Old rivals meet again
On Saturday last, thousands of Cavan supporters travelled to Kingspan Breffni Park for the meeting of Cavan and Roscommon in the National Football League. With both sides already promoted to Division two status the result of Saturday evenings clash would cause little problems for either team but for all of past seventy one years the meeting of these old rivals – while not always friendly – never fails to generate excitement. September 1939 is remembered world wide for the wrong reasons – the outbreak of World War II – but for the Gaels of Roscommon, it recalls happier events as it was in that never to be forgotten month and year that a Roscommon team won for its county their first All Ireland football championship. That was the county minor team of 1939 which captained by Liam Kilmartin scored a two point victory over Ulster champions Monaghan in the final. Twelve months later, it was the turn of the Roscommon junior county team to take home All Ireland honours defeating Leinster champions Westmeath in the final while in 1941 the Roscommon minor squad made it “Three All Irelands in a row’ by beating Leinster champions Louth in the All Ireland final to become first holders of the Tom Markem Cup which was presented for the All Ireland championship that season. Incidentally the same Tom Markem Cup is to this day presented each September to the winners of the All Ireland minor championship. Those three teams produced a crop of talented players who by 1943 were contenders for a place on the senior panel. The year 1943 saw Cavan overcome neighbours Monaghan in the Ulster senior final played at Breffni Park with that victory giving Cavan their fifth provincial championship in a row while the same week at St Coman’s Park, Roscommon (later re-named Dr Hyde Park) Roscommon overcame Galway in the Connacht senior final winning for the home county their first senior provincial championship in thirty years. In the All Ireland semi final played at Croke Park on August 8th, Roscommon defeated Leinster champions Louth and so for the first time a Roscommon team would appear in an All Ireland senior final. Seven days later (August 15th) and again playing on the Croke Park sod, Ulster champions Cavan had a one point victory over Munster champions Cork ( 1-8 to 1-7) in what was a bone shaking encounter and so the stage was set for the meeting of Cavan and Roscommon in the All Ireland senior final at Croke Park on Sunday, September 26th with Garda Sergt Paddy McKenna, Bruff, Co Limerick and a native of North Longford as referee. In preparation for the final, Cavan had two weeks collective training at Cherry Bank House, Cornafean, (property of the MacSeain family) with Lieut-Colonel John P Murphy, a former Cornafean and Cavan county player, Willie Young, (goalkeeper on the Cavan All Ireland winning teams of 1933 and 1935) and sergeant Michael O’Reilly in charge. With World War II now raging across Europe, strict travel conditions in an effort to control the use of petrol and fuel were introduced by government order. No private cars were allowed on roads and even the humble ‘push’ bicycle did not escape as tyres and tubes for the bicycle wheels were in very limited supply. For the All Ireland final of 1943 one special train from each of the two counties involved was allowed to travel on the day of the game, oddly enough admission to Croke Park for the final appears to have posed no serious problem but to secure a ticket for the train was extremely difficult. But five loyal Cavan supporters from Garrymore, Ballinagh, having obtained bicycle tyres outside the jurisdiction – left home at mid-day on Friday and cycled the 80 plus mile, reaching the Capital City in the early hours of Saturday where they were warmly received by relatives and friends and who played host to their country cousins for the weekend. The final played on a crisp harvest day saw Cavan settle down quickly and take an early lead while Roscommon appeared to be effected by nerves, while Cavan who dominated much of the opening half failed to take advantage of their many opportunities with a number of free kicks from scoreable positions being sent badly wide. The Breffni men held a four point lead 1-4 to 0-3 as half time arrived but Cavan supporters feared that the scoring chances missed could prove costly. Early in the second half Roscommon captain and centre half forward Jimmy Murray scored a brilliant goal which left just a kick of the ball between the sides. From a placed ball Roscommon place kicker Donal Keenan – later to become President of the GAA sent over the equaliser with the new Connacht champions taking the lead just minutes later to the delight of the Roscommon fans who were among the attendance of 68,023 spectators, but Cavan recovered and with points by Seamus Maguire and John Joe Reilly saw the sides finish at 1-6 all with the replay announced for Sunday October 10th with Paddy Mythen from Enniscorty, Co Wexford as referee. Unlike the drawn game, it was Roscommon who took an early lead in the replay with goals from Frankie Kinlough and Jack McQuillan, giving the men from the west a six point lead. Cavan launched a series of attacks and their brilliant full forward Joe Stafford, then one of the greatest forwards in the game sent a rasper past Frank Glynn in the Roscommon goal. Moments later Paddy Boylan, (who had won an All Ireland senior medal with Cavan in 1935 ) scored the Cavan men’s second goal and the sides were level. But as half time approached Donal Keenan sent over two Roscommon points to leave his side ahead by 2-2 to 2-0 at the interval. The opening minutes of the second half saw Cavan very much in control but then disaster struck as referee Paddy Mythen ordered Cavan’s outstanding forward Joe Stafford off the playing field for allegdedly striking Roscommon left half back Owensie Hoare. The dismissal of Stafford was for Cavan a serious blow, for in addition to having to continue the game with 14 players, the Breffni men were minus the services of their outstanding forward. Exchanges became bad tempered and the game ended with Roscommon winning by 2-7 to 2-2. When central Council met at Croke House to consider the referees report, the governing body were also in receipt of a letter received from Cavan full back Barney Cully in which he stated that he was resigning from the association and the council having noted how the referee in his report stated that he (referee) had been struck during the game by Cully, declared the Cavan player ineligible for membership for a period of ten years from October 10th 1943. However less than two years later at the All Ireland congress of 1945, Cully was unanimously re-instated to full membership of the association after several delegates had paid tribute to Barney’s loyalty to his club, University College, Dublin since his resignation and indeed the great Barney played at full back on the Cavan team against Cork in that year (1945) All Ireland senior final. Central council dished out severe penalties to three other Cavan players with Joe Stafford, (ordered off), suspended until October 10, 1944, which was far in excess of the normal suspension for a ‘sending off” offence while team captain, Tom O’Reilly reported for having said to the referee that ‘if you put off Stafford it will be worse for you’ also received a twelve month suspension until October 10, 1944 while TP O’Reilly reported for having advised Stafford ‘not to leave the field’ received a nine month ban. The severity of the suspensions were condemned in all four provinces with Roscommon County Board openly declaring that if a motion to have the suspension on the Cavan players was on the agenda at the next congress in April 1944 Roscommon delegates would support Cavan. With all national league competitions abandoned for the duration of the World War II, emergency county team had no games except the occasional ‘challenge’ once the championship season ended. In 1944 Cavan as was the usual qualified for the Ulster senior final in which their opponents would be neighbours Monaghan. During the spring and summer the Clones club carried out major work on their grounds and their new park was a credit to all concerned. The date of the grounds official opening was Sunday August 6 1944 but the Ulster Council rewarded the club for all their hard work when they choose the new St Tiernach’s Park as the venue for the Ulster final, the first games ever to be played on the new grounds on July 30. The effects of World War II with regard to transport made travelling for many supporters a difficult mission with some making the journey on horse drawn vehicles, but for those forced to remain at home, there was disappointment when news spread that there would be no radio commentary. In fact the first news of the result reached Cavan town, via carrier pigeon which was released at St Tiernachs Park shortly after referee J Murtagh (Down) sounded the final whistle with the pigeon touching down at the ‘Anglo Celt’ offices at Church Street, Cavan with a card on the birds leg reading ‘Cavan 1-9 Monaghan 1-6’. For the All Ireland semi-final, Cavan opponents were once again Roscommon who had retained their Connacht championship title. The date for the game was Sunday 20th August with Croke Park the venue. In preparation for the game Cavan had two weeks collective training with Broomfield House, Ballyhaise as the training headquarters and with Lieut MP Cashin from the Curragh camp in charge. For Cavan, the enforced absence of three outstanding players was a serious handicap. At half time the All Ireland champions held a three point lead 2-3 to 1-3 but the second half saw Roscommon completely on top scoring 3 goals and five points and Cavan failing to raise a flag leaving a seventeen point defeat and the heaviest inflicted in an All Ireland semi final for more than two decades. On Sunday May 6 1945 this all conquering Roscommon team travelled at full strength to Breffni Park to play Cavan in a challenge game with gate receipts in aid of a very worthy cause, the building fund of the then recently erected new Cathedral of SS Patrick and Felim. Weather conditions were glorious and Breffni Park was filled to capacity. Thousands of Cavan supporters were present. They had travelled for two reasons, the first to support the cause and the second to see in the flesh such household names as the famed Murray brothers from Knockcroghery, Jack McQuillan, Dec Callaghan, Brendan Lynn, Bill Carlise, Donal Keenan, Owensie Hoare, Eamon Boland, Liam Gilmartin, Frankie Kinlough to name just a few. Gaels in all four provinces had heard these players names, so often in radio broadcasts from the great Micheal O’Hehir and in press reports and now supporters would have the opportunity to meet and greet these famous sportsmen. The game itself was very sporting with play of a high standard and as referee John Dunne (Galway) sounded the final whistle Roscommon were victorious with a two point winning margin and it is ironic that the goal which won the game for Roscommon was scored by a Ballinagh man, Paddy Wall then a Bank official in the Western County and who had thrown in his lot with the All Ireland champions. These counties have met on many memorable occasions but the game which Cavan fans will for all time remember was played at Croke Park on August 3rd 1947 when at last the Breffni men emerged victorious by 2-4 to 0-6 with that victory not only ensuring a place in that years All Ireland final but in addition ensuring for the panel of players and officials the trip of a lifetime to play the final at the Polo Grounds New York.
Kathleen Murray whose death has occurred was one of the parishes most senior citizens who had for many years been proprietor of one of the town’s largest grocery stores. Predeceased by her brothers, Very Rev Thomas Canon Murray, Peter, Henry and Eugene and by her sister Mary Ellen. Deceased was the last member of her family.
Work has now commenced and the committee ask dog owners to ensure that animals do not soil streets.
Ballinagh Gardening club will meet on Monday, 7th April in the Community Centre at 8pm. Special speaker ‘Marie Kiernan, Treel Nurseries, Legan, Longford with items for sale on the night. Everyone welcome. Refreshments served. Non members 4 euro nightly.
Award winning play named ‘Dig’
This award winning play by Seamus O’Rourke continued to draw packed audiences and local UCD student Shauna Robinson, Gortahurk, Ballinagh is volunteering overseas in aid of the developing project in Tanzania and she invites you to the award winning play in the Corn Mill Theatre, Carrigallen on Friday, April 4 at 8.30pm and tickets are on sale in Centre, Ballinagh, Multi Sound, Cavan and Easons, Cavan and do please support this very deserving cause. Shauna wishes to thank everyone who so generously supported her recent street collection. Your support was greatly appreciated.
Text alert signs have been erected in the area and Ballinagh Community alert ask you to report any crime or suspicious activity by calling Cavan Garda Station on (049) 4331300 and please familiarise yourself with the numbers and help make our community a safer place. Anyone wishing to receive a monitored alarm and pendant from the senior alert scheme should be aged 65 years or over living alone or with another elderly person. This equipment is grant aided but there is an annual cost of 65 euro to the recipient and if interested please contact Majella Robinson on 087 6481012.
Tour de folly
Ballinagh Community Enterprise Association are holding a fund raising cycle on Saturday 11th April. The distances are 20km for the leisurely cyclist or 80 km for the more experienced. All proceeds in aid folly restoration contact 087 2649904.
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