Seán Rice was born on April 3rd 1942. As a young boy he was brought to see all the Éire Óg matches by his father, Bob, and remembers watching the 1948 Senior championship final which was won by Éire Óg.
He attended St Patrick’s Christian Brothers School in Donegall Street, Belfast, and was greatly influenced by the Christian Brothers and his father Bob and uncles Tommy, Joe, Hugh and Andy, all Éire Óg players, in his desire to play Gaelic Football and Hurling.
When he was 9 years old he was picked for the Under 12 St Pat’s team and was captain of the Under 14 team which was unbeaten for 2 years, winning the league and the Hamill Cup, and a 7-a-side tournament. He was a member of the St Patrick’s hurling team which won its first ever hurling competition, the Milestone Cup. Seán also played for Belfast Under 14 hurlers against Dublin in Croke Park and again the following year in Casement Park along with another Éire Óg player, Hugh Doherty(RIP).
He played for Éire Óg Under 16 and Minor teams and made his senior debut for the senior hurling team when 14 and for the footballers when 15. When he was playing for the Éire Óg minors when 15, manager Tommy Rice was approached by Brother Leonard, manager of Pearse’s, who had discovered a loophole which stated that if a player played in a competition he could finish that competition even if transferred. As Éire Óg had no championship team at that time, Seán was temporarily transferred and won a Minor Championship medal in 1957 with Pearse’s.
In 1959 and 1960 he played for Antrim Minors in hurling, winning 2 Ulster Minor Championships and played in 2 All Ireland semi-finals against Wexford and Kilkenny. In the same years he played for the Antrim Minor footballers who lost narrowly to Cavan in the 1959 Ulster Championship final.
In 1960 he was captain of the Éire Óg minor team which won the Antrim Minor Championship and a few weeks after this match was selected for the antrim Senior team.
In 1963 he was a member of the Antrim team which defeated Tyrone in the Ulster Championship, Antrim’s first win in the competition for 11 years. In 1964 he scored a record 4 goals and 2 points from play against Derry, a record which may still stand to this day. In the same year, he was at one time the 6th top scorer in Ireland with 9 goals and 9 points.
In 1966 played on the Antrim Senior hurling team which won the Ulster Championship, and he also won an Ulster Junior Championship medal with Antrim footballers, defeating Down in the final.
During his time with the Éire Óg team, he won medals for Junior Hurling in 1967 and 1974 along with a number of league titles and also won the Junior Championship, league titles and Beringer Cup medals in football.
When he was 37 he received a kick on the calf and suffered a clot in the leg, putting out of the game for a year or so. He returned to continue playing with the footballers until he was 42, and finally retired from playing for the hurlers when in his fifties as Éire Óg could no longer field a team.
Seán also held various positions on the team’s committee and was manager of different teams as well as being involved with underage teams for a number of years.
Seán’s favourite memories include playing on an Éire Óg team which included four uncles and five cousins, and playing in hurling matches with his three brothers, Hugh, Bobby and Pat. Sean adds that for seventy years there has not been a year in which a member of the Rice family has not been a playing member of Éire Óg!