John Joe Doyle


  1. Q.   When   did you first start hurling?
  2.   From the time I was able to swing a small hurley. That was the normal pastime for youngsters.  I well remember one evening when playing a match in the Green with a canister I got a nasty cut over my left eye.  It bled a lot and I admit I was frightened.  I had to wear a bandage which closed my eye for over two weeks. I decided then that hurling was not for me so one evening I gave my nice little hurley to a neighbour Mickey McKee saying “I’m not going to  hurl  anymore”.  Well, no sooner had the bandage been removed than I looked for another hurley. My old friend John Hickey brought me another one from Dromoland, neatly painted at that and you know the rest. I was 10 or 11 then
  3.   How often did you practice and where?
  4. A.   As young lads we did a lot of hurling in the Green which had lots of grassy patches in those days. From about age 16 when I really got interested I would join a group and. practice everywhere and anywhere as we had no fixed pitch. We were often cleared by the field owners.  We played in James McMahon’s field  just over the boundary wall from the field where Padraig Crimmins N.T. now resides. We also used Flanagan’s field on Ennis Road: the “Furry Hill” just beyond the “Creamery Field”. This latter pitch was the scene of lots of hard hurling because of its restricted size. We often had a few pucks in the Mill Field. By the time we graduated to Kelly Halpins field on the Limerick Road for which the Club paid a small rent.  It was there most real practice took place as we had a full size pitch. It was quite common to have a match between ourselves 3 or 4 evenings a week with as many as 12 aside, earnest hurling for an hour or more. Many important Co. Board matches were played there also.
  5.   Where did you get your hurleys?
  6.   As a young lad I had a friend in Dromoland, a painter named John  Hickey and he used give me a hurley now and  then  made   by  Jimo Hayes, a carpenter also in Dromoland. Later when I was about 17 I got a job there and from there on I started to make my own hurleys from the “makings” cut quietly at night in the woods of Dromoland.  I got much help from Jimo Hayes who would cut the “makings” by circular saw and then by handsaw. We used very few “bought” or “shop” hurleys in those days. We had to provide our own as the club seldom had funds to spend on hurleys.  It was a bit of an adventure searching for and cutting makings.
  7.   What was it like growing up in Newmarket?
  8.  It was a quite simple life with little money, very few motor cars and few distractions.   For young lads and young men the main interest was hurling, no athletics, no camogie. There was the occasional dance in the hall – maybe three or four in the year – all nights from 9 pm to 7am with a fine supper given in the upper floor. Many came for the supper of ham or cold mutton or beef with plenty of bread, butter and tea. Admission: 5 shillings. The band of 6 played all night for £6. and all enjoyed themselves. Believe it or not, the hurling club held an all-night dance in Ralahine House when the Hall was not available. It was a big undertaking as everything, seating, tables, cooking utensils, tableware etc. had to be brought the three miles from Newmarket.   It was really work but we had a great committee. There were about 40 employed in Dromoland in those days. The wages were small, but married men got free milk every evening. Those with gardens had them ploughed and a ten cwt. beef was killed and distributed to all the workers every Christmas. Then work at  Shannon commenced   and many cycled as much as 20 miles to work there and back in the evening for about  35 shillings a week  and it was hard work in the initial stages digging drains 2 to 3 feet deep by a foot wide with spade and shovel and so began the industrialization era.
  9.   Where did you live and what schools   did you attend?
  10.   In the Weavers Road (now Ballycar Road) in the house now occupied by Kevin Bourke. It was named the Weavers Road because most of the weavers employed in

the old Weaving Mill lived there.


Newmarket National School and Saint Flannan’s College

  1.   At what parks were important matches played?
  2. In the Market’s Field, Limerick and in the Show Grounds, Ennis. Of course big matches were played in Thurles, Cork etc. but those venues were too far for bicycles. It is well to recall here that during the second world war 1939-1945 many cycled from Clare to Thurles.
  3.   Who trained   the Newmarket teams?
  4.   The old hands were P. J. Flanagan, Miko Greene, Louis Halpin, the Dohertys of Moohaun closely followed by Georgie O’Dea as Secretary and Treasurer.  Then I myself became Secretary and later Secretary of Fr. Murphy Park. We had no trainer or coaches specifically appointed as such, but hard working members as far as I can recall were Monty Murphy, Tim Mac, Mick Doherty, Mikey Crimmins, Micky Malone, Pakie Lillis. That was 40 years ago a long time to remember all the members who were real workers.
  5.   What   was your most memorable game?
  6.   Playing in the All-Ireland final in 1932 was undoubtedly a memorable experience though a disappointing one for us. But I think the game that gave me the greatest thrill and pleasure was the sensational win over Galway in the All Ireland semifinal of that same year. It was played in the present Gaelic Grounds in Limerick and Galway were· completely on top in the first half leading by 14 points at the break. They even increased that big lead to 16 points in the first few minutes of the second half and Clare followers began to leave in disgust. Many Galway supporters also left to get clear of the traffic full sure that Galway were going to win. Then, some quick goals by Tull Considine put new life into our lads and as we would do nothing right in the first half, now it was Galway’s turn to make mistakes.  The final score was Clare 9-04 to Galway’s 4-14.
  7.   Is there a player you admired most?
  8.   It is extremely difficult to name any one particular player covering a period of over 50 years.  However, I  cannot forget  the  wonderful,   never   say  die  spirit  of Jimmy (Puddin) Cullinan some years ago when Clare were being very badly beaten by Cork in a Munster Championship game. Even when it was obvious there was no hope for Clare, Jimmy never gave up trying.  It was as if he were fighting for his life. Rarely, if ever, is the man of the match award given to a member of a defeated team but, if I had my way, I would have given that honour to Jim Cullinan for extraordinary display of courage, determination and guts far beyond the call of duty.


J.J.  Doyle – The Famous Goggles    ·By   Con Woods


John Joe was known as and is indeed still best known as “goggles” and indeed showed them to us one evening during the winter, as we visited his home in Tulla. The goggles, of course, were necessary in order to protect his spectacles. He had written first to England and even to the U.S.A. to try and get a pair of suitable guards, but found these worn by baseball players, motor cyclists and stone breakers would not suit his purpose. Using bicycle spokes as they were rust proof, he designed and made his own. John Joe’s homemade goggles were entirely successful and apparently they in no way affected his game.


He can only recall two tight shaves. Once one of the lenses was knocked out when he got a stroke of a hurley on the forehead in a game in Tu Ila. His eyebrow was cut but after wiping the blood from the lens, he put it back in the frame and continued.  The second incident occurred and John Joe can to this day clearly recall this moment- as it was to be his last ever game of hurling, it occurred on St. Patrick’s Day, 1939 in the Fr. Murphy Memorial Park in the course of a training game. The glass in his glasses was broken in bits his eyebrow was cut and necessitated some stitches. The incident wasn’t serious but John Joe decided to cal I    it a day as he was then 33 years of age and he felt he was in any event near the end of his hurling career.


In any company Goggles”  Doyle would be regarded as a hurler apart-  his achievements speak for themselves-  a regular on the Clare team from 1926to ’34, captain in ’31 and ’32, winner of four railway cup medals with Munster, selected to play for Ireland in

1932 Tailteann  games, winner  of six championships and six Clare Champion cup medals with Newmarket  and captain  of Newmarket from 1931 – ’34 and ’36. Acknowledged by all as one of the great driving forces behind the Newmarket Club. Played mostly  as a corner back  but played centre-back for his club for a number of years after the retirement of Mick  Doherty, acknowledged  as one of the greatest corner  backs of all time – fit,  fast, always first to the ball, a lovely striker and a man who played with the commitment, dedication and zeal that puts certain men into a special category  – that of greatness.

Not just because of his hurling will John Joe be remembered forever in Newmarket but also of his work for the Club generally and especially for his work in the design and development of Fr. Murphy Memorial Park. He drew all the plans and designs for the park including the very decorative arch at the central entrance of the field.

John-Joe has fond memories of his hurling days and says the club games with Ahane, Young lrelands and Ennis Dalcassions were great. His great regret is not having won that elusive All-Ireland Medal having captured every other honour in the game and he is clearly one of the greatest hurlers never to have won an All-Ireland.  He is also a gentleman and it is with pleasure one can visit his home which has been in Tulla since 1934.He has a very special place in his heart for the people of Newmarket and his advice for the young hurler – train hard and play fairly with total commitment.


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