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Moling Morrissey; a Supreme hurling artist in the Carlow Jersey
When a famous hurler widely regarded as Ireland’s greatest ever hurler made this historic 1960’s comment......
“I would stay up all night to watch him play” it is only natural that readers and browsers of the All Ireland Hall Of Fame Online Gallery around the globe would be inquisitive to know - To whom did the famous Christy Ring of Cork attribute this huge statement.
It was directed to a Carlow hurler who played against Ring and so inspired the Cloyne, Co. Cork, legend to frame a statement - that will never dim as long as leather meets ash on the hurling fields of Ireland.
A hurler who never graced Croke Park on provincial or All Ireland final days, but such was his natural abilities with the camán, Moling would have achieved national honours playing in the colours of one of the traditional hurling counties endowed with national titles galore. When Ringie encountered Moling Morrissey in a hurling battle in 1963 at Dr. Cullen Park, Carlow, the occasion was a National Hurling League match and Carlow were on their maiden voyage in this competition for the first time ever.
They were facing the mighty Cork hurling machine adorned with All Ireland titles galore. That was the golden era of Carlow hurling - the county coming from Junior also rans to Junior national success. The ‘Home’ Junior success of 1960 and then a devastating defeat to London in a replay of the All Ireland Junior final, could have enormous negative effects on the county hurlers.
Then along came 1962 and Carlow, Moling and a crop of the best hurlers ever produced in Carlow, went on to become All Ireland Intermediate Hurling Champions, a hurling title in second tier to the Liam McCarthy Cup. Whilst Carlow’s hurling ascension caught the eye of hurling fans all over Ireland, one outstanding player was especially prominent and that was the elegant midfielder, Moling Morrissey of the St. Mullins club.
Moling’s progress was monitored closely around Ireland (and with an usual name like Moling) his skills and competitive nature surfaced at an early stage when St. Mullins won back to back U16 Carlow championships in 1957 and 1958. In the 1959 Leinster minor championship Carlow were pitted against the mighty black and amber Kilkenny, and the famous Eddie Keher put 3 - 5 on the scoreboard.
However Moling Morrissey, in a glittering display, also put a glorious 2 - 4 on the Carlow scoreboard and despite a heavy defeat, Moling was now a hurler in the ascendcy. Immediate promotion to premier ranks in Carlow followed and with Moling’s array of great skills, the men from the Barrowside county now had one of the best hurlers in the land in their side.
A National Hurling League Division 2 medal was garnered in 1959, then in 1960 the mighty Carlow won the Leinster Junior Hurling Championship for the first time since 1907 - beating near neighbours Wexford in a New Ross final. Then along came powerhouse Cork in Nowlan Park, Kilkenny and again Carlow prevailed. This was the ‘Home’ final only and London were waiting in the The All Ireland final.
The game was fixed for London, resulted in a draw - and then on to Croke Park for the much awaited replay, which was a difficult defeat for Carlow to accept. Bouncing back in 1962 Carlow’s magnificent hurlers got their revenge on the London 'Exiles' in the All Ireland Intermediate final, after beating Kilkenny and Galway enroute to the London encounter.
Newspapers cited Moling Morroissey as Carlow’s trump card in all their glorious matches in the early 1960’s, and especially in the 1963 National League game V Cork, Moling was up against seasoned rebel hurlers, he scored invaluable points from difficult angles and led his Carlow team to a historic victory. Moling played for 13 years with Carlow hurlers, made 70 appearances and scored 11 - 70, very favourable and comparing with many of the greatest forwards in county hurling.
Moling’s inter county hurling career came to retirement in the Blue and White of neighbouring Laois, following emigration to the O'Moore county and he won a Laoiss county senior hurling championship medal with Clonaslee in 1975 and played regularly with Laois senior hurlers. The hurler, who started out with his native St. Mullins played across five decades of the 1950’s/60’/70’s/80’s/and in the 90’s at over 40’.
Moling Morrissey was the recipient of a Special SportsLife Tribute Show and Online Induction to the All Ireland Hall of Fame Online Gallery in December 2017, when a huge gathering of former hurling comrades, family and friends, shared a great night of nostalgic hurling stories, music and song.
Derry JF Doody