John Doyle’s life - the greatest hurling story ever told

A huge crowd attended the launch of ‘Doyle The Greatest Hurling Story ever Told’, the book so brilliantly crafted by Upperchurch Drombane man John Harrington, from the mountain of raw material that was John Doyle’s life.

A huge crowd attended the launch of ‘Doyle The Greatest Hurling Story ever Told’, the book so brilliantly crafted by Upperchurch Drombane man John Harrington, from the mountain of raw material that was John Doyle’s life.

Publisher Liam Hayes told the launch in Thurles that it was the greatest hurling story ever told and also the greatest GAA story ever written,

Patron the GAA, Dr Dermot Clifford, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, spoke of the huge service John Harrington has done. “He has given us a record if the achievements of John Doyle and this is a very very fine book about a very fine hurler. He was among one of the three greatest with Mackey and Ring and I had the privilege of meeting him in his final days when I said Mass in the Hospital of the Assumption on Christmas morning 2010. I’m delighted that his story is now there for everyone to read,” he said.

However, Dr Clifford lamented the fact that the eight times All-Ireland senior hurling medalist was gone to his Maker and was not present for the launch of which he would have been hugely proud.

Guest speakers on the night included former Tipperary full back Michael Maher – a clubmate of John Doyle as well and a man who won 5 All-Ireland senior hurling medals; Eddie Keher, the Kilkenny maestro who won six All-Ireland senior hurling medals; and John Doyle’s Tipp colleagues Jimmy Doyle, Mackey McKenna and Len Gaynor – all household names in the hurling family nationwide.

All spoke with great affection of John Doyle the hurler; the competitor; the warrior; the Legend. However, it was left to Holycross Ballycahill Chairman Tom Dwyer to speak about Doyle the person, the inspiration. A former full back who won a county senior hurling medal in the green and white jersey in 1990 alongside John Doyle’s sons, Johnny and Michael, Tom Dwyer spoke with great affection about John Doyle’s role within his beloved club. There was unanimous agreement that the fantastic new sports centre should be named after their most famous son, he said, and he added that John Doyle helped to put the club on the map and brought the name of Holycross Ballycahill into every GAA corner of the land.

The book has John Doyle’s widow Anne as a central character. It records the life of the hurler, the husband, the father, the hard worker who toiled long hours in order to provide for his seven children. It charts his difficult start in life – he lost his mother very soon after birth and was raised for a time in Dungarvan before returning to his native Holycross where he lived out the remainder of his days.

It records his growing from a boy to a man in Maher’s field; his growing from a man to a legend in Semple Stadium and Croke Park; and his growing into a national GAA treasure thereafter.

But, what was John Doyle, the father like? His son Johnny explains - “He was a very hard working man along with Mam – they had to be really because there were seven of us coming on behind. People might not realise it, but he was an extremely clever man. Often if we were trying to get away somewhere or do something strange, he would come up with two answers. The first would be ‘No’. And the second would be ‘Ask your mother’.

“He was a very determined man who didn’t like to lose. He was a very proud man. Proud of his county, of his parish and of his family. He was always inquiring after the family especially as it expanded, he always wanted to know how they were getting on. Nothing gave him more pride that when he was told that the new GAA centre in Holycross would be called the John Doyle Centre,” he said.