Experiencing the “Tipperary Diaspora” in London

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
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
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
"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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