Jimmy Hennessy - A Kickhams Man and More
With Jimmy Hennessy approaching his 82nd birthday, he can look back to a distinguished G.A.A. career not only with his native club of Kickhams, but in the broader world of divisional and county service.
At the present he holds the honorary position of Life President of the West Board, a position held by very few and conferred by the board on those who have given distinguished service. It was conferred on Jimmy as long ago as 1980 in recognition of a life of service that included eleven years as secretary between 1960-1970, three years officially, and thirteen years unofficially, as treasurer from 1960-1973, and forty-six years to date - he is still a member - of the finance committee. As well he was a divisional member of the county board for twenty-three years between 1960-1983, when there were only four representatives from the divisions.
At the county level he gave many years service as a selector, commencing in 1964 at under-21 level. He had the honour of helping to select the team to win the first All-Ireland in the grade, and he remained as a selector for 1965 and 1966. He was a junior and senior selector in 1967 and continued as a senior selector until 1973. He has good memories of the All-Ireland win in 1971, believes we should never have lost to Limerick in 1973, and was the sole selector-manager of the team that made the dream trip to San Francisco in March 1972. He came back as senior selector in 1975 for one year, in 1979 for the same period, and his last year was 1985, when Tipperary reached the nadir of their fortunes with defeat by Clare in the championship at Ennis.
Jimmy's long association with the G.A.A. commenced in 1936 when as a ten and a half year old he played juvenile, under-15, for the first of five years with the Kickhams. He was also to play minor for five years, winning two West medals. He played with the Invincibles in 1941, when three of them went to Golden after Donaskeigh failed to pick any Knockavilla players. He graduated to senior ranks and played at a time when Kickhams were invincible, winning ten and losing two divisional titles in twelve years. He played at full-forward or centre-forward and had to mark Tony Brennan in many of these finals. He captained the team in 1956.
He started school in Bishopswood where the habit of writing with the left hand, regarded as sinister in those days, was beaten out of him. Afterwards he went to the Abbey School in Tipperary and was about to commence his Leaving Certificate year when he got a job in Tierney's grocery and hardware shop at Dundrum, having been told there was more money there than going to school. He remained there until 1962, when he opened up his own shop, which he ran until he sold out in 1998.
As well as the G.A.A., Jimmy's great interest was greyhounds, getting his first dog, Dundrum Maiden, before he was eleven years old. His father had kept dogs and had the favourite, Light Mutton, for the Oaks in 1937, but the dog died the Friday before the race. He swore never to keep a dog again, but Jimmy took up where he left off. He had a number of great dogs during his life such as Come on Lucy, Radical Prince, Supplement and Deer Decision. He used to go dog racing four to five nights a week but has lost all interest now, and never goes to the track. His attention has turned to horses and he has an interest in a couple with his brother, Paddy, Kneeland Lass and Cumask Lass.
Jimmy married Teresa Lane from Brosna, Co. Kerry in 1964. She had come to work as a book-keeper in O'Dwyer's, Dundrum a couple of years previously. They had one son, Donal, who lives in Yonkers, New York. Sadly, Teresa passed away just two years ago in 2005 and her departure has left a huge vacuum in Jimmy's life. It is only partly filled by continued interest in the fortunes or Tipperary and Kickhams hurling and he will be at Leahy Park today to cheer on his club to another West Final.
West Tipperary Senior Hurling Final program, July 15, 2007