It’s the little things that make it so special

When Gavin Mortimer wrote A History of Cricket in 100 Objects, nothing would stop Michael Moynihan of this parish giving us this, the Munster hurling championship in 25 objects...

Holy Oil, 1935

In this Cork-Limerick clash the Rebels’ Tommy Kelly collided with Limerick midfielder Mick Ryan and Kelly was so badly injured that he received the last rites on the pitch: he recovered later, happily.

Nail, 1940

Again, a Cork-Limerick clash featuring Micka Brennan of Cork, well known for testing the opposing keeper’s resolve early and often. In this game Paddy Scanlon, in goal for Limerick, borrowed Brennan’s hurley in a break in play to hammer in a dangerous-looking loose nail in the brace of his stick. Brennan took the hint and stayed out of the square.

Foot and Mouth, 1941

The bovine illness struck Munster hard in 1941, and the provincial championship was deferred. Cork represented the province, won the All-Ireland and were beaten by Tipperary later in the year in the postponed Munster championship.

Bicycles, 1944

Petrol rationing during the Second World War curtailed car travel, so many cycled — or walked — to the big hurling games. This year’s Munster final was known as the bicycle final due to the thousands who pedalled to the game in Thurles.

Milk churns, 1949

The Cork-Tipperary clash in this year’s championship went to extra-time on a hot day in Limerick. Cork stayed out on the field at the final whistle until the game restarted; Tipperary retired to the shade of the dressing room where the Blake family of Coolquill brought in milk churns full of cold water. They went on to win.

Crossbar, 1949

A Mossie Riordan effort for Cork in this clash with Tipperary flew past Tony Reddin but rebounded almost instantly outfield. Tipp said the ball hit the crossbar: Cork said it came back from the net support, a timber bar at the back of the goal. The ref’s decision? A free out against Christy Ring for throwing his hurley in the net — and no goal.

Orange, 1950

An angry Cork crowd pelted Tipperary goalkeeper Tony Reddin with miscellaneous objects from the terraces. Unperturbed, the netminder picked up an orange and ate it.

Overcoat, 1950

Following Tipperary’s win, however, the even angrier Cork crowd tried to get at Reddin. He was forced to wait in the dressing room for a couple of hours for the mob to disperse, and was then smuggled out wrapped in an overcoat.

Brass doorknob, 1952

One of Christy Ring’s biographers, Val Dorgan, had to deliver a message to the great man ahead of Cork’s meeting with Tipperary. In the team hotel before the game he found Ring keeping his eye in by flicking a brass doorknob up in the air and killing it, soundlessly, on his hurley, over and over.

Hearing aid, 1954

Tony Reddin, Tipperary’s nerveless keeper, wore a hearing aid in many games during the ’50s as his hearing was defective. Nothing wrong with his eyesight, though.

Sling, Umpire’s coat, 1957

One of the great GAA pictures: Christy Ring is leaving the field with a broken wrist. Mick Mackey is passing a comment. Supply your own caption.

The wind, 1959

Usually you wouldn’t count the elements, but in this case when Waterford played Tipperary the wind was something of a factor. Hence the Déise’s half-time lead of 8-2 to 0-0.

Glasses, 1961

Often depicted as one of the toughest Munster hurling finals ever played, in a time before contact lenses and laser eye surgery Tipperary defender Matt O’Gara wore glasses for the game.

Hair net, 1969

That great stylist Mick Roche of Tipperary needed to keep his hair out of his eyes, so he often wore a hair net. The first order of business for one of his markers (from Cork) was to pull off the hair net and fling it into the crowd.

Cash, 1977

This was the first of two Munster hurling finals between Cork and Clare, but ’77 was a bit of a loss-maker for the Munster Council: an armed gang made off with over £24,000 in cash receipts from Semple Stadium.

Billiard ball, 1987

Limerick manager Eamon Cregan held up a billiard/pool ball for everyone to see at one stage of his side’s game against Cork. It had either been thrown onto the field, or at Cregan; most felt it was the latter.

Wheelchair, 1987

Tipperary ended their 16-year famine this season with a replay win over Cork in Killarney: the pitch invasion was led by a Tipp fan in a wheelchair.

Suits, 1992

Waterford’s hurlers posed in their sponsored suits outside Walsh Park ahead of their championship opener with Kerry. When Kerry won by a point, the suits were never seen again.

Strapping, 1995

Seanie McMahon of Clare had to have his shoulder strapped heavily for the Munster final against Limerick this season. Legend has it that strapping was more noticeable on his good shoulder to confuse opponents who decided to test it early.

Clerical collars, 1998

Then-Clare manager Ger Loughnane remarked that three priests had been overheard in Croke Park talking of the suspensions Clare would face after a stormy Munster final, but we’ll include them on the basis that it’s reasonable to assume they were at games in Munster that summer (when they could get off Craggy Island, presumably).

Garda motorbike, 2001

Cork didn’t have a Garda escort to their Munster championship opener against Limerick in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. The players made their own way down, got to the venue late, and lost by a point.

Brush, 2001

Tipperary had a special season, winning every game they played. As a result their supporters started bringing a brush along to matches to signify the clean sweep.

Shocked children, 2007

The brief row that preceded Cork-Clare in this year’s championship became known as ‘Semplegate’. Much of the condemnation centred on children being present. We understand counselling has not been necessary.

Floodlight, 2010

Cork and Waterford replayed their Munster final this season under lights in Semple Stadium. Dan Shanahan was the man who scored an extra-time winner.

Cup With No Name, 2013

It’s true.

The silverware at issue this Sunday doesn’t have an official title. But with this kind of history, is a name really needed?


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