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Micheal O'Muircheartaighs Tribute to Ned Power

Micheal O'Muircheartaigh

Beidh Páirc Eile ag an bPaorach.

I arrived in Dublin for the first time round mid- September 1948 ;I am not sure was it a fine year or  the opposite or even in between;but I do know that it was an unusual year in sport;Ireland won the Rugby Grand Slam; Mayo crushed Kerry in an All-Ireland football semifinal and Cavan completed a two in a row of ‘Sam Maguires’ for the first time;and two weeks before I landed in good old Baile Átha Cliath the name of Waterford/Portlairge was inscribed on hurling’s Roll of Honour when goalkeeper Jim Ware led Na Déise to All-Ireland glory.

Dá mba mall teacht Chorn Mhic Cárthaigh ba mhithid mar bhí traidisiún na h-iomána sa chontae le fada.

That All-Ireland win for Waterford was big news in hurling quarters nationally and in my abode for the  next two years,St. Patrick’s Teacher Training College in Drumcondra;the reason is a simple one,Johnny O'Connor,Waterford’s young midfielder was a student in the College the same year.Of course Johnny of the springy step and lively laughter was a hero to all but unknown to many there was another fine Déise hurler in our midst agus bhí aithne againn go léir air mar Ned Power. Strangely we did not know him as a hurler because ‘Pat’s’ was more of a football College at the time and incidentally had an outstanding team that year.The most famous of all was Seán Purcell of Galway already an established mid-fielder/centre-forward with his county and acknowledged nowadays by many people as one the outstanding Gaelic footballers of all time. He was by no means the only star in the outfit and one of the others,John Joe Sheehan of Kerry was destined to win two All-Irelands with Kerry later;Tom McHugh,or Mac Aodh as I knew him was a staunch fullback and played subsequently with Waterford;his great friend of many years,Jim Rhattigan or Reachtagáin from Laois was at full-forward and so on with competent players in all  positions.

The goalkeeper was none other than the quiet spoken Ned Power whose countenance always carried the message that he was enjoying life.I always thought of him as one who never sought attention for himself;Ned was that sort of man,friendly in the extreme,ever casting a friendly, warm eye on life and eagerly looking forward at all times to helping others particularly in the pursuit of knowledge or the furtherance of his passion which was the noble game of hurling. In Pat’s he was a good football cúlbáire and as he showed later in the Waterford colours a very brave,adept and decisive hurling man in the bearna baoil.I often wondered did he ever in those days playing football with Pat’s dream about emulating the deeds of Jim Ware and being the next goalkeeper to win a hurling All-Ireland le Portlairge ?.

It took eleven years before Waterford claimed the county’s second All-Ireland and when it did happen goalkeeper Ned Power was very conscious and grateful of the honour that the victory bestowed on him and the other members of the team.But it can be said with certainty that over the years until his untimely death he repaid more than his due to the game he loved.

He quickly became a great disciple of coaching rather than staying with the theory that excellence was more or less dependent on chance and heredity factors.It must be remembered that coaching was frowned upon in GAA circles during his playing days but once attitudes changed he adopted it wholeheartedly and became both a student and practitioner.Over the years thousands benefited from his instruction and guidance on developing the many skills of hurling and getting to love the experience.He attended coaching courses,seminars,practical sessions and was at all times on the look-out for the best manner of imparting the skills to young aspirants.

I have often mentioned his name in discussions and debates on sport in general whenever the inherent skills of different sports became an issue.It is easy to find people who could defend the case that hurling is the most skilful of all games within our Irish ken;whenever I found myself speaking for the defense I always cited the words of Ned –‘so far I have identified one hundred and thirty one individual skills that are part of our national game’.No other game can match that level of artistry and Ned never had any trouble in listing his ‘one hundred and thirty one skills of hurling for those interested and inspired by the analytic mind and enthusiasm of the ‘múinteoir iomána’.His real legacy lies with the respect for the value of coaching in the world of Gaelic games today.

Chomh maith leis an iomáint bhí gean ar leith ag an bPaorach i gcónaí do’n Ghaeilge.Ba mhinicí gur labhramar sa teanga sin ná an Béarla aon uair gur casadh ar a chéile sin i rith na mblian; ach ait go leor ní cuimhin liom comhrá ar bith dá short le linn ár dtréimhse i gColáiste Phadraig.Bhí guth séimh Ned le cloisint go rialta ar Raidio na Gaeltachta ag tuairmíocht ar chluichí iomána agus is fíor gur chuir a inchur go mór le gradam an stáisiúin.Bhí sé fial len a chuid ama freisin aon uair go raibh éileamh ag na meáin eile ar a smaointe.

Is cuí anois agus Éamonn imithe ar shlí na firinne go bhfuil Páirc Éamonn De Paor á bhaisteadh ar ghort peile agus iomána Thulach An Iarainn in Iarthar Chontae Phortlairge,áit in ar chaith sé blianta fada mar mhúinteoir scoile agus deisciobal Chú Chulainn. Is dual do go mairfeadh a chuimhne agus mar leac
suaimhnis cá bhfios ná go mbeadh cúrsa oiliúna san iomáint do dhaoine óga á reachtáil go bliantúil ar a phaiste féin sar a fada,rud a thaitneodh go mór leis
ar réileáin imeartha na bhFlathas.

Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh.