It was a story involving tragedy and eventual joy. A talented Kilkenny hurler, Dick Morrissey received a bad injury in an All-Ireland final that finished his career. Later he was helped by the GAA to get his life back together again, writes Liam Burke.
Dick Morrissey played on the half-forward line on the Kilkenny team in the famous 1931 All-Ireland senior final against Cork, which took three games before a decision was reached. According to Tom Ryall in Kilkenny - the GAA Story 1884-1984 that final generated so much interest that the GAA gained a popularity never before attained.
Dick Morrissey received a serious injury just before the finish. He never played again.
Morrissey was a native of Ferrybank, which is across the bridge from Waterford City. He spent months recuperating in hospital, in both the Mater in Dublin and the Infirmary in Waterford, after the injury.
According to his family he was forever grateful to a German doctor working in the Mater Hospital at the time who helped him to learn how to walk again after months of therapy.
There is little known about Dick Morrissey, who was a star of the era. His career finished in Croke Park that afternoon, but after leaving hospital the GAA helped him rebuild his life.
I met Dick’s son John and his wife, Elizabeth recently and we got to chatting about a man who is a largely fotgotten hero of Kilkenny hurling. John and Elizabeth are both retired and living just behind the Regional Hospital off the Dunmore East road in Waterford City.
They had lived in their native Ferrybank up to a number of years ago before moving into the ’City to be near their beloved grandchildren.
John told us that his father walked up the aisle with the aid of crutches on his wedding day, which was a few years after he received the serious back injury.
John’s mother, Margaret Hurley, was also a native of Ferrybank and was a neighbour of his father.
Dick Morrissey was a fitter and turner by trade. When he got his life back together again he purchased a well-known public house in Ferrybank (see picture) with the help of the GAA.
John explained that the public house was formally owned by a Mrs Quinn, and the premises were said to be haunted.
“As a family we enjoyed many happy times there, even though I can honestly say that I did hear strange steps on the stairs from time to time,” he smiled when he recounted the story.
He explained that his father took up an office job in Clover Meats later, where he worked for years until he reached retirement age. The public house is no longer around. It was knocked down in the seventies to make way for a new section of road.
John Morrissey told us that his father was a non-smoker and was always reckoned to be very fit and fast. There was no Parish Rule in Kilkenny at the time, so Dick Morrissey played most of his aldult club hurling with neighbours Mooncoin.
He was a member of the famous Mooncoin three in-a-row county senior hurling championship winning team of 1929. He figured at No. 13 in 1929 against Carrickshock, who were beaten after a replay (5-1 to 3-3).
The eventual champions trailed by 3-1 to 1-0 at half-time, but they recovered well and Dick Morrissey featured among the scorers.
While Mooncoin could have picked players from anywhere within county Kilkenny at that time, the only players from outside the parish on that occasion were Dick Morrissey from Ferrybank and the Duggans’, Jack and Dinny from Tory Hill in the parish of Mullinavat.
Duggan on team
Jack Duggan was also a team mate of Dick Morrissey in the 1931 All-Ireland final. Duggan was put on as a sub when Morrissey was injured, and he retained his place for the second and third games.
It is worth recalled that the great Lory Meagher, Paddy Larkin and Martin White were injured during the series, and did not feature in the decisive match. Lory Meagher played for 52 minutes in the second match with three broken ribs.
Dick Morrissed died in 1976.