The Mid Tipperary Sean Gaels to be heonoured on Sunday next at The Dome, Semple Stadium are:
Teresa “Tess” McGrath (Loughmore Castleiney)
This recipient is head of one of the greatest GAA families in Tipperary and her influence and that of her late husband has contributed in no small way in bringing this about. Their family of five boys and four girls and their families are immersed in every facet of our great association and have been very influential in achieving success at club and on the National stage. There is an Irish saying “Mol an Óige agus tiocfaidh sé” and that has been the motto in this family as long as I can remember.
It was indeed a special day for her in Sept 2011 when her grandson Liam McGrath brought home the All Ireland minor Football trophy to Tipperary for the first time since 1935 and to have a second grandson John McGrath playing a big part in that famous victory was an added bonus.
The respect and appreciation that her children and grandchildren show to her is a source of much admiration and was something I experienced first hand as the Tipp team arrived home as All Ireland senior hurling champions in 2010. Noel McGrath on seeing his granny behind many barriers put himself in more danger than he had to the previous day, when plying his trade against such daunting opponents as Tyrell, Hogan and Hickey, to go and greet her. Lets salute a wonderful mother and grandmother and a great Gael Teresa “Tess” McGrath.
Mick Carroll (Durlas Óg)
He comes from Lisdowney in the heart of Kilkenny and is a member of a family synonymous with the great game of hurling. He first came to prominence on the hurling scene in 1957 when in company with his twin brother the late Ted and Eddie Keher were part of a St. Kieran’s team that recovered from a ten point deficit to defeat St. Flannan’s of Ennis by 4.02 to 2.07 in a memorable All Ireland Colleges final in Thurles.
He subsequently moved on to U.C.D. to study Agricultural science and while there won two Fitzgibbon Cup medals. Having served in different parts of Ireland in the agricultural field he arrived in Thurles in the seventies and immersed himself in local GAA activities. He in company with his great friend the late Pat Stakelum and many more like minded people were responsible for the formation of Durlas Óg in 1979 with the sole aim of promoting underage hurling and football in the Cathedral town.
Liam Quinn (Holycross Ballycahill)
The gentleman being honoured here first came to promise to the hurling world in 1952 when he figured prominently on the Thurles CBS Harty Cup team that brought the famous trophy to the town for the fifth time with a great victory over Corks Sullivans Quay in Kilmallock.
He played minor for Tipperary for three years winning All Ireland medals in that grade in 1952 and 53 but as captain losing to Dublin in 1954 when red hot favourites.
His club had emerged as a powerful force on the Tipp GAA club scene at the time and the brilliant minor was a valuable member of the county senior championship winning team in 1954. A very promising hurling career was abruptly halted when a serious injury brought on end to his progress and he never got back to fulfil its glorious promise.
He never lost touch with the GAA over the years and always took great pleasure in supporting his native Holycross-Ballycahill and Tipperary.
Tony Wall (Thurles Sarsfields)
It is said in Tipperary that the number six shirt has never been adequately filled since his retirement in 1967. That statement in itself shows the esteem with which Tony Wall is held in The Premier County.
He has won every honour in the game including captaining Tipperary to All Ireland senior honours in 1958. He subsequently added four more Celtic crosses to his collection to go with Harty Cup, All Ireland minor, National leagues and seven Munster medals during a glorious career that lasted from the middle fifties until defeat by Kilkenny in the 1967 final brought it to an end.
He anchored the Thurles Sarsfields defence during their glorious reign from 1955 to 1965 when they won ten county senior titles in eleven years.
A deep thinker about the great game of hurling he produced one of the first books on coaching and how the game should be played and its still a very valuable resource at the present time of multiple productions.
When his playing days ended he involved himself in coaching and training teams and had a brief stint in charge of Tipperary at a time when success was hard to come by.
Niall O’Dea (Thurles Crokes & Templemore Éire Óg)
Niall O’Dea burst on the football scene in Tipperary in the late forties with some great displays in the Éire Óg shirt against Loughmore and was selected for Tipp in the Munster Championship of 1948. A short time later he fell foul of the infamous Rule 27 and disappeared from the radar.
He emerged once more as a footballer of repute in the fifties and played for Tipperary from 1954-58 and was selected on Munster Railway Cup teams in 1955 and 56. At that time while residing in Thurles he in company with the late Michéal Maher played a leading role in the formation of the Thurles Crokes football club and played a leading role in the capture of county senior football honours in 1960.
When work brought him to Tuam he threw in his lot with the famous Stars. He had the satisfaction of seeing his sons carry on the proud O’Dea football tradition in the maroon of Galway as well as in the colours of the “Stars”. He still follows with great interest the football and hurling scene in Tipp.
Thady Maher (Clonmore & JK Brackens)
In his playing days Thady Maher wore the Blue and Gold of Clonmore and for a brief stint in the early sixties played with Templetuohy. In the late sixties as a group of young promising players emerged in Clonmore he involved himself very much in their preparation and was a selector in 1970 when the club won the Mid Tipp junior hurling title, their first in forty years.
For the following two decades Clonmore were a potent force in Mid Tipperary intermediate hurling circles winning numerous Mid titles and contesting six county finals. When they finally won the county title in 1987 he was a valued selector.
He had the satisfaction of seeing his son John and daughter Sadie win All Ireland set dancing medals with Clonmore in 1991 and JK Brackens in 1996, a marvellous honour for a small unit of the Association.
Liam Hennessy (Moycarkey Borris)
One of the stalwarts of his club Liam Hennessy first came to prominence in the late fifties and early sixties as a hurler of tremendous commitment. He was on the Moycarkey-Borris side defeated by Thurles Sarsfields in the 1962 county senior final.
When his playing days ended he immersed himself in every facet of administration within the club and held the chair at different times. He also played a big part in the development of the clubs excellent facilities at Littleton.
As his talents became evident he was elected as chairman of the Mid Board and held that position from 1988-90. He has been selector and mentor to many teams in the parish and is also one of the chief stewards at Semple Stadium where his courtesy and efficiency is very much respected and appreciated. He is also a valued member of the Semple Stadium committee and takes tremendous pride in seeing the renowned pitch in pristine condition at all times for games big and small.
Tommy Ryan (Upperchurch Drombane)
For many years Tommy Ryan figured prominently in the Black and Amber jersey of his beloved Upperchurch Drombane winning his share of divisional titles at junior and intermediate level.. Having retired from the playing fields he got very involved in club administration and was in charge of the purse strings for almost thirty years at a time when very important club developments were undertaken and completed at the excellent club grounds in Drombane.
Both himself and his wife Joan have been very active in Scór for many years and have had the satisfaction of seeing their daughters Mary and Ann Marie win the All Ireland Ballad competition in Scór a few years back.
They have also enjoyed seeing their sons John and Michael grace Croke Park successfully on All Ireland day at minor and senior level and surely 2010 will always be a cherished memory as Michael was a valuable member of Liam Sheedy’s management team that captured that memorable All Ireland when defeating Kilkenny on the 5th of September.