It is with great regret and sadness that Tipperary County GAA Board learned of the death of former Tipperary hurler John Doyle.
John was known as "The Legend" and it's easy to see why. Born on February 12, 1930, John lined out as a Tipperary Minor Hurler for three years, winning 1 All-Ireland and 2 Munster Minor medals. John graduated to the Tipperary Senior Hurling panel while still a Minor in 1948, lining out as a substitute in the 1947/1948 NHL Final defeat to Cork. John captured his first of 11 National Hurling League medals in 1948/1949 before making his Championship debut at corner-back in the 1949 Munster Championship replay victory over Cork. Tipperary would go on to win the 1949 All-Ireland which started a memorable era in Tipperary hurling, completing an All-Ireland 3 in a row in 1950 and 1951.
John would go on to win further NHL titles in 1950, 1952, 1954, 1955 (as captain) and 1957 before winning his fourth Celtic Cross, helping Tipperary to All-Ireland success over Galway in 1958, this time in the half-back line. Tipperary would go on to dominate hurling for the next few years, winning 5 NHL titles and 4 All-Ireland titles between 1959 and 1965.
Following the 1965 All-Ireland victory, John Doyle equalled Christy Ring's record of 8 All-Ireland medals on the field of play and had a chance to win his 9th when Tipperary qualified to play Kilkenny in the 1967 All-Ireland final. Alas, Kilkenny would emerge victorious and John Doyle duly retired from the inter-county game having never been dropped or taken off injured since his 1949 Championship debut, an amazing feat of consistency and toughness.
Doyle's hurling honours also included 6 Railway Cup medals with Munster and 6 Oireachtas medals. During the height of his powers in the 1960s, John won the Texaco Hurler of the Year award in 1964 and was inducted in to the Texaco Sports Hall of Fame in 1992. John was named at left corner-back on the GAA Hurling Team of the Century in 1984 and the GAA Hurling Team of the Millennium in 2000.
John hurled for over 20 years with his club Holycross-Ballycahill, helping them to win their first ever Tipperary Senior Hurling title in 1948 and following this up with further County title victories in 1951 and 1954. The recently built Holycross-Ballycahill GAA complex bears his name and is a fitting tribute to "The Legend". Following the end of his playing days, John served as a Tipperary Senior Hurling selector, a member of Tipperary County Board and as a member of the GAA Central Council.
Paddy Downey, writing in the Irish Times in the 1960s said of John Doyle - "It is a quality of style that is intrinsically a part of the man; the rugged power, the sweeping stroke, the touch of dare-devilry, perhaps; and certainly the cold courage."
Speaking to Enda McEvoy for a Sunday Tribune article to mark his 75th birthday in 2005, John Doyle when asked how he would like to be remembered said – "As far as the GAA is concerned, I hope club and county will always remember me as giving 100%".
Tipperary County Board Chairman Barry O'Brien paid tribute to the late John Doyle – "The name of John Doyle will go down in hurling folklore as one of the all-time greats. The achievement of winning 19 Senior National titles (8 All-Irelands and 11 National Leagues) will surely never be surpassed. John Doyle made a massive contribution to Tipperary GAA as a player and in later years as a selector and at Central Council level. On behalf of Tipperary County Board and all Gaels in the County, we extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife Ann, two sons, five daughters and the wider Doyle family on their bereavement. May he rest in peace."