History / Stair

This is not, nor is it intended to be, a complete or definitive history of Tallow GAA club. We do not see it as being the appropriate forum for what would be a much more complete and comprehensive study requiring more detailed research.
 We will leave such a study to others.
Rather, this is a broad brush stroke through the ages since the foundation of the club in which we charter what we see as the seminal events and on field achievements which form the rich tapestry of the history and tradition of Tallow GAA club.
Some periods throughout the short history which follows are covered more comprehensively than others. This was mostly determined by what we perceived as the significance of events or achievements throughout a particular period but also by the material and information made available to us. We could only work with what we had. 
If there are inaccuracies or omissions of note we are happy to make changes if these are brought to our attention.

The origins of Tallow GAA club can be traced back almost to the foundation of the GAA itself in 1884. Though it is now predominantly a hurling club Tulach An Iarainn has a longer association with Gaelic Football.  In Michael Cusack’s Celtic Times, the Gaelic games newspaper published in 1887, Tallow is listed as one of only twelve football clubs in competition in Waterford in April of that year. This evidence cannot be disputed. The Waterford GAA official website corroborates Tallow’s involvement in GAA affairs in the county at the end of the nineteenth century. The first official county board meeting was held on 30th December 1886, at this meeting it was decided that a further meeting would be held one month later at the premises of Mr. J.P. Kennedy, George Street, Waterford. Tallow is again named as one of the clubs to send representatives.

In the Waterford senior football championship of 1887 Tallow received a bye in the first round and went out to Butlerstown in round two. We know with certainty therefore that a club was in existence at least since 1887 and probably earlier. How the club fared subsequently, as the nineteenth century drew to a close is unclear but we cannot disown the men who wore a Tallow jersey of some description back in 1887.

Hurling – When it all began

It was not however until early in the next century that hurling was introduced or possible reintroduced to the area on a more organised footing.  On the 19th August 1919 a meeting was called to establish the first Tallow hurling club.  Bernard O’Leary was elected both Chairman and Secretary of that first committee.  Of those founding fathers, a young man by the name of Jim Deane appeared to be the driving force and was most influential in establishing hurling in the club.  Originally from the Midleton area, Jim Deane worked as a baker at John Michael Beecher’s in West Street.  He was a true pioneer of the game, a player, coach and hurley maker all in one.  He even made the sliotars.  His daughter Eily married Bill Sheehan and the family to this day are involved in the club.

The Early Years

As far as we can tell the first organised game was played on the 5th October 1919 against Castlelyons in Ahern.  In a low scoring game Tallow won by 1-1 to 1-0.  The team was as follows:

                          Ned Walsh
    Tom Donnelly    P. Curtin    Jack O’Brien
    Jack Spillane    Jackie Ryan    Tom Burke
    Jas. Deane (Capt.)    Dick Morrison
    Den Lyons    M. Lynch    Paddy Burke
    Moss Spillane    Billy Curley    F. Ryan

A number of challenge games were played in 1920 against Cappoquin and St Colman’s, Fermoy but in these troubled times the imposition of Martial Law, which banned gatherings at sports meetings and matches, seriously curtailed the activities of the GAA.

Although knocked out in the second round of the Championship in 1923 and 1924 the team was progressing well and brought the first County Title to Tallow in 1925 when they won the Junior Hurling Championship.

1925 Junior Hurling Champions:

                           Jim Deane
    Bob Condon    Willie Mackey    Willie Mahony
    Tom Burke    Noel Condon    Paddy Burke
    Frank Ryan        Jack Slattery
    Jim Barrett    Mickie McCarthy    Moss Spillane
    Billy Curley    Tommy Barry    Jackie Brien

Subs: Jimmy Cunningham, Jim Healy, Jackie Kent

Late 1920's team.

A Glorious Decade:

Tallow reached the senior county final in 1928 but were well beaten by Erins Own (their 2nd title of 9 in a row). After four years at senior level the team was back in junior in 1930 but returned immediately in triumph that same year when they won the Junior County Title.  A glorious decade in the history of Tallow GAA was dawning.

The Junior title of 1930 was followed by a Senior title in 1936 (albeit after a boardroom decision) and the Minors triumphed in 1938.  The senior hurlers contested 4 other finals in the '30s ('31, '32, '34, '35) losing to the famed Erins Own on each occasion.

The following Tallow players won All-Ireland medals with Waterford teams in the late 1920’s and 1930’s.

Pa Sheehan    (3)    1929, 1931, 1934
Mick Curley    (3)    1929, 1931, 1934
Bill Sheehan   (2)    1931, 1934
John Hartigan (2)    1931, 1934
Bob Condon           1931
Noel Condon          1931
Ned Flynn              1931
Tom Burke            1931
Jackie Ormonde     1931
Bill Henley             1934
Frank Fitzgerald     1934

Mick Curley also won a Railway Cup medal in 1936.

Nine Tallow players featured on the 1931 Junior All-Ireland winning team.


1930 Junior Hurling County Champions:

                           Jim Deane
    Simon O’Leary    Bob Condon    Ned Flynn
    Tom Burke (Capt.)    Bill Henley    John Hartigan
    Bill Sheehan        Pa Sheehan
    Ned Condon    Noel Condon    Mick Curley
    Pat Condon    Michael Hickey    Willie O’Brien

Rest of panel: Jimmy Cunningham, Dave Doyle, Mick Harty, John Connors, Moss Aherne, Tommy Sheehan, Mick Mulcahy, Willie Revins, Joe Prendergast, John Donovan, Wm Browne, Jack Burke

1936 Senior Hurling Champions v Mt. Sion

                           Mick Curley
    Jack McGrath    Bob Condon    Frank Fitzgerald
    Jimmy Burke    Bill Sheehan    Sonny Curley
    Jackie Daly        Pa Sheehan
    Tommy Sheehan    Tom McCarthy    Lockie O’Keefe
    Dave Doyle    Noel Condon    Ted McCarthy

1938 Minor Panel v P.H. Pearses:

Willie McGrath, John McCarthy, Jim McNamara, Willie Hickey, Patie Aherne, Sonny Murray, Pad Malone, Johnnie Buckley, John Grey, Harry Ronayne, Joe McCarthy, Johnny Keefe, “Gruaig” McGrath, Pat Curley, Mick Cronin, Luke McCarthy, Jackie Daly.

The Lull

Tallow contested the senior final in 1943 (losing to Mount Sion) but for much of the decade club fortunes appear to have been in some decline. At one stage the club was suspended from competition for allegedly playing illegal players.  This was a period of high emigration in Ireland and Tallow like many other clubs lost playing members to foreign shores.  Not a lot of information has been made available to me from this period but we do know that in 1947 Tallow made their last appearance in Senior grade for some time to come…

A New Dawning

“Is namhaid I an cheird gan I a fhoghlaim”

In 1950 Eamonn De Paor took up a teaching post in the local National School, Scoil Mhuire, heralding the dawn of a golden era in the clubs history.  It would prove to be a seminal appointment where the history of Tallow GAA was concerned.

Ned Power enjoyed a long and illustrious playing career with club and county.  In 1959 he won an All Ireland medal in goals for Waterford.  His last appearance in a Tallow jersey was in 1986 at the age of 56.  As he said himself “I never retired, they just didn’t pick me anymore”

Remarkable as his playing career was, his achievements as a coach at club and county level as well as his contribution to coaching nationally are perhaps his greatest legacy to Cumann Lúthchleas Gael.  A hurling purist, with an innate love and understanding of the game, Eamonn De Paor found fertile ground in Tallow, where a great hurling tradition already existed, to impart knowledge and sow seeds of success.  He embraced his mission with evangelical zeal.  In coaching terms he was ahead of his time.

“An té nach gcuireann san Earrach ni bhfainfidh sé san Fhómhair”

Signs of the renaissance, that would flourish for more than two decades, first became evident in 1962 when the school under 14 football team won the Avonmore League (a competition confined to the far west of the county).  Not for the first or last time would a Tallow football team show the way forward.  It was taken a step further in 1964, when the hurlers got in on the act and the double was achieved in this competition.

Throughout the 60’s and 70’s, Tallow underage hurling and football teams, whose skills were honed at the “Ned Power School of Excellence”, blazed a trail of glory through the county and brought an avalanche of Western and County titles to the Brideside town.

From 1966, when the under 16 footballers won the County title, this game was actually played in Carrick-on-Suir in County Tipperary, to 1981, Tallow would win every single County title in hurling and football, from under 14 up, with the exception of Senior football – and they gave that a good rattle too.

Tallow Juvenile Football Co. Champions 1966.

The conveyor belt was in full production in this most prolific period in the history of Tallow GAA. (A full list of titles can be viewed on The Roll of Honour page)  In 1968 and 1971 Tallow was honoured as “Club of the Year” in Waterford.  Senior hurling status was regained in 1974 when Tallow won the Intermediate title, defeating Clonea 4-11 to 1-2.

Club of the year 1971

Intermediate Champions 1974

Ned Power, T McSweeney, B Sheehan (Capt), R McNamara, J Cronin, L O’Brien, M Curley, J McDonnell, K Ryan, R O’Brien (R.I.P.), E Condon, S Treacy (R.I.P.), J Curley, B Ryan, T Doyle, B Henley, R Ryan, T Mulcahy, N Sheehan, L Moroney, P Daly, J Henley, D Cunningham, J Lyons, C Henley.

The Harvest

It was a natural progression that greater glory should lay ahead. The work put in at under age level for more than a decade and a half paid dividends which culminated in three senior hurling titles in 1980, 1984 and 1985.

After a 44 year gap since their first senior title Tallow finally made the big breakthrough in 1980. They took on a highly fancied Dunhill team who were going for three in a row. Against the odds Tallow pulled out all the stops to snatch a sensational victory in a very low scoring game at the Fraher Field: Tallow 1-07; Dunhill 1-06.

1980 County Senior Hurling Champions v Dunhill

                          E Curley (Capt)
    T McSweeney    B Sheehan    P “Mutty” Curley
    T Sheehan    C Curley    L O’Brien
        J McDonnell        K Ryan
    M Curley    T Doyle    R O’Brien
    S Curley    L Moroney    P Daly

Subs: S Treacy, M Beecher, F Ryan, J Hartigan, N Sheehan, J Fitzgerald, M Geary, Jimmy Cronin.

 Back Row (l to r) John Lyons, Eddie Cunningham, John Henley, Dave Doyle, John Fitzgerald, Diarmiuid Cantillion, Pat Murphy, Noelie Sheehan, Billy Sheehan, Connie Curley, Stephen Curley, Liam O'Brien, Paddy Joe Sheehan, Kieran Ryan, Con Ryan, Liam Moroney, John Hartigan, Ned Power, Richie McNamara.
Front row (l to r) Brendan Hartigan, Jimmy Cronin, Mike Geary, Seanie Pratt, Mutty Curley, Ray O'Brien, Mickey Curley, Tom McSweeney,, Timmy Sheehan, Tom Doyle, Eddie Curley, John McDonnell, Michael Beecher, Frankie Ryan, Pat Daly.
Kneeling Seamus Tracey.

The hurling wasn’t over. Tallow minor hurlers sealed a unique double in the history of the club when they defeated Roanmore a week later in the county final. The far west was well awake. It couldn’t get much better. We had taken the Senior title and the Minor’s victory signalled there was more to come from Tallow.

Jubilant Tallow players and supporters celebrate the 1980 minor hurling county win.

Eddie Cunningham, Mick Beecher, John Fitzgerald, Johnny Geary, Sean Lyons, Martin Prendergast, Philly Curley, Michael T Cunningham, Pat Murphy, Francis O Brien, Liam Aherne, Dessie O Herlihy, Frankie Ryan, Jim O Donoghue, Milo Aherne, Eric Cantillon, Don Henley, Richie McNamara, Martin Murphy, Paul Geary (R.I.P.), Frank Ryan, John William McCarthy (R.I.P.), Eddie Curley, Billy Sheehan, Jimmy Cunningham (R.I.P.), Pa Sheehan (R.I.P.), Con Ryan, Dave Doyle (R.I.P.), John Henley, Connie Ryan, Michael “Ernie” Condon, Seán Power, Aidan Ryan, John A Tobin, Billy Henley (R.I.P.), Aidan O Brien, Donie Lyons, Cillian O Herlihy, Kieran O Brien, Paul Curley, Tommy Flynn, Jacko Doyle (middle) Harry Ronayne.

1981 – A Club in Mourning.

Buoyant from the success of ’80 expectations were high in the club as 1981 dawned. Nobody envisaged the tragic events that would unfold in the year ahead to claim the lives of two of our finest young hurlers.

 Ray O'Brien RIP

On the 27th February we lost one of the greatest exponents of the game ever to don the club jersey. The untimely death of Raymond O Brien left our community in shock and deep mourning. “Pigeon” as he was affectionately known, was a gifted all round sportsman who had represented club and county at every level in both hurling and football. He lined out at half forward on 1980 county winning team. Ray wore the club jersey for the final time against Roscrea in the Munster club championship in late 1980. His final appearance in the county colours was against Wexford in January 1981.

 Billy Henley RIP

Less than 6 months later while still struggling to come to terms with the death of Pigeon the community was once again plunged in to mourning when Billy Henley lost his life in a tragic drowning accident. He was just 16. Though almost 7 years younger than Pigeon they both lived in West St and were friends. They had much in common.

A roguish smile, a sunny disposition and a warm personality endeared Billy to all. He had a winning way about him and was very popular. A talented young lad, who could turn his hand to any sport but we were sadly never to see his full potential. Billy was a member of the minor hurling panel who won the county title the previous year.

Patsy Cunningham RIP
In 2015 the club lost Patsy.We have lost a committed, dedicated committee member but most of all we have lost a dear friend who was very popular with all in the club. It’s hard to come to terms with this and it doesn’t even feel right referring to him in the past tense. He enriched our club. He enriched the lives of all of us who were privileged to know him as a friend.
Though he once told me he preferred to be called Pat he was affectionately known as Patsy by most in the club. He was the epitome of a good clubman and gave valued service in a number of rolls on and off the field. Most of all though, Patsy loved playing and was still togging out up to recent times.  He rarely missed training and was an example to all in this regard. He played under age hurling and football with Tallow in his younger days.
He would play anywhere, and he did, even in goals just to be part of the action.  He made a huge contribution as team selector in both junior hurling and football over a number of years. He was part of the management team that guided Tallow to win the junior football county title against Mount Sion in 2010. There was no prouder man when we lifted the cup in Walsh Park that day. The team subsequently reached the Munster semi final following a victory over Clare champions Kilfenora. The following year he was back in a county final again, this time as selector with our junior hurling team along with Colin and Finn. A gentleman by nature, he could be ruthless on the line when it came to making changes if he thought it would benefit the team. He was always willing and able and was a key member of our senior squad’s backroom team. Not a man to seek the limelight, but Pat C was always there when you needed him. Patsy had a keen interest in all sports, be it hurling, football, rugby or soccer and was well versed in all. He had a varied selection of sports jerseys from different codes. He was a true sportsman!
Of a kindly disposition, Pat C  was good natured, decent, sincere and honourable. He was always ready with a witty retort and revelled in the camaraderie and banter that gel clubs.


By 1984 the seasoned campaigners of 1980 were augmented by the youthful minors of that same year who had now come of age. They gave Tallow a cutting edge. (“Philly” Curley it was who said “we gave them legs”) Tallow struck for their second title of the decade in Centenary Final. 
Although Portlaw were pre match favourites, Tallow turned in a top class performance to emerge comfortable winners in front of a huge crowd at Fraher Field.
Tallow 2-12 Portlaw 2-1.

1984 County Senior Hurling Champions v Portlaw

                              Eddie Curley
    Jim O’Donoghue    Liam O’Brien    Frankie Ryan
    Johnny Geary    Mick Beecher    Timmy Sheehan
        John McDonnell        Kieran Ryan
    Connie Curley    Philly Curley    Mickey Curley
    Seamus Treacy    Pat Murphy    Pat Daly

Subs: L Moroney, S Pratt, J Kelly, T Hancock, A Ryan, P Curley, T McCarthy, M Murphy, B Sheehan.

1985 County Senior Hurling Champions v Ballyduff

It’s a sign of a great team that can put titles back to back. The victory may be all the sweeter when it is a local derby.

Battle was joined at Dan Fraher’s Field in Dungarvan as near neighbours Tallow and Ballyduff engaged in a titanic struggle for supremacy in an all Western showdown. It was a closely fought encounter.

When the battlefield cleared Tulach an Iarainn stood as champions and returned victorious to the banks of the Bride for the second year in succession.
Tallow 3-8 Ballyduff 2-8

                              Eddie Curley
    Jim O’Donoghue    Liam O’Brien    Kieran Ryan
    Johnny Geary    Mick Beecher    Timmy Sheehan
        John McDonnell    Mickey Curley
    Connie Curley    John Kelly    Paul Curley
    Pat Daly    Pat Murphy    Liam Moroney

1985 Munster Club Championship
Tallow 1-17 Kilruane McDonaghs 1-18

As County Champions in 1985 Tallow went on to represent Waterford in the All Ireland Club Championship and met Tipperary Champions Kilruane McDonaghs in the Munster Semi-final which was played in Tallow.  It was truly an epic encounter.  The Cork Examiner at the time described it as one of the greatest club games ever played in the Championship:

“It was a quality game throughout but the tension and excitement heightened to almost unbearable levels in the last 18 minutes when both sides raised their game to a spectacular level of skill and determination that is not often witnessed.”

The Tipperary Champions won the game by the narrowest of margins when Gilbert Williams pointed a last minute 65.  Kilruane recorded further victories over Blackrock (in a replayed Munster Final) and Turloughmore of Galway before beating Buffer’s Alley in the All Ireland Final.

Tallow reached the zenith of its hurling orbit throughout the first half of this decade.  The club garnered three senior titles and proved themselves a match for the best in the land.  You cannot rest on your laurels in this game however and tallow were unceremoniously despatched to the Intermediate ranks the following year, 1986.  It was a short stay, the club regained senior status in 1987 when they defeated Erin’s Own, their great rivals from the 30’s, in the Intermediate final.

Following on tradition, in recent times the clubs U21 hurlers won County titles in 2002 and 2003 giving cause for optimism.

As with any club with a proud tradition of success, there will always be high expectations.  The achievements of former teams will not be easily emulated but that is the level to which we aspire.

The period since 1987, however, represents the longest unbroken stint the club has spent at senior level. Tallow reached the county senior hurling semi-final in 2008 and captured the u21 (b) title in style. There is hope for the future.

The Club won its first adult title since the 1987 Intermediate hurling title when they won the Junior Football county in 2010, The following year in 2011 we reached our first county senior hurling final in 26 years when we played Ballygunner, We were were outclassed on the day. In 2016 we returned to the hurling showpiece again playing Ballygunner but regrettably lost by four points on the day.