|Irish name||Pádraig de Grás|
Palmerstown, County Kilkenny, Ireland
21 July 1984|
Born in Palmerstown, County Kilkenny, Grace first excelled at hurling during his schooling at CBS Kilkenny. He arrived on the inter-county scene at the age of fifteen when he first linked up with the Kilkenny minor team. He joined the senior panel during the 1937-38 league. Grace immediately became a regular member of the starting fifteen, and won two All-Ireland medals and six Leinster medals. He was an All-Ireland runner-up on three occasions.
As a member of the Leinster inter-provincial team on a number of occasions, Grace won one Railway Cup medals. At club level he won five championship medals having played with Éire Óg, Carrickshock and Dicksboro.
Grace retired from inter-county hurling before the start of the 1950 championship.
In retirement from playing Grace became heavily involved in the administrative affairs of the Gaelic Athletic Association. His tenure as secretary of the Kilkenny County Board spanned five decades.
Grace began his club hurling career at underage levels with Éire Óg. He won three minor championship medals with the club during a four-year spell between 1932 and 1935.
In 1936 Grace was just out of the minor grade when he joined the Éire Óg junior team. He won a championship medal in that grade that year following a 6-2 to 4-0 defeat of Moonrue.
Both sides resumed their rivalry in the intermediate decider the following year. A huge 8-4 to 1-2 victory gave Grace a championship medal in that grade.
Old rivals and Grace's former club Éire Óg provided the opposition in the 1941 county final, however, Carrickshock finally retained the title following a one-point 4-5 to 3-7 victory. It was Grace's second championship medal.
Carrickshock's great run of success continued in 1942 as the club qualified for a fifth successive final. Threecastles, who were appearing in their first decider in thirty-five years, were the opponents, however, a 3-2 to 2-3 victory gave Grace his third championship medal.
By 1950 Grace was playing with Dicksboro. He won a fifth hurling championship medal that year following a 4-6 to 1-5 defeat of Éire Óg in a replay.
In 1935 Grace was appointed captain of the Kilkenny minor team. He won a Leinster medal following a 7-9 to 1-1 trouncing of Laois. The subsequent All-Ireland decider on 1 September 1935 pitted Kilkenny against Tipperary. A narrow 4-2 to 3-3 victory gave Grace a coveted All-Ireland medal.
In 1939 Grace won his first Leinster medal following a 2-12 to 4-3 defeat of reigning All-Ireland champions Dublin. The subsequent All-Ireland final with Cork on 3 September 1939 is regarded as one of the most famous championship deciders of all-time. The game was an exciting one with an explosive finish, as a spectacular thunderstorm lit up proceedings. Willie Campbell landed a long-range free in the net for an equalizing goal for Cork and a draw looked likely. Terry Leahy doubled on a Paddy Phelan 70-yard free to secure the winning point for Kilkenny on the stroke of full-time. The 2-7 to 3-3 score line gave Kilkenny the victory and gave Grace a first All-Ireland medal.
Grace won a second Leinster medal in 1940 following a 3-6 to 2-5 defeat of Dublin. The All-Ireland decider on 1 September 1940 brought Kilkenny and Limerick together for the last great game between the two outstanding teams of the decade. Early in the second-half Kilkenny took a four-point lead, however, once captain Mick Mackey was deployed at midfield he proceeded to dominate the game. Limerick hung on to win the game on a score line of 3-7 to 1-7.
In 1943 Grace collected his third Leinster medal following a 3-9 to 2-6 defeat of Dublin. Kilkenny were later defeated by Antrim in the All-Ireland semi-final in one of the greatest hurling shocks of all-time.
After surrendering their title the following year, Grace collected a fourth Leinster medal in 1945 following a 5-12 to 3-4 defeat of Dublin. On 2 September 1945 Kilkenny faced near neighbours and fierce rivals Tipperary in the All-Ireland decider. Tipp raced into a stunning lead and left Kilkenny trailing by 4-3 to 0-3 at half-time. Three goals by "the Cats" in the second period turned the tide, however, it wasn’t enough as Tipperary won by 5-6 to 3-6.
Kilkenny and Dublin renewed their provincial dominance once again in the 1946 decider. In a much closer game Kilkenny won by 3-8 to 1-12, giving Grace a fifth Leinster medal. The subsequent All-Ireland final on 1 September 1946 pitted Kilkenny against old rivals Cork for the first time since 1939. Two quick goals just before half-time, one from the stick of Christy Ring, put Cork in the driving seat. Five more goals followed in the second period as Cork were the 7-5 to 3-8 winners.
Grace collected a sixth and final Leinster medal in 1947 following a 7-10 to 3-6 defeat of Dublin once again. On 7 September 1947 Kilkenny faced Cork in a repeat of the previous year's decider. The game itself is often described as the greatest All-Ireland final of them all. Jim Langton and Terry Leahy spearheaded the Kilkenny attack, while Mossy O'Riordan and Joe Kelly scored goals for Cork that nearly won the game. In the end Kilkenny won by 0-14 to 2-7, thus avoiding the ignominy of becoming the first team to lose three-in-a-row. It was Grace's second All-Ireland medal.
Grace was a regular on the Leinster inter-provincial team for almost a decade, however, it was a largely unsuccessful period for the eastern province. He won his sole Railway Cup medal in 1941 as Leinster narrowly defeated archrivals Munster by 2-5 to 2-4.
Grace's dissatisfaction regarding player welfare saw him challenge for the position of county board secretary in late 1947. After being elected to the position he served until his death in 1984.
- CBS Kilkenny
- Leinster Colleges Junior Hurling Championship (1): 1934
- Éire Óg
- Kilkenny Intermediate Hurling Championship (1): 1937
- Kilkenny Junior Hurling Championship (1): 1936
- Kilkenny Junior Football Championship (1): 1937
- Kilkenny Minor Hurling Championship (3): 1932, 1934, 1935
- Kilkenny Senior Hurling Championship (4): 1940, 1942, 1942, 1943
- St. Paul's
- Kilkenny Senior Football Championship (1): 1948
- All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship (2): 1939, 1947
- Leinster Senior Hurling Championship (6): 1939, 1940, 1943, 1945, 1946, 1947
- All-Ireland Minor Hurling Championship (1): 1935 (c)
- Leinster Minor Hurling Championship (1): 1935 (c)
- Railway Cup (1): 1941
- "Paddy Grace". Dicksboro GAA website. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
- Cunningham, Kieran (20 November 2014). "A force of nature". Irish Daily Star. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
- McEvoy, Enda (26 October 2013). "Power of dreams lives strong for Carrickshock". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
- "Carrickshock Gaels square up in Kilkenny decider". Irish Examiner. 22 October 2010. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
- McEvoy, Enda (3 September 2014). "75 years ago thunder rolled at Croke Park on eve of world war". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
- Fahey, Denis (2 September 2014). "Thunder, lightning, hurling, war and an Emergency". Irish Times. Retrieved 25 January 2015.