“Try that again and they’ll be having a by-election in Cork.” – Tony Reddin to then Cork TD, Jack Lynch, during the 1950 Munster final.
In 2019, Brian Hogan followed in the footsteps of his father Ken by winning an All-Ireland medal followed by his first All-Star.
Sixty years ago, a man from the same club of Lorrha & Dorrha carved the path for the Hogan men and his name was Tony Reddin.
Reddin began his hurling career in his native Mullagh, Co Galway. He made one appearance in the maroon jersey but due to a combination of parochial bias and the form of Seanie Duggan, Reddin could not break onto the team. When the offer of work across the Shannon came up in 1947, he took it.
His performance for Lorrha in the 1948 North Tipperary final caught the eye of the Tipperary management and at the age of 28, he became a regular starter for the Premier County, winning his first National League title the following year in 1949. Later that year, Reddin was in goals when Tipperary comprehensively beat Laois by 3-11 to 0-3 in the All Ireland final.
The Cork-Tipperary rivalry was fierce during this time and in the 1950 Munster final, it came to a head during one of the most bizarre matches to ever take place and one in which Tony Reddin solidified his legendary status in the minds of Tipperary hurling fans. The official attendance in Fitzgerald Stadium was 39,000 but it’s thought that more than 50,000 people poured into the stadium, breaking down gates on their way.
Tipperary enjoyed a comfortable seven-point lead at half-time, but Reddin emerged from the dressing rooms after the break to see that fans had broken down the fence and were now placed directly behind his goal. Christy Ring rattled his net soon after the whistle much to the delight of the Cork contingent, however, both he and Jack Lynch were denied further goals by magnificent saves from Reddin. Frustrated, the latter, a TD at the time, made a beeline for Reddin as he went up to catch a high ball. However, the Tipperary goalkeeper was too quick for him, gathering the ball and dodging Lynch who went crashing into the goal post.
“Try that again and they’ll be having a by-election in Cork”, was Reddin’s response.
The game became even more lawless and according to John Harrington’s biography of Tipperary hurling legend John Doyle, ‘Doyle: The Greatest Hurling Story Ever Told’, Reddin was pelted with various stones and bottles and even an orange, which he controlled on his hurley and partially ate before hitting it back.
Tipperary eventually won the encounter on a scoreline of 2-17 to 3-11 and on the full-time whistle, Reddin ran to the middle of the pitch with a hoard of angry Cork fans on his tail. He was met by a priest who quickly dressed him in a clerical hat and coat to disguise him. He remained on the pitch until the crowd had dispersed and it wasn’t until the Tipperary convoy were well outside of Killarney that the disguise was discarded and the flags began waving.
Tipperary went on to beat old rivals, Kilkenny, in the All Ireland final, earning Reddin his second medal. He added his third the following year when Tipperary met Wexford in the All Ireland final. Reddin extinguished the goal-scoring threat of Nicky Rackard and the Premier County won the decider on a scoreline of 7-7 to 3-9.
Cork eventually got their revenge on Tipperary in the Munster final 1952, halting their dreams of four-in-a-row. Reddin added further National League medals to his name in 1954, ’55 and ’57 but following that last win over Kilkenny, Reddin retired from inter-county hurling at the age of 37.
Following his hurling retirement, Reddin moved to Banagher, Co Offaly and began coaching with the local team, St Rynaghs, and is credited for his role in the club’s golden era that saw them clinch 10 Offaly titles between the years of 1965-76.
As well as his fearlessness, Reddin was known for his unique choice of hurley, preferring his to be heavier with a normal-sized boss. As former Tipperary player Donie Nealon commented, control was just as important to him as power.
“He didn’t have a frying pan like they do today, he had an ordinary sized hurley at that time. That is what made it all the more remarkable. He had a tremendous capacity for deadening the ball on the hurley no matter how strong it would come to him, you would not see it rebounding it back off his hurley. Physically he was very strong.
“They were all fantastic goalies in recent years but I would say Reddin was top of the pile. The thing about the modern goalies is that they have protection. Reddin didn’t have any protection, the forward could come in on top of you. He had no nerves at all. He enjoyed it so much. He was so much in control of his area.”
— Croke Park (@CrokePark) November 16, 2015
Tony Reddin, who was named on the Hurling Team of the Century and the Hurling Team of the Millennium, passed away in March 2015 at the age of 95 and the then Tipperary County Board chairman Michael Bourke was one of the first to pay tribute to him.
“The name of Tony Reddin will go down in hurling folklore as one of hurling’s legends. His goalkeeping genius which inspired many is as vibrant today, not alone to Tipperary people, but all Gaels in general as we recall the greatness of his unique talent.”
His vast array of medals were donated to the GAA museum by his family. In late 2019, his club of Lorrha & Dorrha renamed their local grounds ‘Tony Reddin Park & Community Centre’ in honour of their hurling hero with GAA President John Horan among those present to pay tribute to one of the game’s finest servants.
3 x All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship
3 x Munster Senior Hurling Championships
5 x National Hurling League
2 x North Tipperary Senior Hurling Championships
Goalkeeper on GAA Hurling Team of the Millennium
Goalkeeper on GAA Hurling Team of the Century
GAA Hall of Fame Inductee
*Originally published 19th April 2019