ONE Tipperary hurling legend led the tributes to another last night following the death, aged 80, of eight-time All-Ireland senior medallist John Doyle.
Former Premier County team-mate Jimmy Doyle, who won six All-Ireland medals himself during a glittering career, described John Doyle as “one of the greatest back men of all time.”
John Doyle passed away at the Hospital of the Assumption, Thurles, and Jimmy Doyle was notified within half an hour of his friend’s passing.
Tipperary GAA was rocked yesterday by not only Doyle’s death, but also the passing of much-loved Jimmy ‘Butler’ Coffey, who was 101 years of age.
Coffey, born on October 26, 1909, won an All-Ireland SHC medal with Tipperary in 1937 and played senior for the county between 1931-1940.
Coffey also played for his local Newport club, winning two North Tipperary SHC titles in 1932 and 1935, before going on to win two Limerick SHC crowns with Ahane.
The losses of Doyle and Coffey evoked great sadness within Tipperary as a memorable 2010 year ends.
Thurles Sarsfields hero Jimmy Doyle, reflecting on John Doyle’s death, said: “He was one of our own and it’s hard to lose him. We lost Kieran Carey and Liam Connolly (both 2007) and now John Doyle. I hurled with John half my life. He came onto the team in 1957 when we won the National Hurling League.
“I never thought I’d see the day when I’d hurl with the likes of Christy Ring, John Doyle, Tony Wall and Carey. They were great players.”
Doyle, who would have been 81 on February 12 next, played with his club from the 1940s to the 1970s and his senior intercounty career with Tipperary lasted from 1949 until 1967.
He was a minor hurler with Tipperary for three years and remarkably, Doyle had captured three All-Ireland SHC medals by the age of 21.
Doyle won his eight medals at right corner back, left corner back and left half back but he will most famously be remembered as a member of the ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ full-back line of the 1960s, along with Michael Maher and Kieran Carey.
During his career, Doyle also captured 10 Munster and 11 National Hurling League medals while the corner back’s record of 54 championship appearances for Tipperary was only surpassed by Brendan Cummins in 2009.
In 1964, Doyle was voted Texaco Hurler of the Year and in 1984, he was chosen on the Hurling Team of the Century. In 2000, Doyle’s name was pencilled in at corner back on the Hurling Team of the Millennium.
Doyle, who won three Tipperary SHC medals with Holycross-Ballycahill, won senior All-Irelands for Tipperary in three different decades and in later years, he entered the world of politics.
After standing as a Fianna Fáil candidate in the 1969 elections, Doyle served in the Seanad from 1969-1973.
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