Tommy Tarpey 19th February 1933 – 14th January 2024

Miko McInerney

1926 -2024

Miko was born in Limepark, Ardrahan on 5th June 1926 to Tom and Annie McInerney. He attended Ardrahan National School in Labane and entered St. Mary’s College in September 1940. After his Leaving Certificate, he attended University College Galway and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree and a H.Dip in Education. His main subjects were Irish and Geography. He spent long periods of his teaching career in Wexford CBS, St. Kieran’s Kilkenny and Ennistymon CBS.

In hurling, the past holds a rein on the present and with the news of his death, Ardrahan GAA lost its last link with the successful intermediate and senior hurling teams between 1948 and 1956. Miko was also the last surviving member of Galway’s All-Ireland final hurling team of 1953.

Born into a very sporting family and where hurling was embedded in the rhythm of life, Miko developed his skills – broken windows and muddied white-washed walls from games with brothers, neighbours, school, and underage games with Ardrahan, moments that Miko cherished.  From an early age it was obvious that he had not only the skill but the very necessary trait, the will to win. He was fortunate too at that time, to be growing up with some of the best hurlers that Ardrahan ever produced and when they all combined, they were a very powerful force.

Miko’s first medal was a South board juvenile hurling title in 1939. Strangely, Miko won a County Minor Hurling medal with Moycullen in 1945. He got great amusement when telling the circumstances of that event, and informing his suitors how he was over age for minor when the approach was made. ‘Stop Miko you are one of the youngest we have’ came the reply. The same year he won a South Board Senior hurling medal with Ardrahan.

1948 was an eventful year for Miko. He made his inter county debut in a National Hurling League game versus Dublin.  Later in the year, South Board and County Intermediate hurling titles followed. He added a Fitzgibbon Cup meal in 1949 along with South Board and County Senior Hurling title honours. He was honoured to captain Galway in the All-Ireland Hurling semi-final versus Tipperary played at Tuam 1950. Unsuccessful on the day, he compensated by winning an Oireachtas medal in October with a great victory over Wexford. A National Hurling League medal followed in 1951 and another Oireachtas medal was added in 1952.

In 1953 Galway were back in an All-Ireland Final, the first since 1929, from this event there is the iconic photo of Miko lining up against Christy Ring at the start of the game. In a tempestuous affair Galway were denied narrowly. Later that year Miko added a South Board Senior Hurling title to his honours. Another Fitzgibbon Cup medal with University College was added in 1954. Combined Universities, Field openings, Kenny Cup and several major hurling tournament honours followed before a daring run from Ardrahan in the Galway Senior Hurling Championship of 1956. The outcome of this affair decimated Ardrahan – resentment, emigration and retirements conscribed Ardrahan to intermediate status for 10 years. Miko retired form the game after the 1956 campaign. To underline his credentials as a hurler, he was selected at corner forward on the Ardrahan Team of the Millennium 1920 to 1960.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Miko McInerney’s life was hurling, but there was much more to the man. You could perhaps draw a line between Miko the hurler and Miko the man. A teacher, musician, a superb golfer, a beautiful Gaeilgeoir who wrote a sports column as Gaeilge for many years. A horse racing fan extraordinaire; nothing floated his boat like a win in Paddy Powers.

Miko had his demons too. He often spoke of them, and he realised in time how destructive an addiction can be. He was always thankful to his Maker for saving him so many times. He stopped drinking in his 40s and smoking in his early 50s. Having mastered and overcome his own weakness, Miko’s kind and generous spirit helped so many people in difficulty, he never spoke about this aspect of his life, but it did exist. In his 80’s he suffered kidney failure which required weekly Dialysis – a Godsend and a Blessing. A godsend because it increased his contact and friendships with people he met in the hospital and a blessing because he felt so much better fitter, healthier and stronger after treatment. An admirable outlook, where others half his age would falter.

Miko possessed that elusive thing that binds people together who play sport with each other, that time can’t erode. Losses in the board room, bad defeats and injuries did not detract from the happy memories as time slipped by. Miko retained his hurling personality all his life and had an unfailing loyalty to Ardrahan, Galway and hurling people who supported the game. Woe betides you if you weren’t a traditionalist where Gaelic Games were concerned. In later years, he served as President and life-long member of The Hurlers Association an inter-county hurlers network that his diplomatic presence graced.

Miko was an exceptional skilful hurler he carried his weight on every occasion on every team. This is perhaps the only time; in death, that he is being carried. For you Miko ‘one crowded hour of glorious life was worth an age without a name’. How he loved his independence and identity.

To his family, extended family and many friends Ardrahan GAA Club sends its condolences. We are so sorry to see him go. On this day, if we could say just one thing to you; We’d say come back Miko.

Tom Greene