Ossie Bennett (1958-88) - 30 Years a Rubbing
One of the greatest kicks Ossie Bennett got in 1988 was when St. Kieran's won the Kerry senior football championship. The team used train in Carrow, halfway between Castleisland and Farranfore and Ossie was called in to 'straighten out ankles, cartilages, backs and shoulders'. The fivehour round trip from Johnstown didn't cost him a thought. The previous year it was Myshall in County Carlow. They were beaten in the hurling final, but won the football. In 1986 they had been successful in both. .
These are but two of the impressive number of achievements by this man from Ballinhassig, Co. Cork, now residing in Co. Kilkenny and identified for so long with Co. Tipperary. He has been associated with at least twenty county championship winning sides and has gone into Croke Park with twelve All-Ireland winning teams. They include six with Tipperary, four with Offaly, one with Galway and Cork's football victory in 1973.
Ossie Bennett learned his skill in straightening out bodies from his father, Bill, and his own lengthy experience as an athlete. Bill Bennett was an impressive athlete in the hurdles, 100 yards, high jump and reached 23' 11" in the long jump. His ability was recognised when he was chosen as one of those to lead the parade in the Tailteann Games in 1924.
Ossie made a similar impact in the world of sport. An all-round athlete like his father his main interests were in cycling and boxing. His cycling interest began as a boy when he cycled thirteen miles a day from his home to school in Cork. During his career he won nerly one hundred cycle races at all distances.
Ossie Bennett had a professional boxing career that stretched from 1933 to 1945. It started when Gerard Egan, a boxing promoter from the U.S. came to Cork looking for 'White Hopes' in boxing around 1933. During his career Bennett beat such boxing luminaries as Tiger Smith, Barney Smith, Manuel Quinn, Eddie Downey, Tommy Upton, Tommy Mallon and Moss Leane in places as far apart as Cork, Belfast, Montreal and South America. He reckons he never reached his full potential as a boxer and, when the war was over, Ossie, who was born in 1916, was too old to resume his boxing career.
The Tipperary Connection
Until he got married in 1949 0ssie Bennett was an engineer with the Limerick Steamship Company, and plied the route between Limerick and various ports in England. About that time he answered an advertisement for 'an engineer with a knowledge of steam' and got the job with Roscrea Meat Products Ltd. He got a house on the Offaly side of Roscrea, became friendly with Fr. Vaughan and began training the Coolderry team.
In 1958 John Joe Maher introduced him to Liam Devaney, who was suffering from some injury. He progressed from there to rubbing Tipperary for the Munster final. In 1960 Sean Ryan, Matt Hassett and Jack Hough asked him to train Toomevara, who went on to win the county final. The following year he was called up full time for Tipperary to replace Bion O'Brien, and he has been with the county since. He worked in conjunction with Jerry Doyle, until the latter's death. Jerry did the hurling training and Ossie the physical training.
Ossie Bennett admits he has no formal training whatsoever but he knows the body thoroughly. He learned firstly from his father and from his own athletic experience he got the rest. There is a strong tradition for healing in the family. His grandmother used to cure people with physical ailments but advised Ossie to keep away from it, as it wasn't lucky. Ossie inherited this gift and he is in demand today, not only from teams but also from a constant stream of people who visit him from the four corners of the country.
His aim in the training of players is to increase their heart revs. He believes that the player must be able to increase the normal rev count of sixty to eighty or more if he hopes to respond to the demands of a strenuous game. Only training that will increae the rev count is of any value.
Ossie Bennett is a very busy man. At seventy-two years today he has very few spare minutes. He prefers it that way. He has other interests besides training teams and mending physical ailments. Vintage cars and steam engines are his great loves.
His interest in vintage cars goes back to the mid-hfties and he got into steam engines in the mid-sixties, soon after Stradbally started. In 1961 he joined Gouldings Fertilizers in Dublin and used to travel to Thurles regularly with Donie Nealon and the other Dublin-based Tipperary players. In 1963, on his way to Thurles, he saw a garage in Johnstown for sale. He examined it, bought the place and retired from Gouldings.
Since then he has led a very full life and enjoyed every moment of it: He has been very happy with the teams he trained and admits to having been treated well. If he has contributed substantially to the success of many teams he is content in the thought that he has received immense enjoyment in return. Retiring from his job with Tipperary team will give him more time to pursue his other interests. One thing is certain though, Ossie Bennett will not sit down and put the feet up.
Ossie Bennett with Lord Mantague, in the oldest surviving registered car in Ireland
Tipperary G.A.A. Yearbook 1989, p 65