Jackie Daly

"The following piece is been published by Diarmuid O'Donovan on Cork's Evening Echo. I would like to thank him for allowing us use this on our website". -Cian O'Brien

 

Jackie Daly

 

 

Clubs and communities are made up of many different types of people; those who lead, those who follow, those who organise and those who question and rebel. All these types are vital and necessary if a community is to prosper and develop.

 

Throughout the 20th century, all the best traits of a thriving community were epitomised by the Glen Rovers Hurling and St Nicholas Football Clubs. The Glen and St Nicks ensured that the small industrial suburb of Blackpool became famous throughout Ireland not for its distillery or its fertilizer factory or its paint factory or even its Sunbeam Factory; but for the prowess of its hurlers and footballers.

 

The Club had its leaders on and off the field in the likes of Christy Ring, Jack Lynch, Tom O'Reilly and Paddy O'Connell. O'Reilly for instance was chairman of Glen Rovers and St Nicks between 1936 and 1966. During his 30 years in charge, the clubs won 18 senior hurling championships and five senior football titles. 

 

Behind those leaders was an army of volunteers that were busily working day and night for the club. The players played and the committees and supporters did everything possible to help them win county titles. Each decade from the 1920s onward brought a new generation of players and supporters.

 

During the 1950s, a character emerged who embodied everything that made Glen Rovers one of the greatest clubs in the history of the GAA. He was Jackie Daly. He became an icon for everyone who grew up in the greater Blackpool area in the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s.  He was laid to rest last Monday.

 

Jackie Daly was reared in Slattery's Lane off Thomas Davis Street in Blackpool. As soon as he could hold a hurley and wander off on his own, he found his way up the street to Birds Quay where the original Glen Rovers club house was situated.

 

Although the club at Birds Quay was small, it was a busy place in 1940s, especially during the winter when it was too dark to hurl. All the big players would gather there and they passed away the evening playing table tennis, cards or a sort of indoor tennis/hurling game that they made up and called "bats".

 

The impish and reddish haired Jackie Daly would work his way into the middle of all this action. Sometimes his enthusiasm would get the better of him and he would get on the nerves of some of the older members. When this happened Jackie would be kicked out and sent home. But even at that young age, Jackie had two homes. There was the one in Slattery's Lane and the other was in Birds Quay. So, no sooner had they closed the front door of the club on Jackie, when he would come bouncing back in the back door, beaming from ear to ear as if nothing had happened.

 

This is how Jackie's life long affair with Glen Rovers began. He broke into the Glen senior team in 1956. That year, they were defeated by Blackrock in the county final. No doubt Jackie was disappointed to loose his first county final but the disappointment did not last long. This was because from then, until he retired from playing in 1971, he went on to play in 10 more county finals, seven in hurling and three in football. He was on the winning side in all seven hurling finals (1958, '59,'60, '62, '64, '67, and ‘69) and won two of the three football finals (1963 lost to UCC and 1965 and '66 won against St Finbarrs).

 

He starred in the half-forward line during his early hurling years. Then he changed to the midfield in the mid ‘60s from where he tormented his opponents. His red hair only served to highlight his intense work rate. Time and time again he would pop up all over the field and his fast and crisp striking thwarted the Glen's opposition.

 

Jackie was captain of St Nicks when they defeated St Finbarrs by a point (1 - 7 to 1 - 6) for the second year in a row in 1966. He led by example and he finished the game as top scorer with five points. This total included the last minute winning point when he intercepted a St Finbarrs free and popped it over the bar.

 

Tony Connolly was playing at left half forward for the ‘Barrs that day. "I remember it well" he told me. "I could almost see the county medal in my hand and, as I closed my fingers over it, Jackie Daly whipped it away."

 

Jackie had a tremendous record against St Finbarrs in hurling and football. Only once (1965 hurling championship) during his career did he finishing on the losing side to the ‘Barrs. He took great delight in the fact that he won four county medals in four years (1964 and '67 hurling and 1965 and '66 football) against the ‘Barrs.

 

Off the field Jackie was a gentleman. Outside of being at home with his family, he was never happier than when he was with the Glen or in the Glen field. He trained the team that won the 1972 county hurling championship and later acted as treasurer. He would attend as many matches as he could and he did not discriminate between juvenile, junior senior or camogie. If the Glen were playing, he wanted them to win.

 

During my own playing days I found it a great comfort to know that Jackie was always there rooting for you. He would be the first to congratulate you when you won and if you lost, or did not play well, he was the most difficult person to face because you knew that every defeat really hurt him.

 

He suffered a stroke in 1999. One of the effects of the stroke was that he lost his power of speech. This was the cruellest fate that nature could have played on a man who loved to chat, joke, sing and talk about hurling and the Glen. He and his wife Mary, daughter Rosemary, and sons, James and Bertie bore his illness with dignity until he died last Friday.

 

It is ironic that he was laid to rest on the twentieth anniversary of the death of his friend and playing colleague, Jerry O'Sullivan; Jerry is one of the people whose name will be mentioned along with Jackie Daly in the chapter of the Glen's history titled "the greatest Glen men of them all".

 

Their influence, passion and belief in the club is sorely missed by all who knew them. Ní beigh a leighéidí ann arís. Solas na bhFlaitheas da nanamacha.

 


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