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Phil Grimes: Decies Famous Hurler Had Distinguished Career
Phil Grimes of famed Mount Sion, Waterford would have been an automatic choice on any legendary starting fifteen of the counties who have claimed the most All Ireland senior hurling titles. His elegance made him one of the unique breed of athletes that stood out from others, and also from colleagues probably as gifted as himself with the camán.
The Mount Sion hurler was first called into the Decies senior squad when only seventeen in 1947, and he made his Munster championship debut against Clare in 1948. A glittering under age career gave him his first All Ireland senior hurling medal in 1948, when named as a sub on the team that beat Dublin, but then he took the emigrant trail to New York. The emigrants welcomed Phil to the fold and he lined out with New York hurlers against Tipperary in the 1950 National League final at Gaelic Park. The spoils went to the premier county by a mere three points.
Phil returned shortly after to again wear the famed White/Blue jersey. A new generation of gifted men were blossoming on Suirside such as Frankie Walsh, Tom Cheasty, Mick Flannelly and many more , not to mention his legendary midfield partner, Seamus Power. Waterford won Munster in 1957 and Kilkenny fashioned a one point over the Suirsiders in the All Ireland final.
By now Ireland had a new emerging powerbase in hurling and in 1959 Phil Grimes took centre stage and became a hurling icon for future generations all over the Emerald Isle. In the Munster final against Cork he outplayed two of the rebels greatest hurlers, Paddy Barry and Christy Ring to set Waterford on their way to a historic victory.
At centre back he hurled the ball right, left and centre in their faces and the Corkmen could do nothing about it. With Phil Grimes one of the main anchors in 1959, the Decies men won a historic All Ireland, after a replay, with old foe Kilkenny. In the final he scored a remarkable 1 - 6 to sweeten even more this great triumph. The lean times returned in the early 60s but 1963 will always be fondly recalled as another halcyon era of Decies hurling. In the twilight of his careeer, Waterford selectors spared their ace player by moving him around, due to his versatility and great ability as a hurler.
Tipperary, for so long the scourge of Waterford, were laid bare on two gallant occasions in 1963.The mighty Tippmen succumbed in the Munster final and also lost the National League final to the Decies hurlers. Phil Grimes lost another All Ireland final to Kilkenny in a high scoring game dominated by Eddie Keher, who scored fourteen points in a 4 - 17 to 6 - 8 scoreline.
Phil Grimes, one of the greatest hurlers ever to emerge from Waterford and Munster, bade farewelll to inter county hurling following this 1963 setback, but the Grimes legacy will live forever, wherever the spoken word embraces hurling. Along with his collection of All Ireland and provincial medals, he won thirteen county senior hurling medals with his beloved Mount Sion. He also won two Railway Cup medals.
May you rest in the hallowed company of all the great hurling warriors who shone upon this earth and shine down for ever on the youthful hurlers who aspire to become future Decies hurling legends.
Derry JF Doody