MICK HA­GAN, bless his gen­er­ous heart, gave us all a day off on Sun­day. For me, and a lot more like me it was a god­send - Manna from heaven.

Af­ter rac­ing round the county all week I gladly set­tled for the arm­chair in front of the box to watch the ac­tion from Cro­ker.

What a treat! - a great bat­tle be­tween Mayo and Derry and while I have noth­ing against Mayo - in fact some of my best friends are Mayo men, I was de­lighted to see a brave Derry team sur­vive.

Our as­so­ci­a­tion with the Oak Leaf county is mainly hurl­ing but we al­ways found them good sports­men and it is good to see them mak­ing a break­through.

The sec­ond game is an­other mat­ter. Straight away I have to con­fess to be­ing a fan of the Dubs and that fact may have coloured my think­ing but I en­joyed that mighty come back.

But where does that leave us in the Le­in­ster Cham­pi­onship? Af­ter we beat Laois we will be tak­ing on the Dubs - Oh my God.

Well any­way, that is an­other day's work, but I did get an email from an old friend and I thought I would pass it on. It comes from Ger­ald Tal­lon and reads - 'Dear Peter, I re­fer to yes­ter­day's sec­ond half per­for­mance by Dublin. I re­fer also to my ex­pres­sion, in the Cor­ner, last year, of grow­ing con­cerns about the state of foot­ball. This morn­ing, for me, the alarm bells have be­come deaf­en­ing.

What we saw yes­ter­day can­not be main­tained or con­tested.

What we saw was a power driven field bas­ket­ball game of pro­fes­sional club in­ten­sity. This was not in­ter-county Gaelic foot­ball played by am­a­teurs.

In the Cor­ner last sum­mer, I re­peat­edly ques­tioned whether we are com­mit­ted to at­tract­ing in­di­vid­u­als from all so­cio-eco­nomic back­grounds; I asked this be­cause I un­der­stand this is a core value of the As­so­ci­a­tion. We can­not have what was on dis­play yes­ter­day and still say we pro­mote this in­clu­sive­ness.

Some ques­tions - How do we de­fine 'foot­ball'? Do we un­der­stand that 'so­cioe­co­nomic' in­clu­sive­ness de­fines cer­tain pa­ram­e­ters within which we must op­er­ate? Mise le meas, Ger­ald Tal­lon'. Any com­ments on that one?

Where are they now?

Un­fin­ished busi­ness as usual. This email ar­rived late but it does bring up one in­ter­est­ing point - who was the man stand­ing at the back in the pic­ture of the Bray VS team. This Kil­macannogue man has the an­swer.

'Re photo of team in your cor­ner 2/04/2014, and named in this week's is­sue, one name not given is man stand­ing at the back. Al­though I am a lit­tle younger than team mem­bers, I think the man at back is Paddy O'Rior­dan, an old teacher of mine at the school. I would know some of play­ers in photo, Alec Byrne, Kil­macanogue'. Thanks for that Alec. The teacher in ques­tion, I am told, came from my own par­ish, Rathvilly, but I have no back­ground in­for­ma­tion on him.

Per­haps Tom McCall or some of my Rathvilly friends may come to my aid. I did hear it sug­gested that his fa­ther may have been sta­tion mas­ter. Over to you Tom.

Last week's pic­ture brought the real ex­perts out of the wood­work. It was an 'Ire­land' hurl­ing team from the mid 1950s that played the Com­bined Uni­ver­si­ties in the an­nual ex­hi­bi­tion match in Croke Park.

While I was still rub­bing the sleep out of me eyes and an old friend from Cross­bridge, Ea­monn

D'Arcy, was in with the an­swer; now he did not have all the names but he had most of them and sto­ries about a few but we will come back to that later.

Next in was Ed­ward Car­roll of Knock­ananna and while he had a lot of the names cor­rect, no­tably the six Wex­ford men on the team, he thought it was a Le­in­ster team.

Tom Car­roll from Coolkenno called and he cer­tainly helped to fill in some of the blanks.

For one thing he was the first one to get the team and the oc­ca­sion right.

It was an 'Ire­land' hurl­ing team that played the Uni­ver­si­ties he said, he got a lot of the names right and even had a shot at nam­ing the player third from the right in the front row - some­thing no-one else had tried. He said it could Li­amie Walsh from Car­low.

An­other great hurl­ing man, Jack O'Neill, of New­cas­tle, was on the phone and he too could rat­tle off the big names like the Rackards, Ring, Nick O'Don­nell, Jim Mor­risey, in fact most of them; he thought the mys­tery man in the front row could by Mick Ryan from Tipp.

We al­ways like calls from out­side the ju­ris­dic­tion and this one, which came from Cas­tle­d­er­mot in Kil­dare, was no ex­cep­tion.

It was from a Kilkenny man, John Walsh, who told me he worked and lived in Ark­low and played hurl­ing for the Geraldines so Joe McEl­heron would re­mem­ber him.

He told me that the Wil­lie Walsh in the pic­ture was his cousin but he was dis­ap­pointed to find an 'Ire­land' hurl­ing team with only one Kilkenny player on it. Chang­ing times.

He knew all the Wex­ford play­ers and a few more be­sides.

Then came the real ex­pert, Jackie Napier, and he too had the team, the oc­ca­sion, the venue and most of the play­ers cor­rect.

Jackie be­lieved the real rea­son he was in Croke Park that day was be­cause Gerry O'Reilly of Wick­low was on the 'Ire­land' foot­ball team that was also play­ing the Uni­ver­si­ties.

He re­mem­bers Jimmy Dug­gan of Galway as the man that later ref­er­eed the All-Ire­land 'Home' fi­nal be­tween Wick­low and Kerry in 1967, the year that Wick­low went on to win their first All-Ire­land ti­tle in the grade.

One of his out­stand­ing mem­o­ries of the 'Hop­per' McGrath was a day in Ash­ford when he was play­ing for West­meath against Wick­low in the Hurl­ing League of 1953/54.

Jim Rogers was handed the task of mark­ing him and did a great job - lay­ing the foun­da­tion for a Wick­low win over the mid­lan­ders.

Could we do that to­day? We will get that chance next year.

D'Arcy on Stakelum

Ea­mon D'Arcy sent me a nice lit­tle piece on Pat Stakelum but pres­sure on space means it will have to hold un­til next week.

Jackie Napier also has spe­cial mem­o­ries of the great Tip­per­ary man in lat­ter years. For one thing he was the man­ager of the Tip­per­ary team that played Wick­low in the Na­tional Hurl­ing League in Ash­ford in 1983. Wick­low had won the Di­vi­sion 2 of the League the year be­fore and had gained pro­mo­tion but, not sur­pris­ingly, found teams like Tip­per­ary too hot to han­dle.

How­ever, just to jog the mem­o­ries of hurl­ing fol­low­ers and the people in­volved, Jackie gave us the team that played Tipp that day: Ea­monn Dil­lon (St Pat's); Chris McEn­tag­gart (Kil­coole), Jim Fur­long (St Pat's), Tom Lynge (Avon­dale); Peter Bren­nan (Carnew), Paul Kelly (Kil­coole), John O'Sul­li­van (Carnew), Sean Keogh (Kil­te­gan), Des Hef­fer­nan (Avon­dale); Pat Mur­phy (Aughrim), Ned Cremin (Kil­te­gan), Paddy Berk­erry (Kil­coole); Tony Kelly (Kil­te­gan), Batt Kenny Carnew), Paddy Doyle (Carnew).

Subs used: Bernie Byrne, Tom Cremin and Tommy Glynn.

An­other ex­pert on times past, David Har­ring­ton, also sent an email and we leave the last word on the sub­ject with him.

'Well done Peter, you are start­ing to whet my 'mem­ory lane' ap­petite.

'I be­lieve this could be a photo of 'The Rest of Ire­land' team that prob­a­bly played the Com­bined Uni­ver­si­ties around 1956. These rep­re­sen­ta­tive games were fash­ion­able in the 1950s but never re­ally cap­tured the pub­lic imag­i­na­tion.

'This photo has Jimmy Dug­gan, Galway, Jim Mor­ris­sey, Bobby and Billy Rackard, Jim English, and Nick O'Don­nell, Paudge Ke­hoe, Tim Flood, Wex­ford, Christy Ring, Cork.

'I be­lieve the great goal­keeper from Lor­rha, Tip­per­ary, Tony Red­dan is in the back row. I think Tony's Tip­per­ary col­league, Pat Stakelum, is also in the pic­ture. There are prob­a­bly a few more play­ers from Cork, Tip­per­ary and Wex­ford in this photo.

'The guy with the white wavy hair stand­ing on the right in the back row is trainer, Jim Barry from Cork, like Christy Ring, a true leg­end of Cork hurl­ing.

One might as­sume that the other Rackard, Nicky was play­ing with the Com­bined Uni­ver­si­ties.

'Nicky be­came the best-known of the broth­ers, partly be­cause of his tremen­dous scor­ing feats from full-for­ward. He also was a founder-mem­ber of those free-tak­ers who au­to­mat­i­cally tried for a goal from each 21 yard free, what ever the score line. Of course most of them found the net.

'But my favourite Rackard was Bobby who had some stir­ring duels with Christy Ring. Tech­ni­cally, I be­lieve he was the most ac­com­plished brother.

'This was a golden era for Wex­ford who made the break-through at All-Ire­land Cham­pi­onship level. Tip­per­ary, Cork and Galway were their main ri­vals in the 50s.

'In the Na­tional League fi­nal of 1956 Wex­ford were los­ing to Tip­per­ary 2-10to 0-1 at half-time but in one of the great­est come­backs in his­tory, Wex­ford stormed back to win 5-9 to 2-14. What Nicky Rackard is re­puted to have said in the dress­in­groom at half-time would have made Joe Ker­nan or Alex Fer­gu­son blush.

'Other Wex­ford hurlers of this era were Art Fo­ley, Ned Wheeler, Mick Hanlon and Paddy Ke­hoe. If I re­mem­ber cor­rectly, Paddy Ke­hoe was the yachts man who set off from Wex­ford on a solo voy­age across the At­lantic to be never seen again.

'It is said that the Rackards grew up in the same farm­house as 'Kelly the Boy from Kil­lane' of 1798 fame. It is in­ter­est­ing to know that the Rackards grew up in a house­hold that was only mod­er­ately in­ter­ested in sport. Nicky Rackard was selected on the 'Team of the Century' in 1984 but sen­sa­tion­ally was over­looked in the 'Team of the Mil­len­nium' for Ray Cum­mins of Cork.

'It is well known that Nicky Rackard had a prob­lem with al­co­hol and he was one of the first cel­e­bra­tory sports­men who openly dis­cussed what had been a taboo sub­ject for such a long time in Ir­ish his­tory. His un­timely demise at 53 years of age was a great tragedy.

'To fin­ish off I would l ike to re­mind you of an event that hap­pened at the end of the 1956 fi­nal be­tween Wex­ford and Cork.

'Wex­ford won a clas­sic game but Nick O'Don­nell and Bobby Rackard car­ried Christy Ring shoul­der high in what was a truly sport­ing ges­ture for a player many people re­gard as the great­est hurler in our time.

'At a cru­cial stage in the game Ring homed in on goal and struck an awe­some shot which had goal writ­ten all over it but Art Fo­ley ex­e­cuted a bril­liant save.

'Christy was so im­pressed he ran in to con­grat­u­late Art af­ter he dis­patched the slio­tar up­field. That save by Art Fo­ley de­nied Christy Ring his ninth All-Ire­land medal.

Bobby and Nicky Rackard won two Al­lIre­land medals. Billy held on to win a third medal in 1960.'

In­ci­den­tally David, I don't thing Paudge Ke­hoe was in the pic­ture; I would like to hear more about the Paddy Ke­hoe you men­tioned. I agree with you about the Rackards - Bobby was also my favourite.

The great Men in the Pic­ture

Front Row L to R - Sid Bluett Kilkenny; Jim English, Wex­ford; Christy Ring, Cork; Wil­lie Walsh Kilkenny; Nick O'Don­nell Wex­ford; Jimmy Smith Clare; AN Other; Der­mott Kelly Lim­er­ick; Pat Stakelum Tip­per­ary;

Back Row - AN Other; Jimmy Dug­gan Galway; Jim Mor­ris­sey Wex­ford; Bobby Rackard Wex­ford; 'Job­ber' McGrath West­meath; Tony Red­dan Tip­per­ary; Tim Flood Wex­ford; Billy Rackard Wex­ford; and the Coach Jim (Tuff) Barry Cork.

Can any­one come up with the names of the two miss­ing men? On sec­ond thoughts, Jackie Napier came up with Ea­monn Gould­ing of Cork as the player third from the right in the front row af­ter look­ing through pic­tures of the Cork team of the time.


Josie Dardis Our Sym­pa­thy to Martin Doogue of Kadeen Knit­ware Balt­in­glass and his fam­ily on the death of his sis­ter, Josie Dardis.

Martin is a Car­low man but he has put in a life­time of work pro­mot­ing hurl­ing in Wick­low.

He trained Kil­te­gan to win their first ever hurl­ing ti­tle and he has been a strong sup­porter ever since. Martin was also a Se­nior foot­ball se­lec­tor in Wick­low back in the 1970s.

We also in­clude an­other well known GAA fam­ily in this. Josie was Dave Mur­ray's aunt and we also sym­pa­thise with Dave, Mary and fam­ily.

Her fu­neral to her na­tive Car­low took place on Fri­day af­ter morn­ing Mass in Kim­mage Manor. May Josie rest in Peace. Lil Dwyer R.I.P. An­other great old lady to pass away last weekend was Lil Dwyer from Donard. Lil had very strong con­nec­tions with the great days of Donard foot­ball. Her late hus­band, Eddy, was a great cor­ner back on the Se­nior team for years, win­ning SFC medals in 1951 and '57 and died while at­tend­ing a match in Bless­ing­ton.

Our sym­pa­thy to her sis­ter, Es­ther, her sons, daugh­ters and ex­tended fam­ily.

May she rest in peace.

Some right young buckos in the pic­ture above! Can you iden­tify any or all of the young men with the world at their feet? If so con­tact Peter on 087 6907589 or email pe­terkeogh­

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