Limerick mourns as Grand slam hero Paddy Reid passes away

The death occurred in his native Limerick yesterday of Paddy Reid, one of the country’s most celebrated rugby players.

He was one of two surviving members of the Irish team that completed the Five Nations Grand Slam in 1948, leaving Bertie O’Hanlon of Dolphin as the last to carry the flag for that famous team.

Paddy Reid was born on St Patrick’s Day, 1944, into a very strong Garryowen family.

His father William and uncle Joe won several Munster Cup medals with the club and his first cousin Tom Reid was an outstanding Ireland second-row forward who played in two Tests for the Lions on the 1955 tour of South Africa.

Equally at home at out-half or in the centre, Paddy learned his rugby at Limerick CBS and Crescent College and first represented Munster as a teenager in 1943 when they defeated Leinster at Lansdowne Road.

His great friend and Young Munster rival Tom Clifford also made his debut that day.

Paddy was first honoured by Ireland in a 1946 game against France in the “Victory Internationals” to celebrate the Allies’ success in the Second World War.

The game took place at Lansdowne Road in January, 1946 when his teammates included l egends of the Irish game in Jack Kyle and Karl Mullen. Caps were not awarded for these fixtures Reid captained Garryowen to a Munster Senior Cup final win over Young Munster (led by Tom Clifford) in 1947.

He subbed for Ireland that year and after Munster captured the Interpro Championship in the autumn, he was chosen in the centre against Australia.

Ireland were well beaten but Paddy converted his own try for Munster against the tourists at the Mardyke on the following Tuesday, the Wallabies scraping home 6-5 thanks to a late try.

He later reminisced: “Whereas the Irish forwards hadn’t mixed it with the Wallabies, our fellows took no nonsense.

“On one occasion, Tom Reid was kicked and like a flash Batt Hayes, Jimmy Corcoran, Ernie Keeffe, Con Roche and the rest were in to sort them out.

“The ref blew the half-time whistle to calm things down. Their winning try was a travesty, the pass was three yards forward and when I met the scorer John Hardcastle in London subsequently, he admitted as much.”

Reid’s performance that day guaranteed his place in the Irish team in the new year and he again scored a great try in the win over France in Paris.

England were pipped by a single point at Twickenham and after Paddy was omitted for the clash with Scotland in favour of Mick O’Flanagan (who also passed away recently), he was back for the famous 6-0 Triple Crown and Grand Slam victory over Wales at Ravenhill, Belfast. Another 61 years would elapse before that achievement was emulated.

“On the way to the ground, someone started Molly Malone and we took it from there to the ground,” he recalled.

“The atmosphere was electric. Our preparations was very thorough, everyone was given a job to do. It was a real team effort.”

Just when Paddy Reid’s career seemed set to take off to even greater heights, he accepted an offer from the English Rugby League side Huddersfield, thereby earning a lifetime ban from Rugby Union.

After a few months, he moved onto Halifax, whom he helped to the 1951 Challenge Cup final at Wembley.

They lost to Bradford and not long afterwards he returned to Limerick. He helped to found the Lansdowne hockey club and was a key player when they won the Irish Senior Cup in the mid-50s.

When the Rugby League ban was lifted, Paddy was elected President of the Munster Branch in 1996/97.

Paddy Reid is survived by his wife Cecil, son Pat, and daughters Deirdre Whelan and Cecil Clarke.


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