By John Fitzgerald
Hurling survived centuries of oppression, and then came its glory days, when men like the great Lory Meagher (1899-1973) plied their skills on the pitch.
Lory was born in Tullaroan and from an early age became a veritable magician on the hurling pitch. He is renowned as one of the greatest midfielders in the history of the game. It was said, not entirely in jest, that he could talk to the ball and that the ball might occasionally talk back to him.
At16, he won the first of six county championships with his club, Tullaroan. The last of these club victories came in 1934, when he was 34. In 1926, he first played with the Kilkenny team. He notched up three All-Ireland medals with the county…in 1932, 1933 and 1935.
To add to these honours, he scooped two Railway Cup medals with Leinster in 1927 and 1933 and a National League medal with Kilkenny…An impressive tally.
A Hurling County
Kilkenny shone like a bright star as a hurling county throughout the 20th century. The 30s saw men like Paddy Larkin, Eddie Doyle, Matty Power, and Martin Power wield the camans. The 60s and 70s unveiled the heroic names of Eddie Keher, legendary goalkeeper Noel Skehan, the Henderson brothers, Billy Fitzpatrick, and Frank Cummins; among other star performers. The McCarthy Cup began to feel quite at home in the Marble City.
The 90s produced a fresh line-up of super-heroes: The gallant DJ Carey, who took the game to new heights, and the fearless John Power who gave his all for the county. They, and players like Charlie Carter, Pat O’ Neill, and Willie O’ Connor, will live on for forever in the memories of Kilkenny folk and in the Hurling Hall of Fame.
The Kilkenny team notched up its first title of the present century by neatly thrashing its Leinster opponent, Offaly. And the black and amber triumphed too in the 2000 All-Ireland final. Just minutes into the game, DJ Carey scored a stunning and morale-boosting goal.
He went on to score a further two goals. The match ended with Kilkenny a whopping 13 points ahead. DJ was Man of the Match. And the unstoppable John Power had cut through the Offaly defences like a hot knife through butter.
Origin of the Black and Amber
A County Kilkenny hurling team in 1886 first sported the famous black and amber colours. Tullaroan had just beaten Mooncoin in the first-ever county championship staged in County Kilkenny.
The match had been held on Matt Murphy’s field on the Freshford road. The team was then drawn to play against Limerick in August of that year on a pitch located at the back of Kilmainham Gaol. A lavish fund-raising event was organised in Tullaroan to provide the twenty-one players with jerseys.
Following intensive debate and consultations, the club chose black and amber stripes as the colour design for the jerseys. So the men who ran onto the pitch that day wore, for the first time, the colours that would bring Kilkenny unrivalled fame and honour on the hurling pitches of Ireland.