Sports

Defensive heroes Lowry and Delaney inducted into Offaly GAA Hall of Fame

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Defensive heroes Lowry and Delaney inducted into Offaly GAA Hall of Fame thumbnailThe Bridge House Offaly GAA players of the year winners and hall of fame inductees, Pat Delaney and Sean Lowry. TT03218

STARS, past and present, were on show in the Bridge House Hotel in Tullamore last Friday night as the Bridge House/Offaly GAA awards took place with 18 recipients making up the class of 2017.
With close on 400 people in attendance, there was an excellent atmosphere and GAA orientated theme in the room as some exceptional talent were honoured for their exploits on the field of play.
In existence since 2001, the event continues to go from strength to strength with winners from all corners of the County coming to the fore.
A always, the event was expertly conducted and directed by MC Michael Duignan. The former All Ireland winner is now a seasoned professional in this line of work and just like years previously, he added his own bit of humour and light heartedness to the night.
Hurling, Gaelic football, Camogie, Ladies football and Handball were all honoured with the wide compass covering all facets of the GAA.
The highlight of the evening was the induction into the Offaly GAA hall of fame of former hurler Pat Delaney and football folk hero, Sean Lowry,
Delaney was a brilliant centre half back on the Offaly team that won the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship for the first time in 1981 with his powerful late burst up the field leading to the crucial goal from his Kinnitty club mate, Johnny Flaherty. Delaney won a second All-Ireland senior hurling medal in 1985 and ended his inter-county career in 1989.
Lowry is one of the small bunch of Offaly footballers with three All-Ireland senior football medals. A sub in 1971, the Ferbane man was centre half back on the 1972 and 1982 All-Ireland winning sides, after enjoying a productive sojourn in the forwards in the late 1970s. He subsequently transferred to Mayo, winning a Connaught medal with them in 1985.
After the other 16 awards were handed out, Michael Duignan read out citations supplied by Brian Lowry and Kevin Corrigan on the two hall of fame winners. Two men that achieved so much in their careers, they came to the stage to a standing ovation with MC Michael Duignan lamenting praise on the two former great number sixes before having a chat with them on stage.
Both Delaney and Lowry were obviously honoured to be inducted into the hall of fame and both looked back fondly on careers that spanned two decades.
Speaking on their breakthrough in 1980, Pat Delaney recalled the National league campaign of 1979 as a massive turning point.
"We had a style unknown to ourselves. We were very direct in our hurling and I think we have lost that style now.
"There was a huge turning point in 1979. We had to go hurl all our league matches away because Birr was closed. To stay in Division one at that time was a huge task but we won three of those matches away.
"That gelled the team and we took a lot out of that. That was a huge turning point.
The Leinster final in 1980 was a high scoring game. We had the experience. Offaly got everything out of every player they had."
He started hurling with Offaly in 1974 and with the footballers having won two All Irelands in 1971 and 1972, Delaney agreed that seeing what the footballers were doing gave them great hope.
"I started in 1974. It was an older team, lads had emigrated and we were in a poor state.
"They were a huge inspiration. Even the football teams before that in the 1960's who played Down and Kerry. There was great passion in those teams."
Sean Lowry was still in his teens in 1971 when called onto the panel. He was a sub that year but played at centre back the following year when they put back to back All Ireland titles together. He admitted to being in awe when he went in first.
"I was mesmerised to be honest and I didn't open my mouth for about a year with all these idols of mine around me. To win of the All Ireland and be part of the celebration was just unbelievable.
"I always look back at my career and think that I was very lucky. I was lucky that I was only 20 in 1972 and could still span to 1982 when I was 30."
Lowry also pointed to the 1964 Minor team as a major reason for the successes in the 70's while also pointing towards another new breed that came along to spearhead their 1982 success.
"That Minor team with the likes of Brendan Lowry, Gerry Carroll, Matt Connor and Tomas Connor sort of brought another nucleus to it like the Minor team of 1964 did for the 1971 win.
"Eugene McGee brought a new organisation to it. Dublin and Offaly were the two best teams at the time. People say Dublin are dominating now but Offaly and Dublin were dominating Leinster back then. Dominance comes in cycles, that's the way I look at it.
"Winning makes you form a bond. I talked to some of the Galway fellas. They lost three All Irelands in the 70's and I asked them do they meet up and they said they don't because they never won.
Both men recalled their great times and insisted that the played for Offaly at a time when they were afraid of no team. They were two commanding centre backs in their day with many a centre forward coming out second best.
The awards were picked by Brian Lowry and Kevin Corrigan (Tullamore and Midland Tribune), Mary Dunne (Offaly Topic), Will O'Callaghan (Midlands 103) and Kevin Egan (Offaly Independent) with the senior hurler of the year going to Kilcormac/Killoughey's Dan Currams while the senior football winner is Rhode's Brian Darby, who ended his long county career in 2017.
The full list of winners were as follows:
Football hall of fame - Sean Lowry (Ferbane);
Hurling hall of fame - Pat Delaney (Kinnitty);
Senior football - Brian Darby (Rhode);
Senior hurling - Dan Currams (Kilcormac/Killoughey);
Senior 'B' Football - Nigel Dunne (Shamrocks);
Intermediate hurling - Paddy Murphy (Ballinamere);
Intermediate football - Nathan Poland (Erin Rovers);
Junior football - Karl Dunne (Ballycommon);
Junior hurling - Danny O'Brien (Ballinamere);
U-21 football - Colin Kenny (Ferbane);
U-21 hurling - Conor Freeman (Carrig and Riverstown/St Brendan's);
Minor football - Cian Johnson (Ferbane);
Minor hurling - Brian Duignan (Ballinamere);
Hurling referee - Richie Fitzsimons (Birr);
Football referee - Ger Keyes (Shamrocks);
Camogie - Siobhan Flannery (St Rynagh's);
Ladies football - Ellee McEvoy (Naomh Ciaran);
Handball - David Hope (Fahy).

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