July 08, 2005
The Late Billy Duffy
Billy Duffy who died in London, was regarded by many as one of Galway's best ever hurlers and had close connections with South Galway natives who emigrated to London. He left a lasting impression on thousands of Galway hurling supporters who saw him play for the county's senior team from 1952 to 1955.
A native of Eyrecourt, Billy Duffy first made his mark on the Galway minor team of 1951 which lost to Cork in the All-Ireland final. Kevin Sexton (Kinvara) and Tommy Tarpey ( Ardrahan) were members of that minor side.
He was promoted to the senior team the following year and gave a great display in the All-Ireland semi-final against Cork in Limerick which saw Galway lose, 1-5 to 0-6.
He played at centre half back in that game alongside Ned Quinn (Ardrahan) and Colm Corless ( Kinvara).
Galway reached the All-Ireland final in 1953 and Billy Duffy partnered Joe Salmon at midfield in a controversial encounter which Cork won on a score of 3-3 to 0-8.
Galway lost to the rebels again in 1954 in the semi-final and the 1955 final saw another defeat at the hands of Wexford by 3-13 to 2-8.
In an era of emigration, Billy Duffy went to London where he was to live for nearly 50 years, apart from about two years in New York.
He was based in the Shepard's Bush area of North London and went on to win four London Hurling titles with the Brothers Pearse club.
Those who were most closely associated with him either as team-mates or colleagues, included Marty McGrath, Sean Quinn and Tony Monaghan (Gort), Larry and Noel Corless (Kilbeacanty), Val Burke (Beagh) and Mick Kersse (Ardrahan).
His last visit to his native Galway was in 2001 and it was to Gort where his host was Josie Harte and to Clarenbridge where a special function was held in his honour.
"His great strength, allied with his tremendous skill, endeared him to hurling folk in the 1950s," recalled Josie Harte in his honour.
He added that in the early years of the fifties, Cork and Wexford dominated and the Galway fans greatly welcomed the emergence of Billy Duffy and the major impact he made on the senior team.
"There was great respect for him in North London by all from South Galway and his few visits home showed how he was remembered with great affection from his playing days," Josie said.
Courtesy of Clare Champion
8th July 2005
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