Dick Doocey - A Tribute, (John Arnold)

06 June, 2020

In defining what the GAA means to people the phrase 'for the honour of the little village' is often used. It's from the Book' Knocknagow' by Charles Kickham. Matt Donovan, or Matt The Thrasher as he is better known, is in a hammer-throwing contest. He looks at the white-washed cabins of the village across the hill, and summoning every ounce of strength he has, he utters the words 'for the honour of the old home' and gets an almighty throw, a winning throw. That image sums up Dick Doocey for me. He died just a few days short of his 90th birthday earlier this week. A big man -big in size and heart and spirit and a man I was glad to call a friend. I suppose 'twas at a hurling game in East Cork that I first met him, probably about forty five or fifty years ago. I smiled that day and many's the time since I smiled and laughed in his company.

 A Waterford man by birth he loved to be called 'one of the boys that won the County with Tourin'.(pronounced Toureen) You know we speak of pride of place, the honour of the little town or village but Dick Doocey was from no town or village - ok he was born near Lismore but his GAA club, his beloved Tourin, defined him. If you seek out the place you'll learn that Tourin is in the Electoral Division of Drumroe, in the Civil Parish of Lismore and Mocollop, in the Barony of Coshmore and Coshbride in the County of Waterford. In 1941 when Dick was just eleven the GAA Club was revived here -his father Paddy was a prominent footballer in the early 1900's. His grandfather John lived in a home frequented by those who loved Ireland, it's traditions and culture and the wish for Irish freedom. That heritage and culture was passed down to Dick. In 1950 little Tourin, a tiny club from a rural hamlet took on and beat three-in -a-row seeking famed Mount Sion. Tourin won by 3 7 to 2 5 -the biggest ever shock in a Decies County Final.. The headline on The Cork Examiner ran;

 

Tourin Spring Big Surprise In Waterford

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                   An Unusual

                        Incident.

 

The' Unusual Incident' happened in the first half when the referee was about to send off a Tourin player. Waterford and Mount Sion hurling legend John Keane ran up the field and pleaded with the referee not to dismiss the player. The ref agreed and changed his mind and that player scored a vital goal late in the game for Tourin when the City side were pressing hard. So Dick Doocey was part of a hurling 'dream come true' for his beloved Tourin. He was proud of that win and of the club that gave him such passion and love of our native game. He was big man on the hurling field and  that was in an era when no prisoners were taken and every man had to 'mind' himself. He did a bit of refereeing also. I asked his life long friend Ollie Wilkinson what sort of a referee was Dick? Ollie thought for a few seconds and replied 'As a referee you could sum him up in one word -unique', enough said!  Dick told me onetime he was reffing a game one evening in a certain town in West Waterford. During the first half of the game, which had started at seven o clock, his stopwatch failed -at the time watches were scarce. He knew that at half seven a train would be leaving the nearby Station and the driver always gave a 'Hoot, hoot' on exiting the station. He played on til he heard the 'Hoot, hoot' and, in his own words, 'Fellas were saying, God -Doocey that was a long half hour… I said nothing ..got the watch going. The second half was about thirty three minutes but I found out later that the train was nearly quarter of an hour late leaving the station that evening… so young Arnold, when fellas tell you that the first 70 or 80 minute game was played in such and such a year in Croke Part.. they're wrong….'twas in West Waterford around 1959'!

On coming to Killeagh, farming in Inchiquin, in the early 60's he threw in his lot with the Killeagh GAA Club. Killeagh had always produced good hurlers but never won an East Cork Junior A Title. Dick Doocey changed all that. He was a defender on the team that won the East Cork in 1967 after a replayed Final with Castlemartyr. Tourin wore Red and White and in 1968 Dick was an Imokilly Senior selector when the team in Red and White Stripes went all the way to the Cork County Final only to lose to St Finbarrs.  Dick was trainer of Killeagh when they won back-to-back East Cork Hurling Titles in 1970 and 71. He took fierce pride in those wins and left no stone unturned to gain success  -even 'accidentally' stepping on the sliotar just before a vital free was taken against Killeagh in one game in 1971! As an administrator he was superb -knowing when to leave constructive debate flow and when to silence wafflers. He served as an Officer with both the Killeagh Club and the East Cork Divisional Board.

Dick was of the soil and farming was in his veins. He joined Macra na Feirme as a teenager when nearly every parish had a Macra branch. He often told me the grounding he got in Macra served him well in later life, 'Teenage boys and girls learned to speak and debate in public and stand up for themselves in Macra' he said. There was mighty social scene in Macra though Dick said he never went in much for the poultry judging or baking a sponge cake at Field Days! The Identification of Weeds and Grasses was a very popular competition for the gents at Field Days and Dick was brilliant at this task. 'There was really only one fella that beat me regularly but the so and so - hadn't he a small, tiny little book in his inside pocket with pictures of all the weeds and grasses' Dick told me his name but I won't repeat it here! Farming in Inchiquin with Carmel whilst raising a family and later helping to run a B & B would seem enough work for anyone but not for Dick Doocey. He bred pedigree cattle, got involved with point to point racing, Midleton Show and countless other organisations. Any grouping which helped make life better and happier for people,  well Dick supported it. He was long time Chairman of Killeagh Point to Point Race Committee and also of the Cork and Waterford Point to Point Association.

Dick Doocey was great company. He had a fund of stories and yarns and  -the taller the better! I just loved talking to him cause we had so much in common and that deep love of hurling and the local Club meant everything to both of us. Some people can be so negative and critical when discussing the GAA or other facets of Irish life but not so the man from Tourin. He could talk for hours on hurling and hurlers and games at Club and County level. Ollie Wilkinson travelled the country with him and said you'd never miss the journey to Dublin and back to big games. He loved Kerry football and the way Kerry teams played and Paidí O Sé was one of his great heroes.

Dick and Carmel cared for their son Pat so tenderly during his illness and I know Dick Doocey's big heart was breaking when Pat died but he kept going. He never drank or smoked all his long life but enjoyed the craic as good as anyone. His beaming smile, booming voice and firm handshake were his trademarks. Now he has left us after nearly ninety years of giving. This week back in the year 1930 Paddy Doocey and his wife Margaret (nee O Brien) were celebrating the birth of their son. Now, nine decades later, East Cork and West Waterford are mourning the death of a stalwart champion of rural Ireland. God Bless you and keep you Dick Doocey and may you rest in peace. May the green grass of your beloved Waterford rest lightly on you. You have fought the good fight, you have finished the course and you have kept the faith.

 

No more upon the village green will Sunday evening's find you

But faraway from all that's gay and the friends you've left behind you.

 

 

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