History of Hurling in Castlebar.
By Eamonn Horkan
The skill of hurling has few equals in the world of sport. How many of us thrill to the grace of an athlete as he hurls the sliothar into the net for the winning goal? Fast, skilful and exciting, great sport—but also something more a physical celebration of ancient traditions and culture. A sources of intense local pride.
The first recorded game of hurling took place between the Tuatha de Dananns and the Firbulougs, on the Plains of Moytura, between the Neale & Cong in County Mayo.
While Gaelic football is an old sport, hurling is ancient. Irish mythology is replete with tales of heroes, such as the legendary warrior Cú Chulainn, who were expert hurlers. Such myths point to a hurling history some 2,000 years old and the sport's prominent place in Irish tradition.
Gaelic football and hurling have been arousing Irish passions for a long, long time. Football became popular as early as the 16th century, when teams might have consisted of all the able-bodied men of a town or parish. In those earliest days, the rather unorganised game would begin between the two towns and end when one side had managed to force the ball across a line into the other's territory
Hurling has been played in Castlebar since before 1895. Hurling was first seriously promoted by the Major McBride Gaelic League Branch in Castlebar in 1900. For the next 30 years hurling and the Gaelic League were synonymous. At the start they vigorously promoted the game as a symbol of Irishness and they were eminently successful. More and more young men began to play.
In 1901 the Connaught Telegraph reported that 70 members of the Apostleship of Prayer marched from the Church to the Black Fort with their "Camans" on their shoulders. With the backing of the Gaelic League this 70 and others were encouraged to play challenge games and when the first county hurling championship was played in 1902 the pick of the players took the field under the title of the Castlebar Gaels. Their winning of the first championship title was ample proof that they had few rivals; the defeat of Westport by a score of 8-9 to nil was proof enough of that. As champions of Mayo they were the team to play for the county in the provincial championship. In the first round they drew with Roscommon but won the replay. Although the final of the 1902 championship was not played until the 3rd May, 1903, Castlebar were ready for Galway who had demolished Sligo in the first round.
The final score of Mayo 1-1 Galway 5 points was no disgrace. That team was:
J. Cotter (capt.), P. Golden, T. Mulvey, Andy Ryan, C. Treacy, Tom Twiggs, P. McLoughlin, T. Ryder, J. Ryan, P. Walsh, M. Patterson, P. Staunton, P. Brennan, J. McGough, M. McAlpine, John P. McCormack, P. Ryder.
There was no championship played in 1903 itself but negotiations were underway to amalgamate the hurling club and the football club.
The Gaelic League put paid to this by forming their own club called the "Dr. Hydes" and this team went on to win the county championship in 1904, 1905 and 1906. On winning the county cham-pionship they naturally represented Mayo in the Connaught Championship in these years also. It is worth noting that Pat Cotter a lad of 14 scored 2-5 in Castlebar's victory over Ballina in 1904. The years 1904-06 saw intense rivalry between Mayo (Castlebar) and Galway, the Galway teams never winning by much. To the outsider observer it would appear that Castlebar were knocking on the door.
In 1908-09 no formal championship was played mainly because only Castlebar and Ballina could field teams. Caslebar beat Ballina on four occasions in these years and were de-facto county champions. The Mayo team that played Roscommon in the semi-final had 12 Castlebar men on it. By the time the 1910 county championship came about Castlebar hurlers were ready for anything. The amalgamation of the Douglas Hydes into the Mitchels of 1907 ensured that the pick of the Castlebar hurlers were playing together.
Castlebar Mitchels demolished all opposition in the county championship and were selected to represent their county in the provincial championship. They had two hard games against Roscommon in the semi-final but when they took the field against Galway at 4 o'clock on the 24th October 1910 they had everything on their side for the football team had just beaten Galway 1-3 to 0-4. Mike McHugh did not even change his jersey but went straight into the hurling final. It only took an hour for the Castlebar Mitchels to emerge as Connaught senior hurling champions for 1910. The final score of Mayo 10-1, Galway 4-1 was proof enough of their dominance in that game.
The 17 men of that team lined out as follows: In Goal, John Carney, back line, J. Kehir, Paddy Rainsford (capt), S. Gildea, half back, Andy Ryan, M. Stack, Fred Ryan, half back line, Jim Daly, M. McHugh, Tom Walsh, center field J. Comb or Henry Patters for Tom McTigue, Pat Fallon, forward line Henry Farrell, Jock Haughey & Mick McDonnell.
1911 opened with euphoria unparalleled in Castlebar hurling circles and there were so many games that the papers found it hard to keep abreast of them. By the summer there were over 10 teams playing regularly in and about the town. The Mitchels found the Commercials, Wm. Rooneys, Hydes, Ballyheane, etc., ready and willing to compete on the hurling field. Even the ladies formed their own hurling team.
But the euphoria evaporated on the 16th July when Roscommon ran out winners in the provincial semi-final by four clear goals. Castlebar were able to play games locally but there were no other hurling teams active in Mayo and they found that outside of the Castlebar scene, they were without the high-class opposition to prepare themselves for a provincial championship. It was a blow that struck hard at the morale of the Mitche1s and while they were declared champions in 1911 and 1912 (they had to be, there were no other teams to play them) the wind was out of their sails and the game of hurling in Castlebar went into steady decline.
They remained the dominant force in Mayo hurling until 1916, however, and represented Mayo in the provincial champions in 1913, 1914 and 1915 so dominant were they that in 1915 the county committee "left the selection of the hurling team to Castlebar Mitchels.”
A new force was rising in the county however, and Swinford would win the county championship in 1916, 1917 and 1918 and 1919 and the team that would dominate Mayo hurling for the next 25 years, Westport, were just around the corner. By 1929 the Mitchels were unable to put a senior team on the field and hurling in the town had vanished. The great upsurge of interest evident among the Free State Troops had not been transferred to the civilian population and the departure of the troops left a gaping void.
But there were still men in Castlebar who wished to play hurling. They went to Ballyheane and were very much part of the great Ballyheane teams who captured four county titles in 1929, 1935, 1936 and 1937.
Their experience was what a new vibrant team like Ballyheane needed. Men like Paddy Rainsford may have been on the committee of the Castlebar Mitchels in 1935 but the Rainsfords had a hurling tradition to uphold and in the absence of a team in Castlebar they lined out for Ballyheane. And yet there were these in the town who would not let-the game die, and even in 1936 when Castlebar hurling was at its lowest ebb there were three Castlebar men on the panel for the county team. They were: P. O'Farrell, E. Barry and Sergeant Cahill.
The club blundered on until about 1940 when a group of men tired of the inactivity and neglect began to reorganise the game. For the next few years they would play and compete but just be out of the reckoning. Their epic battles with the mighty 7 in-a-row Westport team of 1938-44, are the stuff of legend.
The narrowest of margins often separated the teams and it was no flash in the pan or beginners luck that saw them beat Westport in 1945, to end a remarkable run by a remarkable team.
My involvement in Hurling in Castlebar started when we just played around on the Mall mainly a game of backs and forwards about 1945. Later a few of us in first year in the collage started playing in a field at the back of the old hat factory, Joe Hamrock. Aiden Nally, Ml. Ansbora to mention a few. This was about 1947 and memory is a little stretched to remember, however we possibly started playing because the college would be mainly taken up with Gaelic football. I feel there was little hurling at this time.
We started a street league helped by the De-La Salle brothers, McHale’s had Johnnie & Mickey Ruane who were sweet hurlers as were many others like Donal Dunne, Sean Connor, Tom Bourke, Tatto Corcoran, and more that memory fails to recall living in McHale Road, needless to say they won most of the street hurling leagues. Each De La Salle brother had a team and the competition was fierce, one of them objected to some of the McHale Road boys for playing soccer, it spelled the end to their team as the rest lost heart, I felt it was unsporting as my father encouraged us to play every sport.
It would be 1945 before the new Castlebar Mitchels hurling team would capture another county title.
Some of the Castlebar players were: Billy Keighrey (capt.), W. Lambert, Tom Burke, Paul Carthy, Bro. Cyril,. Crowley, Tom Cresham, McGough, Bro. Babtist, C. McHale, J. Hanniffy, Joe Phillips, M. McDonnell, J. Moran, P. Carney, T. McHale, O. O'Riordain, A. McDonnell, Sean Murphy, Eamonn Mongey, L. Lennon. .
Annual Convention of Mayo Co. Board. Feb 1st. 1947.
Hon. Sec. Review of Hurling in ’46, “It seems to be the lot of secretaries of the Mayo County Board, in reviewing the position of hurling, in the county, to make the same Comment year after year: "No progress:" I am afraid that the past year has been no exception. The county, selection went down badly in the Connacht championship and the inter-club competition still remains, unfinished. If we are serious in our efforts to restore this scientific game to the proud position it should hold in 'our national life, it is my opinion that we must start in the National Schools and Colleges. In this respect we need the co-operation of the teachers and if the Board was to set aside a small sum of money each year for the purchase of hurleys to be distributed free to the schools, then we would be going along the right lines. It would be advisable also to form a separate Board to deal exclusively with hurling, and I would suggest that this Board comprise only those who know the game thoroughly and have a genuine interest in its revival”. Despite the remarks of the Co. Secretary, Hurling in the county seemed to be active in Ballina, Ballaghadreen, Castlebar, Swinford & Westport as each had compeated in the County Championships.
Conn. Tel. 5th. April1947. Reported on the Annual Meeting of Castlebar Hurling Club in the Forester’s Hall. Officers elected Chairman, Bro. Baptist, Treasuer, Paul Carty, Hon Secretary, T. Cresham. A general discussion on fundraising followed with a decision to hold the annual Ceilie and old time waltzing on Sunday night April 13th. in the Town Hall, with Eddie Roy’s Band. The “Connaught Telegraph” of 12th April, stated that the Castlebar & Westport teams were the strongest teams in the County, possibly they were in the final and I think Castlebar were the winners.
Connaught Telegraph 26th. April 1947.
New Hurling Board Proposed :
"Without a separate Co. Hurling Board, hurling, our finest national game, would never be put on the map properly here in Mayo, said Mr. J. O' Hara (outgoing Chairman); Ballina Hurling Club, at the annual meeting of the club on Friday night.
He was proposing that the Mayo G,A.A. Board be approached with a view to the setting up of a separate county board for hurling, Mr. K. Kilduff seconded 'the proposition and Mr. Courell stated that the motion should be sent to the Secretary of the G.A.A. Board, and he would bring it up before the next meeting the Board. It was unanimously agreed to adopt this course.
The Chairman, at the outset of the meeting, said that during the year they had not been able to do very much, but they did hold a certain number of matches, and the local league which at first they had decided to double, had helped to keep the spirit of hurling alive. The games held during the Feis last summer were considered by all to be who had seen them to be the best exhibition of hurling for a long time. The committee of the Feis were grateful to the Hurling club for arranging them. I
There had been some references in other societies to foreign games, but he believed that anyone who looked at a good game of Hurling would agree that it had nothing to fear whatsoever as regards opposition. Mr. J. Reddington, outgoing secretary, In his annual report, objected to the methods employed by certain individuals in picking the County Junior Hurling team that played Roscommon, he stated that the members of that selection committee, unknown to one another, chose themselves for that team. He also referred to the attitude of the Stephenite football club towards hurling, and said they could give more help to the hurling club. (Times never change)
Election of Officers. '
President: Mr. P. Kilduff,
Vice-Presidents, Inspector Joseph Cahlll and Garda Ahearn ;
Chairman, Mr. J. Cowley;
Vice-Chairman, Mr. K. Kilduff Hon.
Sec. Mr. J. Reddington,
Hon. Treasurer, Mr. J. O’Hora;
Committee Messrs. E. Veldon, J. Courell. J. Barrett, S. Timony, T. Grimes, M. Shortall, H. Lynch. The
Chairman and Vice-Chairman were appointed delegates from the Hurling Club to attend the Stephenites Club’s Committee.1
Medals Presented. In presenting a set of medal to Ballina United, winners of the local Hurling league, the Chairman thanked Mr. O’Hora, who put up the medals for the competition, said they all hoped that in the near future some other generous person would likewise.
Conn. Tel. 7th. June ’47
At a meeting of the West Mayo GAA Board. Rev. T. Morley, Castlebar, Chairman, presided, Clubs represented Castlebar by F. Mongey, S. Daly T. Byrne, Westport, J. Hughes, M. Beckett, J. Brune, L. Joyce, Murrisk Garda J. Doyle, a general discussion on hurling took place after other Football business.
Hurling; The Secretary said Hurling was the next matter on the agenda, Mr. Daly said Mayo and Roscommon were playing in Ballinrobe Sunday week, June 15th.-Mr. Mongey suggested that a county hurling team be picked from Castlebar, Westport and Ballina, and the matter was referred to the County 3oard.-Mr.Hughes asked if the Mayo team must travel to Ballinrobe to play Roscommon, Hurling was not organised in the county at all. Mr. Beckett said hurling should be first developed inside the county before going outside. Mr. Daly said the same might also be said of football. The Chairman said hurling should be developed, Mr. Hughes said the hurling match in Ballinrobe would cost £20, and would it not be better to expend that sum in the development of hurling in the county.-Mr. Byrne said the Connacht Council defrayed the expenses.-Mr. Daly said that in Castlebar they were very anxious to play this match. Mr. Bruen said Westport had no hurlers for a county team The Chairman said the selection had not y et been made.
Hurling Gossip, There are great things in the air this week for the exponents of the caman in Ballina everyone is overjoyed with the success of the local team on Sunday in winning the hurling final. During the course of a conversation with Mr. M. McGrath the ex Chairman, Co. Board, and a keen hurling enthusiast, he intimated his willingness to put up a cup for competition in the county. Every village and town with even the nucleus of a hurling team, will be eligible to compete for this cup, and it is to be hoped that Mr. McGrath's grand gesture will be appreciated and that it will mark the turning point of a real effort to get this best of all games on a proper footing in Mayo.
Hurling 28th. June ’47.
Castlebar Turn the Tables.
A tame first half in which the scores were level (2-1 each) developed into a game of vigorous hurling at Ballina on Sunday when Castlebar defeated the reigning county champions Ballina in the first round of the Ward Cup tournament. Castlebar were first to lead in the second moiety, and then came the most exciting moments when M. Ahern (Ballina) found the net to leave but 1 point in the balance. Ballina putting all they knew into a determined attempt to break through the visitors' defence, found the task impossible.
S. Hughes and W. O'Donnell, at centre-field, gave Castlebar a pull which they used to advantage, and some fine solo runs were made by Hughes. The home team never struck the form shown by them in their previous match and missed many chances of scoring in the first half. Ahern, full forward for Ballina, was most impressive, as was Wynne, their full-back, who time and again cleared to ease dangerous situations. B. White (1 gl.), Ahern (1 gl.) and Grimes (1 pt.) scored for Ballina in the first half;
Scorers for Castlebar were Murphy (1 pt.), Glynn (1gl) and P. Waldron (1 gl.), leaving both team level at this stage. Murphy, Feeney, Glynn and Waldron between them had 2 goals 4 pts. to Ballina's 1 goal (B.White) in the second half. Ful time score, Castlebar, 4-5: Ballina, 3-1. Mr. Paul Carty (Castlebar) refereed.
Hurling; 6th Sept. ‘47
Ballina Team Victorious.
At McHale Park, Castlebar on Sunday last, after a good game Ballina Hurlers defeated the local team by 7-2 to 5-4. All round their were hard luck stories, both teams losing many chances to score. The game was a clean hard fought one and their was not a single incident.
Balina travelled without their usual “good men” who were replaced by men who proved their worth and will retain their place in the forthcoming championship The Ballina team played with great combination and it would be difficult to single out anyone for special praise. From the start Castlebar broke away and had Ballina under pressure, but their defence was stonewall and really proved its worth in the second half when time and again harassed by Castlebar they held a steady line.
The whole game centred around the midfield pair where Connolly and Davitt were outstanding for Ballina and dominated the play for most of the hour. The visiting forwards were slow at times but good passing by the half-forward line helped to win the day. Castlebar forwards did not play up to their usual form. At half time Ballina turned with a slight lead of 2 points the score – Ballina 4 – 1, Castlebar 3- 2. From the turn over Castlebar went all out to cut down the lead but two quick goals helped to ensure a Ballina victory. On the whole it was a game of outstanding hurling, but from the start it was a hard pulling high fielding, thrilling game. ( no mention of any of the names of the Castlebar players or who scored).
Annual 24th. Jan. ’48. Convention of Mayo G.A.A.
Again a motion from Castlebar & Ballinrobe to form a separate Hurling Board. It was pointed out by some of the older members that this was done before and it fell through, it was agreed that the Hurling Clubs in existence come together and form their own board and if they did they would receive encouragement from the County Board. It was suggested by members that the clubs themselves would have to get the idea of hurling into the schools and that perhaps hurleys should be bought for the youngsters to encourage them.
Since the close of last year, hurling has been a dead letter in the county even though some of the Ward Cur matches still remain to be played off. All hurling enthusiasts in the county also seemed to have a grouse against the Co. Board, in this instance they say, because the Board did not give them any assistance. This is true in some measure, but the leaving of championships and leagues over fron one year to another is not going to help encourage hurling in Mayo.
Swinfod, a newly-formed club, had a surprise victory over Castlebar in the Ward Cup game last October, and are waiting since for the play-off of the game between Westport and Castlemacgarrett, Claremorris. There seems to be some doubt about the latter being able to field a team and speaking to some of the Westport team. I found that they were anxious for a game as they have new blood which they want to try out. Ballina (championship holders), have been reorganising their club and Mr. Kevin McStay. Sec., and an energetic committee are diligently dealing with financial matters. They hope to be able to play Westport in a challenge game after Easter in Ballina.
March 6th. 1948. Officers of Hurling Board Selected.
The first real step in putting hurling in Mayo on its proper feet was made on Friday night in the Court-house Castlebar, when delegates representing Westport, Castlebar, Ballina. Swinford and Ballinrobe selected the officers of the Mayo Co. Hurling Board.
Mr. K. Campbell, solr. Swinford, on the motion of Mr. Tommie Hoban, Westport, seconded by Mr. Kevin McStay, Ballina, was elected chairman. Mr. Paul Carty, proposed by Mr. W. Keighrey, Castlebar, and seconded by Mr. J. Flynn, Ballina, was. appointed Vice-Chairman. Mr. Sean Murphy, Castlebar, was elected Secretary on the proposition of Mr. J. Flynn. seconded by Mr. F. Keane, Swinford, Mr.. J. Flynn, Ballina, was elected Treasurer on the proposition of Mr. K. McStay, seconded by Mr. F. Keane.
The committee is to consist, of two members from each club excluding the officer already selected.
With regard to the semi-final of the Ward Cup tournament match between Westport and Castemagarrett,
Mr. T. Hoban, Westport, stated that Castlemagarrett had cancelled the game three times without giving a written excuse.-Mr. J. Flynn proposed that. Westport be given a walk-over & they to play Swinford in the final. This proposition was put to the meeting and agreed to, to be played in Castlebar on a date in March. With Mr. Willie Keighrey as referee.
Dealing with the question of the financing of the the board , Mr. P. Carty, after some discussion, proposed that this matter this matter be left over until the Board got well under way. Mr. J. Flynn disagreed, and proposed that the Chairman and Secretary should make representation to the Co. G.A.A. Board for some financial aid, and this was agreed upon.
Mr. P. Carty said they should get trial inter-county games so as 'to enable the selection committee choose the county team. Most of the members were of the opinion that this at the present time would be too expensive, and the matter was let stand. It· was agreed that the proposition put forward by Mr. J. Flynn, that the captains of each team in the county form the selection committee be accepted. This concluded the business.
County Hurling Board Meeting. 3rd• Aptil.'48
Delegates from Castlbar, BalIina and Swinford attend a meeting of the Mayo County Hurling Board, held in the Courthouse, Castlebar, on Monday night last, when fixtures were made for the County Championship Competition. At the outset the meeting was presided over by Mr. K. McStay and later the Chairman, Mr. K. Campbell, arrived and took over the chair.
Rev. Fr. Gantley, Sacred Heart College, Ballinfad, wrote inquiring if it would be possible to make arrangements for some the clubs to play their college team. The Castlebar representatives at the meeting said they might be able to field a team to play Ballinfad College and the meeting decided to leave the matter in the hands of the Castlebar Club. A letter was read from Ballaghdreen that they may be able to field a team for this County Chapionship.
One of the Swinford delegates said that they were objecting to Westport who beat them in this years Warde Cup. The objection was based on the fact that one of the Westport members had played Rugby.
The meeting discussed at length the County Championships and it was agreed that it be played on a home & away system and if a third game was necessary it was agreed to decide the venue on a toss The following fixtures were made, Westport at home to CastIebar on 4th• April, Swinford at home to Ballina on the same Date, return matches to be played on 25th April.Before the meeting adjourned a vote of sympathy was passed with Mr. T. Hoban on the death of his uncle.
10 April '48. CHAMPIONS WERE ROUTED.
Hurling was reduced to its lowest at Ballyvary on Sunday, when Swinford defeated Ballina, last year's champions, in the first game of the County Hurling Championship by three goals one point to two goals. The game will probably go down in the annals of hurling in Mayo as the poorest exhibition of that classical and finest of amateur games all because of a pitch that sprouted a foot of weeds. Unlie the three card trick game, it was the ball that was caught and not the lady and on a number of occasions the tired hurlers had to forsake the hope of getting the ball when it lost itself entirely in the long grass.
It would be unfair to criticise any of the teams on their display, for Sunday's game was not a game of real hurling-rather one where might and strength were superior. When scores came it was usually after both forwards and backs swept the field in similar fashion to an American rugby team going into action. Rarely was the ball seen in the air, except when punched out from the goals, and ground play was the order of the day. Hard pulling was to be seen on both sides and here again the long grass added difficulty causing wild pulling.
In the opening half, Swinford backed by the breeze, broke off, but during this half they were rarely to be seen in the Ballina defence, where Acres, Tony Timoney, Casey and Jennings held .sway. When they did get through their nippy forwards made the best of the ordeal and inside a short period had a goal. On the puck out Ballina went into the attack and were rewarded when Tierney drove to the net. Again Swinford got through the Ballina defence and were awarded a 21 yards puck. John Keane the star of the Swinford side tried for a goal but McStay saved at the expense of a point. This closed the scoring of the first half.
After their exhibition in the first half Ballina felt secure, but on the resumption of play Swinford kept up such a barrage of shots and their backs cleared so well that the game took the turn in their favour. Ballina, putting everything they knew into the game, tried without success to penetrate the Swinford defence where Guard Semple at full-back cleared many dangerous shots. Ballina forwards, obtaining a long puck from outer field, went into attack and Tiemey put them into the lead for the first time when he found the net. The lead however, was short· lived for Swinford were determined to win, and in an all-out effort their centre- forward found the net with a rather easy shot. In the closing staged Swinford were on the offensive and after the Ballina go lie made a short clearance the Swinford lads grasped the opportunity and found the net, leaving the full time score Swinford 3 goals 1 point to Ballina 2 goals. The return game will be played in Ballina on Sunday week when better hurling is expected and a grand tussle be the order of the day.
May 1st. '48. Castlebar Hurling Club.
"At present we have a very good town team but I am sorry to state that our active members are very small and I would like to see every member trying to promote hurling and help to popularise our national game," said Mr. T. Cresham, Secretary, in his report at the annual meeting of the Castlebar Hurling Club. Rev. Bro. Baptist presided at the meeting. The Secretary said" I wish to state that the year 1947 was not a successful year for our club,
We started the year by losing the County Championship to Ballina after a hard fought game. A street league was also started but that was also a failure, for after only having 3 matches the competing teams lost interest. In the Senior County Warde Cup, we had five teams, in this tournament we were also unlucky, after defeating Ballina in the first round we were beaten by Swinford in the second round. Our defeat in my opinion was due to lack of training and overconfidence. The standard in all games was high and games were played in a sporting manner, I think if we want to win at least one game this year we should start training now. To conclude I wish to thank all the club officers for their very kind support and co-operation and as I cannot give as much time to the club in future I wish to resign my position as Secretary.
Mr. Paul Carty, Hon Tres. Presented his report which was considered satisfactory.
Ellection of Officers; President Rev. Br.Bapist, Chairman Mr. John Moran, V.Chairman Mr. P. Glynn, Treasuer Mr. Paul Carty, Secretary Mr. Jimmy Feeney, Committee, T. Cresham, J. Dempsey, U. Hughes, Joe Phillips, P.McGoff, S. Ainsworth, T. McDonnell, P.Waldron, G. O'Callaghan" Capt. J.J. Hughes. It was agreed that membership for the year be 2/6 pence . The meeting discussed the possibility of having a hurling game between Galway and Limerick to promote the game, but as the McHale Park was being repaired it was postponed until a further meeting.
On Sunday next the Semi- final of the County Hurling Championships were fixed for McHale Park between Castlebar & Westport.
The Castlebar Team are, P.Waldren, P.McGoff, Joe Phillips, P.O'Brien, T. Cresham, W. Lambert, J. Murnane. Jimmy Feeney, Sean Murphy, Paul Carty, J.J.Hughes, S. Ainsworth, T. McDonald, J. Moran, Frank McDonald, Jimmy Dempsy, C.McDonnell, P.Ryan, and T. Murphy.
May 15th.’48. CONNAUGHT FOUR-COUNTY HURLING CHAMPIONSHIP
The championship season in Connaught opens on Sunday next at Castlerea, when teams representative of Mayo and Roscommon meet in the above competition. When these teams met at Castlebar last year the visitors had a clear-cut victory and went on to win the competition and gave Galway a good game in the final proper. On this form and with the advantage of playing on a home venue Roscommon are quite confident of going a step, further on the road to Provincial honours.
Hurling has made great strides in County Roscommon during the past few years and if progress continues at the present rate then the time is not far from when Galway who have no serious challenge over the last few years will have to look to their laurels.
Mayo have not been idle either and teams have sprung up here and there in the County which is a sign of the times. Roscommon may not have things as easily as they imagine and will have to go all out for victory. Granted fine weather a game well worth seeing seems in store for patrons.
The county title was won again in 1949.
But the last time the trophy returned to the county was in 1955 when it included such well known dual players as John McCormack, Paddy King and Tommy O'Boyle.
They defeated Ballaghaderreen by 4-8 to 1-4 in a rather one sided game at McHale Park in October.
The team was: T. O'Boyle, J. Sullivan, E. McGrath, J. Feeney, McCormack, P. King, S. O'Connor, M. Healy, D. Dunne, J. Rogers, J. Daly, P. O'Hora, R. Condon, P. Kennedy, D. Fallon.
For all the efforts of a few dedicated people, hurling has continued to be the Cinderella in Castlebar , always overshadowed by football. It has been kept alive, mainly by a few enthusiasts who came to live in the town from predominantly hurling counties.
GAA County Convention of Jan 1957
The Chairman Mr. Beckett, Westport, in his remarks mentioned that much more could be done to promote Hurling in the County, but not by talking about it. Without competition the game could not progress and their was no hiding the fact that things were not well with hurling in the county.
No mention of Hurling at Castlebar Mitchels Club Convention in December 1957.
We won county senior Mayo Hurling Convention. Feb. ’59.
Total income from 1955 to ’58 was £371-1-0 expenditure £140-5-0, the total dept was £38-14-0. which was deemed very low. A motion to form a Juvenile committee was adopted. Tom Wall Castlebar was appointed with Secretary Seamus Brown delegates to County Board GAA.
Juvenile Hurling June’59.
Castlebar Juvenile Hurling Club put up a very spirited performance against Ballinrobe at Ballinrobe on Wednesday last in a challenge game. The match played in a continuous downpour was fast and exciting throughout. Though lacking the services of star players T. McGrath & P. Darcy, Castlebar played some fine hurling and never gave up trying.
Both teams gave a great display of skills and play veered from one end of the field to the other with lightning rapidity.
The Castlebar center field team of Donough and Heverin played well but were closely marked by their Ballinrobe counterparts.The Castlebar forward line lacked punch but their was a marked improvement whenPaddy Donough was swiched to full forward, he got 1Gl – 2 pts. off play, Brendan Cresham And Eamonn Neary also tried hard in the forward line.
The Castlebar back line of Henry Horkan, Frank McDonald, and Clarke was sound, .Dunne and Fitzgerald were good half backs, but the crafty Ballina forwards found kinks in the defence.Indeed they scored one of their goals from a seventy. A return game was fixed for Castllebar in the near future when Castlebar will be at full strength.
Castlebar; J.J. Beirne, F. McDonald, J.Fitzgerald, D. Clarke, P.Donohoe, C. Gutrie, B.Cresham, P.Hevrin, Henry Horkan, P.Kilcourse, D. McEllin, E. Neary, J.J. Neary, P. Dunne, M. Keane.League withSt. Patricks Hurling Club, Castlebar in 1961, we were attached to Castlebar Mitchels. On that team we had Sean Cleary who worked in the income Tax Office, Dr. Padraig Keane who was assistant to Dr. Dick Tobin, Tom Wall, Ray … in the Post office, Garda McGrath, Eugene Begley & Ceril Collins, Donal Dunne, Des McHale, Eamonn & Seamus Horkan, Terry O’Donaugh, Jimmy Feeney, Paddy King, Tommy O’Boyle, Pat Holian, Sean Oconnor,
Castlebar Hurling. 18th. Feb. ‘61
A disputed second half goal and another score slamed, slammed home in the dieing seconds of the match gave Fr. Tom Bourke’s, junior Galway finalists, a rather fortunate 4-0 to 2-4 win over St. Pat’s, Castlebar, in a thrilling senior hurling challenge at McHale Park, Castlebar on Sunday.The home team with the wind behind them had much the better of the exchanges in the first half.After getting off to a flying start led by 1-4 to 1-0 at the interval. In the second half Galway put up the pressure and scored a goal in 30 seconds, in a ding dong struggle for supremacy they just managed to get the winning score on full time.
Castlebar had brillint players in Tony O’Gorman and Padraig Keane at center field, while outstanding in the back line Eugene Begley John McGrath, Donal Dunne and Pat Holian. The Forwards that always took their chances well were Tom Wall Sean Cleary, Johney Tracy and Eamonn Horkan. !
Juvenile Hurling. April ‘61
Moves are afoot to start a juvenile hurling league in Castlebar in the near future.
Four teams are expected to compete. Promoters are S.t. Pa rick's Hurling Club and one of the hardest workers in the effort to-stimulate interest in hurling among the juveniles is Sergt. T. O'Donohoe. Sergt. O'Donohoe. a native of Wexford, has worked very hard over the past few years to promote the game of hurling in Castlebar.
Castlebar Juvenile Hurling Final June ‘61
The final of the Castlebar juvenile hurling league between the McHales (captained by Dessie McGinty and Davitts (captained by John Gavin) will take place this (Thursday) evening at McHale Park, starting at 8 p.m. Before the game both teams will parade to McHale Park headed by, Castlebar school band.
The captain of the winning team will be presented with the' Horkan Perpetual Oup (kindly presented by Councillor Sean Horkan) afterr the game and members of the vietorious team will receive a set, of medals which have been kindly presented by Castlebar Mitchels G.A.A. Club. The game itself should be a thriller as both teams appear to be very evenly matched. Hurling of a high standard should be witnessed. Both teams were very impressive in the earlier rounds and players from the rival camps will not hear tell of defeat. Members of the school band and both teams are requested to assemble at the school at 7,30pm..
Both Teams as Follows;
McHALES: M. Corcoran. Dessie McGinty (capt), S. Hopkins; M. Cresham, S. Farrel1y, K. Forde, T. McHale, J. Ruane, Sub Dermot Cotter. ,
DAVITTS: John Gavin (capt.). K. McAleese, S. Marrinan, C. Stewart, M. Walsh, A. Fair, N. Fair, T. Loftus. Sub: P. Moran.
Ref.: Jimmy Conroy; Umpires;. Eamonn Horkan, Nick Lambert, Pat Holian & J. O'Keeffe;
Linesmen; Ml. Cresham, V. Hegarty; Stewarts Terry O’Donohue, Ray Barrett, Sean Cleary & Tom McGrath
Council throwing damper on hurling says Mr. Cox.
That the Connaught Council were throwing a big damper on hurling when they rejected a motion by 6 votes to 4 that trial be played between Galway and a team drawn from the other counties in Connaught before the selection of the Railway Cup hurling team, was stated by Mr. Michael Cox (Roscommon) at the Connaught. G.A.A. Council meeting in Castlerea on Friday night. The Council were discussing the recommendations of the special hurling committee: appointed to look into the position of hurling in the province.
When the recommendation on which the subject of a motion was reached Mr. Sean Flanagan ( Mayo), and Mr. J. Dunne and Brendan Nestor (Galway) were in agreement that such a trial would prove farcical, but Mr. Nestor made it clear that Galway would not appose it.Mr. O’Riordan and Mr. Cox took the view that the game might bring to light some hidden talent from the other counties. The motion that the match be played was moved by Mr. O’Riordan, Leitrim and seconded by Mr. Michael Cox Roscommon. A motion that such a trial would serve no useful purpose was moved by Mr. Sean Flanagan T.D., Mayo, and seconded by Mr. M. J. Finan, Sligo, was carried by 6 votes to 4. After Mr. Cox had made the remark mentioned at the outset, Mr. Nestor said they had avoided the biggest damper.
Extracts from Castlebar Mitchels Records
In recent years great strides were made to win a championship, but somehow they could never overcome Tooreen in a ·final who have won it for the past eight years in a row. Bold attempts were made by the Mitchels guided mainly by the remarkable Murphys who came to Castlebar from Waterford.
Because there was no hurling team in the town when they arrived at the end of the 70s Michael Murphy and his two sons, Michael and Kieran travelled all the way to Tooreen to play with the local side. And all three won a championship.
Subsequently they were instrumental in reforming _ the Mitchels hurling team and put an amount of work into preparing the team for competitions. The three Murphys even played for Mayo.
Underage hurling got its first major boost in Castlebar around 1981 when Eugene O'Shea assembled a small but committed group of hurling followers to organise training.
Joe Fahy, assisted by Joe Doyle, set about putting together an under-14 team. Hurleys were purchased and soon regular training sessions were held in McHale Park.
Castlebar Mitchels Senior Club were very supportive ofthe efforts to introduce hurling at an early age. It was felt that no G.A.A. Club was complete unless our second national game - hurling - was promoted.
Billy Murphy, Tom Kenny, Patsy Horkan, and especially Pat Lynch, who was chairman of the Senior Mitchels Club, always ensured that pitches were available for training and gave moral support.
In 1981 a team which they had largely moulded reached the final of the championship and after a great game were beaten by 2-10 to 2-5. That performance contained a lot of promise from a team that consisted of: D. Synott, J. Moore, M. Murphy, T. Martyn, P. Walsh, J. Clarke, L. Doherty; K. Murphy, C. Conlon; D. Larkin, J. Coghill, N. O'Shea; N. Morris, K. Power, M. Murphy. Sub.: M. Ryan for D. Larkin.
The training stints were soon rewarded in 1982 when an u-14 team, having won in Mayo, represented the county at Feile na Gael in Dublin. In the first round at county level Mitchels beat Ballinrobe by 3-1 to 2-2 and in the final we beat Tooreen by 4-0 to 3-1. Stars of that team were Kevin Lydon, Tomde Gruineil, J. P. Jennings and Robbie Ruane.
Team: J. P. Jennings, Ger Meagher, John Fahy, David Naughton, Kevin Lydon, Padraig Lavelle, Brian Connolly. Tom de Gruineil , Padraic Cuningham, Stephen Murphy, Robbie Ruane, John Jennings, Raymond McLoughlin, Ken Fahy, Declan Ruane.
Their promise was not fulfilled however, and while they have contested the county final over the past number of years they have not been able to come to terms with the champions.
Still the game has been largely superfical in Castlebar. Involvement by locals has been less than enthusiastic. But there has been a move in recent years to tend to the roots at national school level.
This is what Eugene O'Shea, Fintan Peppar, Martin Lydon, Dave Sinnott, the evergreen Terry O'Donoghue and Joe Fahy have been concentrating on and the early returns suggest their labour has not been in vain.
In 1982 the Mitchels, having won in Mayo, represented the county at the Feile na nGael competition in Dublin, which is organised each year for under-14 players.
The long puck was won by Liam Horan, Ballinrobe, now sports correspondent of the Irish Independent.
In 1984 the club represented the county again in the same competition in Wexford, and reached the semi-final of division 4 ... the first time that Mayo representatives won a round.
County Hurling Champions under14 Feile Na Gael 1984
In that same year the under-14 and under-16 county championships were won by Castlebar also. It is a beginning. But promotion of the game still rests with too few.
In 1984 again our u-14 hurlers did the county proud in Wexford when they made history by qualifying for the semi-final of the Feile Competition. They were beaten by the eventual winners Dungannon.
It was a tremendous achievement by the Castlebar lads who won two of their games ousting Clongeen of Wexford by 1-2 to 0-2 and another Wexford club, Fethard, whom they beat by 4-0 to 2-0.
The Castlebar panel was Declan Kilkelly, Tommy Cleary, Jarlath McSharry, Ger McCaffrey, Martin McManamon, Padraig Kennedy, Padraig Scully, Declan Fitzgerald, Kevin Keane, Declan Ruane, John Jennings, Declan Doyle, Karl O'Boyle, Aiden O'Shea, Paddy Rowland, WaIter Doherty and Michael Cunningham.
The team beaten by Tooreen in the 1985 county final was: M. Killeen; S. Kelly, L. Doherty, T. Canavagh, P. O'Shea, J. Hurley, K. Gallagher, C. Conlon, J. J. Ormsby, E. Caulfield, N. O'Shea, J. Coghill, C. Ryan, D. Synott, K. Doyle. Subs.: T. Grunnell for S. Kelly; L. Woulfe for K. Doyle.
In 1987 Feile was based in Clare and again our under-14 team qualified.
We set off from Sportlann in Eugene Diffely's minibus loaded to the ground with a large banner, track suits and extra sets of jerseys and a supply of hurleys. Crusheen was our host club and while we won no game we gained immense experience. For a lot of the boys it was their first night away from home and parents. They were all very well behaved and we brought home happy memories of meeting President Hillery and watching top class young players from Clare who later went on to win an All-Ireland senior medal in 1995.
Team panel: Colin Dawson, Ronan McDonald, John McSharry, Aiden Campbell, Shane Larkin, John O'Reilly, Conor Doyle, Ger Noone, Paul Jennings, John Foy, Ronan Ruane, Diarmuid Byrne, Ray MalHmaphy, Kevin Ruane, John Scully, Kevin Burke, Tomas Kennedy, Richard Heneghan.
In 1989 the above panel went on to capture the u-16 county title and were just pipped at the post in the Connaught semi-final by St. Dominick's of Roscommon. A minor title should have been taken by the team but football became the main sport for many ofthe players. Diarmuid Byrne and Ronan Ruane went on to play with the Mayo senior team.
At u-16 level we won a county title in 1984 the Castlebar panel was: Pat Devaney, Jarlath McSharry, John Fahy, Ken Fahy, Kieran Doyle, John Donnelly, John Jennings, Eoin Shaughnessy, Declan Ruane, Kevin Lydon, Robert Ruane, Stephen Murphy, Padraig Kennedy, Anthony McSharry and Ger McCaffrey, Pauric Cunningham.
The following year, backboned by the above players, plus excellent hurlers like Michael Killeen, Martin Lydon, Eugene Caulfield, the minor championship was contested and we were beaten by Claremorris by a single point. We led by 12 points at half-time but Kevin Byrne of Claremorris scored all of the 3-6 against our 3-5. We were disappointed with the result.
Claremorris was the team to beat in those days but regrettably they soon faded out of the hurling scene.
No history of Castlebar Mitchels can be written without paying a small, deserved tribute to Eugene O'Shea. Eugene was instrumental in reactivating hurling in Castlebar in 1981- ably assisted by the Murphy family who had transferred up to Castlebar from Waterford.
Eugene O'Shea was chairman of the Hurling Club from 1981 to 1987 when his untimely death took place. Eugene sons, Niall, Paul and Aidan all played hurling for the club and county. During Eugene's term as chairman of the County Hurling Board Mayo seniors were promoted up to Division 2 and played with distinction against Tipperary, Laois, Antrim, Dublin and Meath. It had been the high point of Mayo hurling.
Eugene was a great leader and motivator. He had a very deep interest in all that was Irish but especially hurling.
Eugene brought a sense of direction to Mayo hurling. In a remarkable way, his quiet and gentle manner had touched the hearts and minds of all of us who had come to know him so well. He was a man of great principle and character. In every way he was a perfect gentleman. Ar dheis De ar a anam.
Did you know?
Did you know that duringthe 80's:
1. Diarmuid Byrne and James Horan, Mayo footballers, played underage hurling with Castlebar Mitchels.
2. The McCarthy Cup came to Castlebar in 1988 after Galway had won the All-Ireland. Joe Cooney, Michael McGrath and Noel Lane gave coaching sessions at An Sportlann.
3. Two generations of the Campbell family have made a major contribution to hurling in Castlebar.
4. J. P., John and Paul Jennings from Breaffy all hurled for Castlebar and Mayo.
5. Kieran Doyle, who won an under-21 county hurling medal in Dublin, played continuously for Mayo from 1985 to 1995, at all grades.
6. Castlebar Mitchels contributed 9 players to Mayo's u-16 team who played Longford in 1985. We had the bare 15 players - 9 from Castlebar, 1 from Westport, 2 from Claremorris, 3 from Tooreen. We lost by a few points after a titanic struggle.
7. Four Kennedy brothers from Snugboro played underage hurling. John on the Mayo senior team.
8. Kevin Gallagher (Aughadrina), probably the most talented hurler to come from Castlebar, commenced mowing McHale Park at 5 o'clock one Saturday morning before a hurling 7-a-side.
9. Christy Conlon, a Clare-man, has refereed many underage hurling games.
10. Joe Fahy made a huge contribution to hurling in Castlebar before retiring to his native Cork, as did Dave Sinnott who also has returned to his native Wexford.
11. Leo Doherty played hurling for Castlebar and always was very supportive of underage teams.
12. Jarlath, Anthony and John McSharry were all outstanding underage hurlers.
13. Peter Murphy, Patsy Noone, Michael Shaughnessy and many others made their cars available for matches.
14. Castlebar underage hurlers always gave their best on the field of play and the club can be proud of them.
15. Joe Doyle was a county selector at u-16 and minor from 1985 to 1989.
16. Jerry Henry, as chairman of the West Board and member of the Club Executive, was always a hurling supporter.
17. Martin Lydon Senior probably holds the record for erecting and taking down the nets for hurling matches.
18. Eugene Caulfield, Breaffy, a very skilled hurler is still playing with Castlebar, having commenced his career in 1981 at u-14.
19. Eoin Shaughnessy played senior hurling with Mayo.
Down Memory Lane
Click here to view some historic newspaper cutouts reporting on club activity over the years.