October 21, 1994
PLAYED HIS PART IN RECENT CORK G.A.A. HISTORY
The All-Star team selectors only acknowledged his existence on a solitary occasion-at midfield on the 1982 team
-but everybody on Leeside would argue that former Cork star Timmy Crowley was well worth a few more All-Stars.
The Newcestown clubman's contribution to the Rebel County Senior team over a decade between 1976 and 1985 was, quite simply, immense. During this period Tim helped his county to three All-Irelands and a National League title - to Gaels in Cork 'Big Timmy' was worth his weight in gold.
In the red jersey of Cork Tim Crowley enjoyed what could only be described as a prolific career. Just about every honour in the book at intercounty level was secured - All-Ireland Minor, Under 21 and Senior medals, National League, All-Star and Railway Cup souvenirs. Crowley was centre forward on the Cork side which defeated Kilkenny by 2-15 to 3-6 in the 1969 All-Ireland Minor decider and was full forward when the Rebels overcame Galway on a scoreline of 5-19 to 2-9 in the following year's final. The Newcestown clubman had moved to midfield by the time he won an All-Ireland Under 21 medal in 1973, this time Wexford finishing on the wrong end of a 2-10 to 4-2 differential. Four years later and Tim had gamered his first All-Ireland medal of the Senior variety.
"Winning the first Senior All-Ireland in 1977 was a real highlight, but every year's achievement was special in itself.
Winning any All-Ireland is a major achievement. Every year in which you achieve what you set out to achieve is a great year",
Tim notes. Cork's opponents in that '77 All-Ireland final were Wexford, the Model County eventually going down by three points as the Rebels emerged victorious on a 1-17 to 3-8 tally.
When Crowley returned to Croke Park for the 1978 decider he switched his no. 9 shirt for a no. 12 jersey - the result was exactly the same. Cork defeated Kilkenny 1-15 to 2-8 to complete back to back All-Ireland successes. Timmy Crowley was on the forty in 1984 as the Rebels fairly romped to All-Ireland glory - their third title in eight years. Antrim were beaten by 24 points in the semi-final, Offaly by ten on the first Sunday in September.
Tim Crowley enjoyed many great moments in the Cork jersey, but it wasn't all sweetness and light: "Losing the 1983 All-Ireland to Kilkenny by two points was a big disappointment in that we were only one point down at half time and having played against a gale-force wind we failed to capitalise in the second half. We had enough play to win but did a lot wrong that day. That was one which got away. The 1985 All-Ireland semi final against Galway is another one I'd like to play again".
During his ten year intercounty career, Tim Crowley rubbed shoulders with some of the great names of hurling, lining out either alongside or against such stars as Jimmy Barry-Murphy, P.J. Molloy, Ger Henderson, Iggy Clarke, Ned Buggy, Sean Stack, Ger Coughlan and Christy Heffernan to name a few.
Looking back, who were the best? "Of my Cork team mates I would have to say Ray Cummins was the most complete for his overall consistency and contribution to the team. Others who stood out included Seanie O'Leary and Gerald McCarthy. As for opponents, there were a lot I didn't like playing against!! You never get a soft touch - every intercounty opponent could give you a roasting if you weren't on your game", explains Tim who admits that despite his tenancy to move between centrefield and the forward positions he was always most comfortable at midfield.
With his local Newcestown club Crowley won a number of West Cork Championships, two county Juniors and an Intermediate county football title. As a product of what was essentially a hurling school, his first love was always going to be hurling. Does he feel that coming from a small club in any way delayed his progression into the Cork Senior team? "I don't think so. It may have been a small factor but I was fortune in that the club, although it is small, were always quite successful and capable of winning Junior titles, so my club wouldn't have made that much difference. I was working up the country a lot between 1973 and '76 and there was a reasonably settled county team until Cork were beaten in the 1975 semi final by Galway - there was a major change in personnel after that and I was one of those brought in".
Cork's All-Star of `1982 has detected a definite change in the structure of hurling within the county over the past twenty years.
"The power base has shifted", he notes. "The whole scene was dominated by four clubs - the Barrs, the Glens, Blackrock and Middletown - and that has changes completely. Na Piarsaigh have come up and this year Carbery won their first ever county title. Even on the county team there are now ten or eleven clubs represented, where before maybe two made up the backbone of the team. Whether that's a good or a bad thing I don't know, but we have already won one All-Ireland in the nineties", offers Tim who is involved with Newcestown as a selector and represents the club on the county board.
What was the most enjoyable thing about playing for Cork for ten years? "On a personal basis it was the increased number of contacts, friends and acquaintances I made as a result. From that point of view it's a marvellous experience. You meet and make friends with people who share the same interests and beliefs as yourself - people who otherwise you would never have had the opportunity of meeting", notes Tim who was a minor selector with Newcestown a few years ago. This is the second year as a selector with the adult team.
"The club's future is very bright. We're fortunate in that we have some fantastic workers here at underage level and it's a great example of how you can achieve success even with a small number of players tom pick from. There's only one school here and the Principal Conor Donovan and Donie Kane, one of the teachers, start the whole thing off. The club's success since Con came here has been phenomenal. They've won an underage title of some description for the past fourteen years.
Last year we won the Under 21 premier title for the first time ever with his crop of players", Timmy Crowley explains. Two of Newcestown's best known players are Pat Kenneally and Jim Sullivan but there is no shortage of exciting young talent in the pipeline.
Whether or not the game of hurling is in the decline Crowley finds difficult to state for sure, but he is of the definite opinion that the game needs a boost. "Hurling needs new faces and new teams. The attraction of football, since the Dublin/Kerry domination ended and new teams arrived on the scene, has increased significantly. New teams have arrived on the scene each year. Hurling needs that too because the big fear is that the game doesn't seem to be spreading in non-traditional counties. It would be great to see a county like Limerick, Clare, Dublin, Wexford or Waterford winning an All-Ireland - or even all of them! That would give the game a great boost. A worrying factor to hurling enthusiasts must be the inability of the G.A.A. to get a suitable sponsor for the 1994 All-Ireland Championship".
Cork haven't won a Munster title since 1992 - but Tim Crowley is determined to look on the bright side. The Rebels, he believes, will be back: "Last year they won the League after a marathon session with Wexford and were then beaten in the Championship by Clare. That can happen. Winning the League is good because it's a national title. After playing three League finals in as many weeks it wasn't a major surprise that we were caught in the Championship. This year's performance against Limerick was very poor, but I'm absolutely confident that there are enough good players to get them back up there with the best temas in the country. Our best twenty players will have to be picked from fourteen of fifteen clubs. It will be difficult initially to get them gelled together - but the quality of players are there". These days Tim Crowley is a Regional Manager in the Cork/Kerry area with Coillite, the Irish Forestry Board. He is keen to point out to all young Hogan Stand readers that active involvement in the national game can boost one's professional career. "You get to meet a lot of people and your name becomes known. Employers will usually look at intercounty players as people who can give commitment to something so it certainly is a plug on anybody's C.V. to hurl at intercounty or even club level", points out the big Newcestown clubman who delighted Cork supporters for a decade between 1975 and 1985. An extremely modest and down to earth individual, Tim is proud to have played his part in Cork G.A.A. history - his medal collection speaks for itself!
Taken from Hogan Stand magazine
21st October, 1994
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