Jimmy Doyle was one of the giants of hurling. Born and reared within the shadow of hurling’s great amphitheatre, Semple Stadium, he went on to become one of the greatest hurlers of all time.
His list of successes speak for themselves. He won three All-Ireland minor titles and went on to win six All-Ireland senior titles with his beloved Tipperary, captaining his county in two of those years. He won ten county championship hurling medals with his club, Thurles Sarsfields and added a football championship for good measure. Added to these were numerous wins in Munster finals and with Munster in Railway Cups. Portlaoise will remember Jimmy for the five years he spent in town coaching the hurlers in cooperation with team manager, Tom Lalor, and other mentors. The period yielded four county championship successes in a row (1981 to 1984) and coincided with the emergence of one of the best periods for Laois on the inter-county scene.
That great lifelong townie, Owen Deegan, was married to Jimmy’s beloved sister, Olive, and hence the connection. Owen asked Jimmy on behalf of the club to come and help out with the hurlers, and Jimmy duly arrived with his equally famous brother, Paddy, in early 1980 to help the cause. The rest is history.
Jimmy always recalled these days as amongst his happiest becoming to grow in lasting friendship with all the hurlers in his charge and also the men behind the hurling scene at the time. These included Tom and Jimmy Lalor, Billy Bohane, Paddy Critchley, John Keenan and others who had worked for a hurling revival in the town.
A very private man, Jimmy returned to Portlaoise on a regular basis ever since those days to link up with his great friends for a chat and a drink and admitted to always feeling very much at home in his adopted town.
The hurling superstar passed away suddenly and peacefully at his home in Thurles in June 2015, a mere year after the passing of his brother-in-law, Owen, and there was a great turnout from Portlaoise to say their last goodbyes to the great man and gentleman.