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Jimmy Symth: Probably Clare's Greatest Ever Forward
Jimmy Smyth, Ruan and Clare Hall Of Fame hurler, was an early bird when it came to wearing the renowned blue and saffron Clare hurling jersey. He began his inter county career as a fourteen year old teenager and played minor inter county hurling for five consecutive years. Born in the village of Ruan, he was one of Ireland’s greatest ever hurling forwards and his scoring exploits became legendary in the history books.
Born on 1st January 1931 he lined out with Ruan senior hurling team at sixteen and played his first senior hurling match with the banner county in 1948 in the National Hurling League. His championship debut came in 1950 and he exited inter county hurling in the Munster final of 1967. Often described as the best Clare hurler of all time, Jimmy Smyth hurled alongside the giants of Munster and his peers of that era saluted the Ruan man as a great exponent of the camán.
Without a Munster or All Ireland senior hurling medal, he became iconic long before he traded in his hurling boots in 1967 and he would have been an automatic choice on any county fifteen in Ireland. Veteran gaels can recall a magical hurling day on the 14th June 1953 at Cusack Park, Ennis, on a memorable day for Clare hurling. Limerick were the visitors to Ennis for a first round Munster championship game. The Treaty hurlers were demolished on a scoreline of Clare 10 - 08 to Limerick 1 - 01.
In that historic Ennis 1953 sixty minute game, the Ruan hurler smashed a grand total of six goals and four points over and under Limerick’s crossbar. Cork, as the 1952 All Ireland champions, were waiting for Clare in the next round, but Jimmy and his men, after a gallant effort, lost out on a scoreline of 2 - 11 to 4 - 02.
1954 was a milestone year for Jimmy as his county beat Tipperary in the Oireachtas semi final and now faced Wexford, All Ireland runners up to Cork. A glorious triumph was achieved over a team destined to win the 1955 All Ireland.
CLUB & COUNTY ROLL OF HONOUR
3 Harty Cup Medals (Munster Colleges)
3 All Ireland Colleges Medals
(won with St. Flannan’s College 1945/46/47)
5 Clare Co. Senior Hurling Medals (with Ruan)
Clare I/Co. Minor player - 5 consecutive years
Clare senior hurling player 23 years 1945 - ‘67
8 Railway Cup Medals
Mu nster Junior Hurling Medal: 1949
Oireachtas Cup Medal: 1954
Selected 12 times for Munster Railway Cup teams
Selected 6 times on Rest of Ireland teams
Record score in Munster c’ship match
6 - 04 v Limerick 1963
Clare Hall of Fame: 1997
Munster Hall of Fame: 1998
Derry JF Doody