“A SOUND man, one of those lads you’d never hear anyone say a bad word about.”
The words of Kilburn Gaels goalkeeper John Joe Burke paying tribute to the late Cathal Forde.
Burke, a native of Kilkenny and a Nicky Rackard Cup winner with London in 2005, played in goal for Kilburn Gaels when they captured their first London SHC title in 2010.
In front of him, at right-corner back, was Cathal Forde, whose first championship campaign with the club ended with a county medal thanks to their comprehensive win against Sean Treacys.
According to Burke, Cathal was one of those players you could always rely on when the going got tough: “As a player he was very dependable. You always knew he’d go out and do his job without any bother whatsoever. He was someone who rarely put a foot wrong during a game. A tidy hurler and he was fierce tough as well.”
Cathal was a member of the Gort panel that reached the Galway SHC final in 2008. He joined Kilburn Gaels in 2009 but wasn’t eligible to play championship for the club until the following season.
Burke says: “Cathal was often quiet but he’d talk to you all day when it came to hurling, whether it was about the hurling over here or back home, but especially about Galway.
“He was fanatical about his hurling and he was always able to put everything else to one side when it came to going out on the pitch and getting the job done.”
Kilburn Gaels will now be without a vital member of their senior hurling team, but first and foremost, they’ve lost a dear friend.
“He was an incredibly easy-going man,” Burke added. “He kind of kept to himself mainly but he was just a sound man, one of those lads you’d never hear anyone say a bad word about.”
Mick O’Dwyer, a Kilburn Gaels forward who played a big part in their 2010 success, was one of Cathal’s closest friends in London.
O’Dwyer described Cathal as “one of the missing pieces to the jigsaw that Kilburn had been searching for” in their attempts to win that elusive SHC title in 2010.
“He was ever-present at corner-back in the championship winning team,” said O’Dwyer.
“Throughout that year when the craic would start at training about who did or didn’t do what during the previous weekend’s game, Cathal would calmly remind us of how much his man had scored. More often than not, the answer to that was nothing.
“The county final that we won was a very proud moment in Cathal’s life. I remember him telling me that his parents were coming over for the match; I could see the pride in his eyes and what it meant to him to play in and win a county final in front of them.
“It was only fitting that Cathal hurled a stormer that day and kept who we had identified as the opposition’s danger man very quiet.”