Cork. Limerick emerged the victors in a close game and were flattered by their winning margin of five points on a score of 3-10 to 2-8.
Waterford – Michael Foley (Mount Sion), Brian Shanahan (Ballysaggart), Martin Kirwan (Butlerstown), Mick Connolly (Fourmilewater), Davy Duggan (De La Salle), John Kirwan (Portlaw), Jackie Whelan (Portlaw), Mossie Whelan (Portlaw), Paddy Walsh (De La Salle), Martin Hickey (Portlaw), Andy Heffernan (Ferrybank), Pat Enright (Abbeyside), Stephen Greene (Mount Sion), Paddy Coady (Erins Own), Michael Ormonde (Lismore). Subs – Jimmy Flynn (St. Mollerans), Tommy Hearne (Ballygunner), Declan O’Meara (Ferrybank).
The county winning Mount Sion squad of 1981.
It is hard to imagine that it is forty years now since the terrible tragedy that took the lives of two young hurlers with their lives before them and their popular mentor. A minibus with Waterford U-21 players was returning from a preseason challenge game in Tipperary when, in dense fog, the vehicle crashed into a roadside trailer resulting in the deaths of players Jimmy Costelloe (Butlerstown) and Martin O’Grady (Mount Sion) as well as team trainer Tony Forristal of Mount Sion. The accident was a terrible blow to their families, friends and their clubs as well as the wider GAA community. It still seems so recent to those who lived through the event at that time but though remembered life goes on. Waterford had no appetite for the U-21 championship after the tragedy and, not surprisingly suffered a crushing defeat by Tipperary in the championship two months later.
The senior hurlers had been beaten by Clare the previous year and were drawn against the same opposition in the opening round of the Munster Championship. In a very tight game Clare again emerged as victors on a score of 3-14 to 2-14.
Waterford – John Power (Dunhill), John Galvin (Portlaw), Joe Murphy (Dunhill), Seamie Hannon (Ballyduff Upper), Liam O’Brien (Tallow), Pat McGrath (Mount Sion), Pat Ryan (Mount Sion), Mossie Walsh (Ballyduff Upper), Mossie Whelan (Portlaw), Tomas Maher (St. Finbarrs), Noel Connors (Passage), Stephen Breen (Ferrybank), Tom Casey (Dunhill), Pat Daly (Tallow), Jim Greene (Mount Sion). Subs – Pat Curran (Cappoquin), Jimmy Hennebry (Portlaw), Kieran Ryan (Tallow).
On the club scene Tallow were the defending county champions. Tony Forristal had been appointed Mount Sion manager and, on his death, Frankie Walsh stepped in to take his place. Mount Sion defeated Tallow in the opening round and went on to regain the county title for the first time since 1975, defeating Dunhill in the final on a score of 4-13 to 1-14. The city side went on to defeat Causeway (Kerry) and Borrisoleigh (Tipperary) in the Munster Championship before defeating South Liberties (Limerick) in the Munster Final in Walsh Park on a score of 3-9 to 1-4 to become the first Waterford team to win the Munster Club Championship. They went on to beat Cushendall (Antrim) in the All Ireland semi-final but lost out to James Stephens in the All Ireland final the following year.
The Mount Sion team that defeated Dunhill was – Stephen Greene, Brendan Knox, Eamonn Kehoe (Capt.), Denis Shefflin, Pat McGrath, Eamonn Ryan, Pat Ryan, Denis Connolly, Pat O’Grady, Anthony Cooney, Pat Kelly, George O’Grady, Karl Heffernan, Martin Geary, Jim Greene. Sub used -Terry Butler.
The Lismore team that won the Co. SHC title in Walsh Park in 1991. This was the club’s second county senior crown after they won the 1942 title but lost it on appeal.
Waterford were made to work hard to score a 2-15 to 1-12 win over Kerry in Killarney before facing defending All Ireland champions, Cork, in the Munster semi-final in Thurles. Waterford put in a spirited performance and with the sides level at 0-5 each at halftime Waterford had cause to rue missed chances as Cork managed to secure a 2-10 to 0-013 victory.
Waterford – Pat Curran (Stradbally), Sean Cullinane (Passage), Damien Byrne (Erins Own), Daithi Foran (Portlaw), Stephen Frampton (Ballygunner), Ger Fitzpatrick (Mount Sion), Brian Greene (Mount Sion), Noel Crowley (Roanmore), Johnny Brenner (De La Salle), Kieran Delahunty (Roanmore), Liam O’Connor (James Stephens), Dermot Henley (Tallow), Billy O’Sullivan (Ballygunner), Eddie Nolan (Roanmore), Mossy O’Keeffe (Ballygunner). Subs – Shane Ahearn (Mount Sion), Pat Ryan (Mount Sion, Ray Sheridan Roanmore, Jimmy Beresford 9Colligan), Paudie Prendergast (Ballyduff Upper), Eamonn Cullinane (Passage).
Lismore avenged their county final defeat of 1986 when winning the club’s first county title since 1925 with a sparkling display against red hot favourites Mount Sion in Walsh Park. Lismore were full value for their 5-7 to 1-5 victory with Donal Landers the man of the match as he accounted for 3-2 of his side’s scores. Lismore went on to defeat Ballyduff of Kerry in the Munster club championship before bowing out to Cork champions Midleton in the semi-final by a single point.
Lismore – Declan Landers, J. J. Duggan, Dave Barry, Mark O’Sullivan, Brendan Crowley, Seamus Prendergast, Billy Lee, C. Barry, Brendan Prendergast, Paul Prendergast, Sean Prendergast, Brendan Lawton, Donal Landers, Sean Daly, Michael O’Sullivan. Sub – Kieran O’Gorman.
The Ballygunner squad that were crowned as Munster club champions in December 2001.
Waterford faced into the Munster championship with justifiable optimism as they took on Limerick in the opening round in Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Their confidence looked well judged as they took the game to the opposition from the start and midway through the first half had built up a twelve point lead with debutante John Mullane in top form. For some reason the intensity in Waterford’s performance dropped off before halftime as Limerick were allowed back into the game. Matters were not helped with John Mullane going off injured. Waterford failed to regain the initiative in the second half and Limerick went on to score a 4-11 to 2-14 victory. It was Gerald McCarthy’s last game of his six year tenure with Waterford.
Waterford – Brendan Landers (Lismore), Tom Feeney (Ballyduff Upper), Sean Cullinane (Passage), Brian Flannery (Mount Sion), James Murray (Tallow), Peter Queally (Ballydurn), James O’Connor (Lismore), Tony Browne (Mount Sion), Johnny Brenner (Killeagh), Dan Shanahan (Lismore), Fergal Hartley (Ballygunner), Ken McGrath (Mount Sion), John Mullane (De La Salle), Seamus Prendergast (Ardmore), Paul Flynn (Ballygunner). Subs – Michael White (Mount Sion), Eoin Murphy (Shamrocks), Anthony Kirwan (Mount Sion).
Gerald McCarthy’s tenure as Waterford senior hurling boss came to an end in 2001.
Lismore beat defending champions Mount Sion in the county semi-final to set up a final against Ballygunner who had beaten them in the 1996 decider. In a tense and hard fought game Ballygunner came out on top once again with Andy Moloney their outstanding player on the day while Dave Bennett was Lismore’s standout player with his free taking keeping his side in the game. Final score – Ballygunner 4-12, Lismore 1-16.
Ballygunner went on to beat Clare champions St. Josephs, Dorra-Barefield in the opening round of the Munster Club Championship in Walsh Park before going on to play out a draw against Tipperary champions Toomevara in Thurles. The replay in Walsh Park saw Ballygunner come through by a single point on a score of 2-10 to 0-15 in a thriller. The Gunners were now in a Munster final for the fifth time with their opponents being Cork champions Blackrock. The Waterford champions dominated the final in Thurles coming away with a decisive 2-14 to 0-12 victory with Billy O’Sullivan becoming the second Waterford player to lift the trophy as captain. In the All Ireland club semi-final against Galway champions Clarinbridge, played in Thurles, Ballygunner suffered a 1-15 to 2-8 defeat.
The Ballygunner side in the All Ireland semi-final was as follows – Ray Whitty, |Niall O’Donnell, Alan Kirwan, Rory O’Sullivan, Stephen Frampton, Fergal Hartley, Colm Kehoe, Tom Fives, Paul Power, Michael Mahony, Paul Foley, Paul Flynn, Billy O’Sullivan,, Andy Moloney, Tony Carroll. Subs – Alan Ahearne, Darragh O’Sullivan, Patrick Haran, Gary Cullinan, Adrian Cullinan, Niall Warren, Liam Whitty, Cormac Lapthorne, Barry Mullane.
Ballygunner captain Shane O’Sullivan lifts the News & Star Cup after their 2011 Co. SHC Final win over Tallow.
As defending Munster champions Waterford faced Limerick in the opening round and after a titanic battle came away with a 3-15 to 3-14 victory thanks to a dramatic late goal by John Mullane. In the Munster final at Pairc Uí Chaoimh the Waterford defence was cut to shreds with Tipperary romping to victory on a score of 7-19 to 0-19 with Lar Corbett accounting for four of his side’s goals and Eoin Kelly two.
Waterford then had to face a fancied Galway side in the quarter final in Semple Stadium and the team showed great resilience to recover from the Munster final defeat as they saw off Galway decisively on a score of 2-23 to 2-13. In the All Ireland semi-final Waterford failed, once again, to get past Kilkenny and went down to a 2-19 to 1-16 defeat in Croke Park.
The Waterford team that beat Galway was – Clinton Hennessy (Ardmore), Darragh Fives (Tourin), Liam Lawlor (Fourmilewater), Noel Connors (Passage), Tony Browne (Mount Sion), Michael Walsh (Stradbally), David O’Sullivan (Ballygunner), Shane O’Sullivan (Ballygunner), Kevin Moran (De La Salle), Seamus Prendergast (Ardmore), John Mullane (De La Salle), Pauric Mahony (Ballygunner), Eoin Kelly (Passage), Shane Walsh (Fourmilewater), Stephen Molumphy (Ballyduff Upper).
In a tempestuous semi-final clash in Walsh Park Ballygunner eliminated defending champions De La Salle on a score of 2-10 to 0-11 after the champions had been reduced to fourteen players after tempers boiled over with just four minutes played. Ballygunner went on to score a an easy win over surprise packets Tallow in the county final but went out of the Munster Championship to Na Piarsaigh of Limerick in the Munster semi-final in Walsh Park on a score of 3-9 to 0-12 with minor star Shane Dowling the top scorer for the Limerick side with 2-4 to his credit.
A further ten years on and the scene is so different with no certainty as to what will transpire. When some degree of the new normal returns Waterford will be hoping to build on last year’s All Ireland appearance under Liam Cahill and on the club scene Ballygunner will be hoping to close in on that nine in a row record held jointly by Erins Own and Mount Sion.