Thompson Byrne- Castletown and Liam Mellows- 2018 Seana Ghael

Tom Byrne, known far and wide as Thompson, was in his football career, one of the finest half backs to play at club level in Wexford, with Castletown in football, and Liam Mellows in hurling. He was ever consistent in his dual role. He was gifted in his customary no. 5 position. He was quick, clever, crafty and intelligent. He was a skilled artisan with his collective strength of purpose, plus his overall masterclass wisdom. Tompson was brilliant in closing down the angles to his goal, and he was flawless, dynamic, stouthearted and brave. He was tops in man marking his opponents and his overall performances were a marriage of splendour, class and power.

Over the course of his career, he gained parity as he broke up countless raids by the opposition. Many times he turned defence into attack with great efficiency. He was born in 1941 and was educated at Coolgreaney N.S.

His boyhood hero was – Nickey Rackard R.I.P. He won – 1 Co. Junior Football medal with Castletown in 1960 and 5 Co. Senior Football medals with the Club in 1965, 1966, 1969. 1970 and 1973. In hurling, he won with Liam Mellows, winning – 1 Co. Junior Hurling medal in 1964 and 1 Co. Intermediate medals. The four greatest footballers he has ever seen were – Mick O’Connell, Jack O’Shea, Sean Purcell R.I.P. and Frankie Stockwell R.I.P. In Wexford, he selects – Willie Goodison R.I.P., Paddy Kehoe R.I.P., Andy Merrigan R.I.P. and Mattie Forde. In hurling, the greatest players he has seen outside of Wexford were – Christy Ring R.I.P., Eddie Keher, Henry Shefflin and Jimmy Doyle R.I.P.. In Wexford, during the 50’s, his favourites were – Tim Flood R.I.P., Nickey Rackard R.I.P., Jim Morrissey R.I.P. and Ned Wheeler. In the last 50 years, he selects – Tony Doran, Martin Quigley, Mick Jacob and Phil Wilson – as players that stood out.

The four most difficult opponents he encountered when playing football were – Phil Wilson, Denis Asple, Tommy Hawkins and Billy Howlin. Two of the best goalie’s he has seen in football were – Martin Furlong (Offaly) and Charlie Nelligan (Kerry). In hurling, he selects – Pat Nolan (Oylegate) and Ollie Walsh R.I.P. (Kilkenny).

Two of the best club teams he has seen in Wexford were the – Castletown team and Ballyhogue team – in the 60’s and early 70’s. He also selects the – Buffers Alley team – in hurling in the 70’s and 80’s led by Tony Doran. The four Castletown footballers that impressed Thompson the most were – Malachy Kane, Charlie Leonard, Sean Sheridan and Andy Merrigan R.I.P. In hurling, with Liam Mellows, he selects – Oliver Cullen as a star player, Fiac O’Lionáin and Jimmy Cullen (goalie).

One of his best games playing for Castletown was vs Ballyhogue in the 1965 Co. Senior Football Final 2nd Replay. At right half back, he was outstanding, winning a lot of possession and clearing his lines to perfection.

His most disappointing game was losing the 1967 Co. Senior Football Final to Sarsfields. His two brothers – Cyril and Peter – were both outstanding dual players for their clubs. Of the present day footballers, he selects – Lee Keegan (Mayo), Paul Geaney (Kerry), Brian Fenton (Dublin), Paul McBreaty (Donegal) and Matty Donnelly (Tyrone) – as the best players he has seen.

One of the greatest football teams he has seen over the years were the great – Kerry team – from 1975 to 1985. The best dual players he has seen in Wexford were – Paddy Kehoe R.I.P., Jack Berry R.I.P., Phil Wilson and Oliver Cullen. One of the greatest games of football he has seen was between – Dublin vs Kerry – in the 1977 All Ireland Senior Football Semi-Final.

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