Offaly 1994 jubilee All-Ireland hurling celebrations

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kevin@tullamoretribune.ie

Friday last in the Tullamore Court Hotel saw a gathering of over 350 turned out to honour and celebrate with the Offaly senior hurling team of 1994 as they had a jubilee celebration lunch to mark that sensational All Ireland win.

It turned out to be a fantastic day of nostalgia and entertainment with a wide arrange of guests present on the day.

Organised by a committee made up primarily of players from that panel and chaired by Michael Duignan, the day was a massive success with Offaly supporters from far and wide flocking to mingle with their heroes from yesteryear.

The formalities of the day began with MC Marty Morrissey welcoming Michael Duignan to the stage to welcome everyone and Mr Duignan thanking all the people who contributed to the day and for making it possible.

There was a special presentation to the great Tony Murphy who gave an unbelievable amount of service to the County serving as County team secretary for over 35 years while also being a prominent figure in fundraising efforts over the years.

His club mate and three time All Ireland winner Joe Dooley spoke glowingly about Mr Murphy and the dedication he showed to numerous managers down through the years while also acknowledging the role he played in that famous year of 1994.

Joe Dooley also remarked that when he was appointed as Offaly senior hurling manager, his first port of call was to make sure that Tony Murphy would be on board as the team secretary.

Mr Murphy was greeted with a warm round of a applause and a standing ovation from the room.

As expected, RTE's Marty Morrissey did his role with effortless ease. A regular in front of the microphone, his familiarity on the stage put his guest speakers at ease in what led to some very interesting conversations with the guests brought up on stage.

Another excellent facet of the day was the performance of Aidan Tierney, aka “Tierney Talks” who is a renowned impersonator.

Some of his many persona included Davy Fitzgerald, Michael Noonan, Leo Varadkar, Brian Cody, current Offaly football manager John Maughan and the great Michael O Muircheartaigh.

The first group of guests up to the stage were Brian Whelahan, Martin Hanamy, Kilkenny's Christy Heffernan, Wexford's Martin Storey and Limerick''s 1994 wing back Dave Clarke.

All five were at ease on stage with Brian Whelahan speaking about how getting over Kilkenny in the first round, after they won the previous two All Irelands, was massive for the team.

Limerick's Dave Clarke played in that All Ireland final but had a fairly straight forward reply when asked about the fall out from it with the old adage “what doesn't kill you makes you stronger”.

Christy Heffernan spoke about how he felt that Kilkenny got a bit of luck over Offaly in some of the games they played while also stating that while a lot of fun seems to be gone out of the game, supporters are getting spoiled in terms of the quality.

Wexford's Martin Storey spoke about the toughness of the Offaly players but that it was all left on the field after the final whistle went and that would be the first ones you would want to have a pint with after a game.

Marty Morrissey asked Christy Heffernan who his toughest opponent would have been down through the years with the legendary full forward stating a popular reply with Offaly full back Eugene Coughlan getting the nod.

Brian Whelahan also spoke about the fun being gone out of the game and told the crowd that they always socialised after matches together and stated that there has to be a bit of an outlet for players.

The second group brought up on stage were Offaly legends Johnny Pilkington and Johnny Dooley along with Galway's Joe Cooney, Limerick's TJ Ryan and Wexford's Tom Dempsey.

All five men were in flying form with Johnny Pilkington leading the way in the wit. He spoke about his first experiences as an Offaly senior hurler from going for a few drinks with Jim Troy to having a family wedding on the same weekend as his championship debut.

Tom Dempsey was in no doubt that Martin Hanamy was the best corner back that he ever came up against and spoke very highly of that skilful Offaly team.

Marty Morrissey turned to Johnny Dooley and asked him about that famous goal that kick started the comeback with Dooley insisting that he hadn't anything to lose at that stage.

There was a raffle on the day also with framed signed jerseys, a 500 euro travel voucher, a 300 euro Galvin's for Men voucher, All Ireland tickets and two season passes for the Irish Open in Lahinch in July on offer.

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