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Wednesday 17 September 2014

O'Toole bowled them over in Galway

From the Stands

Published 22/12/2013 | 02:30

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FILE - DECEMBER 15: Actor Peter O'Toole Dies At The age of 81 BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 05:  Actor Peter O'Toole attends the 79th annual Academy Award nominees luncheon held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 5, 2007 in Beverly Hills, California.   (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Actor Peter O'Toole

MANY of the tributes to the actor Peter O'Toole, who died last Sunday, alluded to his love of rugby, racing and cricket. O'Toole was particularly keen on the latter, and while he was living in Clifden in the 1980s he returned to playing the game.

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A Galway auctioneer, Jeff Smith, was visiting on business when he noticed a cricket bat in O'Toole's home. "If you know something about cricket then you can't be all bad," the actor said.

O'Toole joined the Co Galway club and turned out on and off for three summers -- but only home games as it was a 50-mile trek in from Clifden.

"He was an 'interesting' bowler," remembers Smith. "He bowled off-breaks, but they were flung so high that there were icicles on the ball when it came down. He thought he was an excellent bowler but I don't remember his 'donkey-drops' being very successful."

O'Toole also batted in the middle order but fielded at slip "for observational reasons", he used to say. "I kept wicket and he stood alongside, making observations about the batsman. He was very entertaining," recalls Smith.

O'Toole once even qualified to coach the game. "I became a professional cricket teacher about 20 years ago," he said once. "I had a son born to me when I was 50, and I thought, 'He needs someone to bowl to him'."

In Connemara, O'Toole shunned the limelight and got a great kick from the near-anonymity of playing Connacht senior cricket. "He wouldn't change at the ground. He would drive to my house and come in for lunch before a game, then change there and I would drive him to the Lydican," says Smith.

The actor also insisted on appearing in the scorebook under the name 'S P O'Toole' as his pals used to call him 'Spot'. It was under that name that he appears in the club's history in a list of those who helped save it when the bank tried to foreclose on the ground 20 years ago.

"Peter sent a large cheque which was very generous, and he has helped ensure cricket will always be played in Galway," added Smith.

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THE programme for the Leinster Club SFC final included pen pictures of all the players, giving their honours, occupations etc, and St Vincent's Eamonn Fennell must have set some kind of record when it took 14 words to encompass his occupations.

They were listed as follows: Owner Sole Sister Flats, Brand Ambassador Dublin Whiskey, and Radio presenter on Phantom 105.2.

For the uninitiated, the Flats referred to are not apartments, but flat shoes for girls who wish to dispense with their high heels in night clubs.

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Those who possess an insatiable appetite for books about Dublin GAA may like to purchase The Year of the Dubs by Matt Treacy. Published by Lulu, Treacy's text is a neatly-written roman a clef about the joys of the baking summer days of a season which saw the Dubs beat Kilkenny in a hurling replay and win the football All-Ireland.

Not quite Nick Hornby, but not too far away either, its discursive style incorporates the delights of pints on long-gone summer days before matches and the less easy task of trying to persuade your teenage children there is no better joy in life than going to GAA matches with their ageing, but eternally hopeful, father.

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THE Croke Park Classic college football game between University of Central Florida and Penn State, taking place on August 30 next year, will once again feature feature a 'sideshow' of considerable proportions.

This year's event is believed to have been worth in the region of €4.5m to the local economy and next year's Global Ireland Football Tournament (GIFT 2014) will be at least as valuable.

"In 2014, we will have the added attraction of several teams which participate in a younger age group in the Pop Warner league system, to showcase another level of American football and also travelling groups of cheer and dance teams," said Global Football president Patrick Steenberge.

Ger Siggins, Seán Ryan, John Drennan and John Greene

ssport@independent.ie

Irish Independent

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