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Semple Stadium Legend
Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh
Until he announced his retirement from broadcasting in 2010, Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh was the country’s best-known Gaelic games commentator. His recognisable voice was synonymous with Gaelic games for generations of GAA supporters.
Mícheál, a native Irish speaker, was born in 1930 at Dún Síon, near Dingle, Co. Kerry. He enjoyed a successful career as a primary and secondary school teacher for many years. His broadcasting career began quietly in 1949, during his days in St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, when Radio Éireann looked for someone to do occasional commentaries as Gaeilge. Thus began a marvellous career that spanned six decades.
His encyclopaedic knowledge of Gaelic games is renowned and it is well known that when Mícheál is commentating many people prefer to watch the game on T.V. while listening to his radio commentary.
Mícheál established himself as RTÉ’s main commentator for both Hurling and Gaelic football and was recognised by many as the voice of the game.
Mícheál had a style of his own and his wonderful vignettes have gone into GAA folklore:
“Seán Óg Ó hAilpín: his father’s from Fermanagh, his mother’s from Fiji. Neither a hurling stronghold.”
“Anthony Lynch, the Cork corner-back, will be the last person to let you down – his people are undertakers.”
“Pat Fox has it on his hurley and is motoring well now, but here comes Joe Rabbitte hot on his tail… I’ve seen it all now, a Rabbitte chasing a Fox around Croke Park!”
Anthony Daly – An Clár
Anthony Daly was born at Clarecastle, County Clare in 1969. He is a product of that great hurling nursery, St. Flannan’s College, Ennis, where he first tasted hurling success when he won both Dr. Harty Cup and All-Ireland colleges’ titles with the college in 1987. With his club, Clarecastle, he won his first of five Clare senior hurling championships in 1987, adding a Munster club championship in 1997.
Daly usually lined out in the half back-line where his speed to the ball, his striking and anticipation of the breaking ball typified his game.
Anthony represented Clare at minor and under-21 inter-county hurling level, before progressing to the senior grade in 1989, beginning a sparkling successful career. Daly subsequently became a regular member of the starting Clare fifteen and won two All-Ireland medals and three Munster medals. Anthony was a natural leader and captained Clare to the All-Ireland title in 1995 and 1997. That unforgettable emotional day in 1995 at Semple Stadium, when Daly mounted the steps at Ardán Ó Riain to receive the Munster Cup, with the Clare shout ringing all about him, has left an indelible mark on all that were there. Railway cup medals were won in 1995 and ’97, with Daly captaining the latter success.
Anthony announced his retirement from inter-county hurling in 2002 and became involved in team management, coaching and media punditry.
Daly, who won three All-Star hurling awards is widely regarded as one of Clare’s all-time greatest hurlers.
Gary Kirby – Patrickswell – Luimneach
Born in 1967, Gary Kirby played his club hurling with Patrickswell and enjoyed much success in a club career that spanned three decades. He first came to prominence as a seventeen-year-old in 1984, when he starred on both the club’s minor and senior teams. He was a vital cog in Patrickswell’s golden era, winning ten Limerick senior championships, the first in 1984. Munster club championships followed in 1988 and 1990.
Gary made the centre-forward position his own, whether hurling with Patrickswell or Limerick. He was a wholehearted hurler who combined strength and skill to great effect and epitomised the spirit of Limerick.
Kirby first came to prominence on the inter-county scene with the Limerick minors, winning the All-Ireland title in 1984, progressing to under 21 where he gained an All-Ireland medal in 1987.
He made his senior championship debut for Limerick in 1987 and was a key figure in the resurgence of Limerick as a hurling force in the 1990s collecting two Munster titles, two National Hurling League titles and four All-Star awards1991, 1994, 1995 and 1996. Kirby was at the helm for Limerick in 1994 when they won the Munster crown, following which he was carried in triumph around Semple Stadium by exuberant Limerick supporters. He collected two Railway Cup medals with Munster in 1994 and 1996, the former as team captain.
Following Limerick’s exit from the championship in 1999, Kirby decided to retire from inter-county hurling. He continued to play for Patrickswell until 2004. In retirement, Kirby became involved in team management at all levels.
John Mullane – Na Déise, Port Láirge
John Mullane, the Waterford hurling legend was born in 1981. His usual position on the field was right corner-forward, where his speed, enthusiasm, courage and skill challenged the best defences of the time.
With his club, De La Salle he won his first of three Waterford hurling championships in 2008 adding two Munster club honours in 2008 and 2010.
John began his inter-county career as a member of the Waterford minor and under-21 hurling team in the late nineties, progressing to the senior team in 2001. His career coincided with one of the greatest eras in the history of Waterford hurling, and though he never won a coveted All-Ireland senior medal, he made an indelible mark on the modern game.
In 2002 Mullane claimed his first Munster winners’ medal, as Waterford claimed the provincial crown for the first time in thirty-nine years. Three further provincial titles came his was in 2004, 2007, 2010.
Mullane has also lined out with Munster in the inter-provincial series, captaining the side to victory in 2007.
Mullane is widely considered one of the best players Waterford has ever produced. Winning a total of 5 All-Stars (a record for a Waterford player) including a remarkable four in a row at the end of his career.
In 2013 Mullane announced his retirement from inter-county hurling. Since his retirement, he has enjoyed a successful career as a hurling pundit with RTE.
Eoin Kelly – Mullinahone – Tiobraid Árann
Eoin Kelly was one of the greatest forwards in the history of Tipperary hurling. Born in Mullinahone in 1982, Kelly played for his county for 15 seasons, scoring 21-367 in 59 games. A product of that great hurling nursery, St. Kieran’s College, Kilkenny, winning Leinster Colleges medals in 1999 and 2000 and adding an All-Ireland Colleges medal in 2000. With Limerick Institute of Technology, Kelly was captain of the team that won their first ever Fitzgibbon Cup title.
After winning several divisional championship titles with Mullinahone, the highlight of his club career came in 2002 when Mullinahone defeated Thurles Sarsfields to win the Tipperary county hurling championship. Kelly was Man of the Match on that occasion.
Kelly played for the Tipperary minor team for four years, progressing through the under 21 grade and making his senior debut, while still a minor, in 2000 aged 18.
Kelly, who claimed the right corner-forward position, went on to enjoy a lengthy career, and won two All-Ireland medals, 2001 and 2010, five Munster medals and two National Hurling League medals. The 2010 season gave Kelly his second All-Ireland medal, while he also had the captaincy honour of lifting the Liam MacCarthy Cup.
Eoin was a member of the Munster inter-provincial team on a number of occasions, winning two Railway Cup medals, 2001, 2013.
Kelly retired at the end of the 2014 season in a sparkling career that saw him receive six All Star Awards: 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2010.
Kelly was named Young Hurler of the Year in 2001 and 2002 and was selected on the Munster Team of the last 25 years (1984-2009), an indication of his standing among the greats of the modern game.
Kelly, who still hurls with Mullinahone, was one of those unique hurlers that promised much in their youth, but delivered more in the fullness of time.
John Fenton – Midleton – Corcaigh.
This Midleton GAA hurling star first came to prominence with Cork in 1975. Playing at mid-field, where his first time hurling, particularly his ground hurling skills were put to excellent effect. In an inter-county career that spanned thirteen seasons John won seven Munster titles and three All-Irelands.1978, 1984, 1986. He had the honour of being Cork’s captain when they won the GAA Centenary hurling All-Ireland final, played at Semple Stadium in September 1984.
His wonder goal here in 1987, ensured his place in hurling folklore. Team-mate, Tomás Mulcahy, broke the ball into Fenton’s path and after one tap forward into space the Midleton man produced one of the purest hurling strikes ever recorded. From just 40 metres, the bolt was too good for Limerick’s goalkeeper, Tommy Quaid.
Also, in 1987 Fenton lined out in his last championship campaign against Tippeary, played at Killarney. Fenton ended that year with a fifth successive All-Star award.
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