SportsLife All Ireland Hall of Fame Tribute: Gaelic Football Category:
Seán Purcell - Galway's Terrible Twin No.1 and The Master of Ceremonies for the Art of Gaelic Football
Known as one half of the Galway ‘Terrible Twins’, Seán Purcell, born in Tuam, Co. Galway in 1929, was known throughout his own county as ‘The Master’. His twin partner was the legendary Frank Stockwell, and both players came from the famed Tuam Stars G.A.A. club in Galway north. The title of gaelic football’s greatest ever centre forward rested easily on his broad shoulders.
As a blossoming future star at St. Jarlath’s College, Tuam, 1947 became a landmark year. The name Seán Purcell made great headlines as the famed college won the All Ireland colleges football title for the first time, with Purcell playing a starring role at midfield. The national press of the mid 1950's inscribed the title ‘Terrible Twins’ on Purcell and Stockwell following Galways historic 1956 All Ireland victory over Cork.
The duo were unstoppable for many years as they wreaked havoc on defences at club and county levels. Tuam Stars also enjoyed huge success with county titles in the 50's and with the Terrible Twins in the Stars famed red jersies, the north Galway club annexed seven successive Galway senior football titles from 1954 through to 1960.
With a career spanning three decades through the 1940's; 50's and 60's, fans all over Ireland turned out in major attendances for national league games when Galway came to town to play the local county. Seán Purcell played in a variety of positions for club and county, but he will be remembered in the history books for his centre forward exploits and his link play with Frank Stockwell.
He became enraptured and immersed with gaelic football from the age of five and he took his boyhood inspiration from watching his county team playing at Tuam G.A.A. grounds. The All Ireland victory of 1956 gave Seán his sole Celtic Cross medal and in the 1959 All Ireland final, he was captain when they faced Kerry, captained by nineteen year old emerging legend, Mick O’Connell, who reigned supreme on the day.
Purcell’s roll of honour would include his 1956 Celtic Cross memento and a National Football League medal for 1957; seven Connacht senior titles; ten county senior football titles; three Railway Cup medals. Seán was also chosen on the G.A.A. Centenary football team in 1984 at centre forward and again in the same role for the Millennium team in 2000. The career span at county level took in the years 1947 to 1961, and with his club he continued playing until 1962 when aged thirty three.
Further honours were bestowed in 1999 when a new road was named in memory of both Purcell and Stockwell and the National University Of Ireland (Galway) also conferred an honorary degree on Seán Purcell.
Seán’s club also unveiled their own commemorative plaque at the local club grounds. The passing of the Tuam and Galway legend on 27th August 2005, brought the town to a total shut down and sporting dignitaries came from all over Ireland for the final farewell to a player who cruised in to numerous Hall Of Fame galleries over many years.
We welcome the Tuam Stars legend posthumously into our All Ireland Hall of Fame Online Gallery and one can only wonder, what the great master would think of 21st century gaelic football.
Derry JF Doody