Carrick on Suir club but Deise supporters first as Waterford hurlers seek All-Ireland glory

Eamon Lacey

Reporter:

Eamon Lacey

Email:

elacey@nationalist.ie

One for the future!

Waterford stars Austin Gleeson and Tadgh De Burca with Deise fan Callum Tobin

The Blue & Gold buntings and flags have been taken down and stored carefully away for use in Treacy Park  until  next year but  All-Ireland fervour and the search for  tickets in Carrick on Suir  is just as  chaotic.

 

The clamour  for tickets is intense as one of the three Carrick clubs   St.Mollerans, a proud Carrick beg club with a great hurling tradition, is unmistakably  Deise territory .

 St. Mollerans, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, is  in the Waterford parish of Carrick Beg-Windgap,  the club play in Waterford  and has always had a powerful allegiance to the Deise.

The proliferation of Waterford flags in Carrick Beg signals a passionate Deise support  on the other side of the River Suir that divides Carrick. St.Mollerans and its members in Carrick Beg and those that are  resident in the town of Carrick are on the lookout for tickets  and demand is huge.

“There is a huge demand for tickets all over the town of Carrick and out into the countryside. The demand has been phenomenal. There is just such a buzz around the place” said club PRO Sean Meade.

Sean said the allegiance to Waterford was very powerful because it was so close to the border with Tipperary.

“When we are off around the county playing matches  we are told that we are a Tipperary club because we are from Carrick but we let them know that Carrick Beg is Waterford and very proud of it,” said  Reade.

He said that the appearance in the All-Ireland was brilliant for the juvenile section of the club which was thriving at the moment.

“We are stronger than we have been for a long time, particularly at underage where we are fielding a lot of teams competing at the highest level. We have top class facilities thanks to the vision of great club stalwarts  and our pitch and grounds are kept in pristine condition by John Maher and the FAS team

“For the juveniles this kind of excitement is absolutely fantastic. It is the first time they will have ever experienced the build up to Waterford playing in an All-Ireland final” he said.

“I will be there if I can get a ticket” said St. Mollerans man Paddy Finucane, better known as the voice of GAA in Tipperary after providing radio commentary for decades on Tipperary hurling and football from Croke Park and from venues all over the county of Tipperary and the country for Tipp FM.

Paddy, a passionate GAA man who  has devoted a lifetime to St.Mollerans,  is well aware of just how powerful the level of support   the people of Carrick Beg have for  Waterford and how much All-Ireland glory is coveted in the area.

He was present in Croke Park  the last time Waterford  claimed the Liam McCarthy  in 1959 and remembers well how St.Mollerans colleague Paddy Callaghan lifted him high  after the crucial goal of the game was scored by Seamus Power.

“A Waterford win would be great for hurling. Waterford’s place in the sun would be deserved after such a long wait, it would mean so much to   the club and the people of  Carrick beg.” said Paddy.

The Carrick Beg club was founded in 1942   and operated out of a number of different locations before purchasing their own club ground  and opening state of the art facilities in 2009 when Waterford and Cork accepted  an invitation to play a match to officially open the grounds at Coolnamuck Road.

Paddy said the purchase of the field, in which Johnny Dowley played a massive role, was a major milestone for the club  and the opening of the their own club grounds was one of the biggest occasions in the history of the club.

“It was a dream come true for everybody involved. A lot of people put in a massive amount  of work for years  to realise the dream and the new generation of officers have carried out tremendous work to develop the grounds and deserve great credit” said Paddy.

Up to that point  St. Mollerans players  had availed of a number of  green spaces such as Seamus Sullivan's field on the old Waterford Road, a pitch at Garavovne, the Furze at Seskin and Sheehans Field.

A hurler of no less  the calibre of the late Mick Roche, legendary Tipperary hurler who won three All-Ireland medals, began his hurling career honing his skills in Sheehans Field . and won a county Waterford minor hurling title with the Mollerans  in 1959 before moving across the river to play for the Davins.

Paddy said the club was always an ambitious one which was epitomised by the  decision at the time in 1970 to send forty club members on a trip to Brian Borus in London.

“Not many clubs were doing that at that time, it was breaking new ground and the club was one of the first to take on that challenge” said Paddy.

The club  played in their only Waterford senior hurling final losing out to their  neighbours Portlaw  in the 1971 final. The previous year St. Mollerans had claimed the Waterford Intermediate championship.

The club took great pride in the fact that in those two successful seasons , 1970  and 1971 the club had the honour of having the Waterford Hurler of the Year. Jimmy  Flynn and the late Sean Reade were deservedly  named as the best hurlers in the county in those two years and having back to back Hurler of the Year was a tremendous achievement for the club.

Other  players such as   Billy O'Neill, who captained the Waterford minor  hurling team in 1960 and Jerome O'Shea,  who was a member of the Waterford team that won the All-Ireland U/21 title  in 1992  and  Tony Reade, who  will always be remembered for his sterling inter county career and his great championship goal against Cork, Michael Gilman  and Patsy Murphy , were among those to bring great distinction to  St. Mollerans on the field.

Paddy had high praise for  people like the late Jimmy Henzy who played a crucial role in the club in the fifties when it was plagued with emigration. The club, he said, was fortunate to have the valuable input of people over the years   like  the Reade family, the Norris family, Bridget Cleary and her daughter Peggy, Fr.Michael Farrell, Paddy Moore, Billy Deehy, Rory Kiely and many others and it was that dedication and great sense of loyalty that ensured the survival and development of the club.