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Thursday 23 October 2014

STARS OF THE PAST

Published 05/02/2013 | 14:54

RICHARD BIRD (ST. MOGUE'S, FETHARD)

Richard Bird from Garrycullen near Saltmills was for a number of years a stalwart forward for his club, St. Mogue's (Fethard). He normally played his football in the corner-back position, but also played in the corner-forward sector. When playing in the back line his no-nonsense approach repelled many efforts of the opposing teams.

He was uncomprising, tenacious and competent in his tackling and his attitude to every game was one of grim determination, sheer courage and wholehearted endeavour. Richard's fine covering, excellent fielding activity and lengthy clearances stamped him out as a very durable and reliable defender. His two brothers, Larry and Tom, were excellent players also with St. Mogue's, with the former playing Junior with Wexford.

The two best dual players he has seen in Ireland were Teddy McCarthy (Cork) and Des Foley R.I.P. (Dublin). Of the present Wexford football team he selects Redmond Barry, Ciarán Lyng and David Murphy as outstanding. He remembers the great teams Wexford had in the '40s with Willie Goodison R.I.P., John Morris R.I.P., Jimmy Coady R.I.P. and Paddy Kehoe as something special and believes an All-Ireland was missed out on.

Richard was born in 1930 and was educated at Poulfur N.S. His boyhood hero was Nickey Rackard R.I.P. He first played Junior football with St. Mogue's in 1952 and finished up with them in 1957. He emigrated to the U.S.A. in 1958 which finished his career here in Wexford. During his period playing here he enjoyed every game and wished he could have continued playing for a few more years.

One of his finest hours playing with St. Mogue's was versus St. James' (Ramsgrange) in the 1953 New Ross District football final. At corner-back he was unyielding and played with gusto and vigour and cleared ball after ball downfield to the delight of his followers. The best dual player he has seen in Wexford was Paddy Kehoe. One of the top men behind the scenes in the fortunes of St. Mogue's both as a player and an official was Tom Hickey R.I.P.

The best individual display he has seen at club level was by Paddy Cadogan R.I.P. (St. Mogue's) versus St. James' in the early 1950s, scoring 2-6. The four footballers he selects as the best he has seen playing with his club were Dan Spillane R.I.P., John Hearne R.I.P., Tom Neville and Dick McCabe. The four fooballers he selects as the most difficult that he played on while with his club were Mick McGrath R.I.P. (St. James'), Maurice Kehoe R.I.P. (Insurgents), Ted Wallace (Horeswood) and Nicky Cullen R.I.P. (Clongeen).

The three footballers he selects as the best he has seen in Ireland were Mick O'Connell (Kerry), Matty McDonagh R.I.P. (Galway) and Jim McKeever (Derry). The three footballers he selects as the best he has seen in Wexford were Willie Goodison R.I.P., Joe O'Neill R.I.P. (Ferns) and Paddy Kehoe. The best club team he has seen in Wexford was the Duffry Rovers team which won all before them in the late 1980s. Of the present-day Senior county footballers he selects Colm Cooper (Kerry), Bernard Brogan (Dublin) and Brian Dooher (Tyrone) as the best.

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RICHIE PEARE (ST. AIDAN'S/RAPPS-STARS)

Richie Peare, originally from Island Road in Enniscorthy and now living in Tomnalossett, was an outstanding hurler and footballer for his clubs in the Cathedral town of Enniscorthy. He started his career playing Juvenile with the Starlights in 1955 when he was only 13 years old. He was a member of the Shamrocks Minor hurling team which lost the Co. final to Kilmore-Rathangan in 1960. In 1961, 1962 and 1963 he played with the Shamrocks and then in 1964 he turned out with St. Aidan's and continued to play with them and the Rapparees until his retirement in 1980.

His boyhood hero was Ned Wheeler. He was a player with tremendous courage and could move with great mobility. With his tenacious tackling and his excellent vision, he had the intelligence and alertness to react to any situation. Richie's approach to every game was fearless and uncomprising and during his long career he was the 'jewel in the crown'.

His finest hour was versus Oulart-The Ballagh in the 1975 Co. Senior hurling semi-final. Playing at centre half-back he was in magnificent form, winning everything that came down the centre. It was a brilliant showing from the Rapparees man. His skilful hurling and his aerial striking were a joy to watch. He showed great energy and enthusiasm for the task on hand and turned in a super show.

He was born in 1942 and was educated at Enniscorthy C.B.S. and Enniscorthy V.S. He played Juvenile hurling with the Boys' Club in 1957-1958, Juvenile football in the same years with the Starlights, Minor hurling with the Shamrocks in 1959-1960, and Minor football with the Starlights in 1959-1960. The best dual player he has seen in Wexford was Paddy Kehoe. His late father, Bill Peare, was one of the best-known men in the county with his outings with the Wexford teams.

He played Senior hurling with the Shamrocks (1961-1963), Senior hurling with St. Aidan's (1964-1971), Senior hurling with the Rapperees (1972-1980), football with the Starlights (1960-1980), Intermediate for three years, and played for the Enniscorthy District Senior football team during his Intermediate years. He had one brother, Thomas, who also played.

The best individual display that he has seen at club level was by Mick Jacob versus Rathnure in the Co. Senior hurling final in 1974. The four Enniscorthy hurlers that he selects as the best he has seen playing with his clubs were Marks Redmond (Shamrocks), Paddy Sullivan (Shamrocks), Nick O'Donnell R.I.P. (St. Aidan's) and Padge Kehoe R.I.P. (St. Aidan's). The four hurlers he would select as the most difficult that he played on while with his clubs were Tony Doran, John Quigley, Oliver McGrath and Con Dowdall.

The two hurlers he selects as the best he has seen in Ireland were Christy Ring R.I.P. and Nick O'Donnell R.I.P. The two hurlers he selects as the best he has seen in Wexford were Nick O'Donnell R.I.P. and Padge Kehoe R.I.P. He played Senior hurling and football for Wexford. He won one Juvenile football medal (1955), one Intermediate football medal (1977), one Senior hurling medal (1978) and one Special Junior football medal (1964) during his career. The most exciting game of hurling that he played in was the Senior semi-final in 1976 versus Rathnure.

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ROBBIE JACOB (OULART-THE BALLAGH)

The three Jacob brothers who were born in Monavullen a few miles from Oulart village contributed immensely and wholeheartedly to the fortunes of Oulart-The Ballagh hurling teams for many years. Robbie, the oldest of the three, was a magnificent player with unlimited skill, astute brain, courage and lots of energy. His enthusiasm, confidence and composure on the field of play knew no bounds. Robbie had pace, strength, ball control and was a lovely striker of the ball left or right.

Very early in his career he had established himself as a rising star and during his period of three decades he became admired as one of the great club players in his No. 7 jersey. Robbie had one of his finest hours with Oulart-The Ballagh when they played Rathnure in the 1975 Co. Senior hurling semi-final replay. He gave a bewildering performance of vintage defending. He was scintillating in his position and hurled with passion and pride.

His two brothers, Christy and Mick, were outstanding players for their club, the former a dashing and free-scoring forward and Mick the finest centre half-back that the game had seen. Robbie's three sons, Bob, Jim and George, all playing at present, are brilliant players also. His late father, George, was one of Oulart's and Tara Rocks' finest footballers in the late '30s and during the '40s. His sister, Bridie Doran, was an outstanding camogie player in her day.

Robbie was born in 1942 and was educated at Gorey C.B.S. and Enniscorthy C.B.S. His boyhood hero was Jim English R.I.P. He first played Junior with Oulart-The Ballagh in 1961 and last played for them in 1992 with the 'B' team. The best individual display he has seen was by his brother, Mick, in the 1974 Co. Senior hurling final versus Rathnure. The best dual player he has seen in Wexford was Martin Quigley. He was a selector from the Under-14s to Senior teams, committee member and Chairman on four occasions.

The four hurlers he would select as the best he has seen playing with Oulart-The Ballagh were Jimmy Pender, Mylie Ryan, Mick Jacob and Christy Jacob. The four hurlers he would select as the most difficult during his career were Martin Quigley (Rathnure), John Kehoe (Cloughbawn), Tony Doran and Martin Nolan R.I.P. (Blackwater). The two hurlers he would select as the best he has seen in Ireland were Mick Roche (Tipperary) and Des Foley R.I.P. (Dublin).

The three hurlers he would select as the best he has seen in Wexford were Billy Rackard R.I.P. (back), Ned Wheeler (centrefield) and Tim Flood (forward). He played Minor, Intermediate and Senior with Wexford. He won one Leinster Intermediate medal in 1965, one Co. Junior hurling medal in 1967 and one Co. Intermediate medal in 1968. He played Juvenile hurling with Blackwater in 1958 and Minor hurling with Oulart-The Ballagh in 1958, 1959 and 1960. The best game of hurling he has seen in Wexford was the Under-21 Co. semi-final in 1965 with Oulart/Buffers Alley versus Rathnure. Eleven of those players won All-Ireland Under-21 medals the same year with Wexford when they defeated Tipperary.

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SEAN BREEN (BALLYGARRETT)

Sean Breen, who resides in Arragurtin just a few miles from Gorey town, was born in 1941 and was educated at Riverchapel N.S. His boyhood hero was Nickey Rackard R.I.P. Seán was and still is one of the nicest guys one could meet. He worked as an agricultural salesman and throughout his travels he met many people and became friends with most of them. His integrity, his tact, his honesty and chatter helped him on his way to many sales. He was a brilliant conversationalist and he could talk easily to everyone about anything. This is what made him such a top salesman.

He started playing Juvenile hurling with Réalt na Mara-Ballygarrett and played with them for two years, and Minor hurling with them for another two years. He played his first adult Junior hurling with Ballygarrett in 1959 and finished with them in 1968 owing to a hand injury. Seán usually played in the forward line where his powerful running, excellent vision and speed of thought made him a big problem for most defences. His finest hour in the Réalt na Mara jersey was versus Ferns in a Juvenile encounter in 1958. He was on song that day and bagged himself a number of points from his forward position.

The best dual player he has seen in Wexford was Phil Wilson (Ballyhogue). The best dual players he has seen in Ireland were all Corkmen - Jimmy Barry Murphy, Ray Cummins and Teddy McCarthy. Of the present-day hurlers Seán selects Tommy Walsh (Kilkenny), John Mullane (Waterford), Henry Shefflin (Kilkenny) and Lar Corbett (Tipperary) as the best around. In the last 40 years in Wexford he selects Mick Jacob, Colm Doran, Tony Doran, Dan Quigley and Billy Byrne as the best he has seen, especially in hurling.

He was also a top man in an official capacity with Ballygarrett, serving them with dedication and commitment as Secretary, Chairman, Co. Board rep. and now President of the club. Seán played in a Co. Juvenile hurling final with Réalt na Mara in 1958, losing to St. Patrick's of Aclare. The best individual display he has seen at club level was by Michael Jacob in the 1974 Co. final with Oulart versus Rathnure when he was outstanding.

The four hurling players he selects as the best he has seen with Ballygarrett were Mogue Redmond R.I.P., Steven Dunne R.I.P., Jack Hobbs and Cormac Moore. The four hurling players he selects as the most difficult that he played on while with Ballygarrett or St. Patrick's were Billy Lee (Buffers Alley), Tommy Hawkins (Ferns), Johnny Cullen R.I.P. (Ballyfad) and Davy Doyle (Craanford). The two hurlers he selects as the best he has seen in Ireland were Jimmy Doyle (Tipperary) and Henry Shefflin (Kilkenny). The two hurling players he selects as the best he has seen in Wexford were Bobby Rackard R.I.P. and Colm Doran.

His dad and uncles played with Ballygarrett. The best game of hurling he has seen in Wexford was Clonee versus Duffry Rovers in the Co. Junior final played in Gorey. It was won by Clonee at the time and either club would have looked happy in the Senior grade. He is still a fervent follower of club and county.

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SEAN KEELING (FAYTHE HARRIERS/SARSFIELDS)

Seán Keeling from William Street in Wexford town was one of the outstanding dual players to emerge in under-age in the early '50s. He played hurling with the Faythe Harriers and football with the Sarsfields. With the former he won one Juvenile hurling medal in 1950 and two Minor hurling medals in 1952 and 1953. He won one Co. Minor football medal with the Sarsfields in 1952. He was a substitute on the Sarsfields team which won the Co. Senior football title in 1961. He won one Special Junior football medal in 1965.

He was a dual Co. Minor with Wexford in 1953, losing to Laois in hurling and Kildare in football. He usually played his hurling in the forward line and his football in the back line. Seán played every game with dash, vigour and lots of skill and was never overawed by any opponent. He worked unselfishly for the welfare of the clubs he played for.

One of his finest hours playing with the Faythe Harriers was versus Oulart in the 1953 Co. Minor hurling final. At full-forward and later at centre half-forward he was at his brilliant best and the Oulart defence had no answer to his fast and ebullient stickplay as he carved out openings for the rest of his forwards to finish off and win the title for his team.

Seán also played Juvenile and Minor football with Young Irelands in 1950 and 1951. He was a member of the Faythe Harriers team which lost the 1958 Co. Intermediate final to Ferns. He was born in 1935 and was educated at St. Brigid's, Faythe School. His boyhood hero was Paddy Kehoe.

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