G.A.A. Publications - 1993
Not a great year for books on the GAA in the county. In last year's piece I mentioned the imminent publication of Gaelic Games in Holycross-Ballycahill by Bob Stakelum. It was launched with due pomp and circumstance by Dr. Russell, Bishop of Waterford and Lismore in Holycross Abbey. That must have been a first to have a GAA book launched in a church. Of the print run of 600 copies over 500 are sold so if you haven't got a copy you should contact the author at 0504-43311. The book sells for £10 and has 406 pages.
The book is dedicated 'to the ladies of the parish who cater for our functions, wash togs and suffer in silence, as the menfolk get all the glory.' It traces the history of the club through the years of defeat up to the first county championship win in junior hurling in 1941. This was followed by the first senior hurling championship win in 1948. This team contained such stalwarts as Pat Stakelum, John Doyle, Bob Stakelum, Jack Dwyer, Ned O'Gorman and they were to play a major part in the revival of hurling glory in the county.
The book is interspersed with pen pictures of club greats, anecdotes from different periods and, of course, photographs. Naturally they are more plentiful in the second half of the book. The club's success at juvenile level, especially in the later decades, is generously covered. The final 30 pages are devoted to statistics and the final picture shows a joyful Declan Carr holding the Liam McCarthy cup aloft after the 1991 All-Ireland final.
Golden - Kilfeacle
It was hoped to have the Golden-Kilfeacle book ready for Christmas and it may still be. The final work towards bringing it to publication was held up for a number of weeks by the illness of the editor, Willie Ryan. The latter is now back on his feet and is hoping to have the book available in the very near future.
Of all the programmes produced in the county during the year, pride of place must be given to the north final production on August 30. Containing no less than 78 pages it was excellent value for £1 and a tremendous tribute to Bord na nOg, who were responsible for it. The pages contain a fine mix of scholarly articles, personality profiles, potted club histories, player facts and interesting snippets. One of the latter to catch my eye was as follows. Arthur Young, during his tour of Ireland in the 18th century, visited Portroe. He witnessed a game of hurling and described it as a sort of cricket 'but instead of throwing the ball in order to knock down a wicket, the aim is to put it through a bent stick, the ends of which are stuck in the ground. In these matches they perform such feats of activity 'as ought to evidence the food they live on to be far from deficient in nourishment.'
This reminded me of a visit a couple of years ago to the Cricket Museum in the Lord's Ground, London, looking for ideas for the Centrefield Project at Thurles. Two things stuck in my mind from that visit. The first was that the cricket bat was originally a crooked bat and very similar in shape to hurleys that have survived from the 19th century. The bat retained this shape until the second half of the 18th century.
Why did it change? One explanation was as follows: 'The crooked bat became straight out of sheer expediency; wit and not morality was the cause. A curved bat, with the weight concentrated at the bottom, was necessary as a counter to the ancient underhand bowling, quick and along the ground ... As soon as Hambledon men bowled a length and used the air and caused the ball to rise sharply from the ground, a hockey stick sort of defence was of no avail, and so the shouldered narrow blade was evolved.' So, there you are!!
The second thing that struck me was that there was no control on the width of the bat until 1771. In that year at a match between Hambledon and Chertsey 'one Thomas 'Shock' White of Reigate did see fit and strode to the crease carrying a monster of a bat which was in fact wider than the wicket, and shocked everyone into acknowledging the absurdiry of there not being a ruling to prevent it. The Hambledon club were far from amused but they got the message and at the September meeting of their committee passed a resolution limiting the width of the cricket bat to four and a quarter inches.' And that was over two hundred years before the G.A.A. limited the goalie's hurley to five inches!
But, to get back to the north final programme. It also included a comprehensinve record of all the games played in the senior hurling championship, with tthe results and the scores. If one included the final, twenty senior hurling games were played in the division in 1992! No wonder their coffers are bulging.
Tipperary won three AlI- Irelands in field games in 1992, the hurling masters and minor and junior camogie. For the latter Croke Park produced a fine program with the teams in colour and pen pictures of the players. Because it was the first junior camogie All-Ireland won by Tipperary it has to be a collector's item. If you haven't got a copy you might try Croke Park or Marion Graham at 0504-44463.
Finally, Brendan Fullam, who prodused a best seller in 'Giants of the Ash' for the Christmas market last year is reputed to be working on a follow-up at the moment. A Westmeath friend was very annoyed that he omitted the famous Jobber McGrath from the 'Giants' and hopes that he'll be included in the sequel.
Tipperary G.A.A. Yearbook 1993 p.64