GAA Museum honours hurling and football legends with Hall of Fame Awards
2nd April 2014
The GAA Museum at Croke Park has announced the induction of four more players into the Hall of Fame for 2014.
Today former greats – Waterford hurler, Pat McGrath and Kilkenny’s Noel Skehan along with Sligo footballer Micheál Kearins and Kerry’s Mick O’ Dwyer were honoured by becoming the second group of former players to receive the awards since the inaugural event last year.
Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Liam Ó Néill congratulated the players on being named on the prestigious list which acknowledges their massive contribution to the GAA.
Liam Ó Néill said “It is a great honour to welcome these four outstanding GAA ambassadors into our Museum Hall of Fame and it is difficult to think of more fitting men for the award.
“These four individuals illuminated their respective codes, setting consistently high standards that thrilled crowds and highlighted the great attributes of our games."
The GAA Museum has recently undergone a major refurbishment and in 2013 welcomed over 100,000 visitors, of which 40% were from overseas. It has been consistently ranked as one of the Top 5 visitor attractions in Dublin on the influential TripAdvisor website. Indeed, such is the museum’s growing popularity with visitors to Dublin, that it not features on the city’s sightseeing Hop-on Hop-off tour bus route.
Pat McGrath (Port Láirge)
Waterford’s Pat McGrath starred for the Waterford hurling team from 1970 through to 1986. Throughout his 16-year senior inter-county career he was renowned for his skillful style of play and defensive exploits.
He first lined out for the Waterford minors before being called into the senior panel in 1970. It wasn’t until the following year that he made his senior inter-county debut against Tipperary in a Munster championship game. In 1974, Pat was captain when Waterford made history by reaching the U-21 Munster Hurling Final for the first time. The team progressed to the All-Ireland decider after victory over Antrim. However, the ultimate prize eluded him going down in the final to Kilkenny.
Pat played inter-provincial hurling with Munster, winning two Railway Cups in 1976 and 1978 and played his club hurling with the famous Mount Sion club, winning seven Waterford senior championships. His sons Ken and Eoin were keys member of the Waterford team in more recent years.
Noel Skehan (Cill Chainnigh)
Noel Skehan enjoyed a senior inter-county career with Kilkenny that spanned the years 1963 to 1985, during which time he won nine All-Ireland senior titles, eight Leinster titles, three National Hurling Leagues and four Railway Cups with Leinster. In 1962, he won an All-Ireland minor title before being selected for the county’s senior hurling panel in 1963 as understudy to his cousin and legendary goalkeeper Ollie Walsh.
For the next nine championship seasons Noel made some cameo appearances as a substitute before being elevated. In 1972 Noel succeeded in displacing Walsh as the number-one goalkeeper on the Kilkenny team and reached the decider against Cork. The win gave Noel his first All-Ireland title win on the field of play and he had the honour of lifting the Liam MacCarthy Cup.
Noel’s record of nine All-Ireland medals stood until September 2012, when Henry Shefflin equaled the record as Kilkenny won a 34th senior championship. Noel also enjoyed success at club level with Bennettsbridge winning six senior county titles.
Noel was also a selector with the Kilkenny senior hurlers when they captured back-to-back All-Ireland titles in 2002 and 2003. In those same years, he also guided Leinster to two Railway Cups titles.
Micheál Kearins (Sligo)
From an early age, it was evident that Micheál Kearins, Sligo had tremendous natural ability and was destined to become one of the greatest forwards of all time. He played his first game for Sligo at minor level in 1960 against Galway and made his senior inter-county debut in 1961. In all, he played senior inter-county football with Sligo for 18 consecutive years (1961 – 1978). Micheál scored 36 goals and 1,158 points in 215 games while playing for Sligo.
In 1975, he was instrumental in Sligo winning the Connacht Senior Football Championship for the first time in 47 years. In the provincial semi-final against Galway, he scored 10 points and proved to be a handful for the Galway defence. He represented Connacht on the Railway Cup team from 1963 until 1975 and won Railway Cup medals in 1967 and 1969. In 1971, he became the first Sligo player to be awarded an All Star when he was selected at left-half forward in the inaugural All Star football team.
In 1984 he was named in the special selection GAA Centenary Football team, comprising players who had never won an All-Ireland Senior Championship medal.
Mick O’Dwyer (Ciarraí)
Mick O'Dwyer is without doubt one of the most iconic figures in the history of the GAA, having enjoyed a 60-year involvement as player and then manager at the highest level of football. The Waterville native was revered as one of the finest players of his generation, before embarking on the most successful management career in the history of the game.
Mick lined out with the Kerry minor team in 1954 and went on to win four All-Ireland football titles as well as seven League medals in a senior inter-county career that lasted from 1957 to 1974.
It was as a manager that ‘Micko’ made his greatest mark in the GAA, managing his native Kerry as well as Kildare, Laois, Wicklow and Clare over a remarkable managerial career spanning five decades.
He managed the great Kerry team of the 1970s and 1980s to eight All-Ireland titles, including a four-in-a-row. He then managed Kildare to two Leinster titles, in 1998 and 2000, ending a 32-year wait for a provincial title in the process. He guided Laois to the 2003 Leinster title, their first such crown since 1946. He went on to manage Wicklow and Clare before calling time on a remarkable GAA career in January 2014. Over the course of his GAA career, Mick won a total of 12 All-Irelands, 25 provincial titles and 10 National Leagues as player and manager.