Saturday 16 December 2017

opponents have their say on tipp star who 'everyone looks up to'

Denis Coughlan

(Cork dual code All-Ireland medal winner; four-time hurling All-Star; Hurler of the Year 1977)

"The first Christmas card we received in our house every year was from Jimmy Doyle. He liked to be early - it would always arrive in the last week in November.

I got to know Jimmy on an All Stars trip to America in the early 1970s. It was a great honour for me as he had been one of my heroes since I first saw him playing in 1956. I was 10 years old at the time, all excited at being brought to Croke Park for my first All-Ireland final.

Cork and Wexford were in the senior final, but I still remember being fascinated by Jimmy, who was playing for Tipperary in the minor final against Kilkenny. I was no expert but I thought that he was something special, which, of course, turned out to be the case.

I remained friendly with Jimmy since we met on the All-Stars trip and enjoyed some great chats with him. A shy, humble unassuming man, he was a true legend."

Pat Henderson

(Kilkenny five-time All-Ireland winner; double All-Star; Hurler of the Year 1974; three-time All-Ireland-winning manager).

"When I was in first year in Thurles CBS, Jimmy was four or five years ahead of me in the college and already well-known through Harty Cup hurling and being involved with Tipperary minors for so long.

We all looked up to him and with good reason. He had unbelievable skill - he could do anything the ball. As a stylist, I'd say he was unique. People talk about the hurley being an extension of a really good player's hands but it was actually true with Jimmy. It was impossible to hook him.

In my first All-Ireland senior final in 1964, I was named at left half-back which would have had me marking Jimmy but the selectors moved me across to the right wing which was probably a good move. Not that it mattered anyway - we were well beaten that day.

Jimmy will always be remembered as one of the real greats of hurling because that's what he was."

Richie Bennis

(Limerick All-Ireland medal winner and All-Star in 1973, he managed the county in 2006-2008)

"Jimmy Doyle was my idol as a young lad. I remember watching himself and Liam Devaney put on an exhibition against Dublin in the 1961 All-Ireland final and being struck by how brilliant they were. I never thought I'd get a chance to play alongside a legend like Jimmy but some years later I did with Munster.

I got to know him well over the years and always looked forward to meeting him. He was one of those men you'd feel better after talking to. Anyone who saw him playing knows how good he was and I have no doubt that if he was playing nowadays he would be even better.

Back in Jimmy's days, the rules weren't as strict as they are now. A player like him was always hounded wherever he went and there were no TV replays to show what happened.

Players get more protection now so Jimmy would have thrived even more, which is saying something."

Irish Independent

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