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James Coakley

James Coakley enjoyed a remarkable playing career with Blarney, one which straddled four decades. Coakley opens the interview by talking about his primary school days and the absence of organised games. He also talks about his family’s move from Donoughmore to Blarney and his underage career with the local club. His first adult game with the club came when he was 17 – in a game which saw a fierce row develop and which ended in the hospitalisation of seven players, the debutant among them. Coakley talks about the low standing of hurling in Blarney in the 1960s and the gradual improvements that were brought about through, for instance, the involvement of club players in high quality inter-firms competitions with the Blarney Mills. It was during this period, the 1960s,that Coakley recalled travelling as one of 16 in a van to watch Cork in a Munster hurling decider. Coakley charts the progress of his career – and the fortunes of Blarney hurling – through the 1970s, 80s and early 90s, commenting also on changes in the wider community over the course of these decades. He talks about the disappointment of certain defeats and the players he played alongside. Coakley moved being a player to a selector in 1993 and he reflects on the satisfaction he draws from Blarney’s Junior championship success of that year. Developments in the club since are also discussed, in particular the county, Munster and All-Ireland success of 2008-9 and Coakley’s own involvement with various underage teams. He also touches on his administrative role with the Muskerry divisional side. Coakley concludes the interview with reflections on the contribution of the Kelleher family to the local GAA, on the challenges facing the GAA into the future. There are also reflections on the impact of his GAA commitments on his children’s social interests and his concerns over the threat of emigration to the Blarney club.

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