BLOODY SUNDAY (by Kevin Halpin)

My brothers Benny, Johnny, Paddy and I had a long and happy association with Oldcastle GAA Club and when m- playing days were over I spent many years as committee member and selector. The day which I shall never forget has come to be known as Bloody Sunday in 1937.

The match was played in Carnaross and after a gruelling hour, in which both Oldcastle and Kells gave of their best, the result was a draw. It was a fair result on the day. Both teams were fairly evenly matched. The strength of the Oldcastle team lay in the combination that had won the Feis Cup.

In the course of the match a certain amount of rancour built up and the fire was fanned by the supporters on the line. The replay was fixed for Athboy.

I remember I went on Paddy Lynch’s lorry actually three lorries left Oldcastle that day. In the interval between the two games ‘needle’ was built up, principally by the media and consequently the players were the sufferers. The Oldcastle players were referred to in a local paper as “The boys from the butt of the wind'”

Many of the Kells supporters on the line carried cudgels and they continually barracked the Oldcastle players principally J.H. Caffrey. During the course of the match the first incident was between Michael Cadden (RIP), and a Kells player called Red Wilson. Then the Kells supporters started shouting, “Watch the County men”, who were of course P. Beggan, Hughie Lynch and Jim Kearney.

During the first half a mob of Kells supporters invaded the pitch and took after Jim Kearney with cudgels and flagpoles. The referee, Willie Smith, of Martry got the game going again and Oldcastle gave an exhibition of football. As far as I can remember Oldcastle won by 7 or 8 points. After the match a melee ensued and J.H.Caffrey was badly injured. The Kells supporters tried io break down the gate leading to the enclosure. Rev. Fr. Johnson stood in the breach and defended it stoutly with his umbrella and the Oldcastle boys gave as good as they got. Fr. Johnson said to the Oldcastle contingent, “Boys, I knew you could play football, but you can fight as well.”

At the Co. Board inquest on the game Tommy (Boiler) McGuinness, who was at the match, spoke in favour of Oldcastle. Some of the Kells players were suspended for 10 years and others for life.
Kells had star-players at the time, notably Paddy McCabe, Maguire, Black, Olahan, and Bell. Actually the players on both teams built up great friendships.

That is my memory of what came to be called Bloody Sunday.

(From: “The Story of Oldcastle GAAClub 1884-1984” – Editor: Tommy Sheridan)