Kilnamona and Clare Hurling

The first decade of the 20th century saw a number of Kilnamona hurlers represent their county. The decade was not that successful for Clare, although they did win the Croke Cup in 1907.

The first major game reported in this decade was the Munster final of 1900, which took place at the Markets' Field, Limerick with Clare taking on Tipperary. Tulla, as county champions selected the side with some assistance from other clubs, including Kilnamona. Kilnamona hurlers to take the pitch included Frank Hegarty, Mick 'Curk' Lyons, M McDonnell and Tomás Cullinan. Special trains were provided from Ennis and Limerick Junction, with "almost every means of locomotion, from the donkey and the cart to the bicycle" being pressed into service to bring supporters to the game. The final whistle saw a heavy defeat for Clare, with Tipperary running out winners on a scoreline of 5-16 to 0-8 [1].

The 1902 Munster Championship saw Clare face Limerick in the Markets' Field, Limerick. The county board selected the team, which included seven Kilnamona men: Mick 'Curk' Lyons (Captain), Frank Hegarty, T. Cullinan, J. Cullinan, J. Leary, M. McDonnell and M. Crowe. Hegarty replaced Matt Ryan of Tulla, who, according to the irate Clare Man reporter, "seems to have got into his head that Clare cannot do without him, and, of course, did not turn up to help his county men in their fight for hurling supremacy". He was much more praiseworthy for the Kilnamona players on the Clare team:

"The two Cullinans, of Kilnamona, also played a dashing game, and young Cullinan, an extreme forward, was undoubtedly, a success. As a matter of fact, all the Kilnamona men played well, and of course, Michael Lyons in his play showed his usual pluck and dash, and in my opinion played the best game of his life...Michael Lyons, of Kilnamona, working very hard, but between himself and his backs and the goal-keeper, the want of discipline I have referred to above was telling against their county. Still, given another opportunity I believe Lyons would lead his men to victory" [2].

Clare were eventually defeated on a scoreline of 6-9 to 3-13.

1903 saw Clare play Cork. There was a huge crowd of 10,000 spectators, the crush being so great, that the main gates had to be thrown open and hundreds of spectators got in for free. Cork ran out winners on a scoreline of 3-10 to 2-6. Lyons, McDonnell and Cullinan represented Kilnamona [3]. A special meeting of the Kilnamona GAA committee to select the team to face Cork in Tipperary also took place later in 1903. A county selection was ultimately agreed at Doora. Kilnamona players included: Michael Brody (Goals); Frank Hegarty (Quarter Back); Michael Lyons (Quarter Back and Captain); M Flanagan (Right Wing); P O'Loughlin (Centre); Mick McDonnell (Left Wing); John Leary (Right Wing); Thomas Culinan (Forward); Denis Rynne (Right Forward); Pat Commane (Left Forward) and James Cullinan (Extreme Forward).

For the 1904 Munster Championship, Michael Lyons, as the representative of county champions Kilnamona at the County Board, waived his claim to the selection of the county team and allowed the board to pick the team, so the best possible Clare side could be selected. Kilnamona players selected were: Michael Lyons, T. Cullinan, J. Cullinan, Frank Hegarty, P McDonnell and J. Brody [4]. Limerick were the opposition with the Markets' Field, Limerick again providing the venue. Limerick won the game 2-9 to 1-1.

Clare vs Tipperary Advert 1909
Clare vs Tipperary Advert, 1909

The 1905 Munster Championship saw another defeat, this time to Cork on a scoreline of 4-7 to 1-5. Kilnamona's Frank Hegarty captained the team. P. Cullinan, P. Kenny, P. McDonnell and J Brody also represented Kilnamona on the team [5]. Two other games are recorded in 1905; Clare defeated Tipperary, P Commane joining Hegarty, Kenny, McDonnell and Brody on the team [6]. Clare also defeated Kerry by 5-9 to 1-1. Cullinan, Kenny, McDonnell and Brody represented Kilnamona [7]. Kenny and McDonnell represented Clare in the championship match against Kerry in 1906 [8].

1907 saw a heavy defeat by Tipperary in the semi final of the Munster Championship. McDonnell played well for Clare, but O'Callaghan's Mills were excoriated in the local press for picking a team comprised mainly of their own players [9]. 1907 also saw Clare play Kilkenny, All Ireland champions for the two previous years, in the final of the Croke Cup. This time the 'Mills seemingly had learned their lesson and got assistance from a number of clubs including Kilnamona's M McDonnell and M Brody. Clare were victorious by 3-6 to 3-4 [10].

1908 saw no Kilnamona players selected for the championship game against Kerry. Kerry defeated Clare on a scoreline of 1-12 to 2-5 [11].

1909 saw Kilnamona represent Clare in the Munster Championship as county champions. In weather "disposing more towards a siesta than to a trying open air competition under a tropical sun", the semi final for the Munster Championship too place in Limerick. Thurles represented Tipperary and entered Limerick headed by a pipers' band. The two Brodys, John and Mick, Michael Hegarty (Captain), McInerney, M Cullinan and Kenny were the members of the team from Kilnamona. John Brody was outstanding for Clare in goals, but Tipperary eventually emerged victorious on a scoreline of 4-10 to 2-9 [12]. To the left is the advert for the match from the July 31st 1909 edition of the Saturday Record.

Earlier in the summer of 1909, Kilnamona, representing Clare, easily accounted for Limerick at the Clare Showgrounds by 5-7 to 1-11. Mick Brody was superb in defence for Clare. Other Kilnamona hurlers on duty included John Brody, Michael Hegarty (Captain), P. "Irishman" Commane, M Cullinan and John Joe Hegarty [13].

Captains of Clare

During their golden period, Kilnamona produced four captains of Clare: Mick "Curk" Lyons skippered the side in 1902; Frank Hegarty in 1903; Michael Hegarty in 1909; and Mick McDonnell in 1910. McDonnell captained Clare in New York. Mick Brody also played on this team. A report from the "Irish American Advocate" and reprinted in a Clare newspaper summed up their careers

"McDonnell, our present captain, is among the first to deserve mention. This is the third season he has battled for his county in New York, and his successful play has won recognition and placed him with the finest. Brody, who has only this year been initiated into the New York style of play, was a comrade of McDonnell when Kilnamona won the championship of Clare. They both did much to bring the championship to their parish and afterwards added to its glory by their brilliant play in inter county and championship matches" [14].
References
  1. October 27, 1900 The Clare Man
  2. October 4, 1902 Saturday Record
  3. May 2, 1903 Saturday Record
  4. April 23, 1904 Clare Champion
  5. June 3, 1905 Saturday Record
  6. March 25, 1905 Clare Champion
  7. March 11, 1905 Saturday Record
  8. April 14, 1906 Saturday Record
  9. July 27, 1907 Clare Champion
  10. September 7, 1907 Clare Champion
  11. March 21, 1908 Saturday Record
  12. August 9, 1909 Freeman's Journal
  13. June 26, 1909 Clare Champion
  14. August 20, 1910 Saturday Record