Irish hockey legend David Judge dies aged 79

Defender captained Ireland 30 times and played for Great Britain in the 1964 Olympics

David Judge, pictured making a tackle, played 124 times for Ireland between 1957 and 1978. Photograph: Stephen Findlater

David Judge, one of the giants of Irish hockey, passed away on Saturday afternoon aged 79.

During an incredible career, he played 124 times for Ireland between 1957 and 1978, a time when international matches were far more scarce than the modern era.

Indeed, he played in over 90 per cent of the fixtures available including the 1978 World Cup and the first two editions of the European Cup. A determined defender, he would also captain Ireland over 30 times.

The pinnacle of his playing career came when he, along with Harry Cahill, became one of very few Dubliners to play hockey in the Olympic Games, lining out for Great Britain in Tokyo in 1964.


He was allowed to do so by quirk in the rules, a grand-parent ruling of sorts that allowed him to qualify for GB – while also playing for Ireland – as they were British passport holders prior to the formation of the Irish state.

He would later joke that he had some difficulty explaining to the Queen how he and Cahill came to be in Buckingham Palace at a homecoming lunch in the Long Gallery.

He won everything in the Irish club game with Three Rock Rovers. After his retirement from playing, he coached Avoca’s men and Old Alex’s women to numerous club titles and went on to be president of the Leinster Hockey Association, overseeing the merger of the women’s and men’s branches.

It would be a fitting tribute to his career if the Irish senior men are to have their place confirmed at the 2016 Rio Olympics next Sunday. Should Australia beat New Zealand in the Oceania Cup, Ireland’s ticket will be assured.

On the pitch, a young Irish side drew 2-2 with world number six side Argentina in Serpentine Avenue with Timmy Cockram and Kyle Good on the mark.

Stephen Findlater

Stephen Findlater

Stephen Findlater is a contributor to The Irish Times writing about hockey