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Handball Heroes of Ballyporeen Con Moloney & Tommy Moloney By Mary Moloney Al-Rawi


This book is lovingly dedicated to the memory of my late uncles

Con Moloney &

Tommy Moloney

All Ireland Handball Heroes of

Church Street Ballyporeen Cahir Co Tipperary

Š Mary Moloney Al-Rawi August 2012. P O Box 62 Leixlip Co Kildare Ireland. Email: maryarty@gmail.com


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The above picture is taken from Tom McElligott’s book “The Story of Handball, The Game, The Players The History” page 8.


2 The name ‘Tipperary’ or ‘Tiobraid Arann’ in Irish means ‘Town on the Well of Ara’. The name is derived from a well in the townland of Glenbane in the parish of Lattin and Cullen where the river ‘Ara’ rises. Little is known of the historical significance of the well.


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Tipperary is the largest inland county in Ireland. It is divided into two administrative parts, Nenagh being the principle town in North Tipperary and Clonmel being the principle town in South Tipperary. The centre of County Tipperary is known as ‘the Golden Vale’, a rich pastoral stretch of land in the basin of the River Suir, which crosses the county from north to south. Tipperary’s primary historical site is the Rock of Cashel, an imposing cathedral and round tower encompassing some 2,000 years of history. It was once an important ecclesiastical centre and home to the Kings of Munster. County Tipperary has a strong sporting history and is home to the Gaelic Games of Hurling, Handball, Camogie and Gaelic Football. This book is about the handball activities and achievements of my late uncles Con & Tommy Moloney of Church Street Ballyporeen Cahir Co Tipperary. It is a compilation of sports results, newspaper articles, comments and statements written in handball books, GAA records and extracts from the books written by the late Dan O’Donoghue of Church Street Ballyporeen. My aim in writing this book is to collate all this scattered information into one book and to preserve and promote this aspect of Irish sporting history.

Note: The first three paragraphs above are taken from www.irelandwide.com 12/2/2010.


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Church Street Ballyporeen Cahir Co Tipperary


5 Cornelius Moloney Cornelius Moloney was born in March 1906 at his home in Church Street Ballyporeen Cahir Co Tipperary. He was the second son of five children born to Thomas and Mary Moloney. He was affectionately known as Con in Ballyporeen and to all his sporting pals and was often referred to as Con ‘Shine’ Moloney. There is no family connection or relation whatsoever to the surname ‘Shine’. I think this nickname ‘Shine’ came about due to Con’s shiny red hair. Red hair runs in the Moloney family and I have red hair myself, as does my youngest son. The red hair came from Con’s mother’s side, the Kerry side of the family. His wonderful mother Mary née Healy was originally from Barraduff, Killarney, Co Kerry. From a very young age Con had a great interest in all sporting activities. For some years he played football with Ballyporeen club but the sport he enjoyed playing the most was handball.

Con Moloney March 1906 – April 1963

In 1927 Con together with William Roche of Ballyporeen won a Junior Hardball Doubles Munster title. Con was a Munster handball champion at the age of 21. The record of this win and subsequent wins are documented on page 23 & 24 in the book ‘1884-1984 A History of Handball in Munster’ Edited by Sean Murphy and published by the Munster Handball Council. See page 7 in this book. Note: Many thanks to Donal Hayes and Ken Conway for giving me a copy of that book. See cover of book next page.


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The above information is taken from page 23 & 24 of the book ‘1884-1984 A History of Handball in Munster’ edited by Sean Murphy. In August 1928 the Tailteann Games were held at Croke Park. The games were recorded by the Pathe Film Company and seen by cinema audiences in Britain and America ‘Handball on Film’ (See article next page). Note: “The Celtic Sun Goddess Taillte, also known as the foster mother of the Sun, had a strong link to the Olympics, too. She lived on the magical hill of Tara in Ireland. Worshippers


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celebrated her power during August, and would hold special events and games in her honour. This ancient tradition became the Tailteann Games – now an Irish version of the Olympics”. The above article on the Celtic Sun Goddess Taillte is taken from Chat it’s fate Annual 2012 page 30.

Opposite: The cover of the programme for the Tailteann Games 1928 is taken from the book “The Story of Handball” by Tom McElligott page 51.

The above article is taken from the book ‘1884–1984 a history of handball in Munster’ page 62.

The above article is taken from ‘The Nationalist & Munster Advertiser Clonmel’ dated 15th August 1928.


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In 1929 Con Moloney and Paddy Ormonde brought the first All Ireland Senior Hardball Doubles Handball Championship to Ballyporeen and Tipperary. They were the first champions and sporting heroes to bring an All Ireland Senior Handball title to Ballyporeen. Con was the proud holder of a senior All Ireland title at the age of 23. In 1931 Con Moloney and Paddy Ormonde brought a second All Ireland Senior Hardball Doubles Handball title to Ballyporeen and Tipperary. Once again they enjoyed the glory of such a great win and brought great pride and joy to their families, their home town of Ballyporeen and to Tipperary. While writing this book the idea came to me that it would be great to have a photograph of Con and Paddy together. With the aid of modern technology and the computer skills of my eldest son we created the above photo. For the first time Con and Paddy are together in the one photograph. In creating this picture we were always mindful of retaining the authenticity of the original prints. My intention is to keep history alive and for these two great Ballyporeen men, Con Moloney and Paddy Ormonde to be always remembered for their outstanding handball achievements. I had a copy of the above photograph professionally framed in the Tipperary colours and in 2012 I gifted this photograph to Ballyporeen Handball Club.


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Note: I have corrected the photographs on this page to read according to the text. The original page is taken from the book ‘1884-1984 A History of Handball in Munster’ edited by Sean Murphy. The photographs in the book were inconsistent with the text. The next four pages are also taken from the same book.


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15 Below is a copy of an article taken from the ‘Nationalist & Munster Advertiser Clonmel’ dated 3rd December 1930. Four Ballyporeen handball players are mentioned in this article, Con Moloney, Paddy Ormond, Tommy Moloney and Ned O’Gorman. The writer states in the article below that Con Moloney met Tom Soye, Dublin in the All- Ireland final hardball singles. Was it on that occasion that the photograph on the next page was taken?


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The above photograph was given to me by Eddie Corbett of Ballyporeen.

(L) Con Moloney Tipperary and (R) Tom Soye Dublin. The above photograph was possibly taken in 1930 - my guess is that it was.


17 The names Con Moloney and Paddy Ormonde are listed in the GAA Handball book ‘Fás agus Forbairt’ Page 34.

The statement below is taken from the opening page of the book ‘Fás agus Forbairt’


18 Their names are also listed in ‘The Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games’ page 329.

Con and Paddy are also mentioned in the book ‘A History of Handball in Bally’ by the Late Dan O’Donoghue. See cover of book next page.


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Below are some statements about Con & Paddy selected from the book. ‘How did Con and Paddy train? Well Paddy was a ciotóg (left handed) and did all sorts of manual work with the County Council – a pick and shovel man. Remember it was a harsh economic age where there wasn’t a points system where you could pick and choose. Naturally Paddy had a hard tough palm. Now is a hard tough palm ideal for handball? Actually it isn’t. Paddy always had to wear a leather strap. Con on the other hand milked ten cows by hand morning and evening seven days a week. Therefore he had a soft hand or palm. The soft hand didn’t experience the ‘sting’ as much as the unskinny tough palm. Con was two handed or ambidextrous.’ ‘Con and Paddy won every rubber, never conceding a game to any of their opponents in the 1929 Doubles All Ireland Championship. When they arrived home they were heroes. They repeated the dose in 1931. Nobody now could “live” with them as hard ball players. They were the top notchers’ page 24.


20 ‘Con never funked a challenge – he knew strengths and weaknesses. He exploited them fairly within the rules. He was a great sportsman always taking defeat gracefully which he seldom experience’ page 37. ‘Ballyporeen has had long associations with Handball Clubs from all over. Kilfinane, Co Limerick, which proves the point about the low back wall, had to turn away more than a thousand spectators in 1925. Con Moloney and Paddy Ormonde had many a great tussle there years after. Merchants used to put side-bets on rubbers then. ‘Imagine’ says Con, ‘On opening my hand after being congratulated after winning a great tussle there and finding a pound note in my hand’ – a pound was money then page 66.

``````

The money currency in Ireland at that time was Pounds Shillings and Pence. There were 240 pennies in a pound or 20 shillings in a pound. You could buy lots of things for a pound in those days when money had value. ‘Today our players appear on TV playing, but in the late 1920’s Paddy Ormonde appeared on film with some other stylish Tailteann players and was shown to British and American cinema audiences’ page 67. See ‘Handball on Film’ page 8 in this book.


21 Con and Paddy are also mentioned in another book called ‘Ballyporeen’ that was written by the late Dan O’Donoghue. See cover of book below.

In this book the late Dan O’Donoghue writes about Ballyporeen and the lives of people who lived in the village. There are a number of statements in this book about Con Moloney, Paddy Ormonde, Ballyporeen handball players and locals in the village. I must mention here that I am deeply grateful to the late Dan O’Donoghue B.A., H.D.E. a native of Church Street, Ballyporeen, for writing these books as without them history would be lost forever. On the next page are some statements taken from his book.


22 ‘Two Ballyporeen men Paddy Ormonde and Con Moloney won silver handball medals at senior level at the Tailteann games that were held in Dublin in 1928’ page 5. ‘Larry O’Doherty used to taxi handball players like Ned O’Gorman, Paddy Ormonde and the Moloney brothers to Talbot’s Inch Kilkenny’ page 23. ‘Con Moloney fell off a roof whilst repairing slates, but like Brian Mullins was back playing handball six months later’ page 36.

Below is a photograph of Ballyporeen locals building the alley gallery page 50.

In the photograph above Con Moloney is the man in the centre wearing the white shirt, black jacket, trousers and waistcoat, he is holding a small shovel that is pointing straight down into the ground. ‘Gauge by gauge, inch by inch, casement by casement, the new gallery took shape. Dinny Noonan who worked so hard each evening, without fail, also supervised the proceedings and made sure that any caffling children who interfered were sent scurrying. In time a new floor was laid also. The pounding and the hammering went on each evening into the late hours. By the time everything was in shape they hadn’t the energy to play, so they basked happily in the sunshine and encouraged the up and comings’.


23 Con and Paddy are also mentioned in Tom McElligott’s book ‘The Story of Handball’.

‘Two Munster partnerships of this time deserve mention. Batterberry and Flavin of the Waterford City Club were unbeatable in such long courts as the Spring Garden Alley in Waterford and that at Queen Street, Tramore. When they won out in 1928, many thought that they would retain the title for years but they retired early from the game. Flavin devoted himself to encouraging hurling with Mount Sion Club but Batterberry continued to play the occasional friendly game and I can remember seeing him play good ball at Ballyanne, county Wexford, in 1938.’ ‘The other partnership was that of Paddy Ormonde and Con Moloney of Ballyporeen, county Tipperary. I never saw Moloney playing but Ormonde was a frequent visitor to the Depot Court where his left-hand service is still spoken of by those who saw him play. It seemed effortless but once it touched the floor it seemed to spin away to ‘die’ before it reached the back wall. Moloney was, by all accounts, less heavy in service but a far better two-handed player than his partner.’ The above is quoted from chapter 5 page 63 & 64 of Tom McElligott’s book.


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‘Joe Doyle and Paddy Bell had gone to school together; kicked football for Erin’s Own in the meadows beside the Blackwater and, finally, won for Royal Meath three senior AllIreland titles. Rubbers were long and hard in those days and Bell went the whole 13 games with Ormonde in 1932 before winning by 5 aces. But it was a year later, in September 1933, that they played the match for which they will long be remembered. Ormonde and Moloney were 3 games clear and 18 aces in fourth (only 3 aces from an All-Ireland title) when Bell and Doyle changed places. Bell took all the play inside the short-line while Doyle ‘covered’ the back wall. In 45 minutes they turned defeat into victory – scoring aces almost at the rate of two a minute!’ The above paragraph is taken from Appendix C of Tom McElligott’s book ‘The Story of Handball’ page 148. Below are the ‘Records and Results,’ taken from Tom McElligott book ‘The Story of Handball’ page 160.


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Above (L) Con Moloney & (R) Paddy Ormonde On the right is an extract from an article published in the ‘Ballyporeen Eagle’ 1984. It is the last known published article that mentions these two brilliant Ballyporeen handball players of that time. As the article on the right states

‘they were one of the greatest pairs in the history of the game’. As a pair they brought two All-Ireland senior handball titles to Ballyporeen and Tipperary bringing great pride and joy to their hometown and county. I have placed them in separate photos above to indicate that we must always remember that as individuals these men were masters in their own right at playing the game of handball.


26 Author’s Note: My earliest memories of uncle Con is of sitting on his knee by the fire in the Moloney family home, Church Street Ballyporeen, Cahir Co Tipperary. I was unaware of the fact that I was sitting on the knee of one of Ballyporeen’s greatest handball heroes of that time. A native of Ballyporeen Con was a well-known tradesman in the area. He was a kind, quiet, polite and humble man. Con was also a great dancer, a combination of good foot work and ambidextrous hand work was the making of a great handball player. He was also a brilliant sports man, naturally talented and truly unaware of his own sporting brilliance. Con remained a bachelor all his life. He was a well-liked and popular man in his hometown of Ballyporeen. In his early years Con played football with Ballyporeen GAA club but the sport he enjoyed playing the most was handball. Con played handball with Ballyporeen Handball club throughout his life. He was one of the earliest and greatest handball heroes Ballyporeen and Tipperary had at that time. His name is listed in the sporting GAA pages of history and the pages of the local newspaper “The Nationalist & Munster Advertiser” Clonmel. In the 1920’s Ireland was emerging from the 1916 Easter Rising and a bitter civil war. In those hard times there were no designer sport shoes, no trendy sports bags and no handy bottles of water to make life easy for a sportsman. Their mode of transport to get around the country to sports venues was by taxi. They would have to endure a long bumpy ride in all weathers and then play a handball match, which they played and usually won. They played with all their might and on two great occasions in 1929 & 1931, Con and Paddy brought home the Senior All Ireland Handball Doubles title to Ballyporeen and Tipperary. They brought great pride and joy to family, town and county. You could only describe handball players like Con Moloney, Paddy Ormonde, Tommy Moloney and Ned O’Gorman as ‘Fir na hÉireann’. There were no sports awards or ‘man - of - the - match’ in those days. I would honestly say that Con, Paddy, Tommy and Ned never got the credit or recognition they deserved for bringing so many handball titles to Ballyporeen club. In the early sixties Con became ill and was admitted to St. Theresa’s hospital Clogheen. From there he was transferred to St. Laurence’s hospital (Richmond hospital) Dublin where it was discovered that Con had Leukaemia. In those days children were not allowed into hospitals so I never got the chance to see my uncle Con. Sadly Con died of his illness on the 22nd of April 1963 at the Richmond hospital Dublin. Ballyporeen and Tipperary had lost a great handball hero, my father and Aunt Catherine had lost their brother and I had lost my beloved uncle - Cornelius Moloney. 




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Con’s eldest brother Johnny who was married and living in Dublin, buried Con in Plot A34-344 Mount Jerome Cemetery Harold’s Cross Dublin.


28 The article below about Con’s death is taken from ‘The Nationalist & Munster Advertiser’ Clonmel Co. Tipperary dated 4th May 1963.


29 On 22nd of April 2007 the 60/30 Ballyporeen Handball Court was reopened. Coincidentally Con was 44 years dead on that day. I am almost certain that he was looking down from the heavens above and observing all the activities of the day. A CD and small booklet ‘Ballyporeen Handball Club’ was distributed for the occasion.


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In memory of my beloved Uncle Con and to honour his outstanding sporting handball achievements I designed the above plaque and had it made by a local craftsman in Leixlip Co Kildare. In April 2011 I gifted the above plaque together with a framed photo of Con to Ballyporeen Handball Club so that Con will always be remembered and honoured in his home town of Ballyporeen. The plaque and photo now hang on the Roll of Honour Wall in the club. On the next page is a copy of the letter of thanks that I received from Ballyporeen Handball Club.


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The above picture is taken from Tom McElligott’s book ‘The Story of Handball, The Game, The Players, The History’, page 62.


33 Tommy Moloney Thomas Moloney junior was born in 1908 at his home in Church Street Ballyporeen Cahir Co Tipperary. He was the third son and youngest of five children born to Thomas & Mary Moloney of Church Street Ballyporeen Cahir Co Tipperary. Tommy as he was affectionately known joined his older brother Con in playing the game of handball for Ballyporeen. His sporting partner was Ned O’Gorman also a native of Ballyporeen. In 1930 Tommy Moloney and Ned O’Gorman won the All Ireland Junior Hardball Doubles Championship title for Ballyporeen and Tipperary. Their names are listed in the book’1884-1984 A History of Handball in Munster’ edited by Sean Murphy page 24 (see information on page 7 in this book). Tommy was an All Ireland Handball Champion at the age of 22.

Tommy Moloney Nov 1908 to Jan 1943

I am once again deeply grateful to the late Dan O’Donoghue, Church Street Ballyporeen for his article ‘Ballyporeen – Home of the Alley Cracker’ for the above picture of the handball medal. That article is taken from the book ‘1884-1984 A History of Handball in Munster’ page 175. The complete article is shown on page 12 of this book.


34 Tommy’s sporting activities are listed in the GAA pages of history and the local newspaper ‘The Nationalist & Munster Advertiser’ Clonmel.

1929 Munster Champions Tipperary

The above information is taken from the book ‘1884-1984 A History of Handball in Munster’ edited by Sean Murphy page 23&24.


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Tommy Moloney

Ned O’Gorman

Tommy Moloney and Ned O’Gorman brought an All-Ireland Junior Hardball Doubles Handball Championship title to Ballyporeen and Tipperary in 1930. The above photo of Tommy Moloney was given to me by the late Dan O’Donoghue when I met him in his shop ‘An Ribin Bui’ on Church Street in Ballyporeen a few years before he died. The photo of Ned O’Gorman is taken from the book ‘A History of Handball in Bally’ by the late Dan O’Donoghue, page 2. Due to the above two photographs being taken on different occasions it was not possible to combine them.

The picture of Ned O’Gorman’s medal on the right is taken from the article ‘Ballyporeen – Home of the Alley Cracker’ by Dan O’Donoghue. The complete article is on page 175 of the book ‘1884-1984 A history of Handball in Munster’ edited by Sean Murphy and on page 12 of this book.


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The selected piece on the right is an extract from the article by Paddy Mackin taken from the book above, page 174. The complete article can be read on page 11 of this book. On the next page ‘Tipperary All- Ireland Roll of Honour’ is also taken from the book above, page 179.


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38 The names Tommy Moloney and Ned O’Gorman are listed in the GAA Handball book ‘Fás agus Forbairt’ Page 39.

The statement below is taken from the opening page of the book ‘Fás agus Forbairt’.


39 Their names are also listed in ‘The Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games’, page 332.

Tommy and Ned are also mentioned in the book ‘The Story of Handball by Tom McElligott’, page 162. See cover of book next page.


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‘Records & Results’ from the book ‘The Story of Handball by Tom McElligott’, page 162.


41 Tommy Moloney and his brother Con brought great pride to the Moloney family, to Ballyporeen and Tipperary with their outstanding handball achievements. In the early days of January 1943 a great sadness was to descend upon the Moloney family and further tragedy was to follow. A few weeks after Tommy’s 34th birthday he became ill; it was discovered that he had pneumonia and TB. Tommy was unable to fight off his illness and died on 11th January 1943 at his home in Church Street Ballyporeen, Cahir, Co. Tipperary.

His elderly parents Thomas & Mary were heart-broken at the untimely death of their youngest son Tommy, as was the entire Moloney family, the local people in Ballyporeen and surrounding areas, his sporting colleagues and friends. Ballyporeen and Tipperary had lost a great handball hero. Almost two years to the day Tommy’s mother Mary died in January 1945 and less than five months later his father Thomas died. Two years later in 1947 one of his two sisters died in Cork. Tommy’s eldest brother Johnny (my father) left Ballyporeen and came to Dublin. He never spoke of his full weight of sadness. Johnny died in Dublin in 1970.  Tommy is buried in his father’s hometown of Tubrid Cahir, Co. Tipperary. He is buried in the old Tubrid Cemetery (burial place of the great bardic Irish poet, priest and historian, Seathrún Céitinn/Geoffrey Keating). I have no knowledge of the location of Tommy’s grave site. I requested a search for the burial records of Tubrid Cemetery, but they could not be found. Tommy is possibly buried with his uncle Laurence Moloney (eldest brother of his father Thomas) who had died a few years before him or he is buried with his grandparents John & Margaret Moloney. I know for certain that there are four members of the Moloney family buried in Tubrid cemetery and there is the possibility that other members of the family are buried there also. May all their gentle souls rest in peace. Author’s Notes: I have no comment to make about my uncle Tommy as he was dead for a number of years before I was born. In the book ‘A History of Handball in Bally’ by the late Dan O’Donoghue he writes on page 24 that ‘Tommy Moloney is buried in Tubrid with the great Seathrún Céitinn’.


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Fr. Geoffrey Keating 1580-c.1644

An tAthair Seathrún Céitinn was a 17th century Irish Roman Catholic priest, Bardic Irish Poet and Historian. He was born in Burgess Cahir Co Tipperary and was ordained a priest in 1603. He studied for some time in France before returning to Ireland to take up the job as parish priest of Tubrid where he lived out his life. He is buried in Tubrid Cemetery, Cahir, Co. Tipperary.

Ruins at Tubrid, County Tipperary June 2010. From Wikipedia.

On the next page I have included a few verses of one of Seathrún Céitinn’s poems taken from Thomas Kinsella’s book ‘The New Oxford Book of Irish Verse’.


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44 The article below is taken from ‘The Nationalist & Munster Advertiser’ Clonmel, Co. Tipperary dated 16th January 1943.


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In memory of my Uncle Tommy and to honour his short but eventful life playing the sport of handball, I designed the above plaque and had it made by a local craftsman in Leixlip Co Kildare. In April 2011 I gifted this plaque together with a photo of Tommy to Ballyporeen Handball Club so that Tommy will always be remembered and honoured in his hometown. The plaque and photo now hang on the Roll of Honour Wall in the club. The club acknowledged the gift of this plaque (see letter page 31 in this book).


In the Barony of Iffa & Offa West In the Province of Munster In the Diocese of Waterford & Lismore In the Town of Cahir on the river Suir At the Foot of the Galtee & Knockmealdown Mountains In South Tipperary, in Eireann’s Isle Hailed my Moloney ancestors Descendants of the Dalcassian Tribe

Mary Moloney Al-Rawi, niece of Con & Tommy Moloney, Ballyporeen 1996.


Š Copyright Ordnance Survey Ireland 2005

Handball Heroes of Ballyporeen: Con Moloney & Tommy Moloney - by Mary Moloney Al-Rawi  

Handball Heroes of Ballyporeen - Con Moloney & Tommy Moloney

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