Last night, at dinner before the Leo Alumni meeting, I ran into an old friend Joanie Brennan. Joanie is now Mrs. Kevin Sullivan. Joanie and her many sisters were the best athletes in Little Flower Parish ( the parishses along 79th Street were thick with Cork, Kerry and Clare natives). We hated to see their approach as these pretty girls could fire a football spiral, or chuck a Clincher more accurately and with more power than any male within the vast parish limits. Their father is great Kerry footballer named Danny Brennan. County Kerry won the most All Ireland football ( caid in Irish) - 55 Titles in all.
Danny Brennan was a neighborhood legend having come to America preceded by stories of his athelticism on the football pitches of Ireland in the editions of the Kerryman Newspaper delivered to Kerrymen or picked up by the Salt-water Irish at the tobacco store on southwest corner of 79th & Ashland. My grandfather was a huge fan of Danny Brennan - who now resides in Smith Village in Morgan Park. Danny Brennan was football equivalent of the great hurler* Christy Ring.
My grandfather and his pals had an expression that stuck with most of us. If someone were considered to be a great athlete or even a skilled person at some small level that person was " As Game as Christy Ring, so!"
E.g. So, in Kerryman is an intensifier - You ( twenty -thirty grandchildren shouting at once) are a shower of bastards, so!" or " The collective lot of you are the nails in Chrit's hands and feet, so!" - indicated a heightened level displeasure in Grandpa Hickey.
As game as Christy Ring* refers to the great Cork Hurler Christy Ring. So great were this man's feats and feets that a song was inspired to be sung to the air of The Bold Tady Quill Here is the great Christy Ring
Christy Ring was born less than a mile from the small village of Cloyne in County Cork,in 1920.
As a fourteen-year old he played in goal for Cloyne's junior team, however, due to the absence of a minor team in Cloyne he joined a team in nearby Midleton. As a player with the St. Enda's club Ring was spotted by the Cork minor selectors and quickly made the inter-county team. Subsequently, Ring won his first All-Ireland medal in 1938. After moving to Cork city he joined the local Glen Rovers hurling club in 1941, winning a County Cork Championship medal in that year.
Ring's record at all levels of the game speaks for itself. During his career he won 8 All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship medals (1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1946, 1952, 1953, 1954) and 4 National Hurling League medals (1940, 1941, 1948 and 1953) with Cork. He won 18 Railway Cup medals with Munster, appearing in 22 finals between 1942 and 1963. At club level Ring won 14 county championship medals with Glen Rovers.The incomparable Christy Ring 1938-1961
Christy has won
minor all-Ireland 1938
Junior county 1939
11 senior counties 41, 44, 45, 48, 49, 50, 53, 54, 58, 59 & 60
Senior county football 1954
Senior all Ireland 41, 42, 43 & 44
Munster senior championship 42, 43, 44, 46, 47, 52, 53, 54, & 56
Railway cup 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 55, 57, 58, 59, 60, & 61
National league 39-40 40-41 47-48 52-53
Senior all-Ireland 46, 52, 53, & 54
Heaven bless our greatest hurler,
for his is the glory none can claim,
skippers came, but never greater,
in the annals of the game,
Golden records, cork had many,
But for these we cherished thee,
You won eight all-Ireland medals, for the city by the Lee.
*Hurling - Athletic Manslaughter