Sunday, September 27, 2009

Harry Cahill: 1930-2009

(From Stephen Findlater's "The Hook" hockey blog)

Irish hockey Hall of Fame player Harry Cahill died on September 19 at the age of 79. Widely regarded as the best goalkeeper to ever don the pads for Ireland, he earned 72 Irish caps during a 20-year period stretching from 1953 to 1973.
During that period, he was selected for three Olympic Games for Great Britain – finishing in fourth in Rome in 1960, ninth Tokyo in 1964 and 12th in Mexico in 1968 where he was Britain’s oldest Olympian at those Games.
He also played with the Irish side for the first European Nations Cup in 1970, aged 40.
In a time of minimal protective gear, Cahill was revered for his fearless approach to the game allied with razor-sharp reflexes and athleticism.
He played his club hockey initially with Pembroke Wanderers before moving across channel to play with the Coventry and North Warwickshire club.
He was inducted into the IHA Hall of Fame in 2006.

From the Irish Times:

HARRY CAHILL, who has died aged 79, was one of the finest international hockey goalkeepers of his generation.

He made 72 appearances for Ireland from 1953-1973, played for Britain in three Olympic Games (Rome 1960, Tokyo 1964 and Mexico 1968) and toured India and Pakistan with Britain.

He represented Ireland in the first European Nations Cup in Brussels in 1970, was a member of the Irish team that won the Santander Trophy in 1972, and toured South Africa in 1973.

His initial hockey was with Pembroke Wanderers in Dublin. Following a business move, he joined Belfast YMCA in the late 1950s (winning an Irish senior cup medal), before moving to Coventry and North Warwickshire. He finished his hockey career with Worthing, helping them to win the Sussex Cup in 1981 when aged over 50.

He was a natural sportsman, converting initially from soccer to hockey and taking up goalkeeping only because he found himself playing in a team without one.

He was Irish triple jump champion in 1951/52 and was chosen to represent Ireland in the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki. However, as with three other selected athletes, he did not go because the Irish athletic authorities were short of funding.

When playing for Coventry hockey club, he used to train with Coventry City soccer club, whose manager at the time, Jimmy Hill, was so impressed with his skills that he offered him a contract.

When he retired from hockey, he had time to play golf, squash, run three marathons – London, Dublin and Worthing – when well into his 50s, and help with umpiring at Worthing, where he was club captain from 1986 to 1990.

Cahill was born in Dublin, one of three children who excelled at sport: his sister Irene was captain of the Irish women’s hockey team and his brother Cecil played for the Irish amateur soccer team.

In 2006, Cahill was inducted into the Irish Hockey Association Hall of Fame. He is regarded by many as the greatest Irish hockey goalkeeper to date.

A modest man, he was noted for his kindness and warmth. He is survived by his wife, Ina, and their two daughters.

Harry Cahill: born June 9th, 1930; died September 18th, 2009.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


IRISH boxing was last night mourning the loss of a potential world champion after Olympic bronze medallist Darren Sutherland was found dead at his English home yesterday by his manager, reports the Irish Independent.
The 27-year-old super middleweight, who won bronze for Ireland in the Beijing Olympics in 2008, was discovered in his flat in Bromley, south London, by Frank Maloney.
The boxing promoter, who signed Sutherland as a professional in October last year after his Olympic triumph, said: "It is a tragedy for Ireland and the world of boxing."
He described the death as very sad and unexpected. "At this sad time, my thoughts are with Darren's family and I hope their privacy at this very difficult time will be respected by the media."
A Metropolitan Police spokesman confirmed that the young boxer was pronounced dead just after 3pm. His death is not being treated as suspicious.
The death of 'The Dazzler' drew an immediate reaction from across the country.
Sports Minister Martin Cullen said: "Ireland has lost a sportsman of wonderful ability, a clever and popular man with a future of real potential."
Mr Cullen said his death was "a great personal loss" to his family and many friends. "The tremendous effort and determination of this young man brought immense pride to Ireland in Beijing in 2008 when he joined a very select group of men who have won an Olympic medal for Ireland. It takes work, effort, desire and dedication to be a champion -- qualities Darren had in abundance."
Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey described the news of the young boxer's death as "unbelievable".
Mr Hickey recalled that he had presented Darren with his Olympic bronze medal in Beijing. "He was the greatest fellow in the Irish camp. He was the life and soul of the party, a fellow who got on well with everybody. This is such an awful shock," he said, adding that the OCI extended its sympathy to Darren's family.
"I remember him talking to me about turning professional and he was so positive and so sure he was going to do well."
Dominic O'Rourke, the honorary president of the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA), last night described the death of Darren Sutherland as "shocking" and "unbelievable".
"I'm trying to get my head around it. I'm totally shocked, it is a total tragedy and I feel for his family. It is a tremendous loss. Words cannot describe it, it is hard to believe it," he said.
Describing the young man as "a phenomenal talent", former world champion Barry McGuigan said he had expected his compatriot to become a world champion one day.
"I am deeply shocked and deeply saddened by this news and my heart goes out to Darren's family. It is an absolute tragedy."
Boxing pundit and former champion Mick Dowling spoke of his shock on hearing of Darren's death and said he would be a massive loss to world boxing.
"He was the kind of fighter that every coach in the world wanted to see walking into their gym. He was an absolute natural and had the world at his feet," Mr Dowling added.
"Darren would definitely have been a world champion. He had power, dedication and he was so, so committed from a fitness point of view."
Darren claimed three Irish senior titles, two European Union gold medals and an Olympic bronze medal while boxing for Ireland out of the St Saviours OBA club in Dublin.
The young boxer, whose parents live in Navan, Co Meath, was due to fight Tony Jeffries in the Seabum Centre in Sunderland next month.
According to his Facebook site, Darren's ambition was to become "a future world champion".
"I was drawn by the drama, glamour, showmanship and excitement of the professional game," he said.
He started boxing full-time when he was 15 and quickly found he had a natural talent for it. "I love the thrill of the fight and performing in front of big crowds," he said.