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.