Grangemockler, home of Michael Hogan and according to Archbishop Dermot Clifford, the ‘sanctuary of Gaeldom’, played host to football stars of the future at an evocative ceremony on Friday night.
In the presence of local dignitary Michael Hogan, whose uncle of the same name was shot dead in Croke Park on Bloody Sunday, the All Ireland winning Tipperary minor football team were honoured with a civic reception by South Tipperary County Council.
The ceremony took place in the old schoolhouse where Michael Hogan was a pupil. Today it’s the community hall and it was packed to overflowing for the event.
Speaker after speaker said how appropriate it was that the historic event, honouring Tipperary’s first All Ireland minor football title in 77 years, should be marked in a village steeped in the history of Tipp football and the GAA itself.
This week marks the 91st anniversary of Bloody Sunday when Michael Hogan died playing the game he loved.
But Friday night’s reception was an occasion to look forward as well as back and the players who brought minor glory to Tipperary this year were told they were good enough to maintain their progress and return to Tipp with Sam Maguire some day soon.
And their manager David Power went even further, claiming that Tipp could do the football and hurling double. “We can be Number One in both”, he said.
And they were wished well in their endeavours by Michael Hogan who said it was a lovely gesture to host the reception in Grangemockler.
Mr Hogan said he was delighted to have been in Croke Park on the day and added - “It would have been a pity to have missed it”.
He congratulated the players and their management team and hoped to see further success for Tipperary football in the years to come.
Tributes to the players were paid by County Council chairman Michael Fitzgerald; vice-chairman Michael Murphy; local Grangemocker councillor Joe Brennan on behalf of the Fine Gael party; Michael Anglim on behalf of Fianna Fail, Eddie O’Meara on behalf of the Independents; Bobby Fitzgerald on behalf of Labour; GAA Patron Archishop Clifford; County GAA Board vice-chairman Sean Nugent; County Football Board vice-chairman Joe Hannigan; South GAA Board chairman Dick Egan; and Grangemockler club chairman Johson Lyons.
Council chairman Michael Fitzgerald said everyone in the county owed the players a huge debt of gratitude for lifting spirits during a difficult time for all. He described them as wonderful ambassadors for a proud county who through their commitment, dedication, talent and self belief had achieved a remarkable milestone.
“You have been an example and inspiration to thousands of young people and you are a credit to the GAA, to your club, to your families and to yourselves”, he said.
And he added that by holding the reception in Grangemockler, it allowed them to not only honour the present generation of Tipperary footballers but to think of those in the past and say thanks to those gone before.
Council vice-chairman Michael Murphy said the win in Croke Park came as no surprise to those who knew of the investment put into Tipperary football at underage level. He paid tribute to the efforts of people such as Football Board officers Noel Morris and Michael Power and also remembered those who had invested so much time and effort but didn’t live to see the promised land, such as Michael Frawley, Hugh Kennedy and Sean Mockler. He also paid tribute to the contribution of senior manager John Evans as well as Seamus McCarthy and Colm O’Flaherty.
Local councillor Joe Brennan said he was hugely proud that the ceremony was taking place in Grangemockler, in the home place of Michael Hogan, and he expected a similar ceremony to be held there when Tipperary won the senior title and returned with the Sam Maguire cup.
“It is clear from the attitude of these players that losing is not an option and I know that everything will be put in place for you to fully realise your potential. I will never forget the raw emotion of delight, of seeing grown men and women with tears in their eyes under the Hogan Stand, after the players’ hard graft and character won the day”, he said.
Archbishop Clifford told the players that they will be inspired by where they were that night, in the ‘sanctuary of Gaeldom’, to go on and win ‘Sam’.
He said it was a new sight to see ‘fifteen strapping young men in blue and gold in Croke Park without a hurley between them’ but their style of football showed they deserved to be there.
County Board vice-chairman Sean Nugent described the win as the greatest breakthrough for Tipp football in modern times while Football Board vice-chairman Joe Hannigan said football has ‘come alive’ in the county and greater success could be achieved.
Team manager David Power remarked that it had been a great honour to bring the cup to schools around the county since the win and to see the delight on the faces of both children and their teachers.
He paid a huge tribute to the players, remarking on the bond that had built up between since last January and said they will now be friends for life.
He also thanked the parents and said without their support it wouldn’t have been possible.
He thanked the County Board, Football Board and Friends of Tipperary Football and said all the support and investment will pay off. “We must win the Sam Maguire in the next few years and these players will backbone the team And then we can also do the double”, said the Kilsheelan man.