Kilkenny personalities feature prominently in John Scally’s new book 100 Extraordinary GAA Occasions. Scally writes:
In 1966 Kilkenny lost the All-Ireland to Cork although they were red hot favourites. Cork won by 3:9 to 1:10.
The newspapers the next day were full of talk about ‘the year of the sleeping pill’. It was the first year players had taken them before an All-Ireland final.
There was lots of smart comments afterwards that the Kilkenny players took them too late because they hadn’t fully woke up until after the match.
After losing the All-Ireland the Kilkenny team returned home from Dublin on the train.
At the station the great Kilkenny goalkeeper Ollie Walsh got on board the luggage car and started driving it around the platform. Most of his teammates were amazed he was not arrested.
In 1979 after Kilkenny beat Galway in the All-Ireland hurling final Fan Larkin rushed off the field in to the dressing room to tog in.
A clearly startled Mick Dunne went into the Kilkenny room just minutes after the match to prepare later for a live interview only to see Fan already fully clothed.
Clearly Fan had missed the presentation. Dunne asked him why he was in the dressing room so quickly?
‘I have to go to Mass Mick,’ replied Fan in a matter-of-fact voice.
The rivalry between Kilkenny and Tipperary down the decades has produced many great quips.
On RTÉ’s Up for The Match All-Ireland preview in 2014 former Tipperary captain Declan Carr said he could never sleep the night before an All-Ireland final and suggested that if you could sleep you were not properly up for the game.
Former Kilkenny great Michael Kavanagh was immediately asked if he slept the night before a final. He replied: ‘It depended on who we were playing. If we were playing Tipperary I slept like a baby.’
In 1988 Kilkenny minors, were giving Galway an almighty hammering in the All-Ireland semi-final.
At one point late in the game the Cats were bringing on a sub. They were taking their time about it to the frustration of the Galway fans. Eventually one shouted, ‘If ye don’t hurry up he will soon be overage!’
Not all the Cats’ fans were appreciative of Cork hurling. Before the 2006 All-Ireland final between the counties one Kilkenny fan unfurled a huge banner of Derek Lyng in Urlingford which read ‘Our Lynger can beat 15 langers.’
Put Your Sweet Lips A Little Closer to the Phone
Kilkenny legend Richie Hogan retired recently. He was one of the most skillful hurlers the game has ever seen – even in Kilkenny.
He had an embarrassing moment when he thought he was leaving three romantic voice messages singing to his girlfriend, but instead sent them to Colm Parkinson/ Last February Richie explained to me:
‘I actually am quite a good singer. I was doing a bit of work in the Middle East and my girlfriend kept ringing me at maybe 8 or 9 o’clock (Irish time) and the time difference was five hours so it was like 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning.
So I said I’d leave her a message when I get up. You know when you’re kind of half awake at five or six o’clock in the morning and when a message does come up on your WhatsApp, you click it just to see?
I was trying to wake her up early but it kind of backfired because my three songs ended up on Colm’s voicemail. I would love to have seen his face when he listened back to them!’
John’s new book is available in all good bookshops now.