Monday 30 December 2013

Hurling Bits in Brief

Jamesy O'Connor, outstanding forward on the Clare senior hurling team in the 1990's and 2000's, was also captain of the St. Flannan's College team that won the 1990 Dr. Harty Cup (Munster Colleges Senior "A" Hurling Championship). The team panel also included his brother Christy, Liam Meaney (who later played for Cork), Stephen Sheedy, Billy Woods, Andrew Whelan and Stephen McNamara (who also played with the Clare senior hurlers during that time and was a grand-son of the late Jackie Power, the great Ahane and Limerick hurler, who won All-Ireland Senior Hurling medals with his county in 1936 and 1940).

Fergal Ryan, who played on the Cork senior hurling team for a number of years following his debut in 1999, was a nephew of former Cork and Munster hurler, Terry Kelly. Terry won an All-Ireland minor hurling medal with Cork in 1951, a team captained by Johnny Clifford. He played for Cork in the 1956 All-Ireland Senior Hurling final, won by Wexford, and also won Railway Cup medals with Munster.

The late Dr. Bill Loughnane from Feakle, Co.Clare, was at full forward on the Dublin team that defeated Waterford in the 1938 All-Ireland Senior Hurling final. Also playing for Dublin was Rathdowney native, Harry Gray, who played with Laois in the 1949 All-Ireland Senior Hurling final won by Tipperary. Playing for Waterford in the 1938 final was John Keane, who won an All-Ireland Senior Hurling medal with his county in 1948.

Saturday 28 December 2013

Short but Sweet

Galway can claim the distinction of conducting the shortest hurling league campaign on record...which lasted only eight days. This was in the 1946-47 season which was disrupted by the exceptionally bad weather, although it wasn't the weather that was responsible for Galway's brief campaign, but the fact that by the time Galway were ready to play their third round match, Limerick had won out the group and had qualified for the final.

Galway's "campaign" had started at Loughrea on November 3 when they lost to Limerick by a wide margin. One week later they took on the holders Clare at Ennis and created a big surprise by winning on a 3-4 to 1-3 scoreline. That provided ample revenge for the defeat suffered at the hands of the same Clare team seven months previously in the 1946 semi-final. But that was the extent of the Westerners' satisfaction as Limerick's progress made any further activity pointless. However, it certainly can be said that Galway's 1946-47 campaign was short...and sweet.

Friday 27 December 2013

A House Divided

When Galway won their second National Hurling League title in 1951, it marked the end of a 20-year period of frustration since the county's initial success in the early Thirties. It was a wonderful occasion for great players like Seanie Duggan, "Inky" Flaherty, John Killeen, Josie Gallagher, Mick Burke and Hubert Gordon who had toiled for years with so little reward.

But one man who had served the maroon and white for years in the company of the above players did not share in that long-sought triumph, although he was on the pitch that day and played a splendid hour's hurling. For when Galway overcame New York at the Polo Grounds on September 30, 1951, Steve Gallagher from Gort was in the New York line-out while his brother was doing duty for Galway. And the Gallaghers left an imprint on that game for Josie was the winners' top scorer with 0-6 while Steve shared the New York top spot with Kilkenny's Terry Leahy. This was the first occasion on which brothers played on opposite sides in a National League final.

Tuesday 17 December 2013

All-Ireland Football Final 1947

The 1947 All-Ireland SFC final was the only decider ever played outside of Ireland. Cavan and Kerry qualified for the final which was played at the Polo Grounds, New York. The main driving force behind the GAA Central Council decision to give the US Gaels this honour was Canon Hamilton of Clare. He was a powerful man both in physique and character. His courage and strength of character were never more dramatically demonstrated than on the occasion of the first entry of the newly-formed Irish National Army into Ennis at the height of the Civil War, which had tragically divided the people of Clare. His presence in the front seat of an open lorry, at the head of the Army convoy, gave an imprimatur to the event which was not challenged. He gave a lifetime of service to the promotion of Gaelic Games, the Irish language and music. He died as he had lived while attending a County Hurling Final in Cusack Park, Ennis.

The final at the Polo Grounds drew an attendance of 34,941 and was played in intense heat. Kerry matched the weather with a blistering start. A point by Gega O'Connor early on was soon followed by a brilliant solo goal from Batt Garvey, and fifteen minutes after the throw-in, the Munster champions were eight points in front. But then, the Northern captain and centre-half back, John Joe O'Reilly really stormed on the scene. He inspired and prompted his team in magnificent style as Cavan went resolutely about improving the depressing position. And with strong support from Mick Higgins, who led the attack superbly, and the accurate Peter O'Donoghue, who hit eight immaculate points, Cavan battled back to achieve probably the county's greatest ever win: 2-11 to 2-7. The Cavan captain, John Joe O'Reilly, led his county to success again the following season at Croke Park against Mayo. The Army man, who with his brother 'Big Tom' had first worn the Cavan colours in 1937, was a born leader of men. He died in November 1952 and is remembered in the ballad "Lament for John Joe O'Reilly".

Saturday 14 December 2013

My Grandfather would be Proud

The following letter appeared in the Irish Independent on 24th February 2007. On that day history was made when Ireland played England in a rugby International game played at Croke Park.

I take the liberty of reproducing the letter, having known the writer's grandfather, father and two uncles. His father, Pete Lanigan, played at mid-field on the Tipperary senior football team in 1950 when he partnered the great Mick Cahill of Mullinahone:
At about two in the afternoon on 21st November 1920, the players of Tipperary lined up for a team photograph before the match against Dublin. At the rear, three good friends from the village of Grangemockler stand side by side: Jerry Shelly, my grandfather Richard (Dick) Lanigan and Mick Hogan. 
Within minutes Hogan would be dead, shot by British paramilitaries, along with 13 other people, the youngest a fourteen year old boy. 
In recent weeks much has been written about men like my grandfather. They would be "turning in their graves" when England play Ireland at Croke Park today. My grandfather is buried in the village cemetery where Mick Hogan is. Nevertheless, he accepted the partition of Ireland in 1922, like the big majority of the electorate, and got on with his life. 
More likely my grandfather would be proud that a team representing Ireland is playing in the stadium where he won his All-Ireland medal in 1922. Perhaps he would even want to thank the British officer who came into the changing room preventing more players being shot. It is Irish people that will raise the English flag in Croke Park today, not a queen. 
And if people are objecting to the singing of the British national anthem, what about the Danes and Norwegians who also raped and pillaged Ireland in the past? 
All those people who claim to be indignant about Bloody Sunday, where were they on the 50th anniversary in 1970 when they unveiled the plaque in the Hogan Stand? 
I attended with my father and granddad. There was only a handful of people at the commemoration. Today, Granddad would also be reminded that England gave his son and many Irish people a living when the Irish republic could not provide work for them in the '50s and '60s. 
I spent many happy times with granddad when my parents broke up in the '60s and he never commented that his grandson considered himself to be English back then. 
Today his great grandchildren have an English mother and a plastic Paddy for a father. If he were alive, he would be cheering the Irish like the rest of the family, hoping sportsmen can set an example where politicians have failed. 
Dr.Richard Lanigan
Park Road
Kingston upon Thames
Surrey KT2 6DQ

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Patrick and Annie Maguire

One of the saddest events that sprang from the Terror campaign in Northern Ireland and England was the wrongful conviction and imprisonment, in March 1976, of the Maguire family on the false charge of running a bomb factory in their home in the Brixton area of London.

The parents, Patrick and Annie, spent almost fourteen years in prison; other members of their family also served prison sentences including the youngest son, Paddy, who, at the age of thirteen, was sent to an adult prison for four years.

Patrick and Annie were two honourable and hard-working people who reared their children to be law-abiding and honest. They were never involved with subversive groups; in fact Patrick served in the British Army in the fifties.

The family were arrested following false statements made to the police by their nephew Gerard Conlon and his cousin Paul Hill—two of the Guildford Four.

In January 1994, the film In The Name of the Father was produced covering the Maguires' arrest and conviction. Like all films of this nature, which are made to appeal to viewers, it contained distortion, exaggeration and untruths.

The Maguires issued a statement pointing to a number of inaccuracies:
  • The Maguire seven were not tried with the Guidford Four.
  • The Maguires were not accused of the same offences as the Guidford Four—the Guildford and Woolwich pub bombings—but of running a bomb factory in their London home.
  • The film's depiction of Paul Hill and Gerard Conlon arriving in London to a meal at the Maguire house in 1974 is false. Although Mr. Conlon stayed with them in 1973, his conduct was such that he was no longer welcome there again. The first time Mrs. Maguire met Mr.Hill was with Mr. Conlon two weeks after the Guildford bombings. No other member of her family had met Mr. Hill before and she had not been aware of Mr. Conlon's presence in England until then.
  • Mr. Conlon did not sign a blank statement into which the police inserted Annie's name but wrote out two long statements implicating her.
  • The Conlon family never sent food parcels to the Maguires.
  • Lawyer Gareth Pierce did not become involved in the case until 1988 (eight years after Guiseppe Conlon's death) when she began representing Mr. Conlon, not the Maguires. "We do not owe the quashing of our conviction to her" says the statement.
  • The evidence of police perjury and fabrication which led to the quashing of the Guidford Four convictions—and therefore re-examination of the Maguire case—in 1989 was found by Avon and Somerset police when they searched the Surrey police files.
The family were exonerated in 1991 and received a public apology from Prime Minister Tony Blair.