My Club and I: Séamus Hickey - Murroe Boher
My Club and I: Séamus Hickey - Murroe Boher
In this week's My Club and I, we speak to Limerick hurler Séamus Hickey about his club Murroe Boher.
By Arthur Sullivan
Murroe Boher is a GAA club based in east Co. Limerick, catering for the two largely rural areas of Murroe and Boher. Located less than 20km to the east of Limerick city, the population of the village of Murroe has grown considerably in recent years, as people have moved out from Limerick city.
The clubs of Murroe and Boher existed separately for most of their history, with both having been founded in the late 1880s, just a few years after the founding of the GAA itself. Their only Limerick senior hurling title to date came in 1887, when Murroe, remarkably, defeated Boher in the county final. Murroe had originally defeated South Liberties in the final, but Boher were reinstated after a dispute over their semi-final loss to South Liberties, and the final was replayed, with Murroe defeating their eventual partners.
The two clubs went through occasional unions during the 20th century, and finally formalised things in 1991, pooling resources and competing as Murroe and Boher in alternate years before eventually becoming Murroe Boher in 1998. They won the Limerick Intermediate title in 1999, and have been a senior club ever since, albeit without having yet made the breakthrough at senior level.
They have reached county senior championship semi-finals since winning promotion just over 15 years ago, but they have yet to reach a final in the ultra competitive Limerick senior hurling championship. Their colours are blue and green, and they are based at Dr Harty Park in Murroe. They also have substantial playing facilities in Boher.
The club plays both hurling and football, and while it is best known for hurling, 2014 was a huge year for its newly established Ladies' football team, which won the All-Ireland Ladies' Football Junior Club Championship, defeating St Ciaran's (Roscommon) in the final.
Séamus Hickey is one of many Murroe Boher hurlers who have played for Limerick over the years. Seán and Owen O'Neill were on the Limerick squad of the 1990s that won Munster titles and got to All-Ireland finals in 1994 and 1996, while Joe Quaid, the goalkeeper on those teams, played on the Murroe Boher team that won the Limeruick intermediate title in 1999, having moved into the area after marrying a local woman.
For more about Murroe Boher, visit murroebohergaa.ie
Murroe Boher GAA's location
Q: Tell us a little about Murroe Boher. Are Murroe and Boher two separate places?
A: Murroe Boher amalgamated around 1990, having originally been two clubs, Murroe and Boher. My Dad was hurling for Boher in the 1980s and they won a county junior title in 1980. It was an epic moment for the parish and they had their 30 year reunion there a few years ago and it showed what it meant to the parish of Boher at the time with all the players that came back, travelling great distances to be part of that reunion. It's Murroe Boher today, but the only senior title we have won is one way back in 1887 as Murroe!
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I grew up as rural as rural could be, on a farm in east Limerick, in Boher. We were dairy farmers. My father was the second youngest in a large family and he ended up taking on the farm, and I'm the second youngest in our family and I have ably assisted him on the farm there for many years. There's a church in Murroe and then there's the school in Murroe, it's quite big. Then we have the smaller parish of Boher which, population wise, would be a lot smaller.
Q: How 'big' is the club?
A: We never really had a traditional foothold within the GAA space in Limerick. We were always developing. We were an intermediate club when I first started hurling as a child, a time when I was wearing a helmet that was bigger than my body! But it was a very tight community and very settled around the GAA. All the leaders and all the people I looked up to were involved in the club itself.
Séamus Hickey in action for his club against Adare
Q: What are your facilities like?
A: We have a hurling field in Murroe, which is our main field. That's called Dr Harty Park. Then in Boher we have got some assistance from the National Lottery and a huge push for fundraising from the committee within our own parish to develop the field in Boher. So we're blessed to have a top class field in Boher and excellent facilities in Murroe. Our clubhouse is in Murroe, where the club is essentially based. We put in a ball wall there last year, which has been a huge addition to the place. We have dressing rooms there too, obviously. But the main push to develop facilities at the club was centred around the pitch in Boher and an awful lot of the effort and fundraising went towards that.
Q: How have the club been doing on the field?
A: We won senior status in 1999 with a very talented bunch of players and since then we have been competing at senior level with some excellent players. We have been to county semi-finals, but we haven't been able to break that duck. In 2007 and 2008 we got to two consecutive county semi-finals, but were beaten by Adare both times, who went on to win it. So we've been very competitive. At the moment we are struggling to make that breakthrough though, we're starting to be a bit of a perennial quarter-final team so it's one of those things where we are victims of the strengthening of Limerick hurling in a way. The club scene in Limerick has become very strong with Kilmallock and Na Piarsaigh and so on. But we have a great underage system at the club. We won an U13 county title this year and a minor county title so there are serious green shoots there in the parish.
Q: What do you remember of your earliest days playing at adult level with the club?
A: I was very lucky to play for the senior team early. I actually played for the Junior B team when I was 15, and I played centre-back on that team when I was 16. Then I played senior at age 17. One of my first memories playing senior was playing corner back against Monaleen in the senior championship. It was a great feeling, an amazing feeling to play for my senior team at 17, and I played against Brian Geary, who was obviously a well known Limerick player. And I remember I met him in a challenge that I will never forget. It was a shoulder that absolutely sickened me! It was funny looking back, and it's the defining memory of my first senior game.
Q: Do the club play football?
A: We wouldn't be traditionally a football club and we withdrew our football team for the last few years. But we re-entered it in the Junior Championship this year for the first time in while.
Q: Do you play yourself?
A: I do, I enjoy it very much. I played senior football with Monaleen (a neighbouring club) for a number of years and won a county medal with them three years ago (in 2011). I enjoy football a lot for the athleticism that's required and just being able to run around is great. My ability to kick a ball is marginal but I do enjoy it a lot.
Q: The Murroe Boher Ladies team won an All-Ireland Junior club title last year. How big a deal was that for the club?
A: Yes, what's really put us on the map lately is our Ladies' football team. The Ladies' sports in the parish has just been growing steadily in the parish for the last few years. The Ladies' football club was only started and started competing in the last few years. So it's a phenomenal development for a club that only came into existence recently. The Murroe-Boher camogie club has also been strong, and great work has gone in there in recent years as well. But the football only started this year and it just took off.
Q: It must have been great for the community as a whole...
A: It was great. When you talk about what these things mean to a community, the homecoming for that was fantastic, absolutely amazing. It was a pleasure to be at the game and it was as nice a day as I spent the whole year.
Eileen Leonard plays the fiddle for her granddaugher Lisa after Murroe Boher's All-Ireland Junior club win
Q: Many people saw the pictures of the woman playing the fiddle with the Murroe Boher players after they won. Do you know anything about that?
A: That's Eileen Leonard. She's a neighbour of mine in the townland of Eyon, she's a wonderful person. She taught me traditional music when I was younger and she actually taught me how to drive as well, she's a driving instructor! She went all the way to Maastricht to follow the girls - they played Belgium in the All-Ireland quarter-final - and Eileen went over with her fiddle and she was out on the field playing her fiddle after that game as well. She's actually more of a Cappamore woman than a Murroe-Boher woman, but her granddaughter Lisa was on the team.
Q: Do you have a family connection with Murroe Boher?
A: I have a lot of brothers. There's Ronan, Seán, Cian, and they all hurled and played football with Murroe Boher. Ronan and Seán are older and then Cian is younger. I grew up jostling with them, trying to compete with the big boys. But that's really what influenced me. Your influences do tend to be local and family orientated, and when I was younger, it was literally just a case of seeing if I could be good enough to play with my brothers! So I drove on from there.
Q: Have the club had many Limerick representatives over the years?
A: Seán and Owen O'Neill were on the Limerick team of the 1990s that won Munster titles and got to All-Ireland finals. Joe Quaid is a Feohanagh-Castlemahon man but he married into the parish, and we were lucky that he played on the intermediate team that won in 1999. He transferred into the club around 1997 or 1998, so just after Limerick had contested those All-Ireland finals. He married a woman from Murroe-Boher called Majella Hickey - no relation - and so all of a sudden we had an All Star goalkeeper on our team.
Q: What makes Murroe Boher the place it is?
A: The parish itself is very centred around our two churches in Murroe and Boher and the great faith community that we have there. By extension then, we have a great community spirit in the GAA club. It really has come through a lot of things. We are a satellite town of Limerick at this stage, and there's been a big population influx in the last 10 years - our population has probably trebled - and I suppose the GAA has consistently held through there and gives a bit of identity to the parish and a place for people to connect, from all walks of life.
Images: Sportsfile and Murroe Boher GAA