An RTÉ Sport retrospective

Christy Ring

A Life in Sport

Image: Courtesy of The Irish Examiner / My Colorful Past

Christy Ring

The legendary hurler whose league and championship career with the Cork senior team spanned twenty-four years, from 1939 to 1963.

Image: Courtesy of The Irish Examiner / My Colorful Past


Christy Ring was born in Cloyne, County Cork, on October 30 1920, a tumultuous year in Irish history, with the War of Independence raging throughout the country. His hurling skills were recognised early on: when the national school teacher promised a hurley to the best student in the school, the young Ring made sure he came first and collected the prize.

Image: Courtesy of the Ring Family

Cork Team 1942

Christy Ring, seated in front row, third from left.

Image: Courtesy of The Irish Examiner

Graduation: in the 1940's Ring became recognised as a player apart, particularly after scoring a 'wonder-goal' in the 1946 All-Ireland final. “Up to that point,” teammate Con Murphy said, “Christy Ring was regarded as a very good player on a very good team. From ‘46 on, he was seen as a match-winner in his own right.”

Christy Ring in action for Cork against Dublin in the National Hurling League, 1952 at The Mardyke, Cork.

Image: Courtesy of The Irish Examiner


The apex. Ring dominated the hurling decade to the extent that when Wexford beat Cork in the 1956 All-Ireland final, two of the Wexford defenders paid tribute by carrying him on their shoulders from the field: an extraordinary gesture that resonates even now.

1956 Cork v Wexford Final From ’The Game: The Story of Hurling', courtesy of Crossing The Line Productions.

Christy Ring, 1956 Throw In against Wexford

Image: Courtesy of Failté Ireland, Dublin City Library and Archive

Blood Bandages

Christy Ring pictured after the Cork v Tipperary Munster Hurling Final in Limerick, 1952

Image: Courtesy of The Irish Examiner

Club Days with Glen Rovers

Ring became synonymous with ‘the Glen’, a club on the northside of Cork city with a famous hooped jersey, winning fourteen Cork senior hurling titles, starting in 1941.“I made the right decision the day I first pulled on the famed green, black and gold jersey,” Ring wrote in 1973. “I appreciate now, more than ever, what Glen Rovers has meant to my hurling career.”

Club Days with Glen Rovers, Film courtesy of Tom O Mahony & Edward Gosnell

Mick Mackey and Christy Ring during the 1957 Munster SHC semi final.

courtesy of Justin Nelson, RTÉ Archives

The Veneration of Ring - Ireland’s first sporting celebrity

“No matter what way you played on Ring, he’d make you famous.”, said Donie Broderick of Limerick, who kept Ring quiet for the entire Munster final of 1956. Apart from the last five minutes, when Ring scored three goals. Even the players Ring bamboozled became immortal.

The Veneration of Ring Courtesy of David Ring/My Colorful Past

Christy Ring Exhibition

Courtesy of Crossing The Line Productions

Ring’s hurley

The magic wand: nothing was left to chance. The night before the 1953 All-Ireland final, a couple of Cork youngsters talked their way into Barry’s Hotel in Dublin to chat to Ring. As they talked, Ring kept wrapping and unwrapping the handle of his hurley with special tape to improve the grip for the following day’s game.

The 70s

Christy Ring’s influence on Cork’s great three-in-a-row side of the seventies can’t be over-stated. “He’d stand at the dressing-room door and say, ‘we are Cork’,” said Dr Con Murphy. “The hairs would stand up on the back of your neck.”

Christy Ring at Féile na nGael 1975

Courtesy of Canon Bertie Troy Archives

After retiring from hurling, Christy Ring took up squash. He is photographed here with Eamonn Young, his friend and former team-mate. This is the last known picture of him before he died.

Image: courtesy of John Cronin and Tom Monaghan

Christy Ring's sudden death was reported to the sporting world, Saturday March 3, 1979

His passing stilled the city. Ring’s sudden death on March 2, 1979 stunned Cork, and led to the biggest funeral seen on Leeside since those of Tomas MacCurtain and Terence McSwiney, the Lord Mayors who both died the year that Christy Ring was born.

Christy Ring’s funeral, March, 1979.

Included in this photograph are some of Ring’s contemporaries, among them: Jimmy Doyle, Mickey Byrne, Tommy Doyle and Mick Mackey

Image: Courtesy of The Irish Examiner

Christy Ring, 'A Life in Sport'

Images: David Ring, Jimmy Aherne, The Irish Examiner, Eddie Hogan, Tom Monaghan, John Cronin, Canon Bertie Troy Archives, Tom O Mahony & Edward Gosnell, Declan Dennehy
Image restoration and Colourisation by My Colorful Past
‘The Game’ courtesy of Crossing the Line Productions A Crossing the Line Production for RTÉ Made with the Support of UCC in association with Bank of Ireland
Clonakilty Food Co, Munster GAA, Port of Cork, Amarenco, O’ Flynn Group, Cork GAA

Christy Ring: "Man and Ball" airs on RTÉ 1 on Thursday 17th December 2020.