In a fine nostalgic piece in the 1981 Tipperary G.A.A. Yearbook, Seamus Leahy recalls a visit from his uncle Paddy and Jimmy Maher after Lorrha's defeat by Holycross in the 1948 county final. He produced an autograph- book and his uncle Paddy wrote: 'Sensation: Holycross won county championship 1948. Tipp will win All-Ireland championship 1949. Signed: P. Leahy.' Then he handed the book to Jimmy Maher, who wrote: 'Jim Maher, Boherlahan.'
'Identify yourself!, urged Paddy. 'Jim Maher, Boherlahan could be anyone. Write 'Tipp goalie.'
'Not after today,' said Jimmy, sadly but signing, just the same. 'Didn't you see your man, Reddin, today? He's your goalie now.'
Jimmy was right. After eight years as Tipperary's senior goalkeeper he was to give way to this 'unknown' who had shown unusual ability during the North championship.. There hadn't been many players from that remote northern parish who had achieved county status but Tony Reddin was to he an outstanding representative for the next nine years.
Lorrha had qualified for that county final game against Holycross when they defeated Cashel in the semi-final at Thurles on September 19. On that day Tipperary lost to Cork by 6-10 to 1-7 in the Thomond Tournament. Paddy Fleming of Carrick was on goal. In the previous summer they had gone down to Limerick in the championship by 8-4 to 6-4. According to one report of the game: 'Maher did not. bring off his usual spectacular saves'. There was obviously.a place for a new goalie and Reddin seemed to be the obvious choice for the position.
He was picked for the first league game against Offaly at Birr on October 24 and had a fine game on goal when Tipperary won by 7-6 to 1-2. The next match was the 1948 league final, which should have been played the. previous spring. Cork won by 3-3 to 1-2 despite ,the 'splendid goalkeeping of Reddin'. Tipperary had three more league games before the final at Thurles on February 27, 1949 when they reversed the. previous October verdict and defeated Cork by 3-5 to 3-2 on a day that Reddin saved brilliantly between the sticks. It was Tipperary's first major victory since 1945 and they had scored 22 goals 31 points and conceded 8 goals and 18 points in the series of games.
Tony did not appear full-blown on the hurling scene in 1948 but had a long apprenticeship to the game which began when he won his only county final medal, -a juvenile wi th Mullagh in 1933. Later he played with Galway juniors and seniors and with the Connaght Railway Cup team. In fact he played full-forward with Galway against Tipperary in the Monaghan Cup game in London in 1946, the year before he came to Lorrha. He also won a Connaght junior hurling medal in 1940.
However, it wasn't until he. crossed the Shannon that his true potential was realised. Probably the man who most helped him to realise that potential was Fr. O'Meara, who arrived in the parish not long before Tony. He first met Tony at Ned Wells' of Derrylahan and established an important rapport with him. Tony was then timid and shy and a little unsure of himself and Fr. O'Meara nurtured and developed his confidence. His influence on Tony was such that he travelled with him regularly to matches and acted in a supportive role as Tony found his feet. lt was Fr. O' Meara who covered Tony in a clerical hat and short coat in order to protect him from disappointed Cork supporters after the Munster final at Killarney in July 1950.
Tony's innate genius blossomed under this protection. Tipperary played seventeen major games in 1949 with Reddin between the posts. Six of the games were championship, three were league and the remainder were major tournaments. One game. was drawn and the remainder. won and the· total score was 68 goals 167 points for Tipperary and 31, goals 90 points against. During the course of his entire career with the county he played approximately one hundred major games and was. on the winning side eighty-seven times. Whereas this success rate was a tribute to the standard of Tipperary hurling during the period, it was also in no small way due to the brilliance of the man between the posts.
Another interesting aspect of Tony's career in hurling was the regularity with which he turned out. From the first game he played with the county in October 1948 until he was dropped for the Monaghan Cup after the league defeat in May 1956, I can find only one match, a league game against Limerick at Kilmallock on Fehruary 6, 1955, when he didn't turn out. Having lost his place for the 1956 championship he showed a final flash of brilliance in the county championship of that summer. He was recalled for the league campaign and played three matches, the last of which was in February 1957. He won a league medal that year as a sub, when Tipperary defeated Kilkenny, and played his last game with the county, when Tipperary travelled to New York the following October.
Reddin's last appearance with Lorrha was in 1958 when the team lost to Roscrea in the championship. One report on the game stated that 'Tony Reddin showed he was by no means a has-been goalkeeper'. He played his first game for his adopted club on Easter Sunday 1947 against St. Vincent's. A month later he won his first tournament, for suit-lengths, at Portumna. It was a seven-a-side competition and Lorrha defeated Kilruane by nine points to one. Eugene O'Meara scored eight of the points and Tony got the other from a goal clearance. On the same day Reddin won the long puck competition with a drive of 106 yards. During his time with the Lorrha team he failed to turn out on only one occasion. That was in a tournament at Borrisokane in June 1951 against Ahane, who included Mick Mackey and Sean Herbert in their lineout that day. During his twelve years with Lorrha Reddin won North championship medals in 1948 and 1956.
Tony Reddin's list of achievements is impressive by any standards. As well as winning three All-lrelands, six National League, two Brendan Cup medals and one Oireachtas, he also won six Railway Cup medals and four 'Ireland team' cups. He travelled to London on nine occasions and played on the winning Monaghan Cup team on eight occasions. His ninth visit was as a sunstitute in 1957 when Tipperary were heaten. He won one Oireachtas medal.
There is nobady to deny that he was one of the greats of hurling history. He was great in the days when a goalkeeper's fate was to be bundled into the back of the net if the backs gave the forwards sufficient leaway. Tony's greatest asset was, to stop the hall dead so that it rolled down to his chest or his feet. He would leave the ball on the ground until the last moment and then, with the forwards rushing in, he would take it, sidestep them and have loads of space to clear. He claimed to know which side of the goal a ball would come by watching which foot a forward was on when he hit the ball. Whatever the reason for his greatness his stopping prowess was the bane of forwards and a joy to supporters for many a year.
North Division S.H. Final Program, Aug. 19, 1984