A misdiagnosed hip injury in his late teens, allied to the crude orthopaedic treatment of the ’40s, left him on crutches all his adult life. Yet he was to inspire a generation of youngsters in Ballinlough that back-boned the glorious era of Blackrock and Cork hurling in the 1970s.back-boned the glorious era of Blackrock and Cork hurling in the 1970s.
We lapped up his stories of Timothy Jim O’Keeffe from Ballintemple, who played international soccer for Ireland; of Fulham, Farrell, Fagin & Flood, the great Shamrock Rovers quartet of the 30s; of Jimmy Turnbull, the Englishman who scored 63 goals in his first season with Cork FC and, of course, it was from Derry we first heard of Gah & Balty Ahern, of Eudie Coughlan and Maree Connell, of Jim Hurley and John Quirke, that pantheon of hurlers that had brought glory and honour to Cork and Blackrock.
Within three short years Derry was dead, taken from us much too early while still in his 40s. How could a man of such a quiet disposition and with no background at all in hurling have produced such a generation of talented players?