Dicksboro GAA Club

 

Jimmy O'Connell

 

A 'giant' of the 1930's was Jimmie O'Connell, guardian of the Kilkenny goal for nine years.  This position, probably the most difficult and trying of all, he filled with consistent success, always cool, always confident, always safe.  He was born in Kilkenny in 1908 and was educated at Terenure College, Dublin, where he first played serious hurling.  On his return to Kilkenny he played with Dicksboro, first playing with the seniors in 1933, and continued playing with them until he retired.  He never won a county championship with Dicksboro.

Before he made his name in the hurling arena he was famous as a handballer, having many successes at junior.  In 1931 he had the distinction of winning the All Ireland junior handball champioship.  As a handballer he was in top-class, quick as light and deadly accurate in the "kill".  Had he persisted at the game, it is probable that more successes were in store for him, but from then on hurling was his chief interest and to hurling he devoted his time.

In 1932 he was a sub on the Kilkenny championship team and in 1933 he played his first major games with them.  In this year he won his first All Ireland medal and also the National League of 1932/33 with Kilkenny.  The final of the National League of this year was considered by many to have been his best match ever.  Played in Nowlan Pk against Limerick, this was a great game and Jimmie O'Connell had a field day in goal.  He stopped seemingly impossible balls, playing with great confidence throughout and by his wizardly play greatly helped to bring the honours to Kilkenny. 

He seldom stopped hard balls with his hurley, always using his hand where possible.  With a sureness, due to his training as a handballer, he would snatch balls from the air at any speed with uncanny accuracy, and clear them far out the field before he could be attacked.  He thus lost no valuable time blocking and rising, the cause of many an easy goal.  When hard pressed he would tap the ball with either hand or hurley to some loose back outside, always a perfect pass.  In 1934 he went with the Kilkenny team on the American tour where he had several good games.

Fresh from their their trip Kilkenny again swept to victory in 1935, giving him his second All Ireland medal.  This game, in which their opponents were again Limerick, was an exceptionally tough one and they barely conquered their hardy opponents by one point.  In 1939 he earned his third and last All Ireland medal and in 1941 he retired from major hurling.  He represented Leinster from 1935 to 1941, and won three Railway Cup medls with them, playing in gaoal on each occasion.  Jimmy O'Connell kept a pub in High Street opposite the Post Office on the site of Sam McCauley's Pharmacy.