Wexford champions Buffers Aley and Kilruane McDonaghs from Tipperary quailified for the final of the All-Ireland club hurling championship following victories over Cushendall of Antrim and Turloughmore of Galway, respectively.
Corner forward Mick Butler. who scored five points, was outstanding in Buffers Alley’s 1-10 to 0-5 win at Cushendall while veteran Tony Doran added a point.
Gerry Burke scored all of Turloughmores nine points, eight of them from frees, against Kilruane at Nenagh but the Tipperary champions, with the Williams clan accounting for all but two points of their 3-9 total, proved too strong.
Kilruane McDonaghs 3-9 (P Williams 1-4, J Williams 1-1, S Williams 1-0, G Williams 0-2, E O'Shea 0-2). Turloughmore. 0-9 (G Burke 0-9).
Buffers Alley 1-10 (M Butler 0-5, S Leary 1-1, M Casey 0-1, T Dwyer 0-1, G Sweeney 0-1, T Doran 0-1),
Cushendall 0-5 (D McNaughton 0-3, B McNaughton 0-1, M Delargy 0-1).
“She was sweet” may not be first line of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, you probably won’t even find it in one of John B. Keane’s plays. But if you were on hand in one of Turlough’s well known hostelries after the 12th bell had sounded a few days after the County Final and had witnessed one of Turlough’s most loyal supporters, with arms raised in typical cup-holding fashion and chanting repeatedly that simple phrase, “She was sweet” with wholehearted fervour and self- satisfaction, you would be inclined to agree that no better phrase could describe the feelings of players and supporters alike in the aftermath of winning their 8th County title.
For a club that is just 2 years younger than the G.A.A. itself, we celebrated our centenary in ‘86, it was indeed a fitting reward for the contribution our parish and club have made to our national game over the past 99 years. Indeed, it was probably due to our greatest contribution i.e. the six-in-a-row of the 60’s that the present squad eventually gave in to public pressure to emulate some of their feats and win at least one county title. In addition, the fact that the years were rolling by and some of the players weren’t getting any younger was enough to convince the club that something special had to be done.
At a very lively and constructive A.G.M. in January, there was one very articulate motion demanding “cups not balance sheets” that really motivated us. An ideal management team was put together, the dedicated Michael John Hurney plus the hurling brains of Paddy Fahy and Pakie Burke joined forces with the youthful Inky Flaherty. It was a major coup for club chairman Jarlath McDonagh to get the maestro Inky himself to give us a hand. There may be a few Inkys around the country but we have the one born in Galway and we intend to hold on to him.
In addition we were lucky to have the regular services of Dr. Brendan Day whose knowledge of sporting injuries was invaluable to us. We also had the hurley craftsman Mattie Joyce who moulded, measured and shaped the tools of our trade to each individual’s own requirements. To cap it all we were joined by Willie Bennett carrying all the skills of his father Ossie whose powerful hands soothed the aching muscles of the Doyles, the Devanneys and the Careys of the great Tipp team of the sixties.
On the field too we had a squad most of whom had been in two Semi-Finals in the last 5 years and over the last 2 years were given fine leadership by captain Jerry Holland.
It wouldn’t be appropriate to discuss our training campaign in any great detail, but for young men who have ambitions to win County titles or indeed All-Ireland titles, it will suffice to say that if Matt Talbot in his reformed years had visited our training camp in the months prior to the Final he would have got a new lease of life as we proved to ourselves once and for all that drink and training don’t mix.
The Final itself may not have been very spectacular for the neutral observer. One can’t expect to get the same entertainment from October hurling compared to July or August hurling. From a Turlough point of view as Christy Ring replied when asked to comment on the poor quality of an All-Ireland Final “Ara boy any Final you win is a good one.”
The most surprising thing about winning a County medal for a player who had a certain amount of success with the county including the ultimate in 1980 with all the honours and celebrations that went with it, was the fact that now I’m wondering if winning an All-Ireland or an All-Star or a National League was all that much more important. I am convinced that every young player should keep the dream of winning a County Title with his own parish and the friends he grew up with, in a very prominent position among his other ambitions.
I would love to see such fine hurlers and former team mates like P. J. Molloy, Iggy Clarke, Noel Lane, etc. win County medals so that they could sample the fantastic feeling it brings. There is very little in sport that can compare with a cavalcade tour of your own parish, leaving a trail of over 150 bonfires in its wake, many of them lit by men who in earlier years were your idols on the hurling field. Or indeed a visit complete with Cup and candy to your local National Schools and be greeted by hundreds of cheering, autograph-hunting children bedecked in your club colours. Or to hear that in far away cities such as Boston, New York, London, Johannesburg, Melbourne, etc. that your club colours were being proudly worn, as distant exiles joined in the celebrations.
The beaten finalists Kilimordaly have made a contribution, second to none, to Galway hurling and now more than ever they deserve a County title. They have youth on their side and when the disappointment wears off and the warm May evenings come around I know that they will be a force to be reckoned with.
For a club without pitch or dressing rooms the ‘85 win is even more significant. This development is one of our three main priorities over the coming months. The second is to carry the black and white and maroon with courage and dignity outside the County and the 3rd is to leave no stone unturned to put two titles back to back. This may sound a bit greedy, but I’m sure the other twenty or so fine hurling clubs in the County would get no greater pleasure than from trying to take a cup off a club that didn’t want to part with it.
By Frank Burke