Kilkenny’s First Senior Hurling Title
After four previous attempts, a Kilkenny team achieved our first Hurling crown in June 1906 although this was the 1904 title. The match was played in Deerpark, Carrick on Suir, on ground belonging to Maurice Davin, a founder member, and a President of the G.A.A. The Kilkenny team was made up of a selection mostly from Tullaroan, but also had players from Erin’s Own, Mooncoin and ThreeCastles, while St Finbarrs were Corks representatives. The general feeling was Cork would win, adding further glory to Munster hurling and taking three All Ireland titles in a row.
The game delayed for a half an hour due to the Kilkenny trains been late and heavy showers, eventually got under way before 4000 spectators. Cork played with the breeze in the opening half but Kilkenny took an early lead with a point from captain Jer Doheny. Further points came from Pat Fielding and Sim Walton to give a three point lead after 6 minutes. Cork soon steadied up and drew level but Kilkennys supporters went wild with delight when Dick Doyle goaled. Further points were exchanged to leave Kilkenny leading by 1-5 to Corks 0-5 at half time. Fox Maher Kilkennys goalkeeper came to the rescue early in the second half, but Cork soon equalised with a goal, and went in front by a point. It looked as if Kilkennys early flourish was in vain. Indeed at this stage Cork missed an open goal which would have clinched the title, but were still in the lead by two points. Kilkenny fought back with points from Pat Fielding and Dick Doyle to level the scores, but lost Dan Stapleton who was struck with the ball from a Cork player. Two further Kilkenny points showed a scoreline 1-9 to 1-7,Cork closed the game with a late point, but Kilkenny won their first Senior Hurling Title.
The Kilkenny People reported of the wild scene of enthusiasm as the delirious Kilkenny crowd invaded the pitch, shouted themselves hoarse and tossed their hats into the air in the excess of their delight. Congratulations were showered on the players who found it hard to escape to the dressing sheds. Fox Maher was carried bodily off the field while Jim Lalor found it impossible to escape from the enthusiastic throng. Further scenes of celebration were witnessed as the victors received the Great Southern Cup.
The Cork Examiner writing of the match said, the representative hurling seventeens of Leinster and Munster met on Sunday last for the All Ireland 1904 hurling supremacy, the very fast early pace of Kilkenny and their combination play upset the Cork players. The reporter felt there was a lack of determination in the Cork play and a sense of over confidence. Late in the game an unsatisfactory draw looked the likely outcome, but the Kilkenny men working like Trojans came through for a one point win.
The July 14th edition of the People included a pictorial supplement of the victorious team, who as they put it recently won All Ireland honours after a stiff fight with the Cork hurlers. Kilkenny Convention passed a resolution congratulating the team and offered their thanks for having succeeded in wrestling All Ireland honours from such formidable opponents, and for having placed Kilkenny in the foremost ranks of the G.A.A. At the subsequent monthly meeting of the Corporation the Mayor Ald. MacSweeney proposed, heartiest congratulations to our distinguished hurlers on their great victory which has won for them the distinction of All Ireland Hurling champions. Ald Potter seconded the proposal. Ald Nowlan said it was all very fine to be offeringcongratulations, but the Corporation should form a committee and give these gentlemen a decent reception. It was agreed to give the team a public banquet, which the members were sure would be a generously responded to, the resolution was passed unanimously.
So Kilkenny won their first title, and went on to win six further titles over the next ten years. The first golden era in Kilkennys hurling history.