December 30, 2007
Kerry and Crotta hurling lost one of its most celebrated players with the passing of Tom (Tomásin) Nolan, Clandouglas, Lixnaw.
Tomásin was a shining light at midfield during Crotta's glorious 1940's and early 1950's and in retirement, he served Crotta on the sideline while his five sons grew up. Todd, Cyril, Kieran, Pascal and Dominick all served Crotta and Kerry with admirable distinction with Todd, who also played with Munster, being a class apart.
Tomásin possessed all the attributes of a natural athlete, powerful legs, wrists of steel, eagle eye and the heart of a lion. A wonderful, whole-hearted and courageous performer, he was going as strongly at the final whistle as he was at the start. He won the first of six Kerry Senior Hurling County Championship medals in 1943 when Crotta, captained by Pat Laide, defeated Kenmare in the final. Crotta team went on to complete three in-a-row in 1944 and 1945 and took further titles in 1947, 1950 and 1951 with Tomásin at mid-field in five of the victories. He was captain in 1950 and '51 and possibly his greatest performance was in the semi-final in 1950 against holders Ardfert.
He went on to play in further county finals in 1952 and 1957 but Crotta were defeated in both. Tomásin was a central figure in most of the Crotta teams that reigned supreme, winning eight county titles between 1939 and 1951. He played his hurling with many of the greats in Ireland, including Christy Ring who was his idol, Willie John Daly, Josie Hartnett, the Kennys of Tipperary, Paddy, Sean and Phil, Tommy and John Doyle and Limerick's Jackie Power.
Tomásin and his great friend Frank Kissane, Ardfert's 1949 winning captain, both played with Jackie Power in Kerry and against him in the Limerick County Hurling Championship when they were brought in the back of a lorry to 'guest' for Tournafulla. They later went on to win the Limerick Championship for the club. Tomásin had great respect for all the hurlers in Kerry but the best he played with were Crotta's Jimmy Flaherty, Dick Laide, Mick Landers, Billy Stack, Jack Kenny, Willie Walsh, John Twomey and in Kerry Michael Hennessy, Frank Kissane, Jimmy Walker, Mickey Scollard, Richie Purcell, Mickey Maher, Sean Lovett, Balvo O'Connell, Stephen Kavanagh.
Crotta never had a hurling field of their own in Tomásin years, depending on a local farmer's generosity for a ground. Men who had no income other than the dole would set off on their bicycles for a Munster hurling final. There was pride and love for the greatest field sport in the world and it made men such as Tomásin Nolan immortal. One of his proudest moments came in 1990 when Tomásin was presented with the Crotta Hurling Club Hall of Fame award. He won many honours and made numerous friends at home and abroad. In 1984, centenary year of the GAA, the Kerry county board paid special tribute to past winning Kerry championship captains during the county hurling final in Tralee. Tomásin and Frank Kissane provided a touching moment of nostalgia as they stood to receive their mementoes. Great hurling men, opponents and team-mates, but friends forever. Tomásin has left a great legacy of moments of magic and memories to treasure.
May he rest in Peace.
Courtesy of Kerry's Eye. December 6, 2007.
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