Experiencing the 'Tipperary Diaspora' in London

October 29, 2009
A travelling party of around twenty joined London-based Tipperary Gaels to experience the 'Tipperary Diaspora' at the Crown Moran Hotel in Cricklewood on Saturday evening - October 24th. That was how guest and Tipperary hurling legend Larry Kiely described the whole occasion as he was afforded the honour of being the first of the guests to address the three hundred plus diners. Despite a slightly late start the ever reliable Life President of the London Tipperary Association - Tom Milne proved an excellent MC and by ten o'clock all the guests had addressed the huge attendance which included four of Tipperary's hurlers and football captain Andrew Morrissey. Larry Kiely therefore set the tone for the entire evening which included the usual tributes and acknowledgements for the many people present. The former sixties hurler who was renewing his acquaintance with his London-based Gortnahoe neighbour and former county playing colleague Jim 'Fennor' Ryan thanked the organisers for his and his partner Benny's invitation as he took the diners for a trip down memory lane to the days he hurled for Tipperary and also represented Ireland as an army rider on the equestrian team which included the Mexico Olympics in 1968 before concluding with a 'snakes-in-the-grass' description of his army career in postings such as Lebanon and Syria. Passing on the microphone to current players captain Willie Ryan, vice-captain and All-Star Conor O'Mahony, former All-Star and midfielder Shane McGrath and rising Lorrha-based star Patrick 'Bonner Maher, each in turn thanked the organisers for the invitation with 'Bonner' promising a 100% result for Tipperary in the 2010 All-Ireland hurling final. Shane McGrath was also confident that Tipperary are within touching distance of landing the Liam MacCarthy Cup. "Unfortunately we don't have the 'big-one' here tonight but I guarantee you that next year we will again be very, very close to pulling it off" said Shane to a loud cheer around the banquet room. It was now the turn of Tipperary GAA officialdom to address the diners with the patrons of the London Tipperary Association, namely Sean Fogarty and Tommy Barrett both making short addresses. Sean Fogarty spoke of the improvement in not alone Tipperary hurling but also the achievement of Thurles CBS in winning the All-Ireland colleges title for the first time since 1956 earlier in the year. "Tipperary's hurlers provided us with the two best games of the year with first the league final followed by an epic All-Ireland clash against Kilkenny," said Sean. The man from Moyne is convinced Tipperary are in line to succeed Kilkenny in being the new 'Kingpins' of hurling. Tommy Barrett confirmed that he had been making trips to London with Tipperary teams and various Tipperary GAA parties since 1953 and like Sean Fogarty he also shares his optimism that if Tipperary achieve the same level of fitness as they did before last September's memorable encounter against Kilkenny, they will be the team to beat in next year's championship. "But with Kilkenny in the opening game of the league and Cork in Cork in the Munster championship the Tipperary team will have to remain focused," said the former long-serving Tipperary GAA Secretary. It was finally left to Tipperary football captain - Andrew Morrissey and County Secretary Tim Floyd to ensure that Tipperary's amazing progress with the 'big ball' was not being overshadowed by this year's All-Ireland hurling final appearance. "Things are going well at the moment with all the young players coming through and we did well to win the Div. 3 title but we must now try and maintain our Div 2 status next year," said Andrew Morrissey. Similarly Tim Floyd, in a very eloquently delivered address, complimented the London Tipperary Association for acknowledging the achievements of the Tipperary footballers this year and the tremendous progress in that code since Kerryman John Evans took control of the team. Tim also acknowledged the contribution of Tipperary Supporters representative - Gerry Moynihan 'one of the greatest supporters of Tipperary GAA' who also made the trip to London. Finally London Tipperary Association Chairman John Whyte thanked all the guests for their efforts in making the trip and especially Tipperary hurling legend - Larry Kiely. He also thanked all his fellow Association members for their efforts in making the occasion another hugely successful event and not surprisingly since John Whyte was also a former inter-county footballer himself he quite likes what's happening with Premier County football at the moment. Quite fittingly later in the evening John Whyte was also acknowledged as the London Tipperaryman of the Year. Last but not least it was left to Lorrha-native Tom Milne to close the formal part of the evening with a vote of thanks for their support to fellow London-based county associations and the Council of Irish Associations including Donegal, Longford, Meath, Waterford, Wexford, Clare, Offaly and Kildare before thanking his fellow officers for their efforts and making arrangements to make the usual presentations to all the travelling guests. Just before the conclusion of another memorable evening, Tipperary County Secretary Tim Floyd jointly presented John Whyte and Tom Mile with a limited edition GAA Celtic Cross to commemorate the GAA's 125th anniversary. Just before the evening ended with the clocks going back at two o'clock, singer Barry Owen captured a real 'Tipperary' sense of the occasion with a poignant rendition of the 'Galtee Mountain Boy' as the evening concluded just as it had started almost six hours previously with Association President and Templemore man Gus Casey's toast to Ireland - Amhran na bhFiann. Will the Crown Moran Hotel be big enough to host next year's annual Tipperary evening if the Liam MacCarthy Cup makes a welcome return to the annual London Tipperary Association's Dinner-Dance for the first time since their Golden Jubilee celebration in the Mariott Hotel, in London's West End in March 2002?

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