Tag Archives: Laois

Waterford GAA results archive – child of the 60’s

Some more random observations on the work-in-progress that is the Waterford GAA results archive, now correct back to 1964:

  • Waterford once played a match in Tramore, of all places, beating Laois by two points in February 1967. It’s curious how venues like Cappoquin have fallen off the schedule. Presumably this is because the investment, such as it has been, in Walsh Park and Fraher Field, increase the opportunity cost of using venues other than them.
  • We beat Laois that day, as we usually do. We’ve beaten them on 19 of our 23 meetings since 1966, losing three and drawing one. This is in marked contrast to our record against Kildare. We played Kildare seven times in the 70’s and barely came out ahead, winning four and losing three. Compare that with our record against Offaly who we played three times, winning twice and drawing once. Offaly won the All-Ireland in 1981. There’s a story to be told about what became of Kildare hurling.
  • When snooker player Fergal O’Brien won the 1999 British Open, he felt slightly cheated when a rejigging of the schedule meant he had to defend the trophy a few months later. The Waterford hurlers of 1963 would have sympathised. Having won the National League by beating New York in a replay on the 3rd November, they had to play Dublin in the first round of the 1964 League a week later. They lost. Some honeymoon.
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Not my province

The 2009 All-Ireland hurling championship starts this weekend, and the marquee game is unquestionably the one in Thurles between Tipperary and Cork. The more interesting one though for those of us who obsess about how the GAA is run is in Portlaoise between Laois and Galway. Taking place at the time of writing, you don’t need to be Nostradamus – or even someone could really predict the future – to see this one is going to end badly for my wee nephew’s county. Still, the prospect of seeing Galway in the mainstream of the championship as opposed to standing outside demanding the mainstream divert itself into their path is a positive development.

This isn’t a cut at the Leinster championship. It is self-evident that the Leinster title lacks the allure of its Munser counterpart, but this isn’t because of an inherent lack of competitiveness – indeed, if lack of competition were a reason to denigrate a tournament, we wouldn’t be bothering with the Liam McCarthy Cup itself. It’s that for those of us willing to defend the centrality of the provincial championships in the All-Ireland series, the absence of Antrim and Galway was a glaring anomaly that needed to be addressed.

I’m unconvinced that any open draw system will make the hurling championship ‘work’. People talk of Champions League-style group stages, but we had that a few years ago in the qualifiers and it was not a success. Waterford whipped the mid-ranking teams then had their fate decided by their efforts against Clare (an away defeat) and Galway (a home win). However devalued the provincial championships might have become by the back door, and there is no point in pretending that there has been no devaluation, there is still a frission of tension generated by competing for trophies with a century-old pedigree. It would be hard to retain any of that in a round-robin format, and the amount of dead rubbers will reach Ireland-Davis-Cup-match proportions.

Of course, that’s not to say the provincial championships are inviolate. If they are so damaged that they can’t be fixed, it would be time to replace them. Even the Railway Cups had to put out of their misery. Hopefully the fix getting its first run today will prove sufficiently robust to keep these venerable old competitions on the road.

Not my province

The 2009 All-Ireland hurling championship starts this weekend, and the marquee game is unquestionably the one in Thurles between Tipperary and Cork. The more interesting one though for those of us who obsess about how the GAA is run is in Portlaoise between Laois and Galway. Taking place at the time of writing, you don’t need to be Nostradamus – or even someone could really predict the future – to see this one is going to end badly for my wee nephew’s county. Still, the prospect of seeing Galway in the mainstream of the championship as opposed to standing outside demanding the mainstream divert itself into their path is a positive development.

This isn’t a cut at the Leinster championship. It is self-evident that the Leinster title lacks the allure of its Munser counterpart, but this isn’t because of an inherent lack of competitiveness – indeed, if lack of competition were a reason to denigrate a tournament, we wouldn’t be bothering with the Liam McCarthy Cup itself. It’s that for those of us willing to defend the centrality of the provincial championships in the All-Ireland series, the absence of Antrim and Galway was a glaring anomaly that needed to be addressed.

I’m unconvinced that any open draw system will make the hurling championship ‘work’. People talk of Champions League-style group stages, but we had that a few years ago in the qualifiers and it was not a success. Waterford whipped the mid-ranking teams then had their fate decided by their efforts against Clare (an away defeat) and Galway (a home win). However devalued the provincial championships might have become by the back door, and there is no point in pretending that there has been no devaluation, there is still a frission of tension generated by competing for trophies with a century-old pedigree. It would be hard to retain any of that in a round-robin format, and the amount of dead rubbers will reach Ireland-Davis-Cup-match proportions.

Of course, that’s not to say the provincial championships are inviolate. If they are so damaged that they can’t be fixed, it would be time to replace them. Even the Railway Cups had to put out of their misery. Hopefully the fix getting its first run today will prove sufficiently robust to keep these venerable old competitions on the road.

Not my province

The 2009 All-Ireland hurling championship starts this weekend, and the marquee game is unquestionably the one in Thurles between Tipperary and Cork. The more interesting one though for those of us who obsess about how the GAA is run is in Portlaoise between Laois and Galway. Taking place at the time of writing, you don’t need to be Nostradamus – or even someone could really predict the future – to see this one is going to end badly for my wee nephew’s county. Still, the prospect of seeing Galway in the mainstream of the championship as opposed to standing outside demanding the mainstream divert itself into their path is a positive development.

This isn’t a cut at the Leinster championship. It is self-evident that the Leinster title lacks the allure of its Munser counterpart, but this isn’t because of an inherent lack of competitiveness – indeed, if lack of competition were a reason to denigrate a tournament, we wouldn’t be bothering with the Liam McCarthy Cup itself. It’s that for those of us willing to defend the centrality of the provincial championships in the All-Ireland series, the absence of Antrim and Galway was a glaring anomaly that needed to be addressed.

I’m unconvinced that any open draw system will make the hurling championship ‘work’. People talk of Champions League-style group stages, but we had that a few years ago in the qualifiers and it was not a success. Waterford whipped the mid-ranking teams then had their fate decided by their efforts against Clare (an away defeat) and Galway (a home win). However devalued the provincial championships might have become by the back door, and there is no point in pretending that there has been no devaluation, there is still a frission of tension generated by competing for trophies with a century-old pedigree. It would be hard to retain any of that in a round-robin format, and the amount of dead rubbers will reach Ireland-Davis-Cup-match proportions.

Of course, that’s not to say the provincial championships are inviolate. If they are so damaged that they can’t be fixed, it would be time to replace them. Even the Railway Cups had to put out of their misery. Hopefully the fix getting its first run today will prove sufficiently robust to keep these venerable old competitions on the road.

Blood and belonging

St Patrick’s Day – it’s a bit rubbish, innit? With that de rigeur sneer out of the way, we can dispense with the stuff about rivers of green vomit and admit that sometimes, like with any holiday, St Patrick’s Day can be great. The massacre of De La Salle in Croke Park notwithstanding, last Tuesday was one such great day. The parade in Tramore was a cheerful affair, surprising in a town without much in the way of community spirit and a country mired in the depths of an economic crisis that we thought would never hit us again. It was probably more the sunshine than anything else, but it was nice to see so many smiling faces.

The biggest grin of the day was from my four month old nephew, if you discount the fact that you can hardly grin if you haven’t got any teeth. A few days after the game an image winged its way into my inbox of him catching some rays and generally enjoying the festivities in Port Laoise. Most notable from the perspective of those in chez deiseach was his head gear – a Liverpool woolly hat. Plenty to smile about in the aftermath of last weekend, eh?

After a few flippant thoughts about the life of torment that is ahead of him following the Reds, it struck me that this was nothing compared to the horrors that are likely to be visited upon him if he were to take up the banner of Laois hurling. A life of torture and misfortune if ever there was one, and one that surely could be best avoided by nailing his colours to the mast of Waterford.

Now, a lot can change in two decades. By the time he reaches his majority the roles could be reversed. Anyone born in 1960 would have considered it a no-brainer if they had been given a choice between following Waterford or Offaly. Still, while the race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong that’s the way to bet, and the odds are that Waterford will be competitive for a while yet while Laois people will not be piling in with the bookies for their championship prospects.

There may have been a time when everyone supported the county of their birth, but geographical mobility has meant that those times are long gone, if they ever existed in the first place. Growing up in the dormitory town of Tramore where blow-ins were everywhere, it was perfectly normal for your peers to support the county of their forefathers. Indeed I was a Cork supporter of sorts back in the 1980’s, effortlessly switching my interest to the county of my forefathers once Waterford’s participation in the Championship had been terminated. It’s difficult to criticise those who chose to invest full-time in other more successful counties, like the friend who, having been told in 1986 that he could ‘go next year’, admitted to crying on the Croke Park pitch when he finally (ahem) got to share a Sam Maguire success with his fanatical Kerry father in 1997.

It doesn’t stop me though. There’s an overwhelming temptation to scoff at those who don’t match up to a perceived standard of fandom. Supporting Waterford is not easy but you can genuinely draw comfort from that difficulty by congratulating yourself on sticking with it through think and thin – never forget that these days, whatever happens in All-Ireland finals, are firmly on the thick side. On the other side of the coin, reading the recent comment from the proprietor of FootballPress frowning at my concern over the fate of English club Liverpool while not even acknowledging the existence of the team ten kilometres down the road, my gut response was one of immediate defensiveness, a plaintive plea that I can’t invest time in every team in the locality.

The problem for any localism zealot is that any person who supports a team from outside their hinterland can coolly rationalise their choice. Anyone who gives me gyp about following Liverpool will be slapped with the fact that I wouldn’t have met Mrs d were it not for following the Reds. It’s an ex post facto rationalisation – lots of Latin and italics today! – but seeing as it’s only the most important thing in my life, it’s one that does not brook argument. Other people always seem to have a relative or a significant event in their life that makes following an English team not only important but essential.

Then there’s the question of how far localism can go. Surely the primary claim on my soccer affections should be Tramore AFC or Tramore Rangers. Then there’s people in Kilkenny who supported the Blues ahead of the late and unlamented Kilkenny City. Should they be switching their allegiances to their local team when they had the opportunity? Trying to construct a coherent narrative out of team loyalties is an exercise in futility.

So where does all this self-serving rhetoric leave the nephew? It would seem self-evident that he will follow whatever path his father sets out for him, and with my brother being a man of strong passions this should be the case. But there is the caveat of our father’s experiences. A man of a much cooler temperament, he has always eschewed knee-jerk tribalism, regularly haranguing us for our collective lack of sportsmanship. This always moves us to respond that we want our team to win first last and always, and sportsmanship can go to hell – if winning is not important, why keep score? The perverse outcome of these attitudes is that our father now supports Waterford ahead of Cork because he wants to see us happy and sane. I can even see this in my own life. Previously I would have revelled in each and every defeat inflicted on England in all sports. I reject out of hand the idea that this reflects some kind of anti-English bloodlust. It is natural in sport to want to see Goliath brought down, and England are the Goliath in this part of the world. These days though, the memory of Mrs d racing from the room in floods of tears after yet another penalty shoot-out defeat is too much to bear. Sporting loyalties can be transmitted up and across generations as well as down, and it’s not inconceivable that in years to come father will be cheering for Laois against Waterford.

And it would feel perfectly normal.

And then there were six

When Waterford reached the All-Ireland final, the search for tickets naturally began in earnest. Seven of us expressed an interest in going so calls went out as far afield as Laois and Donegal, and the web erupted in a welter of recrimination as people like us (go to lots of matches but are not members of clubs) lashed out at the unfairness of the ticket distribution system.

I wasn’t joining in the fun though, for two reasons. No system of ticket allocation is going to be entirely fair, and the notion that introducing a voucher scheme to reward those who went to earlier rounds of hte Championship seemed fanciful – getting people into Walsh Park is like herding cats at the best of times; can you imagine the uproar had everyone been told that you had to buy a ticket rather than simply pay at the turnstile so as to ensure you were eligible for a ticket for the All-Ireland final? Giving the priority to the ordinary club member, a group that tends to overwhelmingly overlap with the frequent match goer anyway, is sensible policy. The second reason was that the word on the street was quite insistent that tickets would be available on the day. People chase so many leads in the build-up to the game that they suddenly end up with a glut of tickets and need to divest themselves of them in the vicinity of Croke Park. Combined this with a Zen-like calm based on the idea that it was more important that the team be there without me than I be there without them, and que sera sera reigned supreme.

In retrospect, such considerations look entirely too modest. Four tickets turned up by Wednesday where only two seemed likely. The same evening the contact in Donegal said that if I really wanted it, the ticket was mine. I felt able to spurn this kind half-offer because there were suggestions that there were two more coming from Galway. Then Friday night the contact in Laois came up trumps with one definite ticket, and a person in Tramore offered us another ticket entirely out of the blue. So at the time of writing we have six definite tickets and a probability of two more. The system seems to be working, after a fashion, and the old hands who were chuckling at those getting so upset in the last three weeks can feel rather smug.

The Waterford 31er’s

There were some real hidings in Gaelic games today, with Laois falling back to earth after their win last weekend over the hated Biffs as Galway put 6-26 past them with only 0-8 in reply, while Armagh hockeyed Roscommon by 22 points in the National Football League. The latter result was doubly startling because on hearing it first I assumed it was in hurling. A victory like that is of truly gargantuan proportions in football, but it would have been bad even in hurling. With that in mind, I asked my brother whether I am the only person who always makes a mental note of whether the losers in such mismatches managed to lose by even more than Waterford did in the 1982 Munster final. It seems I am not the only only one. Truly the scars never heal.

Waterford 3-15 (24) Laois 1-6 (9)

Today’s match was a pretty convincing in favour of one of my favourite projects – a Champions League style All-Ireland hurling championship. It was a pretty meaningless fixture – for ‘pretty’, read ‘totally’ – and the match was incredibly lopsided. But it was still reasonably entertaining fare played in good conditions in front of a healthy crowd. It was also a darn sight more interesting that much of what passed for entertainment in the real Champions League. But I digress . . .

Peter Queally, Laois, 2001

With no pressure on either team, the early exchanges were of a decent quality. Laois got the first score but were then completely undone by Dan Shanahan, his strong run ended in a shot which was saved by the Laois goalie but the ever-industrious John Mullane pounced on the rebound and slotted the ball into the gaping net. You could almost see the Laois heads dropping already.

Up close, Laois, 2001

I remember the last time Laois came down to Waterford. They had had a few good results under Padraig Horan and David Cuddy postponed his honeymoon so he could play in Walsh Park. We trashed them, Kilkenny murdered them in the Leinster championship and I don’t think they’ve won a game since. Laois have the same problem as Waterford, only more so: they don’t have enough really outstanding players. Every Laois attack broke foundered on the rock of the Waterford defence. This led them to try shooting from hopeless positions leading to hopeless results. Waterford, meanwhile, were having it easy. John Mullane had the measure of his marker and was dancing around him at will. Dan Shanahan was being, well, Dan Shanahan, while Paul Flynn was even knocking over a few frees.

By half time the game was over. Last year in O’Moore Park Laois had destroyed Waterford with the advantage of the wind, but here they had the wind in the first half and couldn’t do anything with it. Despite this, they started the half brightly with a great goal, a long range effort was deftly flicked to the net by full forward James Young. The Waterford full-back line and goalie looked at each other as if to say “he was yours!”

Tony Browne, Laois, 2001

It didn’t take Waterford long to cancel out that effort though. Dan went on one of those rampaging runs, and the ball found its way to Seamus Prendergast who turned and thumped the ball past the Laois goalie.

This was almost like a cue for the match to descend into farce. Errors crept into everyone’s game, and the amount of annoying gaffs beggared belief. Waterford knocked over a few points, Laois didn’t. Míceal White came on which was a bit of a surprise – I didn’t think we’d see him again in a hurry. Still, he injected a bit of life into the preceedings and combined neatly with Anthony Kirwan to allow the latter to slam home Waterford’s third goal from a narrow angle.

Seamus Prendergast, Laois, 2001

In terms of performances, Waterford can take heart from the performance of John Mullane up front and James Murray has carried his good form from the end of last season into 2001. Alan Kirwan had a good game at corner back although not having seen him play before, you have to wonder how much of his excellence was down to his marker. Dave Bennett must also be wondering what he has to do to nail down a regular place. Three points from play as a sub will surely help his cause.

John Mullane & Tony Browne, Laois, 2001

So the curtain comes down on another National League campaign. It was very much a mixed bag. Wins over Derry and Laois were necessary and they were achieved. Good performances against Tipperary and Cork yielded nothing, you can’t read anything into the win over Wexford and the defeat to Kilkenny was an embarrassment on a par with hidings in the past. Surely our best hope in this years Championship is that Limerick nobble Cork. If that happens, all hell could break lose in the Gentle County. But it’s hard to see us beating Cork. As always, we’ll see what happens.

Waterford: Stephen Brenner, Tom Feeney, Sean Cullinane, Alan Kirwan, Stephen Frampton (Declan Prendergast), Peter Queally, James Murray, Tony Browne (0-1), Eoin Murphy (Dave Bennett, 0-3), Dan Shanahan, Fergal Hartley (0-2), Ken McGrath (capt., Paul Prendergast, 0-1), John Mullane (1-3), Seamus Prendergast (1-1; Anthony Kirwan, 1-0), Paul Flynn (0-4, all frees; Míceal White)

Laois: J Lyons, N Lacey, S Dooley (J O’Sullivan), D Killeen, Niall Rigney, Paul Cuddy (0-1), Cyril Cuddy (P Mahon), David Cuddy (0-3, all frees), Declan Conroy (J O’Shea), J Phelan, O Dowling, Canice Coonan (0-2; Des Conroy), C Cleer (E Maher), James Young (1-0), Fionan O’Sullivan

HT: Waterford 1-10 Laois 0-5

Referee: D Kirwan (Cork)

Waterford 2-13 (19) Laois 1-14 (17)

Míceal White, Laois, 2000

With all these jammy late goals we’ve been getting, I was beginning to wonder whether we were the Manchester United of hurling. With five wins from five league matches, yet a points difference of +18, perhaps we’re actually the Arsenal of hurling. Either way, another performance like this – like, for example, against Tipperary – and we are done for. You can talk all you like about Laois’ new attitude, new management, ‘new’ players etc etc, but if we can’t wallop this lot in a home game, we’re in trouble.

For this was a home game for the Déise. I kid you not when I say that Waterford fans outnumbered the Laois crowd by about ten to one. This can be partly explained by Laois’ U-21 footballers playing in the Leinster Championship against Meath, but it must have been terribly demoralising to the home players to see that the Blue and White hordes in the crowd were actually White and Blue hordes. The roar when it was announced that St. Declans from Kilmmacthomas had reached the final of the All-Ireland ‘B’ Colleges Hurling Championship reflected the distribution of the crowd.

Waterford started as they seem determined to finish every game – with a stack of wides. Tony Browne is particular was guilty of some criminal misses and Waterford struggled to make a firm breeze in their favour count. However, Waterford did look a class apart and when Míceal White fired home a superb goal in the 27th minute it looked very good for Waterford. Hawley deserves great credit for responding to merciless provocation from John O’Sullivan in the best manner possible, and other referees should be alerted to what looks like a possible new Laois tactic: rugby tackle every opponent and needle the combustible one.

Nine points up at half-time, and possibly more scores than wides, Waterford looked safe enough. But there is no doubt that the wind stiffened before the start of the second half and Laois utilised it superbly. Paul Flynn could have buried Laois in the first minute of the second half but his effort struck the side netting. After that it was all Laois, popping over points from all angles. And when they couldn’t get points they simply dropped the ball in around the house, a tactic which led to their goal, Liam Tynan wheeling away and slotting home a fine goal. Thankfully for Waterford the entire full-back line were on song, and James O’Connor and Tom Feeney will forgive me if I single out Sean Cullinane for special praise. What a guy.

With the gap down to three points, Waterford were there for the taking, but the game turned on three incidents. First, Donnacha Dowling walloped Dave Bennett and was sent off, easing some of the pressure. Second, Anthony Kirwan – easily our most effective forward – pounced on a Paul Flynn cross shot for a crucial goal. Finally, Laois were awarded a penalty. David Cuddy’s penalty wasn’t brilliant, but Waterford were so lethargic it wouldn’t have surprised me had it gone in. But That Man Cullinane got a stick to it, it hit the post and Tom Feeney tidied up. As the match went into injury time, Sean Cullinane once again emerged with the ball and the ref blew the final whistle after a bewilderingly short 20 seconds. Not that we were complaining. Heroics against Wexford, Kilkenny and Cork. Getting out of jail against Derry and Laois. Can’t Waterford win matches like any normal team?

Waterford: Brendan Landers, Tom Feeney, James O’Connor, Sean Cullinane, Stephen Frampton (James Murray), Peter Queally, Brian Flannery, Tony Browne (Fergal Hartley), Johnny Brenner (0-1), Dan Shanahan (Barry Walsh), Ken McGrath (0-1), Paul Flynn (capt., 0-7, 0-6 frees), Míceal White (1-1), Anthony Kirwan (1-1), Dave Bennett (0-2)

Laois: John Lyons, PJ Peacock, Bill Maher, John O’Sullivan (Eoin Browne; Finan O’Sullivan, 0-1), Pat Mahon, Paul Cuddy, Donnacha Dowling, Declan Conroy (0-1), Cyril Cuddy, Joe Phelan (A. Bergin), Declan Rooney (0-2), Ollie Dowling (0-1), Liam Tynan (1-0), David Cuddy (0-7, 0-3 frees), James Young (0-2, 0-1 free)

HT: Waterford 1-10 Laois 0-4

Referee: Pat Horan (Offaly)

Waterford 2-12 (18) Laois 0-6 (6)

David Cuddy had rushed back from his honymoon to be at this game. The image is apt, because the honeymoon for Laois is well and truly over. Much ink has been spilt saying how Laois are up for it once more and this was justified given excellent victories over Wexford and Cork. All that seems irrelevant now. As manager Pádraig Horan said, “where do we go from here?”.

Good question. For while Waterford looked fired-up and gung-ho, Laois were awful. Abysmal might be a better word, for they are at the bottom of the abyss. Never have I seen a more inept display of the art of hurling. I doubt if a single Laois player picked the ball up first time. The Waterford defence had a field day as ball after ball was mopped up only after a Laois forward had fluffed it.

Enough about Laois. What about Waterford? It’s hard to tell because of the uselessness of their opponents but the boys played well overall. Waterford raced into an early lead, rattling off three great points. Míceal White in particular seemed to be enjoying himself as he scored three points on the day, each from the most razor sharp of angles. It took a while for Paul Flynn to get into his stride but when he did he was invincible. His first goal said much about the game. Awarded a twenty-one metre, we all waited for him to pop it over the bar. Clearly so did Laois. Instead he flexed those burly shoulders and crashed the free to the net. Easy.

Waterford stuttered throught the second half but why strain themselves? The defence took charge, crushing any Laois attempt at a revival. When Billy O’Sullivan slotted over our first score of the half the game was over. Paul Flynn hadn’t finished though. The second goal was pure clss. Tom Feeney cleared under pressure, Ken McGrath hit one of his trademark overhead pulls up towards the twenty-one metre line, Paul Flynn got there ahead of the defender and fizzed a shot to the corner of the net. The goalie didn’t even move.

And that was that. Without having to strain themselves Waterford had walloped the team that was meant to do in ’99 what we had done in ’98. It will be hard to see Laois do well on the basis of the dross they served up this day.

Waterford: Stephen Brenner, Tom Feeney, Sean Cullinane, Brian Flannery (capt.). Peter Queally, Stephen Frampton, James O’Connor, Fergal Hartley, Dave Bennett (0-1, 65), Dan Shanahan, Billy O’Sullivan (0-1), Ken McGrath (0-1), Míceal White (0-3), Anthony Kirwan (0-1), Paul Flynn (2-5, 1-3 frees)

Laois: Ricky Cashin, Seamus Dooley, Bill Maher, PJ Peacock, Niall Rigney (0-1), Paul Cuddy, Andy Bergin, Declan Conroy, Ollie Dowling, David Cuddy (0-2, 0-1 frees), Declan Rooney (0-1), Cyril Cuddy (0-1), Eamon Fennelly (0-1; Liam Tynan), Mark Rooney, Noel Delaney (N. Lacey)

HT: Waterford 1-8 Laois 0-2

Referee: Willie Barrett (Tipperary)