Bennis recalls the heroes of ’73

Seamus Horgan (24, 5’11’’, 11-7 Tournafulla): “Like a lot of goalkeepers Seamus was also a very good outfield player but ended up in goals because he could be a bit wild out there!

And yet he was a fierce quiet man, wouldn’t say much. We wouldn’t have won the All-Ireland without him though; he made two fantastic saves during that championship, the first in the Munster final against Tipperary, from Babs Keating just at the start of the second half, the other from Crotty in the All-Ireland final, again in the second half. Seamus didn’t actually play in the All-Ireland semi-final against London, replaced by Jim Hogan who had been the goalkeeper for years. No-one seems to know why, maybe the county board thought we were going to walk away with the London match, which didn’t happen. Seamus was back though for the All-Ireland final.”

Willie Moore (Doon; 23, 5’10“, 12-7): “Another very quiet man, a teacher in the CBS in Limerick. Had been a forward in 71 when he scored the ‘goal’ that wasn’t! Was moved back to the defence and proved an outstanding corner-back. Played in every match, rock solid, no change from him which is exactly what you wanted from your last line of defence. I never came across him on the pitch which is kind of unusual within the one county — in fact I don’t know if I ever played against Doon at any level. They always had good players though, and still have.”

Pat Hartigan (South Liberties; 23, 6’4“, 14-7): “A giant of a man, an inspiring figure at full-back, a real crowd-pleaser the way he’d catch a ball, burst his way out. He wasn’t a dirty player, in fact he was the opposite. Against Cork for example, before the throw-in he’d walk up to Ray Cummins and shake his hand, instead of rattling his bones with a good belt of a shoulder! Even if he did play in the last line of defence Pat was an attacking kind of full-back, loved to come out and deliver the long clearance.”

Jim O’Brien (Bruree; 28, 6’1“, 12-4): “The prince of corner-backs, so tidy — an artist. The late Andy Dunworth was a sub on that team but he often blamed Jim for not being on the starting 15; night after night Andy would be on Jim in training, and that was that, never got a chance to shine. Great man to read a game, great man also to get himself out of a tight corner, through his sheer hurling ability. Played centre-back for his club and could have played there for any county in the country. Very under-rated nationally but not in Limerick, I can assure you that.”

Phil Bennis (Patrickswell; 31, 5’7 1/2“, 11-2): “A pure defender. No forward relished an hour on Phil, not even the best, and Eddie Keher himself would vouch for that, saying he was one of the best defenders he ever came across. A very intelligent hurler and proved it later when he went in to management. A pity he wasn’t given more time by the county board — Phil brought the team of the 90s through and if they’d left him alone, he’d have won an All-Ireland with them, I’m certain of that. A pity, that would have put an end to all the talk of 73 and of course I wouldn’t be writing this today.”

Eamon Cregan (Claughaun; 28, 5’11“, 12-1): “A handy enough player! God we had a lot of duels in Limerick so I got to know him well both as team-mate and as rival. I would say this, and don’t say it lightly — Eamon Cregan was the best all-round hurler I ever saw. If we had one more Eamon Cregan, that Limerick team would have won all round us for years. He could play anywhere, and did — even played in goals at minor. I remember that game, against Galway, who were in Munster at the time. Limerick were in trouble and Eamon was brought out the field and turned the game. I think we ended up drawing it and then won the replay. His shift to centre-back for the All-Ireland final was a masterstroke. He was a natural, could walk up to a free and whatever side it was on, take it left or right. A little known fact about Eamon, he was equally good at football, would have played for any team in the country. A handy golfer as well.”

Sean Foley (Patrickswell; 24, 5’11“, 12-4): “Born in London but his father had played for Limerick and won a junior All-Ireland title in 1940 when that was a big title to win. Seán was ahead of his time, a modern-day type of wing-back playing in the 70s. He loved to sweep forward, grab a score or set one up, had fantastic energy. I played with him for a long, long time with the club, a lovely hurler, gave great service to both Patrickswell and to Limerick.”

Eamon Grimes (South Liberties; 26, 5’8’’, 12-6): “Talking of energy, Eamon was the blonde bombshell, an absolute dynamo and with loads of hurling ability to back it up. Brilliant captain, led by example on the field but a good motivator off it as well, knew the right few words to say and the right time to say them. Thorough gentleman, always was and still is, off the field and on. Great man to track back a player long before that became the norm for a midfielder, but also got his share of scores. I think it’s safe to say he did more running in midfield than I did but we were a good combination — he was the runner, I was the stayer! A sweet hurler.”

Richie Bennis (Patrickswell; 28, 6’0“, 13-0 — by Eamonn Cregan): “Richie was the coolest man I ever saw, and I played with and against him for many a year — he was Mr Cool, always was. He was made for the big occasion. When I look back on that All-Ireland final, a wet miserable day, Richie took off one solo run, waltzed through the Kilkenny defence and scored. Another time he was falling but still, from nearly 80 yards, put a wet ball over the bar. His ability to score from midfield, regardless of conditions, from play or from placed balls, set him apart. He had that awkward left-below-right stroke, the awkward stance, and people underestimated his ability because of that. The point he scored in the Munster final, the 65 with the final puck of the game to win it, anyone else would have been trembling in their boots — not Richie, he revelled in it. Babs was roaring at him, he just ignored it, got the point. Irrespective of what anyone might say about moving goal-posts, the flag went up, we won.”

Liam O’Donoghue (Mungret; 21, 5’7“, 10-7): “The youngest man on that team and he was being marked by the youngest man on the Kilkenny team in the All-Ireland final, a certain Brian Cody, left-half-back for Kilkenny that day. A really good forward, lovely striker, great work-rate. Timed his run on to the team very well — that was his first year playing senior with Limerick! Wasn’t his last though, Liam later became an outstanding wing-back. He was a great man to recover if caught out of position, a real swash-buckling player. Scored two great points in the Munster final, and we didn’t score too many that day! Won a few vital frees also, often forgotten about forwards who maybe weren’t scoring.”

Mossie Dowling (Kilmallock; 27, 5’10“, 12-6):“A very important link on the team, bold and aggressive — he’d have been a great flank forward in rugby. An outstanding worker, did a huge amount of spade-work for the rest of us, most of which would have gone unnoticed by the crowd. Speaking of rugby, Mossie was centrally involved in that famous first ‘pushover try’ in Croke Park, the goal against Kilkenny in the All-Ireland final!”

Bernie Hartigan (Old Christians; 29, 5’11“, 14-8): “Another powerhouse, Bernie was a tremendous athlete who gave massive service to Limerick hurling. If anyone should be singled out for praise for winning the Munster final it was Bernie who really opened his shoulders in the second half. Like his brother Pat, a thorough gentleman, and like Pat, fierce power, but finally like Pat, didn’t use that power enough. Ah, if they only had Cregan’s bit of divil... Bernie was a fine footballer also.”

Frankie Nolan (Patrickswell; 23, 5’7“, 11-0): “A half-twin to Benny, another fine hurler, almost equally as good as Frankie and could also have been on that team but didn’t have the same commitment. Frankie was a real corner-forward, the prototype. Something a lot of people may not know, he scored the first point and the last point in the 73 final. A poacher, good man to win a ball, take on his man and score. Two of his best games that year were in the two biggest games of the year, the Munster final and the All-Ireland final. I think himself and Cregan got five goals between them in the Munster final.”

Ned Rea (Effin; 30, 6’1“, 14-3): “Big Ned was converted from corner-back and became the final piece of the jigsaw for 1973. Ned played in the full-back line in the National League final that year, against Wexford, a game we lost. Rory Kiely was a selector on that team, had an accident on his farm, and Ned and Jackie Power — former Limerick great and another selector — went in to see him in hospital. We were playing Waterford that night in a challenge game in the Gaelic Grounds and I think it was there, in that hospital ward, that the decision was made to play Ned Rea at full-forward. The rest, as they say, is history. People have the wrong impression of Ned, they think he was just a bustler — he was far from that! He was a great hurler, won man of the match against us in 1963 as a right-half-back for Emmets in a county semi-final. He proved some handful for every full-back he met that year, had the size and the strength but also had the hurling. Mossie Dowling takes the credit for the pushover goal, but his near-neighbour also had a hand or a foot in it!”

Joe McKenna (South Liberties; 22, 6’3“, 14-2):“Another big man — when I think back on it, that was a big team. Joe didn’t play in the Munster final, had come from Shinrone in Offaly but was now playing for South Liberties. He was young, on the fringes of the team all year, played against London in the semi-final but the All-Ireland final was when he really broke through, made a major contribution to the win. Won a lot of possession, not all of it converted to scores but on a wet day possession is vital. Went on to become a great player for Limerick, was more suited to the middle of the road than the edge, an outstanding full-forward.”

Subs

Jim Hogan (Claughaun): “Sub keeper, gave sterling service to Limerick, nearly 20 years. That win came at the end of his term and he played against London — fitting reward for all that service. A pure keeper, very agile, very alert and had to be — you got no sympathy from the full-forward that time!”

Tom Ryan (Ballybrown): “Came on in the Munster final and also in the All-Ireland final, contributed to that game. A fine hurler, a good mix of physical and ball-player, tough defender. Started the following year, 1974, when Limerick again won the Munster title but Kilkenny got their revenge in the All-Ireland final.”

Jim O’Donnell (Doon): “Was only coming back in 1973 after breaking his leg in a club match. I’d rate Jim as one of the finest centre-backs I ever saw but he was so unfortunate that year. A fine hurler as anyone who ever played on him would verify. Jim played in the final of 1971 in Killarney when Tipperary robbed us!”

Jim Allis (Doon): “Father of current Limerick player Conor. Came on as a sub in the Munster semi-final against Clare when Pat Hartigan got injured, did very well on no less a hurler than Noel Casey. Jim was strong, handled Noel, did his bit that year.”

Andy Dunworth (Banogue): “The only man not to get a run that year, the only member of that panel no longer alive. Andy was a classy hurler, played in the famous win over Tipperary in 1966 when Tipp were classed as the greatest team of all time. He was outstanding in that game and Cork should be forever grateful to him — they would have won no All-Ireland in 1966 if it hadn’t been for Limerick beating Tipp!”

Paudie Fitzmaurice (Kileedy): “Was only a youngster that year but came on as a sub in the All-Ireland final. Paudie’s brother Willie also played for Limerick, both priests; they inspired Kileedy to win a Limerick county senior in 1980 and Paudie captained Limerick in 1981 to win another Munster title, then beaten by Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final.”



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