Friday 20 September 2019

The Quaid supremacy - Limerick goalkeeping dynasty seeking to add triumph after going through tragedy

Tommy Quaid (left), Joe Quaid (centre) and Nickie Quaid (right) have all played in goal for Limerick.
Tommy Quaid (left), Joe Quaid (centre) and Nickie Quaid (right) have all played in goal for Limerick.
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

It was a sublime moment that renowned US magazine 'Sports Illustrated' described as "jaw-dropping" when it invited its readers to appreciate the game of hurling as Cork were prevented from returning to an All-Ireland final for the first time in five years.

Some will refer to Nickie Quaid's dispossession of Seamus Harnedy as a save. Others classify it as a block or merely a stop. But the semantics are irrelevant to the magnitude of a moment that will forever help to frame the 2018 hurling championship.

Tommy Quaid Pic: Sportsfile
Tommy Quaid Pic: Sportsfile

The former Limerick goalkeeper Joe Quaid, a second cousin, puts himself in that position now and reckons his instinct would have been to throw his body in front of the ball in the hope that he could deflect it. Bravery was something that Joe, as a goalkeeper, was never short of.

But Nickie Quaid's skill-set is even more refined. Before a shot was even airborne he was in for a touch to kill it a source. Cork's moment was gone, Limerick's had arrived.

"I would put a lot of it down to the fact that he plays a lot of his hurling outfield," suggested Joe Quaid, goalkeeper when Limerick reached All-Ireland finals in 1994 and 1996.

"That was an outfield tackle. If it was me, and I played mainly in goals, I would have just thrown myself in front of the ball in the hope that it hit me. Nickie plays at centre-back for his club (Effin) so it was a definite centre-back flick to dispossess a guy coming in on goal. Just to have the wherewithal to do that? It was a game-changer; if that goes in, it's game over. If he (Robbie O'Flynn in the build-up) put the ball over the bar, it was probably game over as well."

Joe Quaid. Hurling. Pic:Brendan Moran / Sportsfile
Joe Quaid. Hurling. Pic:Brendan Moran / Sportsfile

Limerick manager John Kiely is of the same view. "If he didn't get the block in we wouldn't be here talking," said Kiely at the recent Limerick press night ahead of the final.

No one is in any doubt as to its importance. "He plays it down himself - he got in and got the knock away and didn't see it as a major deal as well - but it such a pivotal moment," Kiely acknowledged.

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For almost all of the current decade Nickie Quaid has been Limerick's No 1 choice goalkeeper, ensuring that the presence of a Quaid on the county team is now running into a seventh successive decade. By any circumstances, that's quite a tradition.

Twins Jim (Joe's father) and Jack (Nickie's grandfather) played on Limerick teams in the 1950s that were known as 'Mackey's greyhounds', a reference to their trainer at the time Mick Mackey.

Nickie Quaid. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Nickie Quaid. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

They won a Munster Championship in 1955, having won an All-Ireland junior title in 1954. Their attachment to Limerick teams stretched into the '60s before the late Tommy Quaid, Nickie's father and son of Jack, took over as goalkeeper in 1976 and was a regular feature in the position until 1993 (including the 1980 All-Ireland final defeat to Galway) when his first cousin Joe replaced him and tied down the goalkeeping position until 2001.

A talented outfield player, Tommy Quaid died tragically in 1998 as a result a work accident in Charleville, passing away on the same day as Limerick were involved in an All-Ireland intermediate final against Kilkenny. Tommy had been a selector with the team that year and sons Nickie and Tommy were mascots for the final. It was poignant and reflected the deep-seated involvement the Quaids have had in Limerick.

Kiely's own career, as both player and management team member, was intertwined with the family at different levels.

"I would have come across Tommy senior when he was playing with Effin and I was with Galbally. We were junior 'B' and I would have been marking him. He was their free taker, I was our free-taker so we had a lot of great battles.

"He was coach and selector with the intermediates in 1998 (Kiely was corner-back), young Nickie and Tommy were mascots on that day of the final against Kilkenny. You see them in the team photograph. That's when I first came across them.

"Then I got to know Nickie through U-21s in 2010. I was involved in the intermediates as well and when I got involved with seniors in 2012, Tommy and Nicky were both involved then," he recalled.

Twelve years on from his father's passing, Nickie Quaid made his championship debut, featuring at half-forward on a Justin McCarthy-managed team that was hit by the controversial withdrawal of so many established players who were against the Cork man continuing on in the position.

When Donal O'Grady took over as Limerick manager in 2011, he identified Nickie Quaid as a goalkeeper, a common trait now in Limerick as Joe Quaid testifies and for all bar two games in the 2015 Munster Championship when he was injured, he has been their ever-present custodian.

"Niall McNamee, the Offaly footballer tweeted around the start of June that if you're from Limerick and your name is Quaid and you don't play in goals, are you really a Quaid!" laughed Joe Quaid.

"I've daughter who has played in goals in camogie

"I've twin boys, one of them, Killian, is probably going to be in goals for the county under 14s this year, Liam, his brother, would have played in goals for the club.

"As the saying goes, an ounce of breeding is worth a tonne of feeding."

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