LIMERICK 1973 ALL-IRELAND CHAMPIONS
- THE DOON CONNECTION
Eamonn Grimes leads Limerick’s 1973 team around Croke Park prior to their All-Ireland final victory over Kilkenny.
The recent success of Offaly in the
All-Ireland final at Croke Park brought to an end a memorable season with huge
attendances at games in Munster, no doubt due to the emergence of Clare and
Waterford. The second Sunday in September in Croke Park is a special day for
hurling folk. This year the Limerick team of 1973 walked on to the hallowed turf
as guests of the G.A.A. and Irish Nationwide Building Society. This is an annual
event to honour teams after 25 years. Doon had a special interest in the
proceedings as three former players were honoured. Willie Moore who played at
corner back, Jim O'Donnell who had played in the Munster Final against Tipperary
and Jim Allis who was a sub on both occasions. Another link with that far off
wet day in 1973 was the late Sean Cunningham who was a selector.
Limerick's success story of the 1970's began when they reached the Munster final of 1971. This was the day of the famous "wet ball". Thousands of fans made their way to Killarney (a rare venue for the hurling decider) Willie Moore who had just come on as a sub had a "goal" disallowed and Tipperary went on to take both the Munster and All Ireland finals. Earlier in the year Limerick defeated Tipperary by a point 3-12 to 3-11 in the National League Final at the Cork Athletic Grounds. Jim O'Donnell lined out at centre half back while Willie Moore was unable to line out due to a thumb injury. Limerick had no luck in the 1972 championship, losing to Clare at Ennis in the first round. The following year they reached the final of the National League where Wexford denied Limerick the honours.
Few in attendance that day in Croke Park could have hoped for a quick return to the venue as Wexford were the better team on the day. The championship commenced with a first round game against Clare at Thurles where Limerick emerged winners by two points. The final also in Thurles against Tipperary saw Jim O'Donnell at centre half back marked by the great Mick Roche. Willie Moore played at corner back, where his direct opponent was none other than Michael "Babs" Keating. A last minute point from a '70' by Richie Bennis gave Limerick victory 6-7 to 2-18 on July 29th a scorching hot day. It was on to Ennis the following Sunday for the All-Ireland semi-final against London. Victory here by 1-15 to 0-7 gave Limerick a place in the final against Kilkenny for the first time since 1940. September 2nd 1973 was a very wet day but the huge Limerick following who had made their way by car, bus and train enjoyed every minute of it as the green and whites recorded a famous victory 1-21 to 1-14. The celebrations in Dublin and all over the county were something to behold. Thousands waited at Limerick Railway Station on Monday as the train made its way from Castleconnell Station. The McCarthy Cup and members of the team went on a tour of the towns and villages over the next number of weeks.
Doon's turn finally arrived and what a welcome awaited them. An All-Ireland final with a Doon man playing had just become a reality. Jim O'Donnell was unlucky not to make the final lineout while Jim Allis was willing and ready if called upon. He had served Limerick during the bad old days of the late 1960's and was finally rewarded with his Celtic Cross. So when they along with their team mates walked out in Croke Park recently memories came flooding back of those far off days, a quarter of a century ago. Many great gaels, and followers have since passed to their eternal reward. The following Sunday the team were once again introduced to the fans at the County Senior hurling decider at the Gaelic Grounds. All three looked fit and well, and here's hoping that the county will not have to wait another 25 years for All Ireland Senior glory. Willie Moore also won an Oireachtas medal in 1971, having won a Cork Senior Hurling championship with U.C.C. in 1970. The following year he played for the combined universities in the Railway cup, the only Doon man ever to play in this competition. Willie, who is a member of the teaching staff at Limerick C.B.S. is also a keen golfer, and resides at North Circular Rd., Limerick. Jim O'Donnell spent some years in New York where he played hurling and figured in the National League final of 1963. He won a County Minor medal with Doon in 1959 and while stationed in Blackrock, Co. Dublin played with Faughs. Jim is a member of the Garda in Ennis. Jim Allis began his Inter-county career with the U21 team in 1968. He later played on the Intermediate side before gaining Senior recognition. He encountered some of the best full forwards in his day including Tony Doran of Wexford and Cork's Ray Cummins. He was on both the successful League and Oireachtas panels in 1971. Jim is an Agricultural Officer and resides at Crecora, Co. Limerick.
1973 Limerick All-Ireland Senior Hurling Champions