Galway hurling legends

Sean Duggan

Sean Duggan

One could almost say that the Duggan family of College Road were born to play the game of hurling. A number of their predecessors had played for a famous College Road team in the 1890s, and their uncle Paddy played for Galway. They were given their first hurleys by Eddie Moore O’Flaherty from the Claddagh when they were very young children, so it was no wonder that Sean and Paddy and Jimmy would play for Galway and that Monica would become a very famous camogie player. Paddy and Monica have gone to their reward, but happily Sean and Jimmy are still with us.

As children they played hurling on the street, in the Sportsground and in Eyre Square, often using their jackets or schoolbags as goalposts. They both went to ‘The Mon’ where their skills were encouraged and developed. As they grew older, they spent most of their spare time playing juvenile hurling with their mates in places like Mahon’s Field, the Plots in Woodquay, Boland’s Field beside the Dublin Road, and the Nuns’ Field in Forster Street.

Sean was on a Monastery School team that won the Dean’s Cup in 1935. He played with the Liam Mellows Club (he was on the senior team at the age of 16 ) and when they disbanded in the late 1930s he played minor for Galway City who won the county championship in 1941. He was present when the Mellows club reformed and went on to win five county championships with them. He played in goals for Galway for over 10 years and is regarded by many as ‘probably the greatest goalkeeper in the history of the game’. “Up goes that hand again for Galway,” was the catchphrase regularly used by Mícheál Ó hEithir in radio commentaries. Some of Seanie’s saves are legendary and have gone into the folklore of the game.

They say that “pound for pound, there was no better hurler than Jimmy Duggan”. When the Patrician Brothers started a street league to promote the game of hurling Jimmy captained the team representing Woodquay, Bohermore, College Road, and Renmore. He played minor for Mellows and won county championships in hurling and football in 1947, a unique double, and he captained the county minor team which was beaten in the All-Ireland final of that year by Tipperary. He had a long and distinguished playing career with his club and his county and also played for Connacht in the Railway Cup many times. He was a noted referee and officiated at a minor All Ireland final, a Railway Cup final, and an under-21 All Ireland final.

Both of these men were stylish players, beautiful strikers of the ball. They have been wonderful ambassadors for the game of hurling, and also for their club, their city, and their county. It is entirely fitting, therefore, that the National University of Ireland , Galway will honour these two Galwegians on Monday next by presenting them with honorary MAs. The citation will be given by Professor Eamon O’Shea. Congratulations to Sean and Jimmy, and congratulations to NUIG for honouring them in such an imaginative way.

Our action photographs today show Sean Duggan in action circa 1949 and Jimmy in or around 1960.


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