ONE of the most distinguished periods of service by a family of medics involved in sport in Ireland has drawn to a close.
For nearly 50 years, the Cuddihy family of doctors from Kilkenny looked after the wants and needs of the county hurlers. In fact, family members served during 13 of the county's 26 Senior All-Ireland victories.
However, the current medical officer, Dr Bill Cuddihy has informed the County Board he will not be available for duty when the senior hurlers recommence activities in the New Year.
"It has not been an easy decision, bearing in mind the strong family involvement, but it is time to take a break," explained Dr Bill.
The father of the family, Dr Kieran Cuddihy, started working with the Kilkenny team in 1955. He served until 1982 when his son Dr Johnny took over.
Subsequently, doctors Bill and Brendan took over, and worked with teams at all home and away games. Dr Bill spent some time in Scotland, but when he returned to his native Kilkenny in 1985, he rejoined the team and has served an unbroken term since.
Dr Bill didn't confine his work to the senior team. He also cared for the medical needs of the county Minor, U-21 and Intermediate squads.
He has agreed to stay on with all the teams below senior level, but will not be involved with the county premier side.
"We have been blessed to have a family so dedicated and interested for so long in what has never been an easy job," declared County Board chairman, Ned Quinn.
"The Cuddihys, and I mean all members of the family, have been wonderful workers for Kilkenny. Nothing was ever too much for them when it came to looking after our players."
The position at Senior level will be taken up by Tralee man, Dr Tadhg Crowley, who works in the same practice as Dr Bill Cuddihy.