Tuesday 12 December 2017

Tom Dempsey's hurling analysis

Launch of Doran DVD was a very special occasion

Tom Dempsey
Tom Dempsey
Buffers Alley GAA, Strictly Club Dancing fundraiser, launch of Tony Doran's 'From Rackard League To Hall Of Fame' DVD at their chubhouse, pictured with county chairman, Deirmuid Devereux

The congested nature of the Buffers Alley G.A.A. car park a week or so back was the first sign that something special was being celebrated in their wonderful new clubhouse.

The occasion was a celebration of Tony Doran's incredible hurling career in the form of a DVD produced by the Stephen Spielberg of Wexford G.A.A., Monageer's Ed Rowsome.

For me there is no better atmosphere than when hurling people meet, and they came from all corners of the county and beyond to pay homage to Buffers Alley's most famous son.

In brief, Tony Doran is the second-highest goalscorer in championship hurling, only surpassed by the late, great Nickey Rackard, and this is all the more remarkable given that all his scores came from play.

He is the only Wexford man to have the full set of medals amassed from his Minor All-Ireland in 1963 to the realisation of his dream All-Ireland Club title in 1989 at the age of 43.

When you throw in a Texaco hurler of the year, numerous Railway Cups and an All Star, one can appreciate why this hurling celebration brought team-mates and rivals together for a night that will be remembered for years to come.

Tony was referred to by the legendary Micheál O'Hehir as the man from Boolavogue, and the night commenced with a George Lawlor rendition of the great Wexford anthem.

You could literally hear a pin drop in the packed room.

It was an emotional night as team-mates, rivals and supporters reflected on the memories of a great era for Wexford hurling.

The legendary Michael 'Babs' Keating was present to launch the DVD and he enthralled the hurling-mad audience with stories of yesteryear and memories of his battles with the purple and gold.

Before the 1968 All-Ireland final he roomed on the Saturday with Seamus 'Shanks' Whelan's direct opponent.

The young full-back was finding sleep hard to come by such was the prospect of going head-to-head with the St. Martin's legend, and his night was punctuated by many trips to the men's room.

After one last trip at two in the morning, 'Babs' told him to forget about the Wexford number 14 to which his young team-mate replied: 'how can I, his name is printed on the toilet'.

Further tributes were paid by County Chairman Diarmaid Devereux, and dancing supremo Bob Butler expressed his appreciation to all who helped to make the DVD and the night such a success.

Next there was an incredible standing ovation for Tony himself when he took the stage, and the formalities were suitably completed by an emotion-charged rendition of Tom Williams' wonderful ballad 'Cuchulainn's Son' again by the talented George Lawlor.

Growing up in the Alley around '76 and '77, we were blessed that our heroes were so accessible.

Indeed, I remember getting an old two pence piece to go to the local phone box with some fellow ten- or eleven-year-olds to discuss the All-Ireland final with Tony or some of the Alley men that were lining out the next day.

We could be on the phone for an hour with the man or men that would perform over the next 24 hours in front of 70,000 people. There was no doubt that hurling was going to be our sport given the influence that these players had on our choices.

It was a lovely G.A.A. environment to grow up in.

When the formal part of the evening was over, the stories went on late into the night, with every club in the county coming as one to enjoy an occasion that will be etched in the memory forever. Nostalgia ruled the waves and those no longer with us but who made such a contribution were not forgotten.

It was a great night in which Alley hospitality shone, and well done to all the unsung behind the scenes heroes who ensured nobody left thirsty or hungry.

Up Wexford.

Wexford People

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