In the 60’s, a large number of Án Garda Síocháná arrived in Wexford from most counties to serve in the force. Among those who arrived in the mid 60’s was – Tom Byrne – a native of Portlaoise. In his spell in Portlaoise he had built up a reputation as a outstanding dual player.
In 1965 and 1966, he played Senior with the Starlights. But always found Ballyhogue a big obstacle to make progress in the Championship.
He also played senior hurling with St. Aidan’s during these years. But Rathnure and the Shamrocks were the problems going further. While in Enniscorthy Paddy Sullivan (Shamrocks) and Mick Foley (Ballyhogue) were the two most difficult players he found hard to subdue. From 1967 to 1970, he was one of the star players in both codes with Halfway House, Bunclody.
In 1967, he was a member of the team that lost the Co. Junior Football Final to Kilanerin. From 1971 to 1984 he was a member of the Arklow Rocks Parnell’s.
His record at Inter Co. Level was praiseworthy – U’21 football and hurling with the Wexford team, minor hurling with Laois and senior hurling with Wicklow.
He was born in 1945 and now resides outside of Inch. He was educated at Portlaoise C.B.S.
His boyhood hero was Mick Roche (Tipperary) R.I.P. One of the best goalie’s he has seen in football was John O’Leary (Dublin). The footballers that impressed him over the years were Dára O’Sé (Kerry), Colm Cooper (Kerry), Maurice Fitzgerald (Kerry), Peter Canavan (Tyrone), Stephen O’Neill (Tyrone), Bernard Brogan (Dublin), Darra McCauley (Dublin), Sean Cavanagh (Tyrone) and Michael Murphy (Donegal).
The two best dual players he has seen in Ireland were – Teddy McCarthy (Cork) and Des Foley (Dublin) R.I.P. In Wexford, he selects Phil Wilson and Jack Berry R.I.P. as brilliant players in both codes. The four best footballers he has seen in Wexford were – Andy Merrigan (Castletown) R.I.P., Joe Foley (Ballyhogue), Mattie Forde (Kilanerin) and Tony O’Loughlin (Halfway House, Bunclody) R.I.P.. The best goalie he has seen in Wexford in Football was – Micky Connors (Halfway House, Bunclody).
One of his finest hours playing football was with his Club, Portlaois, in the 1964 Laois Senior Football Final. Although he was just 17 yrs. old, he performed brilliantly against more experienced opponents.
He also had a brilliant game for the Wexford U’21 football team in 1966, playing Full Forward. He played Juvenile and Minor in both codes with Portlaoise. One of the best Club Teams he has seen in Football in Wexford were the – Castletown Team – from 1965 to 1980.
In Hurling, he selects the – Buffers Alley Team – from the late 60’s into the 70’s and 80’s.
One of the finest games of Football he has seen was between – Dublin vs Kerry – in the 2013 All Ireland Football Semi-Final.
He won – 1 Co. Junior Football Medal in 1968, when Halfway House, Bunclody won the Title. Tom however could not play in this game because of a broken leg which happened in a practice game a few days before the big event took place.
He also won 3 Co. Arklow Senior Hurling Medals with the – Arklow Rocks Parnell’s – in 1971, 1972 and 1977.
The best Hurlers he has seen were – John Fenton (Cork), Tommy Walsh (Kilkenny), Frank Cummins (Kilkenny), Joe Canning (Galway), Mick Roche (Tipperary) R.I.P., Jimmy Doyle (Tipperary) R.I.P.,
Eddie Keher (Kilkenny) and Brian Whelehan (Offaly).