For the Credit of the Little Village

When CJ Kickham wrote his masterpiece Knocknagow, he captured, through his protagonist Matt the Trasher, the wonderful spirit and pride that prevails in Ireland’s parishes and villages.

This year, Longford’s Mullinalaghta, showed the nation that such pride and determination continues to hold forth as the half parish, with a population of roughly 400, overcame the mighty Kilmacud Crokes of Dublin to claim the Leinster title.

We here in Tipperary had our very own David, overcoming many Goliaths along the way, as Solohead claimed their very first adult county title matching Mullinalaghta’s achievement, if not in status certainly in pride, as the whole parish celebrated another famous ambush almost one hundreds since their previous one.

Here, Kevin Hanly reflects on his parish’s amazing achievement.

Solohead, 2018 Tipperary Junior B Football Champions

Solohead Football Making History, by Kevin Hanly

Almost one hundred years after the War of Independence started in Solohead the parish is once again in the news. After emerging as West champions and following an exciting victory over a fancied Killenaule side, Solohead’s sights were firmly set on a county title.

The winning feeling

On Saturday, October 27th, all roads from the parish lead to Clonoulty as supporters travelled in big numbers with the team attempting to win a first adult County title. In the Tipperary Water junior-B county final, the opposition, Moyne Templetuohy, had the better start and things did not look promising when Solohead’s inspirational leader Philip O’ Doherty went off with an early injury. In a tense match Solohead trailed by six points at one stage and they rallied bravely by scoring four great points without reply just before half time. In the end Solohead narrowly edged out the spirited Moyne Templetuohy side and there was a spontaneous out pouring of joyous celebrations at the end of the game after seeing off the opposition on a score line of 0-11 to 0-9.

Captain Noel Kennedy had the honour of lifting the Dr. Marsh Cup from football committee chairman Barry O’Brien. Noel Kennedy gave an emotional speech recalling the amazing team spirit, the many challenges and dark days that faced the club in their efforts to win a first adult county football title. The players were very aware of the historic nature of the win with the Soloheadbeg centenary following in the coming months and indeed a number of the players were descendants of volunteers in the Solohead Company of the Third Tipperary Brigade . The emotional moments after the victory will be long recalled.

Captains celebrate

There were incredible and special moments as players, backroom members and supporters celebrated on the field of play. The occasion was a memorable for stalwarts such as Nicholas Lonergan, Seanie Riordan , Mick Ryan Cooper, Connie Ahern and Tommy FitzGerald. The sight of manager Willie Dee jumping in the air, pictures with family members and  the legendary Seanie Riordan singing the Galtee Mountain Boy were some of the highlights. A night of great celebrations were to follow and not before the team members stopped off in Soloheadbeg to pay their own tribute to the inspirational leaders of the past.

Noel Kennedy, Kevin Hanly and Tommy FitzGerald

When you think about it for such a small parish, of roughly 400 inhabitants, Solohead has been firmly put on the map with Junior and Leaving Certificate students up and down the country learning the tales of Dan Breen, Seán Treacy and the Third Tipperary Brigade as they sparked the fire that led to the War of Independence. This January they will proudly commemorate that decisive event in Irish history and now we have the county junior-B trophy in our hands when the eyes of the nation will, once again, be firmly on that small parish in West Tipperary making Irish history in 2019.

The end of the road….After an amazing journey and a great year for Solohead GAA, we finished it with a brave performance against Ballinacurra in the football quarter final of the Munster championship. These lads have made their own history in 2018 by showing great character belief and determination along the way.

The players and mentors at the Solohead ambush site.

Finally, it doesn’t matter even if your underdogs in sport as Solohead GAA has shown you can have your big days in the sun. One thing is for certain the Solohead team have inspired the next generation to come, to believe in yourself and then that might lead to a county title once again. Hon the little parish!

Details of the Soloheadbeg Centenary Commemoration on Sunday 20th of January 2019 follow the link: