Book on famed Dooley brothers set for launch

The story of one of Offaly's most renowned hurling families, the Dooleys of Clareen, has been told in a new book. 'Dooley: A Family Memoir', will be launched tonight (Thursday), November 3 in the Bridge House Hotel, Tullamore at 7.30pm.

The book chronicles the exploits of Joe, Johnny and Billy Dooley, who played key roles in Offaly winning All-Ireland senior hurling titles in 1994 and 1998.

Johnny's goal from a free sparked Offaly's famous late comeback in the 1994 All-Ireland final against Limerick, on a memorable day when Joe scored 1-2 and Billy five points.

Joe, the older of the brothers, was also an influential figure on the Offaly team which claimed the Liam MacCarthy Cup in 1985. The only Offaly player with three All-Ireland senior medals, Joe went on to have a spell as manager of the county hurling team.

The Dooley brothers were absolutely instrumental to Seir Kieran's golden era, with the Clareen club winning Offaly senior hurling titles in 1988, 1995, 1996 and 1998. Remarkably, for a club of its size, Seir Kieran contested 11 senior county finals in the period from 1985 to 2000, winning four of them.

The book will obviously be of interest to Offaly hurling fans, but there will plenty of entertaining stories from off the pitch too.

An extract from the book, published in the Irish Independent this week, detailed how some Offaly players ended up in a prison cell in Thailand during a team holiday in 2000. A nightmare of an ordeal at the time but now it's an experience that they can be laugh about.

Joe explained that a row erupted over his camera going missing. "A small melee broke out and there were Thai lads coming at us from every direction. There were plenty of punches thrown."

Johnny recalled: "As quick as a flash, I felt these two handcuffs latching onto my wrists. Before you could snap your fingers, the police had arrived on the scene and cuffed a few of us.

"There were about 30 of us in that cell. Concrete walls, concrete floors. No beds. Everyone was lying on the ground. The first thing that struck me was the amount of prisoners missing limbs. There were lads without arms and legs everywhere.

"There was one toilet over in the corner, up on a big high pedestal. Basically a hole in the ground for everyone to share. The condition of the chamber was disgusting."

Joe recalled: "We paid a ‘fine’ of around a couple of hundred euros each which is big money over there. That solved everything. But we didn’t have enough on us, so we had to wait for our partners to arrive."

"Thankfully, we can look back and laugh at it now. It was all part of the experience of going to Thailand," said Johnny.

Offaly GAA chairman Michael Duignan, a former Offaly teammate of the Dooley brothers, is the guest of honour for the launch.

The book is written by Tullamore man Kevin O'Brien, a journalist with website and also a footballer with Tullamore GAA club. It is published by Hero Books, owned by former Meath football star Liam Hayes.

Although the book is mainly about the hurling achievements of Joe, Johnny and Billy Dooley, there are contributions from other members of the family, such as their mother Betty and siblings Seamus, Mary, Kieran, Sandra, Patricia and Eilish.

The Dooley family will be donating all royalties from sales of the book to Dóchas, the Offaly Cancer support service.