Pat Carroll (11th Feb 1956-16th March 1986)
Pat Carroll and his sisters Mary and Cathy Ann grew up on the family farm in Newhall. He attended Coolderry N.S .He began his education in the old school and some years later moved to the prefabricated building opposite the present hurling field. He later went to the Presentation College in Birr. When he finished school, he worked on the farm, which he continued to do until his illness. In his short life of just thirty years Pat achieved immense recognition not only from the people of Coolderry and Offaly but also throughout Ireland.
He was a lad of quiet disposition, a keen farmer, a brilliant player who epitomised the spirit of Offaly hurling, a dedicated husband and father and an exceptional son. When Coolderry was going through a crisis in the eighties, this period witnessed the emergence of one of Coolderry's most influential players - the peerless Pat Carroll whose deeds in the tricolour jersey made him one of the most celebrated figures in the game.
Pat was the complete hurler. His exceptional ability to pick off points under pressure from acute angles This coupled with his determination to succeed earned him the respect and fear of every other player with whom he met on the playing field.
The surname Carroll is synonymous with the G.A.A. Pat's Dad was a former Offaly and Leinster goalkeeper .His grandfather Paddy played with the club. He won a junior and senior title in the same year (1914). The granduncles Jim and Joe played with the county and won two Junior All-Ireland titles in 1923 and 1929.His mother’s maiden name Teehan has long associations with the G.A.A. Her father “Red” Jack was an outstanding player. He played at club and county level. His uncle Paddy Joe was a county player. He was also an outstanding referee. Paddy Joe won a Junior Leinster title in 1938.He was club secretary and chairman of the County Board. Roddy Teehan (P.J.'s brother) hurled with the Coolderry Club.
With this unique back ground in hurling, it was inevitable that Pat would emerge as a star hurler. Pat started his hurling career early in life and experienced victory while still only at primary school. Pat first wore the Offaly colours as a minor in 1973 and he also represented the county at that level in 1974. In the same year he won his place on the county under 21 team and played at that grade for 4 years until 1977 In the meantime he had graduated onto the county Senior team (1975) .He played a league match against Antrim in November of that year. Ironically, he played his first senior game against Antrim, his last game in the county colours in the 1985 All-Ireland Semi- Final was also against Antrim.
In September 1977 the club reached the county final. They defeated Kinnitty 1-8 to 1-6. On St. Patrick’s day 1979 Pat won a Railway cup medal as Leinster defeated Connacht in Semple Stadium. In the 1979 Leinster championship, Wexford defeated Offaly by 2 points .In the same year Pat played with his club in the county championship but his hopes were dashed when Kinnitty beat them in a replay.
The greatest era in Pat Carroll’s hurling career was in June 1980 when he played a major role in bringing the Bob O’ Keeffe cup to Offaly for the first time as they defeated Kilkenny 3-17 to 5-10.Galway beat Offaly in the All-Ireland -semi-final .Pat received an all star award at left half forward .In November of the same year the Offaly Senior hurling final between Coolderry and Kinnity took place, unfortunately on this occasion Pat was ruled out through injury. However, his mind was on the ball and victory was in sight .He left his injury to one side and togged out in the green and white of Coolderry .Pat was captain of the team, he gave the greatest display of hurling ever seen in St. Brendan's Park, He earned himself ' Man of the Match ' and he also took home the Sean Robbins cup.
In 1981 Offaly were beaten in the League Final. Later that year they reached the Leinster final and defeated Wexford. Offaly found themselves in their first senior All Ireland Hurling final. Pat scored a vital goal for Offaly; it came after 12.5 minutes. Johnny Flaherty passed the ball to Pat and he struck a low hard shot. The ball went in off the near post.
This goal kept Offaly in the game until half time. In the second half after 7.5 minutes Pat scored a valuable point. The players, including Pat, hurled with such determination for the 35 minutes; not even Galway could stop them. Offaly defeated Galway 2.12 to 0-15. The proud team brought back the McCarthy cup to the Faithful County later that year. Pat was recognised by the All Stars selectors this time at right corner forward.
Pat had the honour of captaining the Offaly team in two Leinster finals in 1982 and 1983 and he also captained Leinster in the Railway Cup in 1982. Offaly won the Leinster title in 1984 (centenary of the G.A.A). Pat gave a brilliant display in the All - Ireland semi-final against Galway. Just 25 minutes into the game Pat sustained an injury and was forced to leave the pitch. When the second half resumed Offaly began to lose ground.
Pat was re-introduced midway through the second half. It was better than a tonic to the team, his presence (though heavily bandaged) not only lifted the game but their spirit also and they emerged as the winners. The centenary final was played in Semple Stadium. Cork defeated Offaly. Pat proved his ability to score points from any angle. He scored 4 points from play.
His outstanding hurling for Offaly in 1984 deservedly gained him the Offaly Hurler of the year award. Pat continued to play his hurling with verve and style and was an outstanding forward even though in 1985 he was quite ill. The greatest performance for Pat was, when he scored 3 points from almost the sideline in the Leinster semi-final replay against Kilkenny. Pat played his last game for Offaly against Antrim (Armagh, Aug .4th) in 1985.
Pat also represented his club both singing and dancing in Scor competitions. Pat was a community man, he sang in the church choir and he was a member of the youth club. He also played junior football and badminton with Coolderry and soccer with Ballybritt. Pat married Mary McCormack (Banagher). Their son Brian togged out for St.Kieran's College in the All-Ireland Colleges' Final last year. Brian also hurled on the victorious Coolderry minor team in 1999.
|2 All-Irelands Senior medals 1981-1985
4 Leinster medals –1980-‘81-’84 and’85
Railway Cup medal-1979
2 All-star awards 1980-1981
2 Walsh Cup medals 1977 and 1981
1 National League Div. B. Medal
2 Offaly Senior championship medals 1977, '80.
|2 Senior League Div. B. Medals.
2 Offaly Senior League medals 1978 and '79.
Offaly hurler of the year 1984 .
Man of the match award 1980
County Final Junior football championship '84.
U14 Bord na Scol juvenile medal.
He also represented Ireland at shinty. Despite
all the feverish activity on the playing field, Pat found time to coach
the juveniles' .He attended County Board meetings. He acted as officer
of the club for a number of years.
In general he was an exemplary club-man .By example and commitment he showed the way to his colleagues who now can honour his memory by upholding the great hurling traditions of Coolderry. Hurling in Coolderry is a way of life, but, born into a stronghold of hurling. Pat brought new honours and a great pride into the parish. Pat Carroll died on Sunday March 16th 1986. Ar phairceanna glasa De go raibh se i measc na bhfear a d'imir cluiche glan, croga, Criostuil ar an talamh seo.
[Air-The Rocks of Bawn]
All across the Faithful County
Deep sadness fills the air
Where once the blazing bonfire burned
Now heads are bowed in prayer
A red haired hurler sleeps tonight
With the Gaels from yesteryear
While friend and foe, remembering
Shed many a manly tear.
Along Coolderry's rolling hills
Through many a verdant vale
No rousing song is heard tonight
Just the banshee's lonely wail
And Offaly's heart that burst with pride
When her sons proved Ireland's best
In sad despair, beyond repair
Lies broken in her breast.
No more he'll thrill the thousands
With his skilful surging play.
The flashing point, the crashing goal.
The more shall save the day.
The sacred ash no more he'll clash
With defences rent in twain.
And we who mourn his passing
Will seek his like in vain
His deeds will be remembered
While the shamrock grows in spring
Round many a turf fire's homely hearth
His praise the bard will sing
To sons and grandsons yet unborn
The legend will be told
Of his peerless skill and courage
In the great green, white and gold.
In memory I see still
As he battles for the ball
The long range points from left to right
I clearly can recall
He led by his example too
For all around to see
In club or county colours
In the charge to victory
His stirring play was a joy to see
From around the 'forty' mark
At Jones' Road and Thurles too
And at St. Brendan's Park
How oft the tumults thundering din
His praises did resound
As he paved the way to victory
On many a hallowed ground.
His heart loved all things Irish
Not just the hurling game
The stirring strains of the native airs
That fanned bright freedoms flame
And the dancing of the half sets too
For Coolderry in the Scor
He gave his all what'er the cause
His like we'll see no more.
God's peace dear friend no more we'll clash
Our hurleys in the fray
Nor share a sporting drink or two
At the close of an epic day
But often times at eventide
In the harvest sunsets glow
With deep respect I will reflect
On those days of long ago
And as the 'Gosoon' walks from school
With his hurley in his hand
He dreams of the day he'll be a star
Acclaimed throughout the land
And when he holds the McCarthy Cup
On that great September day
He'll think of how, long long ago
He saw Pat Carroll play.
So come on brave Offaly hurlers
Get ye ready for the fray
And give your all for every ball
As you strive to win the day
And when the cheers of glory sound
'Neath the fair September sky
Let's thank God for Pat Carroll
When the cup is hoisted high.
Words- (Alo Grennan, Rahan and Lynne Harrold, (South Wales.)
In the lovely fields of Coolderry, we saw him
work each day,
To reap the harvest at autumn time, in summer save the hay,
And in the shade of evening, he again was to the fore
As he trained for his County Offaly, in the field at Tullamore .
He played the game with verve and style, the
star of many a game,
With an All- Ireland and All Star Awards, he won renown and fame,
Then he was pleased; he had finished his work, at thirty years of age, His name shall shine forever more, on History's Golden Page.
How strong and fearless was that will, of Offaly's
What mighty deeds, what noble feats, has this great hurler done!
"Invaluable" was the part he played, in moulding a winning side,
The green, the white, the gold he loved and wore them with great pride.
United are all hurling men, wherever they may
Tipperary feels this tragic loss with our neighbours Offaly.
To Mary, his courageous wife and Brian his loving son,
We congratulate you both to day, on the last great prize Pat's won.
All Offaly is proud to night, of Pat Carroll's
And Coolderry will fondly speak, of his great hurling fame,
When hurling matches are replayed, and great victories are told,
We'll hear of the great Pat Carroll, and the green, the white and gold.
Prince of proud Ely
Red Hair adrift
In the heat of the battle
Hurler could shift
With a nudge of right shoulder
Room for three steps
For your talented left
Wrist to make grist
Then to see the ball soar
And hear the Croke roar
As we knew by its flight
O're the bar it would light
Coolderry will mourn
Your early sojourn
To ancestral earth
Vi Faile hard find.
The like of your kind. (D.W.)