The Hurling Glory Years 1910-1919
|The Hurling Glory Years 1910-1919 by Jackie Hyland|
| A return engagement took place at Maryborough on 22 May for medals
sponsored by the locals. With Clonaslee in arrears a disputed point for
Clonaslee let to a walk out by Kilcotton with Clonaslee awarded the
match. A tragic happening took place at Clough on 12 June at a
championship match between Ballacolla and Rathdowney, John Fitzpatrick
of Rahandrick aged about twenty years one of the stewards engaged in
keeping the lines for Clough received a blow on the head from a hurley.
The next morning about nine o' clock when attended by Dr. W. Carroll he
was in bed and unconscious. The doctor ordered the priest and within a
half hour he had died from his injuries. A post mortem confirmed the boy
had died from a compressed fracture.|
On 3 July the county footballers suffered a heavy defeat to a rising Wexford 2-10 to 0-2. At Jones Road on 14 August Leix had a double hurling engagement. The seniors opened the programme against Dublin and after scoring 2-1 without a reply, were snowed under with scores for Dublin. Leix were off form and never showed the dashof '09 when they defeated Wexford (twice), Galway and Kerry when going under to the metropoliticans. The second division hurlers had Wexford as opposition in the next game. The young team were too good for Wexford in an easy win 4-1 to 1-2. The goalkeeper and the accuracy and precision of the forwards was remarked on. A very pleasant function took place between the games.
Mr. Dan Mc Carthy later to become president of the GAA (1921-24) of Dublin on behalf of Leix presented an exquisite solid gold medal designed especially by Hopkins & Hopkins to Mr. M. McEvoy the Guard of the special trains used by the teams and supporters at this time. A very good rail system within the country was widely used by the clubs for County Championship matches at this period.
To improve the players and to put the best of the field and to realize the potential of the County hurlers it was proposed to start a hurling league among the four best teams for a set of gold medals, all games at Maryborough. It was stated if the proposal was accepted the County could annex the Croke Cup for 1910. At this time the county had not received the Dr. Croke Cup, the previous winners Clare not having released it to Central Council.
On 25 September at Portarlington Vicarstown defeated Ratheniska to take Division II Football honors. In senior grade Portarlington defeated Stradbally 0-2 to 0-1 in the semi- final played in November. Portarlington took the S.F. honors for 1910 beating 0'Moores Forest in the final. In a very busy year on the intercounty scene, the DivisionII Football team had advanced to the Leinster Final beating Westmeath 2-2 to 0-2 at Jones Road on September 11.
The county had a double date in both Leinster Hurling and Football Division II Finals on 6 November at Jones Road. In football Louth had four points to spare 1-5 to 1-1. The panel for the football read, Daniel Brady(goal), Patrick Connor, James Bergin, M Maher, J. Quigley, W Cuddy, Patrick Scully, C Mc Evoy, M Mc Murrough, M Dunne, W Quigley, R Reilly, M Nerney, Patrick Hayes, Subs J. Connell, J. Maher and J. Mc Evoy.
To the hurlers goes the honor of bringing the first Leinster Hurling medals to the county. On the double bill the hurlers had three clear goals to spare over Dublin 4-1 to 1-1, this game could have been a semi- final or possibly a practice game. In the final on 21 November at Jones Road Leix recorded a facile win over Meath 12-2 to 2-1. The hurling team, Farrian, Guiney, Daly and Farrell (Rathdowney), Collier,Fitzpatrick, Brady and Murphy (Maryborough), Henihan, Maher, and Fitzpatrick (Kilcotton), Farrell and Phelan (Mountrath), Moylan and Dunphy (Cullohill) Walsh andBergin (Ballacolla) 1911. The Senior hurling championship for 1910 carried over into the spring of '11.
On 19 March 1911 two hurling finals were down to be decided at Maryborough. In senior Kilcotton could not field but the Division II final resulted in a win for Ballacolla 5-1 to Ballytarsna 3-1. The senior final finally came off on 9 April with Mr. Quigley of Fontenoy's Dublin as ref., Kilcotton led 2-0 to 1-0 at H.T. but Clonaslee emerged champions by a point 3-2 to 3-1 reversing three losses by a point. In senior football there is no record of intercounty activity.
On the local scene on 25 June Stradbally defeated the holders Portarlington 1-2 to 0-3. In the final at Abbeyleix, Stradbally beat Maryborough 2-3 to 0-3. In intercounty hurling, the Division II team fielding a new outfit lost to Dublin in Round 2, while the seniors after beating Offaly after a replay found Wexford too strong at Waterford on 9 July. In the county senior hurling Rathdowney qualified for the final putting out Kilcotton.
On the other side Clonaslee defeated Maryborough. In the final on 15 October, Rathdowney had one of their easiest victories 7-1 to nil for Clonaslee.
In 1912 the county football team lost to Dublin 2-2 to 0-2 at Jones Road on 16 June. The juniors put Offaly out but were beaten 3-2 to 0-0 by Louth on 4 August. In hurling the juniors went out to Offaly in Birr. At Senior level the hurlers were on the rise reaching both the Croke Cup and Leinster Senior Finals. The Croke Cup final was leftuntil 1913. In the Leinster final Kilkenny beat Leix 6-6 to 2-4 and went on to win the All-Ireland beating Cork 2-1 to 1-3 on November 17. On the club football scene Stradbally defeated Maryborough in the semi-final at Vicarstown on 21 July, score 4-1 to nil.
In the final on 13 October Stradbally defeated Portarlington 1-1 to 0-2. However Portarlington objected on the basis that two players had taken part in an illegal sport at Ballybrittas. At a board meeting on 3 November 1912 Fr. J. Kearney ruled the Sports at Ballybrittas illegal and the two players Jim Gray and Jack Whelehan both from the Heath illegal. Portarlington offered the replay the match without the players concerned. Stradbally declined and the title was awarded to Portarlington. Rathdowney took the Division 2 or middle grade football title. Rathdowney were involved in a protracted hurling championship because of their dual involvement. The semi- finals on 1 September saw Kilcotton qualify, the other semi resulted in a 2-2 all draw between Rathdowney and Maryborough. Rathdowney won the replay and the championship again defeating Kilcotton.
the junior hurling championship Mondrehid defeated Ballacolla 19 points
to 5. The final of the 1912 Croke Cup was played at Maryborough on 30
March 1913. Tipperary beat Leix 5-3 to 3-2. The coverage in the local
papers was quite patchy at this time.In February Leix ran Kilkenny to a
point 2-6 to 3-2 in a tournament ran to perpetuate the memory of Dr.
Croke. Kilkenny went on to win the All- Ireland 2-4 to Tipperary 1-2.|
As a result of a Congress decision the number of team members was reduced from 17 to 15. In the S.H.C. Rathdowney eliminated Clonaslee after a replay. It took Rathdowney a further replay to oust Ballacolla. Kilcotton waited in the final which ended in a draw on 14 December. The replay on 21 December ended in a further draw 3-2 each. Mr. John Lalor of Kilkenny refereed both games. Before the replay it was accepted the proceeds would go into a training fund for the senior hurlers.
In the second replay on 25 January 1914 Kilcotton regained the title on a score 3-2 to Rathdowney 2-1. On the football scene the Heath re-entered senior football following a split in Stradbally over land division coupled with their loss of the 1912 final. The Heath natives with Stradbally and Maryborough returned to the club. These coupledwith some Stradbally players gave the Heath a strong combination. Portarlington eliminated Ballyroan. A refixture between the Heath and Abbeyleix on 12 Octoberresulted in a Heath win. On the other side Rathdowney had eliminated Maryborough to qualify for the final.
The semi- final between the Heath and Portarlington on 16 November at Vicarstown resulted in a Heath win 1-3 to 0-3. Portarlington objected on the same basis as the year before, that Jim Gray and Jack Whelehan had taken part in an illegal sport at Ballybrittas. At the county board meeting the president Fr. Kearney awarded the Heath the match as the as the posters stated under the GAA rules.
Portarlington appealed to the Leinster Council which delayed the final fixed for the last Sunday of March. The Heath defeated Athy 4-3 to 0-2 in a practice on that day.The junior final for 1913 was also played at the Heath on the same day. Vicarstown beat Ratheniska 1-0 to 0-1. The Leinster Council upheld Fr. Kearney's decision and the Heath had an easy win over Rathdowney on 5 April, score not recorded. At the board meeting on 2 May Ratheniska objected to Vicarstown and were awarded the 1913 J.F.C.
For 1914 Kilcotton had the honor of leading Leix per Jack Carroll. A concentrated training regime paid dividends. At Kilkenny on 24 May Wexford were beaten 4-3 to 1-4. In the Leinster semi- final in Tullamore on 12 July Leix had two points to spare over Dublin 4-3 to 3-4. In the final on 2 August against Kilkenny Leix had a narrow win 3-2 to 2-4. Leinster final team, Jack Carroll, Jimmy Jones, Ned McEvoy, P. Goulding, Bob O'Keefe, William Lenihan, Tom Finlay, Jim Carroll, Tim Hyland, R. O'Reilly(Goalie) T. Higgins, Jim Hiney, Joe Carroll, Fint Killeen.
Clare in Munster like Leix were newcomers to the big scene. A victory over Tipperary in a Thomand Cup game gave great encouragement to Clare. After beating Kerry inthe Munster SHC the team had a weeks full time training before beating Limerick. Cork were beaten by a point 3-2 to 3-1 in the Munster Final. The scene was set, twoconfident teams set out for Croke Park for the All- Ireland final in 18 October. Willie Redmond MP led Clare onto the field before an attendance of 15,000 spectators.
By half time the game was over. Leix not displaying their earlier form were 10 points in arrears 3-1 to 0-0, a rally after half time led to a goal, Clare added two further goals to run out winners 5-1 to 1-0. Leix made several changes from the Leinster final and the All- Ireland lineout included nine from Kilcotton. Team: Jack Carroll, Fint Killeen, William Lenihan, Tom Finlay, Bob O'Keefe, Jim Jones, Jim Carroll, P Goulding Ned Mc Evoy, Jack Daly, Tim Hyland, Tom Higgins, Jim Hiney, Joe Carroll, Har Jones.
Almost unnoticed the junior hurlers advanced to the Leinster Final where they had a facile win over Kildare 16-4 to 0-0 on 8 November. The team was Jack Finlay(Captain), John Phelan, Tim Costigan, Jack Walsh, John Phelan, J. Loughname, John Dunphy, Joe Dunphy, Joseph Moylan, M. Drennan, M. Carroll, R. Mc Evoy, M. Sheppard, M. Mc Grath, K. Begadon. The All- Ireland series was not played until 1915. In football Leix seniors beat Kildare 1-4 to 0-5 but were well beaten by Louth on 5 July, Five contested the county senior football championship.
The Heath beat Maryborough 2-2 to 0-2 while Ballyroan eliminated Abbeyleix and Vicarstown. In a rough tough encounter the Heath and Ballyroan met on 3 October in the senior football final. The replacement of the Heath captain injured with a broken collar bone necessitated a long delay. The Brady brothers and Foyle were stars forBallyroan winning 1-6 to 0-1.
In the J.F.C. semi-final for '14, the Heath advanced to the final defeating Mountmellick on 10 January. The final on 11 April the Heath v Stradbally was referred by Fr. J. Kearney the President. As there was a disputed score he suggested a replay which was delayed until 11 July because of a Stradbally objection. Heath won the replay 1-3 to 1-0. In senior grade for 1915 Portarlington eliminated the Heath and went on to contest the final. Ballyroan had Abbeyleix and Maryborough in their side of the draw and had a further easy final victory on 21st November, Ballyroan 0-8Portarlington 0-0.
In the senior hurling championship newcomers Ballygeehan took the senior title for 1914 over Kilcotton. In the resumed intercounty junior hurling championship Leix beat Ulster Champions Monaghan 7-3 to 0-0 on 17 January. For the second time the Banner county Clare provided the opposition in the All- Ireland. Again defeat wasLeix's lot, Clare 6-5, Leix 1-1. Team: John Finlay (Captain), John Phelan, Tim Costigan, Jack Walsh, John Phelan, J. Loughnane, J. Dunphy, Joe Dunphy, M. Drennan, M. Carroll, M. Sheppard, M. Begadan, W. Quigley, Jim Deegan, Pat Ryan. Subs Joseph Moylan, R. Mc Evoy, M. Mc Grath.
|The benefit however to Leix from a Ballygeehan powered team was the
extra players for the county senior panel. The preparations for the 1915
senior campaign were very intensive and the benefits were obvious. For
the second year in a row Kilkenny were beaten by a point 4-1 to 2-6 on 6
June at Tullamore. The Leinster Final was at Kilkenny on 15 August
against Dublin (Faughs selection) who had put out Wexford. The team had
six points to spare 3-2 to 0-5. the team Jack Finlay (Captain), John
Phelan, Paddy Ryan (Goalie), Tom Finlay, Jack Walsh (Ballygeehan), Jim
Hiney, Jack Daly, Jim Deegan (Rathdowney), Ned Mc Evoy (Abbeyleix), Jack
Loughnane (Ballacolla), Joe Dunphy (Rapla), Bob O' Keefe, Joe Carroll,
Jim Carroll, Jack Carroll (Kilcotton). Cork (Redmond's) awaited them in
the final on 24 October.|
A period of intense preparation including two practice games with Dublin and Kilkenny followed. Mr. J. J. Higgins was mainly responsible for arranging the practices and the adoption of the system of training that proved so successful.
Both teams had a tough route to the final, Leix overcoming former champs Kilkenny and a rising Dublin team, winners in 1917. Cork had put paid to the cream of Munster, Tipperary in round 1, Limerick in the semi, and the All-Ireland Champions Clare in the final. Both teams traveled up on Saturday for the game. Leix wore black and amber hoops while Cork wore yellow jerseys. The teams took the fields amidst a drenching downpour.
Leix were first on field to be followed by Cork led on by the Barrack Street Brass Band. Though playing well, the first twenty minutes of the game was a nightmare for Leix. Wide after wide while Cork registered two goals. A point from a free by Phelan opened the Leix account but Cork were down for an other goal. Joe Phelan scored the first Leix goal after 21 minutes. Leix on top had a second goal from John Phelan. Leix finished the half with a point from Tom Finlay.
Half- Time Cork 3-0, Leix 2-2.
The bookies who before the game were four to one to Leix were now offering six to four. On the resumption Cork pressed but Leix got down to score a magnificent goal through Hiney. A second goal by Hiney had Leix in control. Stout defending by O' Keefe kept Cork out. The brilliant play of Tom Finlay was being appreciated all around the ground. After 21 minutes of the second half Jack Carroll had a goal for Leix. Corkgot down, a third goal. John Finlay never gave the Cork forwards a chance after this they could not pass him. A point for Cork was followed by Hineys third goal. Leix'sAll Ireland 6-2 to 4-1.
Among the 15,000 spectators was a heavy weight boxing champion Jack Johnston then in revue at a Dublin music hall "He appeared to be a supporter of Leix too"Congratulations flooded into the team Sir Algerman Coote Bart, of Ballyfin sending his best wishes per Mr. P. J. Meehan M. P., William Dill Fair Hill Cork sent his congratulations to Fr J. J. Kearney President whose efforts for the team and the county were widely praised. Joh T. Kennedy, Captain of the Wexford Football team sent congratulations also R. D. (Drug) Walsh (Kilkenny) Fr Power, CC (Kilkenny) Fr Coffey (Thurles), Dr Fitzgerald (Cork), M. F. Brennan (Macroom).
Abbeyleix Rural District Council was the first public body to offer congratulationsto be followed by the remainder of the bodies in the county.Some of the team traveled home on the Sunday a section of the team that remained in Dublin until Monday evening received a very cordial reception on their arrival by the 5.20 train at Abbeyleix. John Finlay the captain on alighting form the train was borne shoulder high through the town.
Abbeyleix pipers band and about 70 cars took part in the triumphal procession. The team for the final read John Finlay(Captain), John Walsh, Joseph Phelan, Thomas Phelan, J. Phelan, Patrick Ryan (Ballygeehan), John Hiney, John Daly (Rathdowney), E. P. Mc Evoy (Abbeyleix) John Carroll, Joseph Carroll, R O'Keefe, James Carroll (Kilcotton) Joseph Dunphy (Rapla), Patrick Campion( Rathdowney), Jim Kelly- Sheridan replaced P Campion injured.
A special meeting of the county board presided over by Fr Kearney with J Drennan (Secretary) and Jas. Miller (Treasurer) also present was held in the new parochial hall Mountrath on 31 October. Congratulations continued to shower in including Mr. John Lalor Kilkenny. Tom Finlay (Ballygeehan) on behalf of the team thanked the countyboard and all who helped the team get to the All-Ireland.
Mr. E.P. Tarrant (Castletown) praised Ballygeehan for the unselfishness they showed. The mundane appeared on the agenda in the form of a referees report on the S.F.C.semi-final won by Ballyroan 1-8 to 2-2 for the Swan. An objection by the Swan was left over but Ballyroan went on to retain their title beating Portarlington 0-8 to 0-0, thehurling championship was largely left over to 1916.