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The Gratest Goalkeeper Of Them All - Sean Duggan
Thursday, 2nd August 2001

The Greatest goalkeeper of them all

2nd August 2001

While I have many happy memories of my hurling days and Gaelic football days, the one I like best to tell is about the day we played a county match in the Loughrea Hurling Club grounds. It was during the Emergency. Petrol was restricted, and transport was not readily available. How were our club officers to get the team to Loughrea, twenty miles away? After several meetings a friend of one of the hurlers had a turf lorry, which was engaged, and with great secrecy we all met there from the city centre at the appointed place, known to the racing world: the famous Ballybrit Racecourse. Time: 11 o'clock am.

After several detours, trying to avoid all the official checkpoints, we arrived two miles from Loughrea town - this was to be the pick-up point after the match; walked to the field; played our game and won; had some refreshments - money was scarce: sweets, biscuits, and red lemonade. On making our way back to the appointed place, word came that our transport was spotted, and, to use an expression from the past, our turf lorry was 'on the run'. So we started to walk back to Galway, getting to Craughwell, up a side road. All aboard, and home sweet home. Five miles from Galway city our turf lorry broke down - time 2:30 am. Two of the hurlers Tommy Hughes and Charlie Hughes, had a friend in the area, Carnmore Cross; knocked up Roddy Grealish and saddled a pony and trap. Some of us got in and made for home. I got out of the trap at the crossroads - now a roundabout - and walked to my home at College Road; walked in - no lock on the front door - had a cup of tea.
That's just one of my many happy memories of my days on the hurling-field. I met so many nice friends - that is what it is all about. Much would be missing from our way of life without the hurlers and Gaelic footballers."

Some memories there of Sean Duggan one of our legendary hurlers. Today's photograph shows "Seanie" making a typical save in a match played against Limerick in Croke Park in 1947/48. Also shown is Galway full back and Limerick forward Donal McCarthy. Sean is generally regarded as the greatest hurling goalkeeper of them all, and this photograph inspired the artist John Behan R.H.A. to make a bronze of Sean, which in turn became the inspiration for a major exhibition entitled "THE ART OF HURLING", currently on show in The Kenny Gallery, Middle Street, Galway. It is a remarkable compilation of images, traditional and imaginary, respectful and irreverent, full of passion and skill, colour and beauty. It should not be missed. Few people describe the game better than that wonderful Galway midfielder Joe Salmon. "We are blessed with the most wonderful field game in the world. No sport is more skilful, more graceful, more revealing of those who play it, and nobody who has seen hurling played by its greatest exponents can be in any doubt about what beauty is, or graciousness or courtesy either.

There is something else that is innate to hurling; the spirit in which the game is played. You can hurt, maim or even kill a man with a blow from a camán. You can certainly intimidate an opponent more persistently and to more effect in hurling than in any other game. The camán can be a skilful instrument or a bloody weapon; that traditionally it has been the former rather than the latter is something to be proud of - something to be properly cherished and nurtured.
Without a certain decency of spirit hurling would be rendered ugly. Decency in this sense is, like the game itself, distinctly Irish."

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