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Wed 24-Oct-2007 22:13
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Mick Holden - the Kilkenny connection
The recent sudden death of Mick Holden, the former Dublin footballer and hurler no only cast a pall of gloom over the GAA community in Dublin, but, also over his many relatives and acquaintances in County Kilkenny.
Mick’s father, Tom, from the Knockbrown area of Mullinavat, was one of the founders of the Cuala club in Dublin in 1961. Cuala is based in Dalkey within the administrative area of Dun-Laoghaire Rathdown, not an obvious catchment area for gaelic games.
When Tom Holden moved from Mullinavat to take up a job with Boland’s bakery in Grand Canal Street, he joined the Erin’s Own hurling club who trained in the Phoenix Park. Holden on being transferred to Dun Laoghaire, had a 16 mile journey by bicycle to play with his club. Marriage to Josie, also a native of Mullinavat, led to involvement with juvenile hurlers( including his three sons) in the Dun Laoghaire area. Through mergers with existing clubs, Cuala was born.
Mick, together with his brothers P.J. and Vinny, spent many happy holidays around Mullinavat. He was related, among others, to the former Kilkenny midfielder, John Sutton, the present Kilkenny centre-back, Brian Hogan, present Shamrocks corner-back, Pádraig Holden and through marriage to All-Ireland winning double captain, Liam Fennelly.
Mick’s preference was for hurling rather than football.It was playing the latter game that he won an All-Ireland senior football medal in 1983, starring at corner-back. He also played on the Compromise Rules team which defeated Australia in Aussie Land with Jack O’Shea as captain and Kevin Heffernan as manager. Mick lost a finger in a Leinster football game when an opponent stood on his hand. He won 4 Leinster football medals in 1979, 1983, 1984 and 1985.
Hurling, however, was Mick’s real passion. He played, at the age of 17, in the 1972 All-Ireland u-21 final which Dublin lost to Galway. His brothers P.J. and Vinny were also members of that team. He scored 2-3 from play against Kilkenny in the 1979 Leinster senior hurling championship.
The Cuala club won their first county senior hurling title in 1989 defeating St. Vincents by 2-8 to 1-5. J.J. Barrett in his Evening Herald match report wrote “in the left corner-back position was Mick Holden. I don’t think there is a more popular man in Dublin than Mick Holden”. Vinny Holden was full back. The other brother P.J. was brought on as a sub and with time running out he struck the most important goal in Cuala’s history. In 1973 P.J. had lost 80 per cent vision in one eye as a result of an unfortunate hurling accident. The Holdens father, Tom, was one of the three selectors of the 1989 team.
In 1991 Cuala won their second county SHC in three years when defeating Craobh Chiaráin in a replay. Mick and Vinny were again on the first fifteen with P.J. as a sub.Cuala won their third title in 1994 defeating Crumlin in the final. It was a sweet success for Mick and Vinny Holden both now over 40.
Mick’s popularity is evident from the many tributes paid to him, over the last week or two. All followers of gaelic games in Kilkenny will wish that the sod of his beloved Baile Atha Cliath will rest lightly on him in the graveyard by Shanganagh cliffs.
Go ndéana Dia trócaire ar a anam dílis.
Mick Holden RIP
1954 - 2007
All Ireland senior football winner with Dublin, 1983
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