Hurling loses a link to its past

KILKENNY lost one of its hurling greats last Wednesday when Martin White passed away at the age of 102. Mr White was the oldest living All-Ireland medal winner.

KILKENNY lost one of its hurling greats last Wednesday when Martin White passed away at the age of 102. Mr White was the oldest living All-Ireland medal winner.

Martin White had three All-Ireland medals to his name from the successful teams of 1932-33 and ‘35.

He was an early graduate of the now well worn path from St Kieran’s College to All-Ireland success. In his school days he helped establish the St Kieran’s reputation as a hurling powerhouse. He won Leinster medals in 1925 and ‘26 against Blackrock College and Newbridge College which were both strong hurling schools in those days.

After hurling for St Kieran’s, Martin White moved on to Tullaroan, where he played on the same team as the great Dick Grace. Dick Grace had an All-Ireland medal from the year that Martin White was born, 1909. Despite the age difference a Tullaroan team featuring both men won the county title in 1930. Arguably the biggest game of Martin White’s career was the 1931 All-Ireland final. The famous final had to be played three times before Cork took the title. Martin White played in the first leg but he didn’t line out in the two replays. It is argued that the 1931 final pushed hurling into the limelight with the three matches attracting attendances around the 30,000 mark.

In 1932 Martin White claimed his first All-Ireland against Clare. One of the big question according to the 1932 pre-game supplement of the Kilkenny People was how would Martin White mark the “Fowler”? With Kilkenny running out winners 3-3 to 2-3, Martin White clearly did enough. On his return to Kilkenny he was carried shoulder high from the train station to City Hall.

In 1933 and again in 1935 Martin White lined out against Limerick and brought his All-Ireland medal tally to three – but he would have to wait until his 100th birthday to receive his fourth All-Ireland medal. A specially commissioned All-Ireland medal was presented to him to mark his 100th birthday and Kilkenny’s four-in-a-row.

Martin White didn’t get to live his whole life in Kilkenny with work taking him away. He married his wife Peg in 1947, and the couple had seven children. In the late 1940s, the family moved to Glasnevin in Dublin. He remained active in hurling. He was involved with the Crokes club, hurling partner in the 1966 amalgamation that formed Kilmacud Crokes, with whom he maintained a decades-long association, and was chairman of the Kilkenny Association in Dublin.