Funeral of Tipperary great Jimmy Doyle takes place

The hurler, who won six All-Ireland titles, was remembered as ‘the special one’

Tipperary hurling legend Jimmy Doyle photographed in June 2005 at the Thurles Sarsfields Club at Semple Stadium. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Tipperary hurling legend Jimmy Doyle photographed in June 2005 at the Thurles Sarsfields Club at Semple Stadium. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

 

Hundreds of mourners gathered in Thurles on Thursday, the spiritual home of hurling, to pay their last respects and hear warm tributes to one of the greats of the game, Tipperary ace, Jimmy Doyle.

Mr Doyle died suddenly on Monday at the age of 76.

Mourners began arriving in the early morning at the Church of St Joseph and St Brigid’s in the shadow of Thurles’s Semple Stadium to pay their respects to the Tipperary sharpshooter, who was renowned as one of the greatest and most effective stylists that hurling has ever seen.

Mr Doyle won six All-Ireland senior medals, seven National League medals, nine Munster medals, three All-Ireland Minor Medals in a career that spanned three decades.

He was also selected on both the 1984 Team of the Century and the 2000 Team of the Millennium.

In an affectionate and moving eulogy, his friend and local journalist, Michael Dundon recalled that impressive and all as was the list of the late Mr Doyle’s achievements were, the statistics did not do justice to his skill and his willingness to be a team player although a star of the game.

“True, he had great players around him and many of them are here today but Jimmy was the special one - he was the one who made ordinary teams good and lifted the good ones into the realms of greatness,” said Mr Dundon.

Mr Doyle is survived by his daughter, Janet, sons, Walter, Gerry and James and Janet painted a warm picture of her father as a shy, humble man who in addition to his hurling prowess also loved films, shopping and his dogs including his constant companion, Pal.

Walter Doyle spoke how his father idolised Cork’s Christy Ring and as a boy used to follow him from Thurles Railway Station to the pitch whenever Cork played in Semple Stadium.

He said when they opened his wallet after he died on Monday, they found Christy Ring’s memoriam card.

Chief celebrant and former Tipperary hurler Fr Tom Fogarty said the late Mr Doyle was “an iconic figure in the game of hurling who brought immense joy not only to the fans of Thurles Sarsfields and Tipperary but to GAA people all over the world”.

Among those paying their respects were many of the late Mr Doyle’s Tipperary teammates including Babs Keating, Francis Loughnane, Len Gaynor, Donie Nealon and Theo English as well as Martin “Rattler” Byrne and Tipperary greats from more recent times, Nicky English, Ken Hogan and Eoin Kelly.

Great rivals from the 1950s and 1960s but close friends ever since also attended.

Among them were Eddie Keher, Jim Treacy, Fan Larkin and Tony Maher from Cork as well as well as stars from the 1970s and 1980s such as Galway’s Joe McDonagh and Kilkenny’s Billy Fitzpatrick.

Also among the mourners were Minister for Environment Alan Kelly, Minister of State Tom Hayes and local TDs, Independent TD Michael Lowry and Fine Gael TD Noel Coonan as well as former minister and TD Michael Smith.

President Michael D Higgins was represented by his aide-de camp, Commandant Louise Conlon, Taoiseach Enda Kenny was represented by his aide-de-camp, Commandant Joe Gleeson and GAA President, Aogan O Fearghaill also paid his respects as did Tyrone manager Mickey Harte

Among those who attended the removal was former Tipperary hurlers, Bobby Ryan and Mick Roche, former Limerick great Pat Hartigan, former Cork hurler Jimmy Brohan and Cork County board secretary, Frank Murphy and Cork GAA medic Dr Con Murphy.

The current Tipperary team as well as their manager Eamon O’Shea also attended the removal while members of the late Mr Doyle’s beloved Thurles Sarsfield club formed a guard of honour as his remains were removed from the church to the strains of the Tipperary anthem, Slievenamon.

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