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Tributes to hurling legend Jimmy Cooney

THERE was great sadness in local and national sporting circles at the sudden passing of Galway hurling legend, Jimmy Cooney (69) on Monday evening last while working on his farm at Bullaun.

The back-to-back All-Star winner in 1980 and 1981 will be remembered for his tenacious and skilful displays at left-corner back, which played a key role in ending a 57-year All-Ireland famine for Galway in 1980 when beating Limerick by 2-15 to 3-9 in an epic final.

At more local level, he was one of the main driving forces in the renaissance of the Sarsfields club, lining out at midfield in August of 1980 alongside Noel Morrissey, when they defeated Meelick-Eyrecourt in a hard-fought final in Ballinasloe by 0-11 to 0-9.

Four weeks later in Croke Park, he was given the job by Cyril Farrell of marking Limerick’s Ollie O’Connor and as the former Galway manager recalled this week, the Sarsfields stalward did ‘some job’ on one of the Munster champions’ main dangermen.

“We knew that day that our full back line had a big job on their hands. Limerick had a full forward line of Ollie O’Connor, Joe McKenna and Eamon Cregan which had real scoring power and the potential to win that 1980 final.

“Ollie O’Connor was a real livewire in that Limerick attack and Jimmy Cooney was given the job of marking him as tight as he could and winning as much ball as he could down in that corner . . . and what a job he did,” said Cyril Farrell.

He added that like so many people all over the county and indeed country, he was stunned and saddened when the news broke on Tuesday morning last that Jimmy Cooney had passed away.

“I don’t think people realised how strong Jimmy was: he was like a JCB but as well that, like all the Cooneys, he was a tremendously skilful player. He was a leader for Sarsfields and Galway: a 100% man, you never got anything less from Jimmy Cooney,” said Cyril Farrell.

Photo shows Jimmy Cooney embraced by Galway fans after the county’s All-Ireland Final triumph of 1980 in Croke Park.

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