By Sean Ryan
Tributes have been paid to former Tipperary hurler Theo English (90) who passed away at South Tipperary General Hospital in Clonmel on Sunday January, 10 last. The Marlfield Clubman won five All-Ireland medals with Tipperary and was a selector with Tipperary in 1971 and again when they made their famous breakthrough in 1987 under Michael Babs Keating.
He won his five All-Irelands in 1958,1961, 1962, 1964 and 1965. English also won eight National Hurling Leagues and seven Munster hurling championships during his decorated playing career, as well as four South Tipperary senior club championships with Marlfield. He was also named on the hurling ‘ Team of the Century’.
Breaking the news the Tipperary County Board said in a tweet said “It was with deep sadness that we learned this morning of the passing of former Marlfield and Tipperary great Theo English. Tipperary GAA extends our sincere sympathies to Theo’s wife Maureen and his family at this very sad time. May he Rest In Peace’’. Tributes were also paid by Sunday Game panellist and former Offaly hurler Michael Duignan who said “Condolences to his wife Maureen and family.
A man who made a massive contribution to Tipperary hurling and was admired by all. RIP Theo’’. Tipperary TD Jackie Cahill (FF) said “Theo English’s legacy will never be forgotten in Tipperary. I want to extend my sincere sympathy and to Maureen and family’’.
Shortly before Theo’s passing, he spoke with Tipp FM GAA commentator Stephen Gleeson while the latter was writing his entitled ‘Game of Life’. In the book, English recalled his first All-Ireland win in 1958 as his proudest moment. He said “Of all the games, the first senior All-Ireland win in 1958 is the one I really cherished, because it was my first and at 28 years of age. I was wondering was it ever coming.
Not having won since 1951 was too long, and if we didn’t win it in ‘58 we could have been moved on and new players brought in.” He added “When it was over I was taking it all in. I played for the honour and glory of days like that, and I cherish those few minutes after the game the most. We had a great reception back in Thurles with bonfires lit.
It didn’t go on for six months though, we were all back at work reasonably soon after. Hurling was for enjoyment and you had to keep your feet on the ground.”
Speaking his time playing for Tipperary he said “It was a great joy getting to hurl for 17 years for Tipperary, playing at centrefield most of the time. That’s where I wanted to be until I finished up in 1967. I won five All-Irelands at senior level but after my first one in 1958 the monkey was off the back.
That first win, against Galway, is the one I cherish most.” Theo’s funeral cortege arrived at St Mary’s Church, Irishtown, on Wednesday January 13th for a private Funeral Mass followed by burial in St. Patrick’s Cemetery. He is survived by his wife Maureen, sons Theo, John and Conor and daughter Siobhan.