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06 Dec 2021

Longford football greats Larry Gillen and Jackie Devine feature in new Gaelic Games book ‘Our Field of Dreams’

Powerful publication currently on sale in Newsround, Longford

longford gaa

'Our Field of Dreams', the 180-page full colour publication, skilfully compiled by Roscommon native, freelance correspondent Tom Curley

Entitled ‘Our Field of Dreams’, this fascinating sports book features the stories of a host of football greats, as told by themselves, from across the thirty-two counties stretching back over the decades including Longford greats Larry Gillen and Jackie Devine.

Clubs and associations from the U.K and as far distant as South-East Asia, Canada, and the United States have also generously highlighted their activities and progress in their adopted lands.  

Ladies Gaelic Football – LGFA – its origins and development is also comprehensively covered with Cork’s Rena Buckley, eighteen times All-Ireland winner, camogie and football, and Galway star, 2004 All-Ireland football medallist,  Geraldine Conneally, reflecting in detail, on their sporting careers,  while a legendary referee offers an insight into his involvement in ‘a funny old game’. 

Laced with a rich mix of drama, passion, humour, and, indeed, a touch of sadness, alongside archival material, other memorabilia and photographs, those icons of the sport – so well remembered and many known to us – tell their individual stories with a measured quality of the myriad of ways Gaelic football has shaped their lives. 

The 180-page full colour publication, skilfully compiled by Roscommon native, freelance correspondent Tom Curley, makes for powerful reading across Gaelic sport at all levels and all ages.

LARRY GILLEN

Larry Gillen recalls being selected for the Longford seniors at the age of sixteen, possibly the youngest at senior level at the time. The highlight of his early days was playing Meath in Navan following their All-Ireland victory in 1954, and being taken to meet his aunt, Mother Gabriel, a teaching  nun in the local convent. 

The introduction of training in 1965, and the County Board bringing in Cavan great Mick Higgins as trainer brought a fresh energy and growing confidence to the team – winning the National League in 1966, the Leinster championship and O’Byrne Cup in 1968. Defeating three-in-a-row All-Ireland champions, Galway, in the ‘Home League Final in 1966, Larry asserts was the team’s finest achievement. 

 Larry makes special reference to a number of great Longford players down through the years, Jackie Devine, Jim Harold, Jimmy Hannify and Sean Donnelly, to name but a  few.  He reminds of the great dedication of Brendan Gilmore, who, though working in Drogheda, never failed to travel for sessions, and also his own brother, Pat, from the Ardagh club, also a well known Longford footballer, whose career was curtailed due to an injury sustained in 1963.

JACKIE DEVINE

Jackie Devine recalls growing up in Mostrim. His long held ambition was to wear the blue and gold of his native Longford, with firm encouragement coming from his uncle, Hugh Devine, chairman of Mostrim club for sixty years.

  Selected on the county minor team in 1958/1959, he emigrated to London in the early sixties, where his football talents were quickly spotted and was invited to join the St. Mary’s north London club. Winning three senior championship medals he was selected on the London county team as captain in the 1964 All-Ireland junior final against Cork – which they lost by a point. 

 Brought home from London he played his first senior county championship against Down in 1965, the start of a successful career and the first of many trips home to represent Longford who were then in a strong inter-county position. 

Winning the Leinster title in 1968, winning the National League in 1966, being selected on the London team of the millennium, and as a guest player of London in the Cardinal Cushing games in New York and Boston where, he asserts, were the major achievements of his football career. Travelling home from New York where he then resided, Jackie played his last game for Longford against Offaly in the Leinster semi-final of 1970. 

‘Our Field of Dreams’ is a riveting read and is currently on sale in Newsround, Longford 

To obtain a copy of the book call 087-6739799 or email legendarygaelicfootballers@gmail.com Also from www.mayobooks.ie

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