Here's your chance to pick you Best Thurles 11
Well known player and coach Noel Byrne has kicked off the challenge with his Best Thurles 11
Football in Thurles town has had a strange enough existence, especially in the days of the mid 20th century.
Clubs such as Thurles Town, Borroway Rovers, St Patrick's, St Ailbe's, Peake Villa, Erin United, Thurles Celtic and many others produced some magnificent players - many who went on to play at much higher levels, and others who played other sports as well.
Thurles Town even played in the League of Ireland for a time and this helped to put football on the map in the home of the birthplace of the GAA - some of the best players in the country at the time came to Thurles to take on 'The Town'. The ultimate demise of the League of Ireland experiment as far as Thurles Town was concerned, was largely due to the financial commitment required to keep it going.
But still, football remained strong in Thurles and the number of teams playing each season, not to mention clubs from the surrounding parishes ensured that there was a fair bit of movement between them with criss-crossing of personnel only adding spice to the occasions when they actually met in competition, be it the North Tipp League, the South District League, or in the cup competitions.
Prolific goal scorer Barry Ryan, pictured here with team mater Micheal Byrne in the colours of Thurles Town
Many of our big local sportspeople come with big reputations and profiles, especially when it comes to GAA. But, the same cannot really be said about our soccer exponents. Some very talented players have emerged from the Cathedral Town and played year-in, year-out, without any major recognition.
So, here is your chance.
A conversation with well known football coach Noel Byrne, resulted in the suggestion that an attempt be made to pick a Thurles 11 from across all eras. Noel was adament that it be a Thurles team and not players who might have been from outside the parish, but played in Thurles. And, he also looked to players who would fit into the modern game.
The challenge is a big one and Noel has set the ball rolling himself by naming his team - a team which spans a number of eras and features many household names.
The question is - do you agree with his team? Could you come up with a better team? Remember this is a Thurles team, not a Thurles 11 - that means that you must choose your players very carefully and ensure that they would be capable of functioning as a team.
“I agonised over this for a few days and I was putting in players and taking out others, before finally settling on my 11. It's only for a bit of fun but when I actually sat down and began to think of lads who played the game, there were some magnificent players from Thurles and the job of choosing 11 was a very hard one,” Noel Byrne said.
Noel Byrne, pictured with his father, the late Tipperary hurling legend 'Mickey Rattler' Byrne
He regretted the fact that classy players such as Jackie Lanigan, Paddy Moore, Jackie McCormack, Michael Kennedy, Tony and Johnny Cleary, Martin and Jim Turner, Jody Mahony, David Horan, Jim Behan, Jimmy Connors,KIeran Fogarty, Billy Walsh, Paraic Fogarty, Derek Loughnane, Michael Ryan, Danny Butler, Jody Brolan and Brendan O'Neill did not make the cut, but wondered how others such as Ted O'Connor, Paddy Coppinger, Noel Whelton and Birdie Ryan could be left out.
Included in Noel's team is the father/son combination of Birdie and Barry Ryan, though they obviously played in different eras. Birdie was regarded as a very fine midfielder and even played in League of Ireland, while more recently Barry was a top class striker who bagged goals wherever he plied his trade in the south or north district leagues, and the various cups. Both players have been exceptional footballers from Thurles town and they are joined by nine other exceptional players in Noel's first team.
Noel (Nanny) Whelton
So, here we have the classic sporting conundrum for all of you and the challenge is for you to have your say.
Simply fill out the slip in this weeks Tipperary Star; make your suggestions and drop it into the letterbox of The Tipperary Star in Friar Street, Thurles - envelope marked “Thurles Best Soccer 11” and we'll look after the rest and bring some of those suggestions to our readers.
Alternatively, email your entry to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line Thurles Football 11
This is your chance to release your inner Jurgan Klopp, Pep Guardiola, Mick McCarthy or John Giles, but on a local level.