SCHOOLTEACHER Henry Martin, has written what might be referred to as the definitive book on the illustrious career of hurling legend, Mick Mackey, from famed Ahane.
Martin, who about three years ago penned the controversial Unlimited Heartbreak, which dealt with the trials and tribulations of the domestic GAA scene, undertook this latest project in the knowledge that given that Mackey illuminated the national and local scene in the 1930s and early 40s,
that his target audience would likely be restricted to those who have stored memories of that period in their memory bank, listened to endless fireside debates of the greatest era in Limerick hurling, and historians.
If this reviewer has one gripe it is the 12 page blow-by-blow trial of a 1950 court case into an near-fatal assault on an Ahane player in a championship match against Croom the previous year, and to which Mick Mackey was called as a key witness, is not just a distraction, but a needless reminder of an event best left in the GAA archives, and one that very few in the 75 + age bracket would wish to be revisited.
Also, several preceding pages are devoted to the personal views of people in attendance at the said match.
That apart, the author must be commended on his research and the depth of material offered to readers.
That he was dedicated to his cause is reflected in the number of interviewees who volunteered to contribute, numbering about 50 in all.
Mick Mackey, Hurling Legend In A Troubled County, is not just about the hurling exploits of the man himself, but to what are described as the schemers and the stroke merchants within the boot room, those who were expert at procuring votes at convention time, and the manoeuvres that took place between members of the farming community where selection on underage teams were concerned.
One farmer’s son, it is alleged, was selected on a county minor team because he paid over the odds for a farm animal.
What was it that Mick Mackey, acting as goal umpire, said to another legend, Christy Ring, when the Cork wizard left the field with his hand in a sling in a Munster semi-final against Tipperary at the Gaelic Grounds?
Turn to page 179 to get what we are told is the ‘real true story’.
From 1933 to 1940, Limerick hurlers dominated the game. Mick Mackey was key player in that era, driving his team to three Al-Ireland titles, five Munster championships and a similar number of League titles.
In 1955, he managed a very youthful county team to a sensational victory over an unbackable Clare in the provincial final at the Gaelic Grounds. That team later became known as Mackey’s Greyhounds.
Mick Mackey, Hurling Legend In A Troubled County, provides first hand accounts into the life and career of the great man from close associates, former team-mates, opponents and relations and, in the words of the author, lays bare the politics and the infighting that have dogged hurling in the county to this day.
Mr Martin, from south Limerick, is a graduate of UL and a qualified teacher.
He first shot to prominence as a writer on GAA affairs when this reviewer, in another life, invited him on board to pen a weekly column, The Man in the Middle, in the Limerick Leader, a no-holds barred insight into the local scene. It proved immensely popular with readers and ruffled a lot of feathers in the GAA hierarchy.