Thursday 21 June 2018

Lyons a true Blue legend

KAY LYONS played camogie on the street. Very few cars then. Marino was a sporting paradise.

"We had matches among ourselves. Sometimes the fellas would join in. We had great fun. Lovely times," remembers Kay.

Kay didn't have to look far for heroes. Kevin Heffernan and Jimmy Lavin lived close-by.

She admired the exploits of the Foley brothers, Des and Lar, and Norman Allen.

"They were great. We got to know them well because they were playing for such a long time."

Kay also enjoyed a fine spell at the wicket. She played for Dublin in 11 All-Ireland finals, winning nine.

"I enjoyed every minute of it. It all goes so quickly. Camogie was very strong in Dublin.

"We had some marvellous players. I played with the likes of Kay Cody, Kathleen Mills, Sophie Brack, and a great pal of mine, Una O'Connor. They were all so brilliant. Big crowds used to follow Dublin. We had wonderful matches against Antrim. They played in our style.


"I think there was more craft in the game then. In later years it became more physical.

"The Phoenix Park was the centre of it all. Training was simple enough. Running and a bit of skill work.

"Nell McCarthy trained us. She was so well respected. It was mostly ground camogie at the time, but we then became more skilful and we began to lift and strike."

Kay's first All-Ireland success came in 1957, and her last in 1966. Dublin beat Antrim in four of those finals. Also falling to the Dubs in Croke Park were Tipperary (three times), Mayo and Galway.

Kay played for 10 years for Celtic and then spent another decade at Eoghan Ruadh.

But she never hung up the hurl. When her final whistle blew, she was among those that formed the Marino camogie club, who went on to achieve much success.

"They were happy years. We trained them, held raffles to buy the hurleys, made sure that all the gear was clean and tidy, and everything else that goes with it. I have very fond memories of that era."

Kay doesn't go to as many matches these days, but she keeps a close eye on the Dubs.

"I'd love to see the Dublin camogie team come good again. I follow all sports.

"I particularly like the hurling and football. I enjoy watching them on the television."

When Kay was playing, there were no plasma screens showing the golden era of Dublin camogie.

But those that supported the Dubs then, and all the Marino Marvels she later coached, don't need film footage to be reminded of what a superstar Kay Lyons was.

And the echo of her work in nurturing the young talent is still very evident in the locality today, as St Vincent's continue to follow the example of Kay and her devoted sisters, plus all their willing colleagues.

So much has changed, on and off the pitch, over the years, but when Kay looks back on growing up in the area, she can't help feeling that Marino was indeed a wonderland, with magic in the air.

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