Saturday 20 January 2018

Where are they now?

Frankie Nolan
Frankie Nolan

Frankie Nolan (Limerick hurler)

Limerick won their last All-Ireland hurling title 40 years ago when forward Frankie Nolan was one of the key men, scoring their first and last points in the final against Kilkenny.

Nolan's hurling career started long before that day when his childhood dreams were realised. Growing up in Patrickswell, hurling was a way of life; it was the main pastime in the area and Nolan loved it. As he moved up through the underage ranks, the club was going from strength to strength, winning their first senior championship in 1965.

Inter-county stars Richie and Phil Bennis were team-mates of Nolan along with Seán Foley. Being familiar with each other gave them an advantage when it came to breaking into the senior squad. Nolan made his debut for Limerick in the early 1970s, progressing from the under 21 team. For over a decade he was in and out of the team before retiring from inter-county hurling in the mid-1980s.

During his career he played his part in many exciting games, but the Munster final in 1973 against Tipperary is hard to beat. With just a few minutes to go, the sides were level, Limerick were awarded a controversial '70' and Richie Bennis calmly pointed in front of 41,723 spectators, securing his side's first Munster title since 1955. It was an epic encounter in which Nolan scored 2-1 in a 6-7 to 2-18 victory.

"The amazing thing about that day was we scored six goals while normally we'd be lucky to score one. It was a big breakthrough and sent us on the road to the All-Ireland title," he explains.

London provided the opposition for the semi-final. Eamonn Rea played full-forward for Limerick while his brother Gerry played full-back for London. Limerick eased past them and went on to play Kilkenny in the final. Although Nolan played in Croke Park several times after that great day, he never won another All-Ireland title. However, he did finish up with two Munster titles, an All-Ireland and nine senior county titles with Patrickswell.

Nolan has a motor factors store in Limerick along with his twin brother Benny, who played centre-back for Patrickswell. Today the Celtic Cross winner will be in the Gaelic Grounds to see his former side take on Tipperary in the Munster semi-final.

"Tipperary will be more wary of us this year because they got a shock last year. But it should be a lively day and if Limerick get a steady start they might be in with a shout."

Irish Independent

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