Our Football Nursery by Eddie O’Reilly (Summerbank)

In 1974 I became involved in Juvenile Football in Oldcastle as a result of my endeavours to muster an Under 13 team for the Meath Community Games of that year. I approached Gardai Peter Maguire and Tom Dooley, who were in charge of the juveniles and they gave me full co-operation every step of the way. Initially we had not much success in the Community games so the three of us decided to help out with the preparation of the under 12 and under 14 teams for the Meath Juvenile Football Championship. We made some progress when the under 12 team reached the final in 1976 but were defeated by one point by Navan De La Salles, the final score being Navan 2-6, Oldcastle 1-8.
The line-out for Oldcastle in that final was: Paul Sheridan, Joe Lynch, Paul Foley, Eugene Growney, Tom Simons, Bart McEnroe, Nobbie Walsh, Vincent Walsh, Colin Gilsenan. Packie McCann. Enda Coyle, John McPartland, Johnnie Guirke, Owen Gilsenan and Vincent Graal.
This team played under the name of Naomh Feichin who is the Saint responsible for the Seven Wonders of Fore. What a pity he didn’t come up with an eighth wonder in Navan that day. This team also reached the Under 12 final in 1977 and were again defeated by Navan.

Eventually success came our way in the same year of 1977 when our under 14 footballers brought the Championship to the parish of Oldcastle. What an impact many of those youngsters have made on football in Oldcastle since!. To begin with, John McEnroe and Bemard Husband of that team won Leinster Minor Championship Medals wirh Meath in July 1980John McEnroe’s performance merits special mention. He was giving a solid display at right-full back against Kildare on that day when he was called to centre half back to shore up a weakness in the Meath half-back line. This he did magnificiently by blotting out Larry Tomkins of the present Kildare Senior team.

Another great performance by John McEnroe was in the 1980 A1l Ireland Minor Semi-Final against Kerry when at right corner back he held Kerry’s left corner forward scoreless. His opponent was Michael McElligot in his second year playing minor for Kerry and the leading scorer in that grade. John played in Under 2l Junior and Senior for his county and presently he plays Intermediate football with Oldcastle.
Oliver Gogarty, who also plays Intermediate Football with Oldcastle has fielded in Under 2l, Minor, Junior and Senior for Co. Meath. A fast
moving forward with a safe pair of hands he never fails to exploit the least opportunity and he is an expert penalty kicker. Oliver whose home is in close proximity to The Gilson Park, started his football career at the age of four and learned his weaving tactics by avoiding being trampied on by the grown-ups!
Another team mate is Declan Mullen, who usually plays at left half-back, and has gained recognition with the Meath Minors in 1982 and ’83. He is an attacking player and a fine fielder who quickly sizes up a situation and controls his own sector.

In lauding the feats of these players it must be remembered that there are many other fine players on the present Oldcastle Intermediate Team. What a formidable argument these players make for encouraging juvenile football.
Other players from Oldcastle who have served their County well in Under 14, Under 16, Minor and Under 21 grades are Joe Lynch, Nobbie Walsh and his brother Vincent, Martin Growney, Bernard Husband, brothers Owen and Paul Gilsenan. Michael Smith and John Hetherton.

Oldcastle Gaelic Football Club with Michael Devine as Chairman and Charlie Sheridan as Secretary for all grades, has pursued a policy of giving unstinted help and encouragement to the underage teams. Their work has been extremely effectual in three ways. Firstly they have provided the environment for the youth of the parish to engage in a healthy body-building sport. Secondly they have fostered the team spirit in the young players and thirdly they have provided a nursery for the fostering of our great Gaelic Athletic Association.

Their efforts in providing transport for all the teams mentioned above as well as the Intermediate and Junior grades and camogie are much appreciated. Thanks is also due to our busman, Jimmy Halpin, who not only gets them to and from the games safely but has also sponsored the games by means of plaques and medals on numerous occasions. The ever faithful members of Lynch Bros Ceili Band must also be mentioned for supplying music at many functions organised by the Club
and for carrying the torch down the years for our traditional music.

For his co-operation in the mid-seventies in refereeing and training Juvenile Teams we thank Vincent Walsh (Snr.). We greatly appreciate the wonderful facilities afforded to us in the Gilson Park, Oldcastle. For this we thank the Gilson School Board, its Chairman Rt. Rev. Monsg. Joseph Dermody P.P.V.G. and Oldcastle Community Council. There are many others who helped at different times and in many ways, to all we are very grateful.

For the record I append a list of fixtures,teams and scores in that under-age grades from September 1976 to Juiy 1981 with which I have been associated.

The following were the members of the Oldcastle Under 12 Football Team that defeated Lurgan(Cavan) for a set of medals at Ballinacree Sports on Sunday 12th September 1976:
John Hetherton, Joe Lynch, Paul Foley, Eugene Growney, Tom Simons, Bart McEnroe, Colm Coyle, Vincent Walsh, Colm Gilsenan, Packie McCann, 0wen Gilsenan, Nobbie Walsh, Declan Mullen, Martin Blake, Vincent Graal
Subs: Peter Smith, 0liver Gilsenan, Josrph Travers, Seamus Maxwell and Mark Sheridan.

Oldcastle 6-10
Lurgan 1-3
Referee: Benny Briody (Ballinacree)
In the 2nd Half Peter Smith replaced John Hetherton in goals.
The Oldcastle under 14 Football team that won the Stradone Medal Tournament Final played at Stradone on the 12th August 1976 beating Ramor United by a large margin in the 13 a side.
The team were as follows: Marius Reilly, John Lynch, Paddy Kavanagh, Tom Simons, John McEnroe, Bart McEnroe,Tom Foley, Martin Growney, Vincent Walsh, Colm Coyle, Bernard Husband, Paul Foley, Nohbie Walsh
Subs: Michael 0’Shaughenssy for Paul Foley, Paul Foley for Bart McEnroe. 0ther subs that day were Pat Walshe, Declan Clarke, Laurence Reilly and Mattie Reilly.

The following is the Oldcastle Under 14 Football Team that won the 1977 Under 14 Meath Championship defeating Navan De La Salles in the final at Kells on Wednesday 13th July 1977 by 2-7 to 0-5: Val Reilly, James McShane, Paul Foley, Tom Simons, Paddy Kavanagh, Bernard Husband, Bart McEnroe, John McEnroe, Martin Growney (capt.), Vincent Walsh, Marius Reilly, Colm Gilsenan, John Smith (RIP), Terry McGovern, Nobbie Walsh.

At half time Joe Lynch replaced Terry McGovern and John McEnroe was switched to centre half hack and Beranrd Husband to Centre Field.
Scorers for Oldcastle were: Colm Gilsenan (1-1), John Smith (1-1), John McEnroe (0-2); Vincent Walsh (0-2), Bernard Husband (0-1).
Referee: Seamus Cole (Kells)


Oldcastle Minor Football players a side that beat Parnells (Castletown-Rathkenny) combination for a set of plaques at Ballinacree Sports on Sunday 3rd August 1980:
The team was as follows: Seanie Brunton, Martin Blake, Michael Maguire, Declan Clarke, Pat Walsh, Paddy Kavanagh, Bernard Husband, Colm Coyle, Vincnet Walsh, John McEnroe, Nobby Walsh, Bart McEnroe, Colm Gilsenan.
Final Score:
0ldcastle 3-7
Parnells 1-8
Referee: Pat Govern (Moylagh)

(From: “The History of Oldcastle GAA Club 1884-1984” – Editor: Tommy Sheridan)