A Proud Club
Mooncoin are extremely proud of their long and great Kilkenny tradition, but this pride is not there without very good reason. If we look at Mooncoin's contribution to Kilkenny's victory in the 1909 championship it is truly remarkable. Ten Mooncoin men played in the All Ireland final when Kilkenny beat Tippperary in the Cork Athletic Grounds. However on their way to that victory 16 Mooncoin men (17 a side) played for Kilkenny against
Mooncoin Man President of the GAA 1935- 1938 Bob O'Keeffe, Glengrant
Bob O'Keeffe was born in Glengrant, Mooncoin near the banks of the river Suir in 1880. From an early age he was interested in sport, especially hurling. While doing his teacher training in De La Salle, Waterford, he won trophies of all sorts, some of them are still in good order in his old homestead. When he graduated, he got an appointment in Dunboyne, Co. Meath. Bob had never played for his county, but in 1908, as Meath had not played in the Railway Shield Championship, Bob was included in the Leinster side as a member of the Mooncoin club to play Tipperary and they won 0-14 to 2-5. Bob O'Keeffe never did play for Kilkenny. He subsequenntly took up a teaching post in Borris-in -Ossory, Co Laois. and though then in the veteran stages, played a major part in helping win their only Senior All Ireland title in 1915. He play in that game.
He then became a prominent figure in the GAA councils and was President of the Association from 1935- 1938. He was Secretary of the Leinster Council up to the time of his death. While he was in Dunboyne, Co Meath, he twice won the Long Puck Championship of Ireland. He developed neuritis in his sixties and died in 1949.
After his death, the GAA decided to donate a trophy in his memory - The Bob O'Keeffe Memorial Cup. It was to be given to the winner of the Leinster Final each year. The trophy is a massive affair, standing three feet eight inches, weighing 564 ounces and has the capacity of 6 gallons. The Celtic chase work has been taken from the book of Kells. The Hurler depicted on the top of the cup is barefooted, which is significant in view of the fact that the late Bob O'Keeffe played in that manner.
The Doyle's of Dournane
The GAA has been remarkable down through the years for the contributions made by and the achievements of families in the games. This is especially true here in Kilkenny when we think of the Hendersons, the Brennans the Fennellys etc and indeed only across the river, Waterford had the Whelans of Brownswood. But the family with the most remarkable record of all are the Doyle's of Dournane, in Mooncoin, Dick, Mick and Eddie. Between them they won 19 All Ireland Senior medals, 18 of them on the field of play. They won these during Kilkenny's first golden era, when between 1904 and 1913 when they won seven All Irelands. So while last year was not the first time that Kilkenny won seven All Irelands in ten years it was the first time that any team won seven All Irelands in the same decade
Eddie the older of the three brothers played for Mooncoin at 15 years of age and a year later played in the 1903 All Ireland final at 16 years of age . He went on to win six All Irelands and another as a sub in 1913, usually playing at half back. He was a great striker of frees and sidelines which they used to call touches.
Dick Doyle who played in the full forward line won seven All Ireland medals with Kilkenny between 1904 and 1913. Dick was a fitness fanatic for his time. Dick played for Leinster before he played for Kilkenny when as a spectator he was called in to play for Leinster in a Railway shield game. It was said that whenever Dick moved towards the ball the roar came from the crowd, such was his exciting play.
Mick the younger of the three brothers won five All Ireland medals again playing in the full forward line. He was noted as a classy and stylish player and was a wonderful exponent of the overhead strike where he could double on the ball with deadly accuracy. His combination with Dick was a feature of their play and they used to swop positions during games. A complete change in style of hurling took place around this time and the Doyles of Dournane were very much part of that change.
On the evening of the big matches there would be a large gathering at the Doyle homestead. All the family and friends and neighbours would gather to hear every stroke of the game replayed over and over again. No television or videos then, but they had their own version of "The Sunday game". It is unlikely that the record the Doyles hold can ever be surpassed.
Eddie Doyle born 1897 played his club hurling with Mooncoin and enjoyed much success. He helped Mooncoin to a three in a row of Senior County Titles in 1916, 1917, and 1918. In the absence of a senior championship Doyle still continued his winning ways by capturing junior county medals in 1920 and 1922. He captured further senior county titles in 1927, 1928, 1929 and 1932. Doyle was captain of the team in the latter year. Although he had retired in 1935 Doyle returned the following year and played a significant role in Mooncoin's county final victory. It was his eight senior county triumph overall.
Doyle first came to prominence on the inter county scene as a member of the Kilkenny senior team in the late 1920's. It would be 1931 however, before he first tasted success. That year he won his Leinster title as Kilkenny won their first provincial title for the first time in 5 years. Kilkenny later played Cork in one of the most famous All Ireland finals of all time. The first game ended in a draw while the replay also ended with both teams all square. After a third game between these great rivals Cork won on a score of 5-8 to 3-4. Doyle captured a second Leinster title in 1932 as Kilkenny retained their provincial crown. He later lined out in his second championship decider as Kilkenny faced Clare. A score line of 3-3 to 2-3 gave Kilkenny the victory and gave Doyle his first All Ireland medal. In 1933 Doyle was captain of the Kilkenny team and he added a third consecutive Leinster medal to his collection. He later lined out against Limerick in a third consecutive All Ireland final and a 1-7 to 0-6 victory gave Doyle a second All Ireland medal. That year he also won the National League with Kilkenny.
In 1934 he captained a successful Kilkenny tour of the U.S.A. He played four times for Leinster in the Inter Provincials. Sliabh Ruadh wrote of Eddie's game "He was never a picker". He rarely raised or stopped a ball. He believed in the direct method and struck straight and true at the oncoming leather. For this very trait alone, he was the idol of the old followers of the game. Although small in stature, Doyle had a wonderful reserve of energy, resilience and stamina. He was laid to his rest in 1948 after a wonderful career of hurling where he won 29 medals.
To the casual supporter it may seem inappropriate to refer to our hero's by their surname only, to the initiated it is quite a different matter, and it is a complement to the player being discussed, examples such as Doyle, Dunphy, Carroll, Dunne and Lynch etc.
Come all you young fellows to my my story give ear,
I tell of a stalwart, 'mong hurlers a peer
Whose name is still cherished wherever they join
By sportsman and trueman - "Drug" Walsh from Mooncoin.
When Cusack and Davin set a nation aflame
With a fervour and pride in its own native game
A youth from the Suirside plucked a shapely caman
Saying "Ill strike for my sireland, fair Erin go Brath".
Full many an evening 'mid shouts loud and gay.
The sliotar sped swiftly in sportive affray.
O'er green sod and cross road, a dark youth to the fore
Whose prowess and skill -hurling's garlands foretold.
Seven times in All-Irelands with victory crowned
A record whose equal has yet to be found-
Four gallant ate numbered, Rochford, Walton,Dick Doyle,
And that youth from the Suirside, "Drug" Walsh from Mooncoin.
With eagle-eyed vision and speed of a deer,
No matter how hectic, in combat- no fear
His wristwork - an artist's, Kilkenny's own Doyen
Reigned the Prince among hurlers, "Drug" Walsh from Mooncoin.
Dick "Drug" Walsh was born in Rathkieran, Mooncoin in 1878. His name is part of the folklore of the game. Drug won his first medal in 1904 and went on to add six more in the years 1905, 1907, 1909, 1911 1912 and 1913. Added to his seven All Ireland and Leinster Championship medals he won senior county medals with Mooncoin in 1906, 1908 and 1913. Drug had a number of firsts to his credit. He was the first man to captain three All Ireland winning teams. He also had the rare distinction of never having played on a losing All Ireland side. He was also the first man to captain a fifteen a side team to victory. He also captained the Leinster team to its Railway Shield success in 1908.
Although playing full back for Mooncoin, he played at centre half back on the county side, and figured in many of the classics during that first decade of the century that lifted the game of hurling on to a new plane. Wiry, medium sized, sure and positive in his play, with exceptional speed of delivery right or left on the ground or overhead.
Drug died in his eightieth year having lived for a number of years in Mooncoin village. He lies at rest now in Carrigeen graveyard.