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Matt Nugent

By Ollie Byrnes

Matt Nugent, one of the great hurling stylists, was laid to rest on October 10, 1990. A native of Tubber, he first came to the notice of the Clare selectors when he represented that club.

Like many Clare hurlers of his time an All-Ireland medal eluded him, though he felt the teams of 1946 and 1955 were close enough to it. Matt Nugent made his debut about 1945 and the following year he won a National League, Arus na nGael and Thomond Feis (four county championship) with Clare. An Oireachtas medal followed in 1954 when Clare defeated the great Wexford team of that era in Croke Park. However, Clare were sensationally beaten in the Munster final of 1955 by a rampant Limerick side trained by Mick Mackey. Nugent continued to assist Clare until 1959, though he made a brief comeback in 1962.

A dual player, he won four senior football medals with Ennis Faughs in 1947, 1948, 1952 and 1954 as well as two senior hurling medals with St. Joseph`s in 1954 and 1958. Matt also captained the St. Joseph`s teams to win the Clare Champion Cup in 1953 and 1957. He continued to assist St. Joseph`s until 1969 when they knocked rivals Eire Óg out of the championship, though a veteran Nugent scored 2-4 for St. Joseph`s.

Matt Nugent was an automatic choice on the Munster Railway Cup teams of 1951 to 1954. He was selected as a sub in 1955. Three of his sons played hurling at senior level. Michael represented Eire Óg and later Clarecastle when he went to reside there. Martin wore the colours of Eire Óg with distinction from 1975 to the mid 1990`s. He also wore the saffron and blue of Clare. His younger brother Tony also played with distinction for Clare from 1981 to 1985 before emigrating to the U.S.A. Tony was honoured by the Munster selectors in 1984.

When Matt Nugent lived in Marian Avenue he encouraged the youngsters of that area on the finer points of the game during the long hot Summer evenings. He continued to take an interest in all sports up to his death in 1990. He will be remembered always as a great sportsman. As the Clare Champion newspaper reported in 1969 - "Nugent`s fluent stroke or quick flick split many a defence and he accepted defeat in the same way as he did victory. It would be hard to find a more perfect example of a true sportsman".

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