Like everybody in the game, I was really saddened to hear of Jimmy Doyle's passing this week.
I met Jimmy six or seven years ago at a function in Thurles and he struck me as a very quiet, gentlemanly figure. He certainly didn't come across as someone who needed people to know that he was one of the greatest hurlers of all time. It struck me that here was just a normal GAA man, interacting with people in a normal way.
If I'm honest, I didn't have a real understanding of his greatness at the time. I've since seen some clips of him in action for probably the best Tipp team of them all and what strikes me is the skill levels shown. He looked head and shoulders above most of the players around him, putting up big scoring totals with lovely, pure, left-handed striking.
As I put it in a Tweet on Tuesday morning, "By all accounts, one of the most skilful hurlers in a time of hard men!" I mean we all know the legend of Tipp's own 'Hell's Kitchen'. My understanding of the Sixties is of a decade when a forward probably needed all his wits about him, so for Jimmy to be able to thrive from such a young age was a monument to his greatness.
Then again, to be playing minor for your county at 14 suggests you are talking about a pretty exceptional individual here. Skill seemed to separate Jimmy Doyle from the rest which, I believe, is the finest tribute you can pay a hurler.
Sincere condolences to his family and friends.