Cork hurling great and one of the greatest hurlers of all time, Christy Ring went to the great hurling stadium in the sky. Born in Cloyne, Co Cork, the hurling legend won eight All-Ireland hurling championships in a twenty-five year career with the rebel county.
His first All-Ireland success was in 1941, the first of Cork’s four-in-a-row. He captained the county on three successful campaigns in 1946, ’53 and ’54. Much of Cork’s success in that era is directly credited to Ring and the inspirational effects he had on his teammates. The battles for supremacy in Munster against Tipperary generally brought out the best in his combative nature; during the 50s the pair shared six All-Ireland’s between them and their near-annual meetings in Limerick for the Munster final are regarded as among the greatest games ever played.
Ring played on for Cork until 1962. A year later, the Cork selectors voted 3-2 not to select him, but amazingly, at the age of 46, he was called back onto the panel and selected as a sub, 33-year-old John Bennett being preferred. “The people of Cork will never see the day when Christy Ring is a sub on a Cork team to John Bennett,” he declared haughtily when withdrawing his services; as ever, second-best to nobody.
After retiring from his playing career, Ring was a selector on the Cork side which won three successive All-Irelands from 1976-78. He died prematurely at the age of 58 in March 1979.
Photo: Willie John Ring with the statue erected to his brother Christy, photo credit: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy