KILKENNY hurling stars past and present have been signed up to play a central role in the official opening of a club grounds in Limerick, writes John Knox.
And it will be a high class affair, with all the players and team officials kitted out in their finery, compliments of well known businessman and race horse owner J.P. McManus.
Mr McManus, who has a love affair with sport and is a huge fan of hurling, was the main man behind the development of the grounds and clubhouse of Limerick junior outfit, Staker Wallace GAA club.
Kilkenny have been engaged to play Limerick in a senior hurling challenge to mark the official opening of the grounds at Martinstown on May 19.
Special guests at the match will be the members of the Limerick and Kilkenny squads who contested the 1973 All-Ireland senior final. The Shannonsiders won that decider (1-21 to 1-14), but Kilkenny reversed the result in the showdown the following season (3-19 to 1-13).
The ‘Kilkenny angle’ behind that famous 1973 final was that they were handicapped by injuries to key players Kieran Purcell, who went in as a sub at half-time, Eddie Keher and Jim Treacy, while Eamon Morrissey had emigrated to Australia.
The Shannonsiders were powerful on the day, however, in what was an 80 minute final, and they claimed the McCarthy Cup for the first time since 1940.
Huge day for Limerick
It was a huge day for Limerick hurling, and the success was the last one enjoyed at senior level by the county.
Anyway, the heroes of the past have all been measured for suits, and they will be presented with shirts, ties and shoes so they will be looking their best on what is a big, big day in the life of the small Limerick club. The membership of the Staker Wallace club is less than 100.
Incidentally, Staker Wallace was an Irish freedom fighter executed by a pro-British nobleman in 1798.
The members of the current Kilkenny squad will also get the ‘J.P. Treatment’ in terms of attire for the big day. By the way, Kilkenny manager Brian Cody will be doubly ‘involved’ on the evening, both as a member of the 1973 team and, of course, with the current squad.
Mr McManus, who is said to have a personal fortunate of 775-million Euro, lives in the parish in Martinstown, and he financed the development of the two GAA pitches and a third community pitch, plus a Community Centre, for the local club. He is, of course, a staunch South Liberties clubman.
The pitches, complete with floodlights, are among the best in Limerick and the club earns money by renting them out to other outfits for training and matches. All funds thus generated are poured back into development projects.
The Artane Boys Band will also be involved in the celebrations.
Men of 1973
For the record, the Kilkenny squad for that 1973 All-Ireland final was – Noel Skehan, Phil Larkin, Nicky Orr, Phil Cullen, Pat Lawlor, Pat Henderson, Brian Cody, Liam O’Brien, Frank Cummins, Claus Dunne, Pat Delaney (capt), Paddy Broderick, Mick Crotty, Jim Lynch, Mick Brennan. Subs – Kieran Purcell, Billy Harte (both used), John Kinsella, Michael Moore, Pa Dillon, Martin Coogan, Senan Cooke, Martin Fitzpatrick, Pat Kavanagh.