The Secretary Sounds Off by Michael Reynolds
Before I came to reside in Oldcastle around 1972, there was very little I knew about the place from a football point of view. Since then I have learned that Oldcastie is one of the oldest GAA clubs in Co. Meath and is steeped in GAA tradition. I have also heard about the famous heroes of the past who not only wore the blue and white of Oldcastle with great distinction – bringing home the laurels on many occasions – but also graced the turf of distant pitches for both County and Province. These loyal Gaels of this parish kept the banner of the G.A.A. flying through many difficult times.
During the 1960’s and early 1970’s I played my football with the parish of Auhgavas in the County of Leitrim. During this period we reached four Senior Championship Finals, winning two of them. We had many fine players, included among those were Padraic and Fergus O’Rourke, older brothers of the now famous Colm O’Routke who has distinguished himself with Meath and Leinster. The O’Rourke family moved from the parish of Aughavas in the 1960’s to Skryne. What was Leitrim’s loss was Meath’s gain.
My first opportunity to play for Oldcastle was on the 7th Aprl’ 1974 in the Intermediate Championship against Ballinlough in Martry. Oldcastle emerged victorious that day. There were many talented players on the Oldcastle team on that day. In goal was Peter Galligan who has given sterling service between the posts. John Rahill at full back, was one of the best full backs that I have met in club football, with a sound pair of hands and a cleareance with either foot. Eamon Gillic and Gene Craughan were the corner backs. At right half back was T.P. Fox. T.P. was what I would call “an attacking half back” who could initiate moves by his clever distribution of the ball. At centre half back was John Joe McEnroe who was a great reader of the game with his timely anticipation. Filling the left half back position was Willie Tuite who had the height and weight to stop any forward in his tracks. Making up a strong centre-field was Micky Flood and Paddy Dolan. Leading a lively half forward line was Sean Caffrey with Oliver Smith and Kevin Mallon on the wings.Corner forwards were Joey Sheridan and Paul Gilsenan. It was my first game for Oldcastle and my first time to play at full forward. It was not my happiest hour, but it was a start in the blue and white, and I was grateful for that.
I can recall many memorable games that Oldcastle played during the latter half of the 1970’s, especiaily- the Gael Linn Finals in Ballinlough against Moylagh. Moylagh had a very good team inthose years ind could always pip us by the fewpoints. ln 1975 we reached the final of the League and played Curraha in Navan. We were very much in the game up to half time, when Curraha got on top, to deny us victory. A victory that gave me great iatisfaction was in the Maghera Tournament Final in 1980, against Killygarry, Co’ Cavan’ On the evening of the game, it was Cemetary Sunday in Oldcastle, with the result that Oldcastle had to line out without some key players and also short of the required 15. Despite these drawbacks we were ahead at half-time, when help arrived. Having re-organised at half-time we went on to take the cup and trophies. The cup was presented to Captain Tom McHugh.
Another great victory I recall was in the Championship against Donaghmore in 1982. Donaghmore were always a very difficult team to beat at any time. Having a two point lead at half-time, Oldcastle had to face, a gale force wind, with 14 men, in the second half and went on to record a great win.
Many fine players have come into the Oldcastle team in the last few years. Players like Declan Mullen, John McEnroe, Oliver Gogarty have worn the Meath colours at minor grade. John Galligan, John McHugh, Phil Galligan, Michael Kavanagh and Andy Brogan have matured into the team. Gerry Hamilton, Colm Gilsenan, Michael Smith, Bart McEnroe, with the help of the more experienced players like T.P. Fox, Sean Geraghty, Peter Galligan, Paddy Dolan, Sean Caffrey, the future looks good for football in Oldcastle. The splendid playing facilities provided by the community council and administered by the Gilson Board is already giving fresh meaning to the game in the area.
In terms of the narrow concept of success on the playing fields, we are going through a “valley” period. It would be a shame if we allowed impatience or dispair to get hold of us. Gaelic football has been the staple recreational diet of Ireland for generations, you can criticise it, you can argue that it needs a new iniection of variety or playing rules, but the game has captured the imagination of all lreland. But like the zealous crowds at the Spanish bullring, our faithful followers cry out for victory. They feel it is too long since the “bull” was last conquered. And so the matadors of the present day live in the shadow of the romantic past.
MICK RENOYLDS, HON.SEC.
(From: “The History of Oldcastle GAA Club 1884-1984” – Editor: Tommy Sheridan)