The Avondhu - By The Fireside
OUTBREAK OF WAR
In March 2021, the match day sliotar from the famous 1939 ‘Thunder and Lightning’ All-Ireland hurling final between Cork and Kilkenny, was sold at auction. The small but significant piece of sporting history was sold for €750 at the Foinse Mealy Auction Room.
Left wing forward Jim Langton was a double All-Ireland winner with Kilkenny. Regarded as one of the greats of the game, Langton was voted onto the Hurling Team of the Century and the Hurling Team of the Millennium. The said sliotar is inscribed in blue biro:
The sporting collectable comes from one of the most famous finals in GAA history. It was on the first Sunday in September 1939 when Cork and Kilkenny met at Croke Park to tussle for the All-Ireland crown. Two days before, Nazi Germany invaded Poland and on the morning of the All-Ireland final, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain announced war on Germany, thus beginning World War II.
With Europe entering war, the two great hurling foes of Cork and Kilkenny entered the field at Croke Park under glorious sunshine. Unlike today where news comes at the touch of a button, in 1939 news from the unfolding situation in Europe was slow to spread in Ireland. In Dublin that day there were some in the crowd who had heard of impending war on the continent, but for the vast majority the real war was unfolding on the pitch and the main concern was where Liam MacCarthy would end up.
Within minutes Kilkenny were ahead 1-01 to 0-00. Jack Lynch would provide the Rebels’ first goal, but at half-time Cork trailed the Cats 1-01 to 2-04.
As the second half started a clap of thunder startled those gathered in Croke Park. It was followed by an unmerciful downpour, with thunder and lightning providing the backdrop. The game continued, such was its importance, even though dye from the players jerseys ran, the press box at the foot of the Cusack Stand got flooded and spectators in the uncovered stand had to flee for cover from the unbearable conditions.
Cork came storming back through the second half battling against Paddy Phelan’s defense at the Kilkenny goalmouth. With just 2 minutes left the sides were level. The thunder was still rolling and the lightning was still striking when, in the dying seconds, the sliotar was cleared from the Cork goalmouth but it ended up in the hand of Kilkenny’s Jim Kelly, who struck it back towards the Cork defense and over the bar.
Kilkenny won on a scoreline of 2-07 to 3-03, thus bringing Liam MacCarthy back to the Marble City, along with the match day sliothar!