The name Connie Maher will always be synonymous with Thurles Sarsfields, having hurled across the length and breadth of the county for many years in our famous blue and white jersey.
Although he finished his days in attack, Connie was regarded as one of the finest centre backs in the county for many seasons and his strength and drive singled him out as one of the toughest in the business.
Connie played it hard and tough - but always fair. Perhaps that is why he is so popular with so many players and GAA supporters even outside of the club.
Connie captained the club on many occasions and was an inspiration. He won several awards but the elusive county honour never came his way. Despite having hurled at senior level for almost twenty years, Connie did not manage to get his hands on a county senior medal.
Despite the disappointments, Connie was always the first to return to training and his influence over younger players became very important to Sarsfields in his closing playing days. He was in a position to impart advice to the young guns and they listened intently. Perhaps that is partly why the Dan Breen finally returned to Thurles in 2005 after a 31 year gap.
As a much sought after hurling coach, over the years
Connie has been spreading the hurling gospel at home and abroad. Perhaps Connie’s greatest attributes are his honesty and his sincerity. These are the qualities that make him so popular with colleagues and opponents alike. His excellent disciplinary record as a player illustrates how fair he was on the pitch, and his popularity shows how decent a man he is off it.
Connie Maher’s contribution to this club over the years is up there with the best. He might not have countless county medals, but he has the respect of countless friends and admirers.
Connie is an outstanding Sarsfields man, who takes immense pride in the club’s achievements, and who is never found wanting when there is a job to be done.
His selection as Club Person of the Year is due and fitting recognition for a life-time of commitment to The Blues.
Please stand and salute our Club Person of the Year –Connie Maher
It is right that, as we celebrate this evening, we pay tribute and express our thanks and appreciation to Michael Maher, who stepped down from the position of chairman, a post he held since 2008.
Michael - During your years as club chairman, Thurles Sarsfields have gone from strength to strength, both on and off the field.
Hurling has always been your sporting passion, always to the forefront in your dealings with the club and you have done everything in your power to strengthen the game in the club and success has followed.
Your record speaks for itself:
During your years as chairman Thurles Sarsfields won 17 major championships
1 Munster Club Hurling Championship (2012)
7 County Senior Hurling Championships (2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 + 2017)
6 Under 21 County Championships (part of the management for 4 of these) (2008, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016)
2 Junior B County Championships (2010+2017)
1 Minor County Championship (2010)
Off the field, our magnificent new dressing rooms were completed in 2014 and are now a very important addition to the amenities we offer our players. New Bathrooms, Kitchen and other upgrades to the clubhouse completed November 2017.
As you all know, the club has acquired its own playing field for the first time, with the purchase of 14.8 acres of land at Toor Killinan in November 2014. For years this major undertaking had been spoken of – now it is becoming a reality. Gladly you are staying on to lead this development and with the financial support of club members, supporters and friends we will see the new pitch and facilities providing for the needs of club players, both male and female.
These things don’t happen by accident. You have presided over all these diverse activities and have ensured that everything was done in a proper manner.
As a player, Michael you never gave less than one hundred percent, you never shirked a challenge or was cowed by the immensity of any task.
Hailing from a family, generations of whom have helped make Sarsfields the great club it is today, Michael is not simply following in the footsteps of his illustrious ancestors, but has put his own stamp on this club and its progress, and has carved his own niche in the club’s history.
Thanks to Nora for her support and understanding through all the years. Thanks Michael for your foresight, leadership, and dedication. The club is now well-placed to face the challenges that lie ahead, both on and off the field.
Please stand as we acknowledge the work of our former chairman- Michael Maher
Martin ‘Musha’ Maher was destined to be a hurler. His father, Paddy ‘Whitehead’ was a noted player with both Thurles Sarsfields and Tipperary in the 1930s and 40s. He was a man described as having ‘great hands’, which in hurling circles is a very high accolade. This gift he passed on to his sons, particularly Musha, who from an early age showed great hurling promise. Hurling in mid Tipperary in the 1950s wasn’t for the faint hearted, as the age-old keen rivalry among the clubs was tested on an annual basis. This was when Musha Maher was coming into his own, as a star forward in Sarsfields blue. Both club and county profited handsomely from his uncanny skill of being in the right place at the right time to shoot a vital score. Musha was on the winning Tipperary National Hurling League team in 1957 and the following year, 1958, an All-Ireland senior medal came his way. The mid and county titles followed and by the time he retired in the autumn of 1964, he had amassed an impressive ten mid and nine county hurling medals. In 1961, Musha captained Sarsfields to mid and county success. Factory league competitions with his work colleagues at Thurles Sugar Factory were also won as were several tournaments with Sarsfields, particularly the Cork Churches Tournaments of the late fifties.
The big ball was no stranger to Musha who revelled in the advent of Thurles Crokes winning mid senior football titles in 1960, ’61 and ’62 and that unique county title in 1960.
When his playing days were over, Musha still found time for his club as a team selector for several years and as a committee member for decades. It was no wonder that, when the position of club president became vacant on the death of Musha’s great friend, Mickey ‘The Rattler’ Byrne that it was Musha was given the honour he now holds as President of Thurles Sarsfields.
For the many supporters attending matches, Musha is still a familiar face as a gate checker for years with Munster Council, mid and county Tipperary Boards. Musha is always very popular at social gatherings, where his singing talent uplifts many a celebration.
Musha’s wife, Teresa, is an avid hurling supporter, who will, no doubt, be thrilled that Musha’s contribution to the GAA has been recognised and honoured, as he is inducted into the Mid Tipperary Hall of Fame.
Since the inception of the Hall of Fame award, many Sarsfields men have been honoured for their contribution to the club and county, particularly as players, but this year’s recipient, Paddy Doyle, has done so over such a wide range of activities that his selection is a particularly apt choice.
Given his family background and the involvement in the life of the club of his late father, Gerry, his uncles Tommy, Mikey, and Danny, and his brother, Jimmy, it was inevitable that Paddy would follow in their footsteps. Paddy’s prowess as a teenager saw him play for Tipperary minors for three years, winning two All-Ireland medals in 57 and 59 and he was also on the Tipperary minor football team in 1959.He won county minor hurling honours with the club in 1957. His elevation to the great club senior hurling ream of the latter half of the sixties followed with the first of his seven county senior hurling medals won in 1959. Five more followed from 61 to 65 as the club equalled its own record of five county senior titles in a row. Paddy was still a key figure when the club next triumphed in the Dan Breen Cup in 1974 – this time as a defender, having previously operated in attack.
He won an All-Ireland senior hurling medal in 1965 and travelled to the United States with that team. Paddy had all the attributes of a top-class player, and while he will be best remembered as a speedy, skilful, free-scoring forward in the great team of the sixties, he was equally at home at half-back, starring in the number six shirt in the ‘74 win over Silvermines, a versatility which reflected his wonderful natural talent for the game. Paddy always had a “grá” for football and won a county senior football championship with Thurles Crokes in 1960, the only time the title came to Thurles. Going on from that he captained Tipperary in the Munster senior football championship in 1961, a slip of a lad at nineteen years of age – probably the only Thurles man to do so, which in itself is a significant achievement.
His playing career over, Paddy continued to immerse himself in the life of the club and took charge of the club’s senior hurlers that reached the county final on a number of occasions. The success he longed for with the club eluded him but in 1984 he steered Moycarkey-Borris to county and provincial honours and three years later he went one better as he led Borris/Ileigh to county, Munster and All-Ireland club titles. His talent was also in big demand at inter-county level and he managed the Tipperary team which reached the 1987 All-Ireland minor hurling final. In the early 90s, he was in charge of the Laois team that won division two of the National Hurling League. He was also a driving force in the revival of camogie in town in the sixties and early seventies when the club won several county and provincial honours and were narrowly beaten in the All-Ireland final in 1971.
Paddy also gave generously of his time to club administration and under his chairmanship the club’s social centre here opened in 1978, a hugely significant event in the history of the club which benefitted immensely from the enthusiasm and leadership he provided to bring it to fruition. He is currently Vice-President of the club.
Outside of GAA matters Paddy was a top-class Badminton player who along with his brother, the late Jimmy, and team-mates in the Thurles Badminton club were regarded as one of the top outfits in the country in their time, with a litany of county, provincial and national titles to their credit. In all of these activities Paddy’s commitment was never less than one hundred percent and it can safely be said that he has few, if any, equals in terms of long and distinguished service to the club – a service that continues to this day. We salute him and thank him for his outstanding contribution and loyalty to Sarsfields and congratulate him on joining the ranks of the other “great’s” in the club’s Hall of Fame.