Liam Devaney (1935-2017) R.I.P.

It is with great regret and sadness that we learned of the death after a short illness of former Tipperary hurler Liam Devaney.

Liam Devaney (Borris-Ileigh) played senior hurling for Tipperary in every position except full back. He even lined out in goal against Clare in 1963, when the selected goalkeeper failed to arrive for a game at Tipperary town. His versatility was a valued attribute, no more so than in the 1961 All Ireland final, when he switched to centre back after Tony Wall retired injured and guided Tipp to a one point win over Dublin. The Irish Independent noted his contribution to the victory – ‘’His all-round hurling ability and dauntless spirit were more evident than ever on Sunday and his coolness, ball control and ability to evade the tackle at centre back, to deliver match winning clearances were a revelation’’. Not surprisingly that newspaper selected Liam as its ‘Sports Star of the Week’.

Liam, who was an unused substitute for the 1954 Munster final loss to Cork, made his debut a few months later in the Oireachtas competition. His championship debut was at right half forward in a one point loss to Clare in the 1955 Munster Championship semi-final, at Limerick. Liam’s last championship appearance was in Tipperary’s two point loss to Wexford in the 1968 All Ireland final. He scored 0-2 in one of the greatest All Ireland finals ever played.

Liam retired from inter-county hurling after Tipp’s 1-9 to 1-6 victory over Cork, in the Oireachtas final, at Thurles, on October 27th 1968. He lined out at right corner forward that day and switched to the left corner during the game. The Borris-Ileigh club man earned the free from which team captain, Mick Roche, shot to the Cork net for the vital score of the game. As he made his way off the pitch after the game, Liam gave his hurley to a young boy.

The next day he handed in a note to Tipperary Co. Secretary, Tommy Barrett, asking him to tell the selectors that he was now in retirement from inter-county hurling. The message ended with best wishes for the future to the selectors and the Tipperary teams.

During a wonderful career Liam was to the forefront for Tipperary and his honours list speaks for itself -

Liam Devaney’s Major Honours list

All Ireland Senior Hurling (5) – 1958, 1961, 1962, 1964 & 1965
Munster Senior Hurling (8) – 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1967 & 1968
Caltex Hurler of the Year (1) – 1961
National Hurling League titles (8) 1954/55, 1956/57, 1958/59, 1959/60,
1960/61, 1963/64, 1964/65 & 1967/68
Oireachtas Cup (6) – 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1965 & 1968
Railway Cup with Munster (3) – 1961, 1963 & 1966
All Ireland Minor Hurling (2) -1952 & 1953
Munster Minor Hurling (2) -1952 & 1953
Co. Senior Hurling (1) -1953
North Tipp Senior Hurling (4) – 1953, 1955, 1972 & 1973
Knocknagow Award -2015

Cu Chulainn Award Winner – 1963 (right corner forward).

Liam’s top three hurlers during his own playing career were – Christy Ring (Cork) Jimmy Doyle (Tipperary) and Billy Rackard (Wexford).

He played on with his club for a few more years, but the dream of winning a second county medal nineteen years after his first was not realised, as Roscrea beat Borris-Ileigh by 5-8 to 3-6, in the 1972 final, at a rain sodden Semple Stadium.
In a 1995 interview with the Liam was asked about his best memory from his hurling career. The reply, which overlooked all of his successes was simple and sincere –‘’It’s the best field game in the world and through it I made some great friends, on and off the field.’’

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam