The current Tipperary and Dublin senior hurling panels share many interesting connections which go far beyond the field of play, writes Noel Dundon.
With the Capital being a natural destination for hordes of Premier people seeking employment through the decades, it was only natural that the game of hurling would be an attraction for Tipp folk in clubs such as Ballyboden St Enda’s, The Faughs, Kilmacud Crokes, Na Fianna, St Vincent’s and Lucan Sarsfields to name just a few.
The Tipperary Star has established at least eight direct links between the panels.
Of course Cashel man Ryan O’Dwyer is the obvious one with the attacker having featured in the blue and gold jersey for a number of seasons at underage and senior level.
He was given a real ‘welcome’ onto the field of play when came on as a sub in Croke Park against Tipp in the National Hurling League back in February, and remains friends with quite a few of the current Tipp squad.
It will be a strange sensation for the O’Dwyer family on Sunday with Ryan putting himself on the line for his adoptive county against his native one.
Declan O’Dwyer’s father, Francis, is from Clonoulty Rossmore and is a former committee member of the Tipperary Supporters Club, the fundraising and support group for Tipperary hurling founded by Michael “Babs” Keating in 1986.
Francis, of course would be very familiar with Tipp Boss Declan Ryan and with wing back John O’Keeffe.
Incidentally, Declan Ryans father Tom and John O’Keeffe’s mother Laoise, act as Chairman and Secretary of the Clonoulty Rossmore club.
Dublin dual star Shane Ryan is also half a Tipp man. His father Jack is from Moneygall, while his paternal grandfather was the late Seamus Ó Riain who served as President of the GAA.
Shane’s maternal grandfather was the late Sean Ó Siocháin who served as Director General of the GAA for many years while his uncle, Eugene Ryan, is currently Secretary of the North Tipperary GAA Board.
Dublin selector, Richard Stakelum will always be remembered for four simple, but hugely meaningful words, uttered through a blood stained visage in Killarney in 1987.
‘The Famine is Over’ the flame haired wing back stated as he accepted the Munster Final trophy to bridge a sixteen year gap.
A very proud Tipperary man, Richard will have mixed emotions on Sunday as he pits the downfall of his beloved blue and gold jersey.
Dublin defender Joey Boland - one of the mainstays of the side - knows all about North Tipperary hurling.
His mother hails from Lorrha while Shane Stapleton, who was on the Dublin U-21 team and is a member of the extended panel, has great Loughmore pedigree.
His Dad Richard won a Harty Cup medal with Templemore CBS and also county titles with his native Loughmore Castleiney.
Paul Ryan’s Dad John hails from Ballycahill and is remembered for his strong play and sterling displays in the Holycross Ballycahill half back line of yesteryear.
He won an U-21 All-Ireland with Tipp in 1979 befor emoving to work and live in Dublin.
Finally, Dublin corner back Oisin Gough, is grandson of the late Neddy Gough from Carrick on Suir - a man renowned for his craftsmanship and hurley making abilities.
Indeed, Neddy tended to Eoin Kelly’s weapons on many occasions as well as a host of other Tipperary stars from the South division including John Leahy, Liam Cahill, Paul Kelly and Brian O’Meara.
“He was some man to fix a hurley and you could spend hours talking to him about the game, when you’d visit his workshop,” Eoin Kelly said of him.
Depending on the Dublin line-up, Eoin could come into direct contact with Neddy’s grandson Oisin who will be hell belt on testing his own hurls off the Mullinahone maestro.