Thursday, June 25, 2015

Update 25th June

Gallant John Joe

Members of the winning Roscommon teams of ‘43/’44 return to Croke Park in September 2001 Left to Right: Liam Gilmartin, Phelim Murray, Dr. Hugh Gibbons, Jimmy Murray, Brendan Lynch, John Joe Nerney.

(This pic. is the property ofAoifa Rice/Sportsfile). 

The town of Boyle was saddened on Wednesday evening when the news that their hero from all those years ago had passed away. With modern communications technology the news flew far and wide. The GAA community in Boyle and Roscommon had lost one of the three remaining links with days when Roscommon football shone brightest. It was in the dark era of ‘World War Two’ known in Ireland as ‘ The Emergency’ when a new team in primrose and blue emerged from the West challenged and conquered the traditional custodians for the GAA’s for highest honours.

John Joe joined the team in his home town of Boyle for the championship replay against Sligo in 1944. They were a team of all talents with a variety of skills. The majestic midfield of Boland and Gilmartin, the powerful halfback line of Lynch, Carlos and Murray, the golden goals of Kinlough and the captaincy of Jimmy Murray. Nerney added his foraging skills to complement all this. Liam Gilmartin said last September ‘Nerney was a small man but he did not know that he was a small man. He was one of the best pound for pound footballers Roscommon ever had’. John Joe was honoured by being selected on the Roscommon team of the Millennium in 1999. He was not one to blow his own trumpet but always referred to his team mates. ‘Looking around in the dressing room before a game and seeing those powerful men there made me feel we couldn’t lose. We should have won a couple more I suppose. Still we did alright and we became great friends throughout our lives and met often’. They were a ‘Band of Brothers’ like so many in the battle zones of the times.

Gerry O’Malley said when he heard the news of his death  ‘John Joe was a warrior and you were glad to have him on your team rather than the opposition’. Gerry and John Joe shared a lovely occasion in 2010 with the opening of the fine new dressing room complex in Boyle’s Abbey Park. Roscommon County Board too honoured him by having him as their President for a term in 2009 when the County Convention was held in Boyle. There are many very good photographs of John Joe including one particular action picture which Sean has on the Home page and is hanging proudly on the wall in The Craobhin. My favourite one though is of him with Jimmy and Phelim Murray, Brendan Lynch, Dr. Hugh Gibbons and Liam Gilmartin as they walk in line, on an occasion, in Croke Park in 2001 where once they were kings.

So we too, like Cavan, had our ‘Gallant John Joe’ and it has been a sense of pride to Boyle GAA people that we had our representative, our football hero, in that team of football heroes. John Joe would not want that accolade but he is a constant reminder that one of our own strode Croke Park with the very best.

Ni bheidh a leithéid ann aris. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilis

Roscommon v Sligo A Bad Day at the Office

The post-match analysis on Roscommon’s performance versus Sligo has been pretty severe. I’ve distilled them to a number of lines for myself.
1. We were getting carried away with ourselves in our estimations of the team we had. As Christy Ring once said to someone who was extolling the virtues of a new ‘star’ player ‘Let us see when the corncrake is trying to sing and the championship battles are on’. This is the time where the true mettle of the man surfaces. 
2. Nothing went right for the team and particular players on the day. The more some of them tried the worse things went. I felt for Senan Kilbride as it was just a very bad day.
3. Due credit to Sligo. They deserved their victory no question about that. They played very well, with a pace, crispness and purpose that their manager and supporters had to revel in. It was not the first time that Roscommon has slipped on the Sligo banana skin. It nearly happened to them in Boyle in 1944 when Roscommon were All-Ireland champions!  
4. The challenge now is a big one and a performance of quality against Cavan on Saturday week is, hopefully, possible. A severe salvo of mid-term criticism is no help. Project Roscommon GAA is in the melting pot but a good team hardly becomes a very bad team overnight.

The Passing of Tipp Legend Jimmy Doyle  

Thurles and Tipperary, like ourselves, are mourning with the death of their legendary sportsman in the hurler Jimmy Doyle at the age of 76. A good few years ago now while driving home from a distance I happened on a Mick Dunne interview with Jimmy Doyle. It certainly shortened the journey. Tipperary or Tipp. had one of the great hurling teams in the history of the game in the 60s’. The humility of the great man was exemplary and is part of the reason he is loved in his native place. He was selected on the hurling Team of the Century and of The Millennium. He was a six time All-Ireland Senior winner two times as captain, 7 League titles and 10 Tipp. senior championship medals plus many other competitions such as Railway Cup. He was a county minor at the tender age of 14 in goals v Dublin in 1954. He was brought up in humble surroundings in the shadow of Semple Stadium, Thurles and hurling became his life despite some serious injuries. I have heard from someone who met him how nice a man he was and this week I saw a recent interview with him as he wished he could begin it all again. May the great Jimmy Doyle rest in peace. He left us all and especially his native place a great sporting legacy.

The Berkeley Tragedy Reflection

In the time since the Berkeley tragedy there have been many moving accounts and tributes paid in print, on radio and television. The contribution of Charlie McGettigan stood out though, occasionally expressed in the parental love song ‘Feet of a Dancer’   

Feet of a Dancer 

I hope you find the feet of a dancer,
I hope you can sing in the rain,
I hope you find all the easy answers to your pain;
It won’t be easy, what can I say,
There will be trouble along the way;
‘Round every corner there’s terror and fear,
Always remember that we’re here.

I hope you find the feet of a dancer,
I hope you can sing in the rain,
I hope you find all the easy answers to your pain;
I hope you find love and affection,
I hope you find someone who cares;
I hope you find all the right directions everywhere,

A shoulder to cry on whenever you’re alone,
You can rely on us you know;
Nothing too crazy, nothing too dear,
Always remember that we’re here.

Composed by Charlie McGettigan.

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