Liam Hinphey was the 'Godfather of Derry hurling'

Liam Hinphey at home in Dungiven
Gerry McLaughlin

Tá Laoch mór na hiomána in nDoire ar lár. 

I first met Liam Hinphey in 1975 as a skinny hurler and you could not come anywhere near the Derry square when “The Chief” was at himself. 

We later became the most sociable of friends and I just about recall two great sessions with him in his ‘Office’ in McReynolds pub in Dungiven in 1994 and again in 2012. 

It was a great education as he was an intellectual stallion who could converse at breakneck speed on anything and I was not the better of the conviviality for weeks for he had the constitution of a bull elephant and had defied medical science for years. 

Liam could detect bullshit at 1,000 feet and he had great way of deflating windbags with a wave, a look or an epic one liner. 

And he was a giant in so many ways-a man with a huge heart behind the brilliant banter and bonhomie and a kind man who always stood up for the bruised, the wounded and the broke. 

He will be best remembered as the Godfather of Derry hurling going right back to the 1960s – but the black and amber of Kilkenny was stitched deep in his sunny soul. 

Liam put hundreds of hurlers through his hands and was so proud of his family and the Kevin Lynch’s hurling club which was like his extended family. 

His knowledge of the GAA was incredible and he could sum up a tricky situation in a heartbeat and few did more for Derry hurling. 

Liam was a Derry version of Marlon Brando – he had the height, build and the effortless charisma of a man who tasted life through the teeth who took life and shook it like a ripe appletree eager to sample its fruits and he gave us all so many memories far greater than all gold. 

Slán go foil Liam and I just know that you are in a place of clinking company full of banter and bonhomie and simple joy and Kilkenny have just consigned Tipperary to the furnace of eternal defeat.