Waterford lost one of its star hurlers of the past through the death on Monday night of John Barron (73), winner of an All-Ireland medal as left corner back against Kilkenny in 1959. He was also in that position on the team beaten by the black and amber in the 1957 final but was at full forward – sandwiched between the great Seamus Power and Phil Grimes – when the same opposition deprived the Deise again in the first ever televised hurling final in 1963.
It was in the full back line however that John’s ability was best utilised and his talents in the position were recognised beyond his native county as he won four consecutive Railway Cups with Munster from 1958 onwards – at a time when that competition was a big deal in the hurling calendar. He also played for a Rest of Ireland team against the All-Ireland champions in 1959 and 1960 – again a significant fixture at the time.
Indeed John was so versatile that he played in goal for Waterford in a first round championship game against Kerry in ’59, before Ned Power made the position his own. He also played at minor and junior level for the county and for years was part of a great side representing Clover Meats, where he worked. He was later employed at Waterford Crystal.
The Morrisson’s Road native was a loyal De La Salle man throughout his playing career. Long time County Secretary and good friend Seamus Grant described him as the club’s outstanding hurler of all time, although it was in football that he won his only senior county title in 1958.
A modest man, he will be fondly remembered for his use over many years of a simple Honda 50 motor bike as a means of transport around the city. He is the seventh member of the 1959 team to pass on.
His fellow De La Salle clubman Noel Dalton, a distinguished inter-county referee who also took control of a record nine Waterford senior hurling finals, was a great friend from childhood. In a tribute, he said John’s passing – at his Grange Heights home – did not come as a great shock as he had fought serious illness for several months. However, for him it sundered a close friendship of more than 60 years.
“He was my closest friend, my Best Man and Godfather to my dear deceased daughter Aine”, he said. “Through all those years he was the most self-effacing, loyal and generous friend anyone could wish for. He was a supreme hurler and a loving and concerned husband and father”.
Noel, like all of John’s many friends, extended deepest sympathy to his wife Joan, sons John, Donal and Brian, daughter Margaret and sisters Statia and Terri.
With GAA dignitaries both local and national, as well as players past and present in attendance, the remains were removed on Tuesday night from Thompson’s Funeral Home in Barrack St. to the Church of Ss. Joseph and Benildus and following 10.30 Requiem Mass there on Wednesday morning, the funeral took place to Ballygunner Cemetery.