Lily Furlong, nee Parle (1934-1997)

In 1934 when hurling was considered to be a man's game, a camogie star was born at Kellystown, Drinagh, County Wexford on 6 March.

...From an early age Lily showed an outstanding talent for hurling. She learned her skills in John Furlong's field at Kellystown where neighbouring boys and girls played hurling every evening when weather permitted. Instead of playing with hurleys, which the children could not always afford, hooked sticks (potsticks) cut from the ditches provided an excellent substitute.

In the 1950's camogie was promoted by a small number of pioneers including Jim Sinnott, Nick Doyle, Tom Dunne and his wife Margaret, Leo Carty and MJ Power.

Lily Parle became a key player for Saint John's Camogie Club. The first competition in which she participated was a seven-a-side in which Saint John's beat Saint Leonard's. With her club, Lily won five County Championship medals in the years 1954,'58, '61,'62. Her inter-county career began in 1953.

For thirteen years, from 1953 to 1965, she played on the Wexford County Camogie team, captaining the team on numerous occasions. She captained Wexford to win four Leinster Intermediate medals in the years 1962-1965 inclusive; having been runners-up in 1959.

She represented Leinster in interprovincial camogie in 1956, '57,'60, '62 and '63; being at times the only Wexford player selected for Leinster.

She won two Interprovincial (Gael Linn Cup) medals with Leinster; one in 1956 when she was the only Wexford representative on the Leinster team and the other in 1962 when she captained the team and had three Wexford colleagues. In 1962 Leinster defeated Ulster at Casement Park; securing the Interprovincial title.

In 1964 she won the John Power award for best camogie player and in the same year she married Sean Furlong; a driver in the Library service of Wexford County Council... In 1971 the Power's Gold Label Wexford Sports Star for the outstanding player of the past was won by Lily Parle.

As chairperson of the County Wexford Camogie Board up to the time of her death Lily was remarkable for her encouragement to all young players particularly the Faythe Harrier's camogie team which she trained...

...When Lily died on 30 July 1997, camogie players from clubs throughout the county bore their jerseys on their shoulders in a guard of honour at her funeral and, as she was borne from the church the Wexford hurling anthem The Purple and Gold was sung...

Article taken from Women of Wexford by Anna Kinsella.


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