Claire Fox

Irish Independent - Farming - - ANALYSIS -

TONY Do­ran doesn’t like the word ‘re­tire’. Re­garded as one of the great­est and tough­est full-for­wards to ever grace a hurl­ing pitch Do­ran’s ca­reer spanned more than 30 years.

Dur­ing that time he won one All-Ire­land, four Le­in­ster and two Na­tional League medals with Wex­ford.

This suc­cess also seeped down to club level where 12 Wex­ford Cham­pi­onships led to ar­guably the sweet­est suc­cess of all for Tony — the 1989 All-Ire­land club ti­tle with his beloved Buf­fers Al­ley.

Yet even af­ter fi­nally hang­ing up his hurl in 1993 at the age of 47, Tony has never con­sid­ered him­self as be­ing re­tired — just as hav­ing stepped back.

Sit­ting in his fam­ily farm in Mon­amolin out­side Boolavogue in Co Wex­ford, Tony told the Farm­ing In­de­pen­dent that he has taken the same ap­proach to farm­ing.

While he is happy to help his son Tony Jnr man­age their 80-strong dairy cow herd, he knows that just like hang­ing up his hurl­ing boots, he also has to take more of a step back from the land.

“Farm­ing is a bit like hurl­ing. You see a time when you have to cut back and you’re not do­ing what you used to do. I’m happy to step back. I like helping out and I am happy to see my son in­volved in it,” says the 72-year-old.

In his re­cently re­leased au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, A Land of Men and Gi­ants, it’s clear that farm­ing al­ways went hand in hand with his hurl­ing ca­reer. One of five brothers, Tony fol­lowed in his father Wil­lie’s foot­steps in to farm­ing.

He says that he didn’t see his first milk­ing ma­chine un­til he was 20.“We all milked by hand. Grow­ing up our farm had a lit­tle bit of ev­ery­thing cows, cat­tle, tillage and pigs. Dairy­ing wasn’t so big in the area at the time. So much has changed now in farm­ing. Things are far more mod­ern,” he says.

He re­calls oc­ca­sions where he and his fel­low Buf­fers Al­ley team-mates would tog out in the grain loft on the Do­ran farm and train in one of their fields across the road — a world away from the train­ing fa­cil­i­ties that play­ers are now ac­cus­tomed to. “Any­one who re­mem­bers lofts from those times will know what they were like. It was messy enough and very cold. It wasn’t any way hi-tech like the fa­cil­i­ties they have now but it was an im­prove­ment from the side of the ditch,” laughs Tony.

Tony’s fam­ily owned a milk lorry and col­lected milk cans from up to 25 farms in the area and de­liv­ered it to the cream­ery in Bal­ly­canew. He re­calls how in the week leading up to the 1968 All-Ire­land Fi­nal against Tip­per­ary, he had to take a break from the round as ev­ery­body was talk­ing about the up­com­ing match.

Dubbed as “a day of his­tory” and “an as­tound­ing re­cov­ery” by the late broad­caster Mick Dunne, the pur­ple and gold of the Wex­ford team pre­vailed against Tip­per­ary thanks to one of the great­est come­backs of all in an All-Ire­land fi­nal.

The old adage of “goals win games” couldn’t be more apt than in this case. Eight points down at half-time, Wex­ford scored four sec­ond half goals to win by 5-8 to 3-12.

Then 22, Tony Do­ran scored 2-1 in the fi­nal and was yet to hit the prime of his ca­reer, but ‘68 was the only time he man­aged to lift the Liam MacCarthy Cup with the Model County. He re­turned to the milk cans two days later, and he wishes now that he ap­pre­ci­ated the win more.

“I just wanted to get back to my nor­mal rou­tine. It’s strange; I re­mem­ber play­ing a lot of the match but the cel­e­bra­tions not

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