Recent G.A.A. Publications - 1997
Dunne, Katie: (Ed.) Grangemockler Church and People, 1897-1997, (Grangemockler Centenary Committee), 1997. £10.
Fullam, Brendan: Legends of the Ash, (Wolfhound Press) 1997, £16.99.
McRory, Seamus: The Voice from the Sideline, (Blackwater Press) 1997, £9.99.
O'Leary, John (with Martin Breheny): Keeper of the Flame, (Blackwater Press) 1997, £9.99.
Rafferty, Eamonn: Talking Gaelic, (Blackwater Press) 1997, £8.99.
Ryan, Senator Willie: Golden-Kilfeacle: The Parish and its People, (Golden-Kilfeacle GAA Club) 1997, £20.
The list of publications so far this Christmas is not overwhelming. The two local ones deserve special mention. The Grangemockler book originated with the idea of celebrating the Centenary of St. Mary's Church in the village. The parish has a few noted alumni, such as T.E Kiely of athletic fame and on whom an exhibition opened on November 27 in the County Museum, Clonmel, Mick Hogan, immortalised in Croke Park, Cardinal Michael Browne of the Dominicans and Vincent Comerford, Professor of Modern History in Maynooth.
The book contains almost 200 pages, is well illustrated and the section devoted to the GAA has over 30 pages. The club won its first county final in 1890, halting the famous Bohercrowe's run of victories. They nearly repeated the success in 1895 and 1896 but an objection in the first year and the narrowest of defeats in the second prevented this. In 1903 the club commenced an unprecedented period of dominance in Tipperary football, winning five county titles in a row. The book traces the fate of the club, mostly in the doldrums, until the next county final in 1931. One highlight of these years was Bloody Sunday in 1920. Seventeen of the nineteen man panel for that Tipperary-Dublin game came from the south and four, Jerry Shelly, Mikey Tobin, Dick Lanigan and Mick Hogan, were from the parish. Because of his father's illness, Mikey Tobin was unable to travel. Three players from the club, Jerry Shelly, Dick Lanigan and Mickey Tobin, were on the 1920 team, which won Tipperary's last football All-Ireland, played in 1922.
Ballyneale is the other half of the parish and the relationship hasn't always been a happy one. In the thirties each part went its own way and Ballyneale entered teams of their own in both hurling and football. (The former game always tended to be more popular in Ballyneale). In 1943 both ends re-united to take the south junior football championship, but again went their separate ways in 1946. And, as luck would have it, they were drawn against each other. It took three matches to resolve the conflict, with Ballyneale winning out in the end and going all the way to a county final. Ballyneale also brought the first hurling success to the parish, a divisional junior hurling success in 1948.
With this division in the parish Grangemockler declined as a senior footballing force and returned to that state as a combo only in later years. The story of the club in these years is patchy with 1990 an outstanding year, when four divisional championships were won. By 1992 Grangemockler were back in senior football for the first time in nearly thirty years.
The GAA section is well illustrated and perhaps the length of space available caused important omissions. There is no mention of the Stars of the Sea team from Ballyneale, which won the county schools championship in 1929 under Joseph Manning, N.T. Nor is there any mention of Paddy Blanchfield and James O'Shea, two members of the team, who were on the last Tipperary team to win a minor football All-Ireland in 1934. But these are minor blemishes in a piece that whets the appetite for more.
A more substantial work is the Golden-Kilfeacle parish history. This work started out as a history of the Golden-Kilfeacle GAA club some years back but evolved into a comprehensive work on the parish. There is a fine introduction by Des Marnane in which he places the parish of Golden-Kilfeacle in its historic setting as a fording point on the Suir and a place of religious settlement. There's a lengthy piece on Athassel Abbey, pieces of reminiscences of parish life in the thirties, forties and fifties, including a nostalgic piece by Frank Delaney, one of the parish's famous sons, the long and strong connection between the parish and greyhounds and horses and accounts of the many clubs, organisations and societies which make the parish work.
Over half the work is devoted to the history of the Golden-Kilfeacle GAA club. The pages of this section make sometimes lively reading as the writer, Senator Willie Ryan, weaves tales from the social life of the period into the sporting life of the parish. The club won its first divisional senior hurling championship in 1969 . and repeated the victory three years later. However, in spite of producing a respectable body of players, who have done their parish proud in all grades at county level, - in all, members of the club have won fifty provincial and All-Ireland medals in hurling and football - the club has not been successful in senior hurling since 1972. Football has brought more success. Winning a first west senior football championship in 1980, further honours were won in this grade in 1986, 1988, 1995 and 1996.
The club history comes to an end in 1995 and what a fitting year on which to go out. The year was celebrated many times throughout the parish. Six west titles were won, senior football, intermediate hurling, junior football, under-21 football, minor football and under-16 hurling. On top of that were county titles in intermediate hurling and under-21 football. Never before in a single year had such a haul of medals come to the hurlers and footballers of Golden-Ki Ifeacle.
There's an impressive collection of photographs in the book ranging from a land league hut from 1882 to the minor hurling team beaten in the county 'A' final this year, the first time to qualify in thirty years. There's an eight page spread of colour photographs in the centre of the book which adds impressively to the impact of the work. Also, a comprehensive sites and monuments map. Overall a fine production and a model for any parish that hasn't yet produced a history.
Two other publications of smaller scale can be mentioned. The South Board produced South Tipp '96 a booklet outlining the achievements of the clubs during the year. Mostly pictorial and statistical, it brought together the pictures of all the winning teams, information on finals, intercounty players and sponsors. It contains forty pages and had a bright colourful cover. It was well received and divisional secretary Michael O'Meara, is hoping to bring out a similar record for 1997. The only inhibiting factor is cost but the popularity of the publication may overcome that obstacle.
The second publication is The Blues News, a production of the Thurles Sarsfields club. Two issues are to hand and a third will be available for the Christmas. The first one highlighted the celebration of All-Ireland medal winners from the club, which was held early in the year, as well as other club news. The publication is a mixture of current club activity and glimpses into the past. It is eight pages long, printed on good quality paper with fine photographic reproductions. An idea for any club which had an able and imaginative member to take on the task. But, be forewarned: such publications cost money and the vast number of club members and players are not inclined to put their hands in their pockets and pay for them.
On the national level, Brendan Fullam's third book in the final one in the popular trilogy, which records the big names of the game of hurling over the past century. His two previous books, Giants of the Ash and Hurling Giants were well received as they recorded for posterity the hopes and aspirations and personal motivation of the hurling giants of each decade. In Talking Gaelic Eamonn Rafferty interviews a host of well-known personalities from player to politician, die-hard to dissenter. President McAleese is included. John O'Leary's story covers the life of a great sportsman, who was first choice goalkeeper for the Dublin senior football team for seventeen years. Finally, in The Voice from the Sideline key Gaelic football managers tell us about their management strategies, motivation, discipline, their drive to succeed and their concerns for the future.
I haven't seen any sign of Brian Carthy's, The Championship 1997, as yet but I hope it appears. H is books for 1995 and 1996 were outstanding records and reference works for those two years' hurling and football championships and it would be a huge gap in GAA literature if the 1997 book wasn't published. numbers.
Tipperary G.A.A. Yearbook 1998. pp 111-112