Sparrow, Wedger and Sambo … a team of the best hurling nicknames
18 May 2017
Ger 'Sparrow' O'Loughlin.
Down through the years, there have been some fantastic hurling nicknames – here’s our novel XV featuring some of the best.
The competition was fierce so unfortunately ‘Rattler’, ‘Hero’, ‘Bonner’, ‘Fraggy’, ‘Magic’, ‘Bubbles, ‘Chunky’, ‘Sock’, ‘Jobber’ and ‘Dotsy’ will all have to settle for places on the bench.
1. ‘Tony Reddin’ (Tipperary). Regarded as the greatest hurling goalkeeper ever, Tony Reddin was selected on both the Team of the Century and the Team of the Millennium. Strangely, the entire name by which he was known was a nickname! Tony was born Martin Charles Reddington in Mullagh, County Galway in 1919 and it wasn’t until he moved to Lorrha in Tipp in 1947 that he became known as Tony Reddin. This was because he was affectionately known as ‘Thaudy’, which became Tony, and was part of the Reddin clan. Won three All-Irelands and six national leagues with the Premier County.
Tony Reddin (circled)
2. ‘Wedger’ (Tipperary). Patrick ‘Wedger’ Meagher is remembered as one of the greatest intercountry captains never to win an All-Ireland. ‘Wedger’ captained the Premier County to a Croke Cup final win over Kilkenny in 1913. That same year, the Cats had defeated Tipp in the All-Ireland final, when teams were reduced to 15-a-side for the first time.
3. ‘The Rock’ (Cork). Cork dual star Diarmuid O’Sullivan was an immovable object at the heart of the Rebels’ hurling defence for twelve years, 1997-2009. His nickname, ‘The Rock’, was most appropriate. During his intercountry career, the Cloyne man accumulated five Munsters, four All Stars and three All-Irelands.
Diarmuid O'Sullivan (left)
4. ‘Snitchy’ (Dublin). Dessie ‘Snitchy’ Ferguson was a dual player with Dublin in the 1950s and ‘60s. He won All-Ireland SFC medals in 1958 and ’63 and was corner back on the hurling team pipped by Tipperary in the 1961 SHC decider. A stalwart of the mighty St Vincent’s club, he moved to Meath and became a driving force behind Gaeil Colmcille in Kells.
5. ‘Sambo’ (Antrim). From Cushendall, Terence ‘Sambo’ McNaughton was one of the stars of the Antrim side that stunned Offaly in the 1989 All-Ireland SHC semi-final thanks to goals from Olcan McFetridge and Aidan McCarry. They went on to play Tipperary in the decider. ‘Sambo’ represented the Glensmen for 16 years, from 1981 until 1997.
6. ‘Drug’ (Kilkenny). Dick ‘Drug’ Walsh captained Kilkenny to All-Ireland titles in 1907, 1909 and 1913. From Mooncoin, he won seven Leinster championships and seven All-Irelands but, more importantly, he had a great nickname.
7. ‘The Rubber Man’ (Tipperary). From Thurles, Tommy Doyle – known as ‘The Rubber Man’ – was left half back on Tipperary’s three-in-a-row All-Ireland winning side of 1949-51, when Laois, Kilkenny and Wexford respectively were beaten in the finals. He was so flexible he also won All-Irelands in 1937 and ’45 in the half-forward line.
8. ‘Brick’ (Waterford). Peerless Waterford centre half back Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh collected the first of his three All Stars at midfield in 2007, when he also captained Na Deise to their first league title since 1963. The Stradbally clubman has won three Munster SHCs to date. This is his 15th successive year as a senior intercounty hurler. Made of solid stuff.
Michael Walsh (centre)
9. ‘Banger’ (Limerick). Dairy farmer Mike O’Brien was one of the unsung heroes of the Limerick side that stormed through to the 2007 All-Ireland final, wherein they lost to Kilkenny by five points. To reach the final, the Treaty County saw off Tipperary (after three games), Clare and Waterford. O’Brien was known to his friends as ‘Banger’.
10. ‘Babs’ (Tipperary). Widely regarded as one of the finest hurlers of his generation, Michael ‘Babs’ Keating was named on the inaugural All Stars team in 1971, when he also collected an All-Ireland medal and the Texaco Hurler of the Year award A dual player, he won four Munster titles, two leagues and two All-Irelands with the Premier hurlers. He managed Tipp to the 1989 All-Ireland.
11. ‘Fingers’ (Clare). Centre forward on Clare’s 1995 All-Ireland winning team, PJ O’Connell was a classy hurler with a classy nickname. ‘Fingers’ got his hands on a second All-Ireland medal two years later.
12. ‘Gizzy’ (Wexford). Diarmuid ‘Gizzy’ Lyng represented the Model County with distinction from 2004 until 2013. In 2010, he captained the Slaneysiders to a national hurling league Division Two title.
13. ‘Hopper’ (Galway). In 1988, Michael ‘Hopper’ McGrath collected his second successive All-Ireland medal when he togged out at top of the right on the side that defeated Tipperary. He also won two All-Ireland Club crowns with Sarsfields.
14. ‘Sparrow’ (Clare). When the Banner County put the curse of Biddy Early to bed by capturing the 1995 and 1997 All-Irelands, Clarecastle ace Ger O’Loughlin was very much in the public imagination, not least because of his terrific sobriquet.
15. ‘Winker’ (Warwickshire). Currently on the Lory Meagher Cup trail with the Exiles, Liam Watson bagged 3-7 on St Patrick’s Day, 2012 as Loughgiel Shamrocks won the All-Ireland Club SHC. He was also a star attacker for Antrim for more than a decade before transferring to Warwickshire, where he continues to shoot out the lights with his superb nickname.