Pat Stakelum’s Jersey
Holycross/Ballycahill and Tipperary
Among the treasures of Lár na Páirce museum is an impressive collection of sports jerseys worn by former star hurlers and footballers from all over Ireland. One of the stand-out jerseys in the collection is that of Pat Stakelum (1927-2008), which was worn with such distinction over many years as centre-back for Tipperary. The present state of the jersey reveals the scars of the many battles fought by the Holycross-man during his playing career, but in spite of that, the name Tiobraid Árann, proudly emblazoned across the front of the jersey, still sends out a defiant challenge to all opponents.
Tipperary folk fondly remember and often recall their three-in-a-row All-Ireland hurling successes of 1949, 1950 and 1951. Leading Tipperary to the first of those successes was Pat Stakelum of Holycross. Though then a young man, in time he would be rated as one of the best centre-backs of all time, who, during an illustrious career won every honour in the game.
As a youngster growing up in Holycross, he developed the skills that were to distinguish him as player above the ordinary in the ensuing years. Honours came his way with Thurles C.B.S. where he won Croke Cup medals in 1942 and 1943 and in 1945 and 1946 he captured All-Ireland Colleges titles with the Munster Colleges. Also in 1945 Pat was centre half-back and captain of the Tipperary minor team sensationally beaten by Dublin in the All-Ireland final.
Pat made his debut for Tipperary seniors in 1947 and went on to captain Tipperary to All-Ireland success in 1949. He added further Celtic crosses to his collection in 1950 and 1951 as Tipperary completed a famous three-in-a-row. By now Pat was an employee of Dwan’s Mineral Waters in Thurles. In addition to the three All-Irelands, Pat won six National Hurling League medals in 1949, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1955 and 1957, six Railway Cup medals in 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1955 and 1957 plus Oireachtas, Thomand Feis and Monaghan Cup honours in an inter-county career which ended in 1957.
At club level, Pat won four Mid senior hurling titles and three county senior hurling titles with his native Holycross-Ballycahill in 1948, 1951 and 1954. His final appearance with the club was at full-forward in the 1964 county final against arch rivals, Thurles Sarsfields.
Pat served as Tipperary county secretary from 1961 to 1963 and also served for a period as a Tipperary senior selector. Living in Thurles, Pat was aware that underage hurling in Thurles was in need of assistance in the late 1970s and he played a major role in the formation and progress of Durlas Óg club since 1979.
Without doubt Pat Stakelum was the best centre-back of his era, famed for his stylish left and right striking and his uncanny sense of position. A sportsman supreme, he rarely came under the referee’s notice.