Former Kilkenny coach Fr Tommy Maher dies, aged 92

Led county to seven All-Ireland titles in 18 seasons at the helm

Kilkenny trainer Fr Tommy Maher with Ted Carroll, Fr Tommy Murphy and Eddie Keher. He was regarded as perhaps the most influential coach in the game. Photograph: kilkennygaa.ie

Kilkenny trainer Fr Tommy Maher with Ted Carroll, Fr Tommy Murphy and Eddie Keher. He was regarded as perhaps the most influential coach in the game. Photograph: kilkennygaa.ie

 

The death has taken place at the age of 92 of Fr Tommy Maher, the coach associated with Kilkenny’s emergence as the pre-eminent power in modern hurling. His passing coincided with the retirement of Henry Shefflin, another one of the county’s most enduring icons.

Fr Maher, regarded as perhaps the most influential coach in the game, took the county to seven All-Irelands in 18 seasons, the last of which was in 1975 – the year of current Kilkenny manager Brian Cody’s first senior All-Ireland as a player – a feat made all the more remarkable by the presence in those same years of the great Tipperary team of the 1960s, the Cork three-in-a-row side of the 1970s and within Leinster a frequently menacing Wexford.

Since his first year in 1957 when, by his own account, he reluctantly agreed to take on the team, Kilkenny have won 22 All-Irelands whereas Cork and Tipperary have managed 11 and 10 respectively.

The 13 that weren’t won under Maher’s baton were all conducted by his apprentices; every single successful manager, including Cody, had played for him in the 1950s, ‘60s or ‘70s.

His playing career was limited by the restrictions on clerics playing but remarkably his only senior appearance for the county was in an All-Ireland final, the 1945 defeat by Tipperary.

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