JOE O’DRISCOLL – A MAN BEFORE HIS TIME
Sadly, the Great Reaper has called again and Joe O’Driscoll’s passing has left another void in our Club and Community. We mourn and lament his death, Ni beidh a leithead an aris.
There are always people in life who stand out and come to the front when the need demands. Such people are motivated by a desire to do what is right and provide brave leadership. Joe was such a person and a lot more. Joe was born into a family with a rich Gaelic tradition and his father Denis was an active member of the Shamrock Club. It was understandable that he would follow and develop a love and great passion for our National Games. Under age Games in those years started at Under 16 level. In 1952 Joe along with his brother Paddy were members of the Shamrock Under 16 Team that won the South-Cork double. Joe showed much promise and as he entered Minor level he also became part of the Junior sides. He played Harty Cup Hurling with his Alma Mater, Sullivan’s Quay School. As young as twenty years of age he trained the Club’s Under 14 teams.
This man loved a challenge and had an abundance energy and ambition. Joe O’Driscoll was one of the finest Hurling corner backs in South- East Cork for over a decade and excelled with Shamrocks and Carrigdhoun. For Carrigdhoun he played against some of the great County players of the era, namely Paddy Barry, Christy Ring, Mick Quane to name but a few. He won Championship medals in 1959 and1963 and very proudly led his Club to win the Hilltown Gold Medal Tournament of 1960, having defeated Cobh, Passage and Ballinhassig in the final.
At an early age he was interested in administration and his fresh thinking and bravery to attain his goals made him an ideal candidate for high office. In 1964 he was elected Vice-Chairman of the South-East Board and three years later became Chairman, a post he held for twelve consecutive years. He was very innovative and gathered around him some other like minded people such as Donal Coleman, Ballinhassig, Dermot O’Brien, Valley Rvs., Ted Lyons, Tracton and the Erudite Mylie Collins from Tracton. The South- East Division was on a sound footing with administration and games’ Management improving considerably. Joe was among the very first to open up the idea of inter-Divisional engagement and initially S.E. Officers would visit and attend adjoining Conventions. It was only natural that inter-divisional competitions would commence. When Joe stepped down in 1978 the house was in good order. He quickly became Chairman of his own beloved Club Shamrocks and a new era dawned. Shamrocks progressed both on and off the field with new Dressing rooms under construction and the teams hungry for South-East Titles. He was there in 1979 when Shamrocks and Tracton entertained thousands of people to an epic trilogy of Hurling finals. Historically in 1980 Joe was at the helm when a new feat entered the record books. Shamrocks won the Junior Hurling and Junior Football championships along with the respective league titles, a feat never achieved by any Club before.
Joe was always at hand to lend advice and his wise counsel was much appreciated. In 1990 The Shamrock Club elected him as a Vice-President. On January 15th 2018 he was elected President of the South-Board, a just reward and acknowledgement of his mighty contributions in yester years.
His last official GAA outing was the recent South-East Hurling final played between Kinsale and Shamrocks at Ballygarvan. Playing in Joe’s favourite position, left corned back, was his grandson Shane Kelleher. Surely another generation perpetuating the dream! May his gentle soul rest in Heavenly Peace.
Seán O’Tuama 21/10/2020.