LETTER: Search for the 'best-ever male soccer player to come out of Clonmel'

A letter to the editor published in this week's Nationalist

Tom O'Flaherty

Reporter:

Tom O'Flaherty

Email:

news@nationalist.ie

It has come to my attention that a call has gone out, via the internet, to find the “best-ever male soccer player to come out of Clonmel”.

If that lovely man and soccer stalwart, Frankie McCormack, was still living, I’m confident he could supply an answer. I had been in regular correspondence with Frankie over many years and I always made a point of visiting him at his home on Catherine Street when in Clonmel.

It is understandable that unintentional amnesia should present itself on such occasions, so please spare a thought for those stars who graced the game from 1920 to 1970.

Frankie compiled a history of Clonmel soccer through the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s which he shared with me. He was a wonderful goalkeeper with Clonmel AFC until injury curtailed his career.

However, he turned his talents to committee work and he was treasurer of the club when victorious in the 1950 Munster Junior Cup beating Rock Rangers 2-0 at Turner’s Cross, Cork.

Frankie was born at William Street, Clonmel, as were his siblings, Nancy, Eileen (Logue), Maura (Fahey) and Bob (“Salty”) who had a hairdressing business at his home. Bobby died tragically in his 30s when he was struck by a car on his way to a dance in Carrick-on-Suir.

Frankie’s mother Ellen was famed for her much sought-after homemade sausage known as the drisheen.
Older readers will recall the outstanding work done by Frankie and his life-long pal, Johnny Doolan, at Ferryhouse where he helped lighten the lives of the Ferryhouse children.

Every weekend they took the children to their homes and provided entertainment for them. However, returning to the task at hand - naming Clonmel’s best-ever male soccer player.

Frankie eulogised about some of the greats of the 30s through to the early 50s - greats such as Tommy Barrett, Willie “Scut” Dwyer, Tom Cox, Tom Wallace, Paddy Cummins, Jackie “Skok” Martin, Davy Smith, Micky Lonergan, Ned Arrigan, et al.

Of course Frankie was closely involved with Clonmel soccer in the late 40s and early 50s so he was ideally placed to laud the talents of players such as Kevin “Buckie” Butler, Liam Daly, Michael “Stokey” Halley, Frank Murnane, Owen “Stoney” Morrissey, Jack Pyke, Christy Matthews, Kevin Pyke, et al.

But the jewels in the crown were Eddie “Fetch” Dwyer, Mossy Hughes and Stephen Morrisey. They were so good that they had trials with clubs in the north and south of Ireland.

All three were offered terms by Glenavon and Mossy was offered terms with Waterford.

All three declined invitations from Glenavon because of the constant travelling. Mossy accepted terms with Waterford but sadly, in the interim, he suffered a knee injury which cut short his playing career.

I recall with some pleasure, greats of the late 50s and early 60s which included Ned “Snowdy” O’Brien, Paddy Blanche, Davy Kearns, Matt Williams, Johnny Blanche and more. Incidentally, the ageless “Snowdy” was a Bohemians player in the early days when I was honoured to play with him.

As a Bohemians player from day one, I should like to submit the following list of the best players I have played with: Jimmy Hunt, Jimmy Wall, Ned “Snowdy” O’Brien, Patsy Sweeney, John Kiely, Seanie Hogan, Eddie “Buddy” Anderson, Philip Daniels, Richie Anderson, Jimmy Fitzgerald, Mossy Paterson and Jimmy “Coxy” Halley.

It may be of interest to mention that in2003 a public vote was taken to determine Clonmel’s best eleven to have played the game over the previous 40 years. The vote resulted as follows: Stephen O’Neill, Tony Norris, Tom O’Flaherty, PJ Reilly, Cyril Conran, Jimmy “Coxy” Halley, Ollie Cahill, Seánie Hogan, Billy Byrne, Jimmy Fitzgerald and Sean “Baba” Kiely.

So, in an attempt to draw all the possibilities together, I proffer the following shortlist (with a profound nod in the direction of Frankie McCormack) for consideration as the best-ever player to have emerged in Clonmel: Mossy Hughes, Eddie “Fetch” Dwyer, Stephen Morrissey, Jimmy Hunt, Seanie Hogan and Eddie “Buddy” Anderson.

There are others who will emerge for consideration but in any event let us rejoice that the beautiful game of soccer continues to thrive in Clonmel.

However, this hasn’t appeared out of thin air. No! It has come about through the dedication and hard work of the administrators who have given their time freely over the years so that we (the players) were free to play and enjoy the game we love.

I’ll name just a few: Joe Burgoyne, Willie Arrigan, Jimmy “Bazzie” Gibbons, Jack Lonergan, Frankie McCormack, Eddie Sweetman, Jim Bermingham, Fen Cummins, Liam Delahunty, Jimmy Maunsell, Frankie Hill, Jerry Lonergan, Dennis Conway, Michael Horan, Val Butler, Jim O’Shea.

Apologies for any unintentional omissions.

So a big thank you to all of the above. This list only covers up to the end of the 1960s.

Tom O’Flaherty,
50 Mount Ephraim Lane,
London, SW16 IJD, UK.