Football Down The Years – Jack Gilson (1953 article)

There was as far back as we can go, a great football tradition around Oldcastle. Nearly 70 years ago we had one of the first footbal teams – THE SONS OF FREEDOM. Johnny Ford (not long deceased, go Dia trocaire ar a n-anam) was the last surviving member of the team. At an even earlier date Hurling (Commons) was played (long before the establishment of the GAA) but unfortunately this tradition is entirely dead in the district.

About 1906 a team called THE OLDCASTLE HARPS was in existence. This was a famous team captained by Paddy Dowd. Nearly all the members were from the town – you had the Doggets, the Gilsons, the Kearneys, full back M.McGinn and full forward Mick Markey. The next team was the Middle League team. Most of this team were related to one another; the Kiernans and the Gibneys, the Chattens and the Burns, etc. In that year they played 21 games and only lost one – the final.This team went by the name of THE ROUNDS AND THE SQUARES.
The redoubtable Joe Curran, still a prominent figure in GAA circles in Meath, was the captain of this Castletown and Oldcastle United team. Paddy Keely, Mick Timmons, Barney O’Reilly and Ned kelly (Connie’s father) were also members of this team.

The Club kept going until 1916 but it’s activities were disrupted for afew years owing to the troubled times. Peter and Eddie Tuite were the outstanding members of those years and jimmy Tuite (Newcastle).
Some years later a team was formed and went to senior rank. This was a very satisfactory team and under the capable guidance of the V.Rev.M. Kilmartin (Ballinacargy) did much for football in the district.

It fell to the lot of a team in the 30’s to capture county honours. This team won the Junior Championship and the Feis Cup in the same year. It is worthy of note that it was one parish club then – there are three now. Does this fact make for strength or weakness? Included in this team were : Kevin Devin, Hughie Lynch, Jim Kearney, Paddy Beggan, Donal Kearney, Ben O’Reilly, M Cadden, J Caffrey, J Tuite, T Plunkett, C Farrelly, M Lynch, J Smith, L McGrath and the late Peter Flood. I was the first to introduce massaging into the Club (and I got the team ready for the Feis Cup and the Junior Championship matches). This team played for 24 months without a defeat winning Junior Championship, Feis Cup, 3 sets of Tournament medals and reached the final of the Intermediate eventually. In that game they were defeated but half the team were “hors de combat” with ‘flu.

Then and since the town has turned out teams which have produced many County players. In 1939, we had four in the final: Kevin Devin, H Lynch, J Kearney and P Beggan. Jim came back with a flourish for the ’49 Final. Now we have Connie Kelly and the Maguire brothers who play with the Cavn County tem. enda Gibney and Eamonn Clarke were on the selection for the victorious Junior team in 1952. Carl Gibney played with the 1952 Meath Minors.
The Club is now in the happy position of having many promising young players, including some who have gained distinction this year in Leinster Colleges football within it’s ranks, and there are bright hopes for the future.

Article by Jack Gilson in Foḋla (the Oldcastle Review) published in 1953