Sport Rugby

Friday 17 November 2017

Gearty never slow to make his point

Longford solicitor Pádraig Gearty, who died last week aged 77, held the honour of being the first footballer to score a point live on television. The occasion was the 1962 Railway Cup final between Leinster and Ulster, and it was the first time a Gaelic football match was televised live by RTE.

Gearty, one of the finest players to come out of the county, featured in a full-forward line that day with Dublin duo John Timmons and Kevin Heffernan. Leinster won the game 1-11 to 0-11 and it was Gearty who got the game's first score after a couple of minutes.

In the hurling final the same day, the honour of scoring the first live point fell to Leinster midfielder Michael Kennedy in their win over Munster.

There was also another piece of history made that St Patrick's Day in Croke Park, as Des Foley won Railway Cup medals in both football and hurling, playing at midfield in both games.

Gearty, who was laid to rest in Longford yesterday, forged a reputation as a multi-talented sportsman. He won Sigerson Cups and represented his county. He was also a keen golfer and tennis player and sport remained a driving force in his life right to the end. A few weeks back, he was delighted to see his club Longford Slashers win the county title, something he had done with the club on five occasions, and he attended his last game the week after -- the All-Ireland final.

One of his most notable achievements and one that he pursued passionately was in support of Tom Wolfe, of the Civil Service club, in helping to remove the infamous ban.

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AS rugby fever gripped the nation last week and a sideways glance was granted towards the upcoming international rules series, it's interesting to note that rugby league's grand final, played in Sydney's ANZ Stadium, won the battle with Aussie rules for TV viewers. Or did it?

Aussie rules has its traditional heartland in the state of Victoria, while rugby league is the most popular game in New South Wales. Rugby union, incidentally, is very much a minority sport. So there is a battle raging Down Under as rules and league try to reach new territory.

And league seem to be having more success because their grand final was between Manly Sea Eagles from Sydney and the New Zealand Warriors from, well, New Zealand.

Several New South Wales papers reported the figures as 4m viewers for the league grand final and 3.4m for the AFL decider. But a closer look reveals that 692,000 of those who watched the league final were in New Zealand.

AFL supporters, not surprisingly, are crying foul and say that foreign viewers shouldn't be included, giving their final a narrow lead in a ratings war that seems set to run as long as Neighbours.

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A one-time hurling rivalry, which later became a warm friendship through golf, ended last weekend with the death of Kevin McLoughlin while on holiday in Portugal. President of Clontarf GC in 2009 and 2010, he was a member of a famous Dublin hurling family from Fairview.

In the minor All-Ireland final of 1952, Kevin was on the Dublin team beaten by a Tipperary line-up which included Tony Wall. Hardly aware of each other at the time, they crossed paths years later as members of Clontarf where McLoughlin caddied for Wall when he won the Lord Mayor's Cup in 1980.

So it was that on becoming Clontarf president for 2007 and 2008, Wall acknowledged this support and friendship by nominating the Dublin man as his successor.

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If Declan Kidney achieves nothing else in his rugby career, he will be remembered as the man who introduced the notion of the pre-season friendly to Irish rugby.

It was always the case among the Irish rugby fraternity that a Test match, no matter who the opposition was or whether it was in a tournament or not, was sacred and the utmost effort had to be put into winning.

Ireland's performances in their RWC warm-up games (defeats to Scotland, France twice, and England) were put into perspective by their performances when it really mattered.

John Greene, Fergus McDonnell and Dermot Gilleece

ssport@independent.ie

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