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My answer was “Alan that is a bigger task than you realise.” I compare it to an essay once given by the same Ned to boys who had been misbehaving themselves. “Write 500 words telling the story of the inside of a tennis ball.” What an exercise!
To get at the inside of a tennis ball one has to cut open the outer part. Having done this one is left with a ball that is of no value and little to write about. Ned was my teacher, my hurling trainer at secondary school, county Minor, Under-21 and Senior level and colleague on the staff of St. Peter's. I would find it very difficult to do the same with him as the tennis ball. How to get inside the late Ned Power, and write about him, doing him justice, I leave that to other more competent people. However, I will give you a few of my own experiences and memories.
Without getting the chance to say yes I was told to be in Coolcotts that evening after school for Senior hurling training. Being put into the category of the weaker ones I found myself at the racecourse end of the Coolcotts pitch. Looking up field, I saw two gentlemen, one dressed as a priest, the late Fr. Paddy Curtis and the other dressed in a brownish suede jacket, Ned himself. Many years afterwards we would tease him about that garment. After training that evening both men came and spoke to me in that famous dressing room we had in Coolcotts, and so my very first meeting with Ned came about. My next most abiding memory was when he came and congratulated me in the dressing room of Dr. Cullen Park, Carlow, on winning the Leinster Colleges Senior hurling title with St. Peter's, beating St. Kieran's, Kilkenny by 3-10 to 4-5.
Over the next few days, we had the Easter exams in the college and as I made my exit from one of the exams in the big study hall, supervised by Ned, he followed me to the door. Not having cogged in the exam, I wondered what was the problem. Ned asked, “Martin, would you play with the Wexford Minors this year?” Having failed to make the Kerry Minors the year before my answer was, “Sir, I wouldn't be good enough.” Placing his hand in the inside pocket of his jacket he produced a transfer form saying, “Get that signed when you are at home at Easter and put it in this envelope,” which he had addressed to the then county Secretary of the G.A.A., Paddy Roche. So a new chapter with Wexford hurling was opened up for me through Ned.
Within 20 months I had bagged three Leinster and two All-Ireland Colleges medals, two Leinster Minor, an All-Ireland Minor winners and losers medal, all under the same trainer, Ned. There was five more Leinster medals and five All-Ireland runners-up to follow.
Having been ordained in 1974, the late Bishop Herlihy appointed me to Arklow. I continued to hurl with Wexford seniors. In Patrick's Park, Enniscorthy, one summer's evening at training for the Leinster final, Ned asked on behalf of Dr. Sherwood if I would return to the College as a Dean. “You are not serious Ned,” was my reply. He smiled or should I saw grinned and said with a wink, “You know what I mean.” What he meant was, would I come and give a hand at the hurling in the college and not really the Dean's job. My reply was “I'll do whatever the Bishop asks me.” To Ned this brought a smile and within two weeks I had a letter from the Bishop appointing me as Dean in St. Peter's. Between 1978 and 1982 along with Ned and Fr. Jim Butler, we helped bring four Leinster hurling titles to the college – two Senior, one Junior and one Juvenile. With the new Ned Power Memorial Pitch, I hope that it won't be long before the hurling silverware is back on the college sideboard.
The priest's ref., to be more polite, the priest's dining room was another place that brings back memories of Ned. He sat at the bottom left hand side of the table, the furthest point from the President. At the top right hand corner sat Fr. Lory Kehoe and the present President, Fr. Lar O'Connor. And from Ned's corner the cry to the two Reverend gentlemen was often heard, “How are things on the Golan Heights?” The Golan Heights meant Buffers Alley. Fr. Lory once being a mentor of the Alley club and Fr. Lar coming from the club would try to defend policy in the Alley. The Alley were more noted for winning rows that time than county finals and so the rub to Ned.
In the same priest's ref., I remember one of the funniest tricks being played by Fr. Johnny O'Brien on Ned one winter's evening. Ned was asked to stand on a chair while Fr. John guaranteed to remove him from the chair by walking around it three times without laying a hand on him. Fr. John walked around the chair twice, left the room with Ned still standing on the chair and didn't return, so giving us all a great laugh at Ned's expense. Once bitten twice shy!
Another memory was his depth of knowledge of sports injuries. Fingers out, pulled muscles, dirty or nasty cuts, he helped to put many a player back in the game, sometimes I must say aided by Sr. Mercedes of the College.
As I sit here writing these few thoughts/memories this Monday morning, October 7th, having just won my 11th County Senior Hurling title with Buffers Alley, I look across at my trophy cabinet and say, “all that in there is yours Ned.” The little seed sown in January 1967 has certainly flourished. Like the mustard which the man took and sowed in his field in Matthew's gospel, “itis the smallest of all the seeds but when it has grown it is the biggest shrub of all and becomes a tree.” That sums up Ned Power for me. His passing on 26th October 1987 was a sad, not only for his sisters, Alice and Margaret, his friends in St. Peter's but for all G.A.A. people in County Wexford.
Suaimhneas siorai tabhair do, a Thiarna, agus go lonrai suthain air.