Tipperary hurling legend has Liam “Billy” Devaney passed away.
The 82 year old had a glittering career in the blue and gold of Tipperary winning 5 All Ireland Senior Hurling medals with Tipperary as well as 6 Munster titles and 6 national league titles.
Borrisoleigh clubman Liam Devaney played senior hurling for the Premier County in every position bar full back and even lined out in goal against Clare when the selected keeper failed to arrive for the game in Tipp town. His versatility was a valued attribute, no more so than in the 1961 All Ireland final, when he switched to centre back after Tony Wall retired injured and guided Tipp to a one point win over Dublin.
During a steller career for the county he clocked up 5 All Ireland Senior Hurling titles in 1958, 1961, 1962, 1964 & 1965 along with 8 Munster Senior Hurling titles and 8 National League hurling honours .
On top of that he secured three Railway Cup medals with Munster, was named Caltex Hurler of the Year (1) – 1961 and secured honours at Minor level in both Munster and All Ireland action.
The 82 year old who played club action with his beloved Borrisoleigh won a county title in 1953 as well as 4 North Tipperary Senior hurling titles ..
Tributes have been flowing in since his sad passing yesterday evening following a short illness – with County Board Chairman Michael Bourke describing him as fearless and charismatic and a man possessed with a tremendous hurling brain which epitomised his determination to deliver success for Tipperary. Fellow clubman and Former TIpp Hurling Captaion Brendan Maher meanwhile described him as a tipp legend who will never be forgotten
Speaking to Tipp FM, County Board Chairman Michael Burke said Liam was a one in a lifetime player…
County Board Statement;
Tuesday, August 15th, 2017
It is with great regret and sadness that we learned of the death this evening after a short illness of former Tipperary hurler Liam Devaney.
The death took place today Tuesday, of former Tipperary star Liam Devaney, aged 82.
Liam Devaney (Borris-Ileigh) played senior hurling for Tipperary in every position except full back. He even lined out in goal against Clare in 1963, when the selected goalkeeper failed to arrive for a game at Tipperary town. His versatility was a valued attribute, no more so than in the 1961 All Ireland final, when he switched to centre back after Tony Wall retired injured and guided Tipp to a one point win over Dublin. The Irish Independent noted his contribution to the victory – ‘’His all-round hurling ability and dauntless spirit were more evident than ever on Sunday and his coolness, ball control and ability to evade the tackle at centre back, to deliver match winning clearances were a revelation’’. Not surprisingly that newspaper selected Liam as its ‘Sports Star of the Week’.
Liam, who was an unused substitute for the 1954 Munster final loss to Cork, made his debut a few months later in the Oireachtas competition. His championship debut was at right half forward in a one point loss to Clare in the 1955 Munster Championship semi-final, at Limerick. Liam’s last championship appearance was in Tipperary’s two point loss to Wexford in the 1968 All Ireland final. He scored 0-2 in one of the greatest All Ireland finals ever played.
Liam retired from inter-county hurling after Tipp’s 1-9 to 1-6 victory over Cork, in the Oireachtas final, at Thurles, on October 27th 1968. He lined out at right corner forward that day and switched to the left corner during the game. The Borris-Ileigh club man earned the free from which team captain, Mick Roche, shot to the Cork net for the vital score of the game. As he made his way off the pitch after the game, Liam gave his hurley to a young boy.
The next day he handed in a note to Tipperary Co. Secretary, Tommy Barrett, asking him to tell the selectors that he was now in retirement from inter-county hurling. The message ended with best wishes for the future to the selectors and the Tipperary teams.
During a wonderful career Liam was to the forefront for Tipperary and his honours list speaks for itself –
Liam Devaney’s Major Honours List
All Ireland Senior Hurling (5) – 1958, 1961, 1962, 1964 & 1965
Munster Senior Hurling (8) – 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1967 & 1968
Caltex Hurler of the Year (1) – 1961
National Hurling League titles (8) 1954/55, 1956/57, 1958/59, 1959/60,
1960/61, 1963/64, 1964/65 & 1967/68
Oireachtas Cup (6) – 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1965 & 1968
Railway Cup with Munster (3) – 1961, 1963 & 1966
All Ireland Minor Hurling (2) -1952 & 1953
Munster Minor Hurling (2) -1952 & 1953
Co. Senior Hurling (1) -1953
North Tipp Senior Hurling (4) – 1953, 1955, 1972 & 1973
Knocknagow Award -2015
Cu Chulainn Award Winner – 1963 (right corner forward).
Liam’s top three hurlers during his own playing career were – Christy Ring (Cork) Jimmy Doyle (Tipperary) and Billy Rackard (Wexford).
He played on with his club for a few more years, but the dream of winning a second county medal nineteen years after his first was not realised, as Roscrea beat Borris-Ileigh by 5-8 to 3-6, in the 1972 final, at a rain sodden Semple Stadium.
In a 1995 interview with the Hoganstand.com Liam was asked about his best memory from his hurling career. The reply, which overlooked all of his successes was simple and sincere –‘’It’s the best field game in the world and through it I made some great friends, on and off the field.’’ Spoken like the gentleman he was.
Tipperary County Board Chairman Michael Bourke paid tribute to the late Liam Devaney on hearing of his passing – “During a golden era for Tipperary hurling, Liam Devaney was a key contributor to the county’s fortunes. Not alone was he fearless and charismatic but he also possessed a tremendous hurling brain which epitomised his determination to deliver success for Tipperary. I have known Liam for many years and such was his presence that his jovial nature and character would ensure he would take centre stage in any company. Tipperary has lost a great son, friend and acquaintance.
On behalf of Tipperary County Board I extend our heartfelt condolences to the Devaney family and also to his club, Borris-Ileigh, on the sad passing of Liam.”
Ar dheis De go raibh a anam.
Funeral arrangements to follow.