independent

Wednesday 23 October 2019

this SPORTING LIFE

After a lifetime of working for the betterment of Wexford G.A.A. on and off the field of play, Mick Kinsella has finally hung up the boots. His career as a player and an administrator has coincided with some of Wexford's finest achievements. Brendan Lawre

MICK KINSELLA is a man who makes things happen. Over the course of his eventful and extraordinary life he has never stood still, he has never allowed himself to become static. Whether it was on the field of play or off it he has never relented. For him there was always new ground to be broken, new standards to be set and new dreams to be accomplished.

At present the affable Wexford stalwart is enjoying the early stages of a well-earned retirement but even still he prepares to strike out along several new roads including a fitness regime with a group he jokingly refers to as the 'Grumpy Old Men', talent spotting at college hurling games, and undertaking a daunting list of household duties presented to him by his long-suffering wife of 42 years, Pat.

Recently the Kilmuckridge-born G.A.A. servant was presented with a beautiful book featuring newspaper cuttings and pictures from his years of involvement with the G.A.A. and it is something that clearly brings him immense pride.

It is a well-stocked tome littered with newspaper articles brimming with praise for his performances on the field or his management miracles off it where he brought unlikely teams to county success in the briefest of time frames.

This wonderful gift only serves to highlight the remarkable road on which Mick Kinsella has travelled. It is a road on which he was part of the first Wexford College team to win an AllIreland, a member of the first Wexford Minor team to win the coveted All-Ireland, and also a pivotal player in the first Wexford U-21 side to claim the ultimate hurling honours. Good things happen around Mick Kinsella and it will be forever Wexford's gain that he was born within the Model borders.

Born at the end of World War 2 in 1945 as the eldest son of a family of five, Mick would also court controversy from his early days by being the only brother of four to play with Buffers Alley. A family move to Gorey in his early years saw his three brothers, Pat, Seánie and Rory, line out with Naomh Eanna. It was a turn of events that would cause him a sharp burst of pain when both teams lined out in later years. First though there was the moulding of a quality player and the learning of the skills of hurling to worry about and this took place on the streets of Cluanin in Gorey where as a youngster he and his friends would play games and hone their skills outside the family homes.

'I was always hurling when we were younger on the road,' said Mick. 'We'd end up running from the Gardaí some evenings. They didn't have much to do back then. On our road there were 36 houses and only two cars and one of those was my father's and he'd have to move the car when a match kicked off because they were heavy matches that time. The roads weren't like they were now either, they were just tar and chippings and we'd all be in short trousers. You'd tear yourself to bits if you fell,' he explained.

A happy and contented youth followed. Mick's father, Pádraig, was the principal in the local Vocational School and along with his mother, Letterfrack woman Ann McDonnell, the Kinsella house was a happy one that produced a driven and talented group of siblings.

'I was the eldest and being born in Kimuckridge meant I was eligible to play with Buffers Alley. The three brothers played with Naomh Eanna and I played a county semi-final against them. I was in midfield that day marking Michael Egan and I was getting the better of him but in the second-half Rory broke my two fingers with a pull. I didn't go off, I didn't know they were broken until after the match but Naomh Eanna gave us a fright that day. At the time I was living in Bray and the match was in Bellefield so I called in at home afterwards and I was met with a wall of silence,' recalls Mick.

Two years in St. Peter's College after completing his Inter. Cert. at Gorey C.B.S. gave him what he describes as a 'great grounding'. It was here that he wore the number six jersey on the team that beat Ennis C.B.S. after a replay in the All-Ireland Colleges final in 1962.

'That was the first All-Ireland ever won by a Wexford college. We drew the first game in Thurles and then played the replay in Croke Park before a NHL

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