Official Aras Mumhan Website

14th December 2022

Former Clare footballer Noel Roche and Tipperary’s two-time All-Ireland hurling winner Nicky English have been inducted into the Munster GAA Hall of Fame.

The pair, who gave decorated service to club and county, will be presented with their Hall of Fame awards at Saturday’s Munster GAA awards function in Clonmel.

St Senan’s clubman Roche found himself catapulted into the Clare senior football team at the tender age of 17 in 1977, his rise to senior inter-county level arriving off the back of a string of fine underage performances for the Kilkee club.

It marked the beginning of a senior inter-county career that ran for 18 years and into the mid-1990s. Roche was at half-forward on Clare football’s greatest afternoon, among the scorers as the Banner achieved a famous four-point Munster final victory over Kerry in July 1992.

His consistent excellence in the saffron and blue saw him selected on the Ireland panel for four different editions of the Compromise Rules series. In total, he won 10 caps for Ireland.

Being inducted into the Munster Hall of Fame alongside Roche is Tipperary’s Nicky English. The Lattin-Cullen clubman amassed a tally of 20-117 during a 15-season senior inter-county career that yielded five Munster SHC medals, two All-Irelands, two National Leagues, and six All-Stars.

Prior to his senior inter-county debut in 1982, English won an All-Ireland minor hurling medal in 1980 and an U21 All-Ireland the following year. English was a dual operator at minor and U21 level around that period in the late 1970s, early 1980s. He also pocketed a remarkable five successive Fitzgibbon Cup medals with UCC in the first half of the 1980s.

Once his playing days were done, English proved himself a dab hand in management. In 2001, he guided the Premier County to Liam MacCarthy glory.

Two more men who served at the GAA coalface in Clare and Tipperary respectively will be honoured with Distinguished Service awards this weekend.

Recognition of the contributions made by Pat Fitzgerald and Tim Floyd are timely as both departed their roles as county secretary this year. The former had been in the position of Clare CEO/secretary since 1990, with Floyd taking up the Tipperary secretary’s title in 2006.

When Fitzgerald retired this summer, it ended an association of over fifty years with the organisation. During that time, he filled a variety of positions at club, county and national level.

Three All-Ireland SHC titles, four U21s, and the aforementioned 1992 Munster SFC crown were all won on Fitzgerald’s watch. The developments he spearheaded as CEO/secretary included the upgrading of Cusack Park.

Floyd, meanwhile, first became involved in Tipperary GAA as county board draw administrator in 1987, a role he continued in until his elevation to county secretary 19 years later.

He was the driving force behind the opening of the Tipperary GAA shop in Lár na Páirce. During his time as secretary, the county won provincial and national silverware in every grade in hurling, as well as Munster senior and U21 and All-Ireland minor titles on the football side.

The Munster U20 footballer of the year is Kerry goalkeeper Devon Burns. The Na Gaeil clubman was beaten only once during Kerry’s three U20 championship outings this year. He was on the mark in two of those games – Munster semi-final and All-Ireland semi-final – from the dead-ball.

The Munster U20 medal Burns won in 2022 follows on from his selection on the Electric Ireland minor team of the year in 2019 and the leading role he played in Tralee CBS’ famine-ending Corn Uí Mhuirí win a year later.

Martin Spain has been selected as the handball person of the year. Martin is a member of Cumann Liathróid Láimhe Loch Eorna in North Tipperary, just above Nenagh.

A long-serving club secretary, he is also chairman of the North Tipperary Handball board, a member of the Tipperary juvenile committee, and Tipperary delegate to the Munster Handball Council.

As well as refereeing many games, Martin can be found coaching many evenings a week in the local Loch Eorna or Nenagh Handball Club.

Hall of Fame Hurling – Nicholas English (Tipperary)

Born in Cullen, County Tipperary, Nicholas English first played competitive Gaelic Games during his school days at the Abbey CBS in Tipperary Town. He arrived on the inter-county scene at the age of seventeen when he first linked up with the Tipperary minor teams as a dual player, before later joining the Under 21 sides. He made his Senior Hurling debut during the 1982 Championship. Nicholas went on to play a key part for almost fifteen years. Nicholas contributed a total of 20 goals and 117 points during his Senior inter-county career which makes him one of his county’s highest scorers of all time.

His trophy cabinet boasts an impressive array of achievements including, two All-Ireland medals, five Munster medals and two National Hurling League medals, Munster and All-Ireland Minor and Under 21 medals, five Fitzgibbon cup medals, two Railway Cup medals, six All-Stars along with Junior and Intermediate Hurling and Intermediate Football County titles with his beloved Lattin-Cullen. Nicholas also proved himself to be a top-class coach and team manager as he guided the Premier County to All-Ireland success over Galway in 2001.

Hall of Fame Football – Noel Roche (Clare)

Noel Roche was catapulted into the Clare Senior Football team in 1977 at the tender age of 17, two years after he had made his Senior Club debut. His Clare Senior selection came after a string of impressive displays at underage level with his beloved St. Senan’s, Kilkee club. Defeat was Clare’s loss on the day, but Roche impressed and so started a Senior inter-county journey that lasted until the mid-nineties.

In a distinguished career he helped his club to Clare Senior titles in 1984 and 1989 having been part of the club’s three in a row minor winning side in the early seventies. He was a key member of the Clare side which, managed by Mayo’s John Maughan, won the Munster Senior title in 1992, defeating Kerry in the final. He was chosen four times to represents Ireland in the Compromise rules series, travelling to Australia for two of those competitions. Passionate about football, his commitment to club and county was evident every time he lined out.

Under 20 Footballer of the Year – Devon Burns (Kerry)

Devon Burns, from Na Gaeil GAA Club has had a hugely successful few years between the posts. In 2019 Devon represented Kerry at Minor level and made the Electric Ireland Team of the Year. The following year, Devon played for his school CBS The Green in Tralee and helped them to end their thirteen-year wait for Corn Uí Mhuirí glory. This year Devon represented Kerry brilliantly at Under 20 level and even managed to score on two occasions playing in goals.

Devon works very hard and is always very diligent in what he does on and off the field. As a goalkeeper, he has a great presence in keeping everyone in line and doing the right thing. He is the first to training and the last to leave. Devon displays a huge level of leadership in everything he does, and is another fantastic ambassador for Kerry GAA and Na Gaeil.

Handball Person of the Year – Martin Spain (Tipperary)

Martin Spain is a member of Cumann Liathróid Láimhe Loch Eorna in North Tipperary, just above Nenagh, a traditional 60 x 30 handball club. A long serving club secretary, he is also chairman of the North Tipperary Handball Board, a member of the Tipperary Juvenile Committee, and Tipperary delegate to the Munster Handball Council. Martin has been involved with Munster Juvenile Handball teams in 60 x 30 and 40 x 20 with great success. He has also been a selector for the ladies Provincial teams for many years.

As well as refereeing many games at all levels Martin is involved with coaching club players and can be found many evenings in the local Loch Eorna or Nenagh Handball Club. Martin has also enjoyed success on the handball court and in 2010 he won a Silver Masters 60 x 30 doubles All Ireland title with his clubmate Paul Maher. Martin is passionate about the promotion of handball and is currently involved with the club development of building a new 40 x 20 handball court with viewing area, toilets, dressing room and meeting room, with the help of Sports Capital Funding and local fundraising.

Distinguished Service Award – Pat Fitzgerald (Clare)

When Pat Fitzgerald retired from the position of CEO/secretary of Clare GAA in the summer of 2022, it ended an association of over fifty years with the organisation. During that time, he filled a variety of positions at Club, County and National levels. He started his involvement as chairman of the Sixmilebridge minor club before moving on to serve as secretary of the Clare underage hurling board. During his time here Clare successfully hosted the National Feile na nGael festival.

He became Secretary of the Clare County Board in 1990 and he held that position for thirty-two years. During his time as secretary, Clare won four Munster and All-Ireland Under 21 hurling titles, three Munster and All-Ireland Senior Hurling titles, a Munster Senior Football title and an All-Ireland Minor Hurling title to mention some. He spearheaded major developments for the county, upgrading of Cusack Park, the development of training pitches and a gym at Caherlohan, the development at Clareabbey, the provision of a pitch at Ballyline. When the history of Clare GAA is written, Pat Fitzgerald’s contribution is sure to get honourable mention.

Distinguished Service Award – Tim Floyd (Tipperary)

Tim Floyd has been an ever present in Tipperary GAA administration for 35 years and has set standards that many other counties have aspired to achieve. Tim first became involved in Tipperary GAA back in 1987 as County Board Draw Administrator, a role he continued in until his elevation to County Secretary in 2006.

Tim was also the driving force behind the opening of the Tipperary GAA shop in Lár na Páirce which proved to be a major success. During Tim’s tenure as Tipperary GAA Secretary, he worked with six County Chairmen, three County Treasurers and four County PRO’s, as well as being the main link between the various County Management Committees and many other Sub Committees. During his time as Secretary, Tipperary won Provincial and National titles in every grade in hurling as well as some very memorable Provincial and National titles in Football. Tim has always had the ability to work productively with all those he came in contact with and as he leaves his role, Tipperary GAA is in a very good place.

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