The Offaly Connection
Feiles may come and go, the Kilmacud Crokes and Offaly hurling connection seems to go on forever with the advantage heavily weighted in the Stillorgan club’s favour.
From current senior manager, Morgan Lalor, from Ballyskenagh, and his predecessor Vincent Teehan (Coolderry), back through the decades Crokes hurling has benefited from a strong Faithful County input. Most heralded must be another Ballyskenagh man, Pat Cleary, who, in 1985, completed a unique treble - winning an All-Ireland senior medal with his native county, picking up and All-Star and claiming a Dublin senior hurling championship with Kilmacud Crokes. Also on the Crokes team was Frank Kenny of St Rynaghs. Crokes two previous Dublin senior hurling triumphs in 1974 and 1976 were aided in no small way by the same Frank and other Offaly Rovers such as his brother Mick, Jim Daly and “Black” Michael Kenny, all St Rynaghs, as well as Ted Dooley from Killavilla.
One of the first connections we can trace is in the inaugural Leinster minor championship of 1928. At the time Crokes were the force in Dublin juvenile hurling, about to embark on a run of seven minor hurling county championships in a row. Several Crokes representatives were on the Dublin team that accounted for Offaly in the Leinster final, en route to the All-Ireland Final against Cork. The Evening Herald of 6th October 1928 contains a quirky reference to the Offaly reaction to the performance of Joe Hannon, a later Crokes stalwart, “the robust youthful Hannon was scoring goals like b______ as a disappointed but not disgruntled Offalian expressed himself”.
On 25th July 1937 Dublin defeated Offaly in the Leinster Junior Hurling Final by 11-8 to 5-4 win with six Crokes men in the panel. Dublin subsequently claimed the All-Ireland title. Records of connections over the next three decades are sparse. We do know that a C Ryan (Offaly) played for the short lived Stillorgan Gaels (a forerunner of Kilmacud Football and Hurling Club) in the 1951-52 “D” Section of the Dublin Junior Hurling League.
From 1973 Kilmacud Crokes has been synonymous with the All-Ireland Hurling Sevens. Among the clubs to take part in the first competition was St Rynaghs. Since then all the great Offaly clubs have tried their luck. Who is to say the 2008 winners will not hail from the midlands and inscribe their name on one of the most prestigious trophies in club hurling, following the lead of Kinnity in 1980 when Paddy Delaney was player of the tournament. In its own way Crokes has returned the compliment by participating in the Dublin Offaly Association Day hurling 7 a side, winning the title on a number of occasions.
Another juncture at which the paths of Offaly and Kilmacud Crokes have met is to be found in the fact that on all three occasions Kilmacud Crokes hurlers have won All-Stars Offaly players were also honoured:
1966 Mattie Fox (Crokes) and Paddy Molloy (Offaly),
1971 Mick Bermingham (Kilmacud Crokes) and Damien Martin (Offaly),
1985 Pat Cleary (Kilmacud Crokes and Offaly) and Ger Coughlan, Eugene Coughlan, Pat Delaney and Padraig Horan (Offaly)
On the administrative side, from 1996 to 2003, Cloghan native, Tom McIntyre served as Kilmacud Crokes Hurling chairman. Tom, a son of the well known Offaly Gael, Mick, joined the club in 1972 through the agency of his countyman, Paul Daly (St Rynaghs). After a long playing career and having served in nearly every position over the intervening period Tom continues to the very forefront of hurling in the club. Tom’s brothers Michael and Vincent also played for the club. Another having a long Kilmacud Crokes playing and officer involvement in recent times is Kieran Dowling, Tullamore, son of former GAA President John.
Continuum is a recurring GAA theme and has echoes for this year’s Feile na nGael. In the 1940's when Robert Gath won an Offaly senior hurling championship with Drumcullen he could hardly have imagined his grandson Barry Horan would be part of the 2008 Kilmacud Crokes squad to be hosted by Birr.