Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Comerford Profiles 25: Andy Comerford, Kilkenny hurler

Patrick Comerford

Andy Comerford (right) played hurling with O’Loughlin Gaels and Kilkenny in the 1990s and 2000s, has won a number of All-Ireland medals at different levels, and was the captain of the winning Kilkenny team in the All-Ireland Hurling Final in 2002. He is an older brother of another Kilkenny hurler, Martin Comerford (see Comerford Profiles 26: Martin Comerford, Kilkenny hurler).

Andy Comerford was born in London in 1972. He spent his first seven years in London before moving to Kilkenny. As a boy in London, he never saw a game of hurling and it is said that his first introduction to the game was when his father made him a make-shift hurley out of a floorboard.

When Andy was seven, the family left London and returned to Kilkenny. There, he played hurling with his brothers Jimmy Comerford and Martin Comerford on the local O’Loughlin Gaels club.

The Comerford brothers went to school in Kilkenny at Saint Kieran’s College, which is a celebrated nursery for hurling. Andy’s hurling skills quickly earned him a place on the school’s senior team and he won back-to-back All-Ireland colleges titles in 1989 and 1990. Comerford also played club hurling with the O’Loughlin Gaels club in Kilkenny, and had much success at under-age levels with the club.

While he was still at school in Saint Kieran’s, Comerford joined the Kilkenny minor hurling panel, and in 1990 he won an All-Ireland title with the county team in a thrilling replay against Cork.

Comerford went on to study at Waterford Regional Technical College (now Waterford Institute of Technology), where he won a Fitzgibbon Cup medal with the college hurling team in 1992. By 1993, he was playing with the Kilkenny under-21 team. However, his side was beaten by Galway in the All-Ireland final that year.

Shortly after his graduation in Waterford, Comerford returned to London, where he joined the Pearse Brothers GAA Club and was selected for the London senior hurling team. In 1995, he won an All-Ireland Senior “B” Championship title with the London side, defeating Wicklow and New York in the process. This victory allowed London to play in the quarter-final of the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship against Down. However, the side lost.

In 1996, Comerford returned to Kilkenny and earned a place on the Kilkenny senior hurling panel. He made his debut in the black and amber jersey in 1997 in the Leinster Championship against Dublin.

Between 1998 and 2000, Comerford played in three consecutive All-Ireland finals. Kilkenny was defeated by Offaly and Cork in 1998 and 1999. However, in 2000 Kilkenny defeated Offaly by a huge margin. It was Comerford’s first All-Ireland medal with the Kilkenny seniors.

Two years later, in 2002, Kilkenny was back in another All-Ireland final. This time, Andy Comerford was the county captain. He led his county to a comfortable win over Clare (2-20 to 0-19) and won his second All-Ireland medal that afternoon.

Meanwhile, he had rejoined the O’Loughlin Gaels, winning Kilkenny Senior Hurling Club titles in 2002 and 2004.

In 2002, Andy Comerford also played for Leinster, lining out with his province in the inter-provincial hurling competition. He won a Railway Cup medial in 2002 when he was the captain of Leinster in 2002. His team defeated a Connacht team made up of 15 Galway players.

Andy Comerford won his third All-Ireland medal a year later, when he was brought on as a substitute in the 2003 final against Cork.

Although Andy Comerford has now retired from inter-county hurling, he has now turned to coaching: in late 2007 he was appointed manager of the Kildare senior hurling team.

His first season in charge of Kildare got off to a mixed start. Kildare reached the quarter finals of the Christy Ring Cup but lost to Westmeath 3-13 to 2-22. In 2009, Kildare played in Division 3A of the National Hurling League, winning three matches, losing two, and beating Meath in the Division 3A Final, winning promotion to Division 2 for 2010.

© Patrick Comerford, 2009, 2011; last updated 14 October 2009, 7 June 2011.

No comments: