Noel Skehan stepped into the legendary boots of his cousin and Ireland’s No.1 goalkeeper, Ollie Walsh. Few gaels would have envisaged at that time, that Skehan would finish his hurling career with the unique and unequaled distinction of, Ireland’s only hurler to hold nine All Ireland senior hurling medals.
The style of many great hurling goalies has a hallmark all of its own and they became celebrated for that singular characteristic. Noel Skehan was a special type of goalie, a player who stood on his line with a heavy chunk of wide ash almost as wide as the oar of a boat. Only the really fortuitous creepy crawlers found the net from a deflection or wild off the cuff fortunate strike.
He brought the traditional goalies stick to a new dimension and many club goalies followed Noel’s example, believing they too would benefit by using the extra heavy chunk of ash. He had perfected his own ash hurleys and the components so essential to form a distinctive goalies hurley and few goalies could emulate the greatness of the famous Bennettsbridge man. His raking deliveries turned defence into instant attack and he savoured the opportunity to move out of his square and accept the responsibility of freetaking in his own half of the field.
His bustling confidence also enabled him to command respect from his colleagues and many of his opponents were content to take their points, when goals were probably on, as they knew any goals won from Skehan would be few and far between.
Noel Skehan’s all time record is a benchmark that most players would not now accept as a career challenge. It is way beyond the capacity of most players in the modern era, unless the colour of your jersey happens to be black and amber.