Mighty Mac: Mick Mackey 5 years ago

Mighty Mac: Mick Mackey

In the week that has seen Limerick hurling recapture some of its past glory days, it is fitting to acknowledge one of the most gifted hurlers the Treaty County has ever produced.

There has been an outpouring of emotion as Limerick tasted provincial glory for the first time in seventeen years and forty years on from their last All-Ireland success, the men in green will hope to re-write their own history this summer.

One man who will forever be party of Limerick hurling is Mick Mackey, a player who many would argue was right up there with some of the best players ever to grace the game. Mackey won five Munster titles and three All-Irelands during his time in the green jersey and the general consensus is that he passed on the baton to Cork’s Christy Ring as the best player of his generation when he finally called it a day in 1947.

Mackey was just 14 years of age when Ahane hurling club was formed, so had to wait two years before he would first line out for the club though his talents were clear from the off-set. He first pulled on a Limerick jersey in 1929 and while he was involved with the senior panel, his debut the following year came about in rather unusual circumstances.

Limerick were short number for their National League game with Kilkenny and were forced to go to the crowd for some able replacement. Mackey had travelled as a supporter, but quickly took his opportunity to impress.

Mackey’s arrival on the scene coincided with one of the most successful period’s in Limerick’s history as they dominated the game from 1933 – 1940. The Ahane man more than played his part at centre-forward, lauded by all as one of the most skilful exponents of the game at the time.

In total he made 47 appearances in championship hurling until he finally called it a day in 1947, though he had taken a year out in 1941 after the death of his brother Paddy and Limerick themselves began to struggle with the likes of Cork and Tipperary.

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As well as a distinguished Railway Cup career, he won an incredible 15 senior county medals with Ahane as they quickly established themselves as kingpins within the county before he played his final game in 1951.

His place at hurling’s top table can never be in doubt. In 1961 Mackey was presented with the Caltex Hall of Fame award for being the outstanding personality in hurling of all-time. Two years after his death in 1982, Mackey received the ultimate honour during the GAA’s centenary year when he was chosen at centre-forward on the Hurling Team of the Century. He retained that position on the Hurling Team of the Millennium in 2000.

In 1988 the main covered stand in the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick was named the Mackey Stand in his honour, while the main playing field of the Ahane club is named Mackey Park.

One of the true greats, players of Mick Mackey’s calibre are of a rare breed indeed.

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