The Millbrook Team

Again we are indebted to Eddie O’Reilly of Summerbank for the following account of football in Millbrook.

“In 1947 Millbrook entered a team in the Meath Junior Football Championship and continued to do so until the early 60s, when they amalgamated with Oldcastle. Whenever Millbrook football is recalled, the first name mentioned is that of Jimmy Halpin. Jimmy is a member of a great football family and he and his brothers Father Benny, Charlie, Phil and Patsy contributed much to the Gaelic code.
It was as a minor that Jimmy first hit the headlines in 1957, when with Toss Gibney and James Reilly of Ballinlough and Bertie Cunningham of Baliivor they swept Meath to win their first All-Ireland Minor Football Championship – their only success to date in that grade. Jimmy Halpin therefore is the only man from this parish who holds an A11-Ireland Minor Football Medal. He was regularly selected to play on the Meath Senior Football Team in the early Sixties and he won many medals and trophies with them. Jimmy went to America shortly afterwards and in 1967 he was a membernof the New York winning team that came to Ireland in that year and captured the National Football League title. Jimmy played as right corner forward.

Jimmy captained the Millbrook team for many years and was a tremendous asset to them, helping them to the Meath Junior Football Semi-final in the late Fifties to meet defeat by Drumree by 4 points to 2 points. The Millbrook team on that day was Vincent Walsh, Peter Husband, Paddy Briody, Anthony Kelly, Benny McNamee, Fr. Michael Egenton, Jim Hughes, Jimmy Halpin (Capt), Fr. Benny Halpin, Patsy Halpin, Padraig Geraghty and Oliver Hughes. The omission of Phil Halpin on that day, who was injured in training, was a mortal blow since he was one of the most reliable players on the team. Fr. Benny Halpin, an outstanding footballer won an All-Ireland Junior Football Medal with London when he was stationed there in 1970. London defeated Kildare in the final that year. What a centrefield pair Millbrook had in those days when Charlie and Phil Halpin were in their hey-day. The tall striding Charlie with his high mighty catches and the ever-industrious and vigilant Phil, whose knowledge of how to play the midfield sector, kept his team in contention to the end of every game. Many shrewd judges of the time felt that they were entitled to represent their county. The remaining member of the family, Patsy, played at right half forward and proved deadly accurate on frees.

As well as those mentioned previously the following did duty on the Millbrook team; Bob and Jim Willis, Mattie Mahon (R.I.P.), Jim Lynch (R.I.P.), Christy Lynch, Mick Lynch, Frank (Chip) Lynch, Ben O’Reilly, Mattie Fagan (R.I.P.) Mick Smith, Paddy Devin, Eddie O Reiliy, Pat Guirke, John Guirke, Anthony Kelly, Austin Brady, Peter Duffy, Hugh Gibney, Noel Walsh, Michael Gilligan, Pat Lynch, Joe Bardon, Jackie Lynch, Al Reilly, Sean Walsh, Joe Caffrey, Joe McCabe, John O’Reilly, Tom Gibney, Kit Snow, Mick Gilsenan, Michael Guirke, Benny Halpin (Fennor) (R.I.P.), Seamus Ryan, Benny Henry and Tommie Lynch.

When Millbrook first marched onto the field they were clad in blue. In later years they changed to black and amber which they retained to their extinction as a team in the early Sixties. They did their practice in the sportsfield at Millbrook when is really in the townland of Crossdrum. Here many an historic encounter took place. One of these was the exhibition of Gaelic Football at its best on he occasion of the North Meath-East Cavan Selection versus the Garda Selection which is referred to elsewhere in this miscellany. A prominent player for Millbrook in those days was Adie Purcell (now living in New york) who used to operate in the forward line and also played in the Meath County Minors. In the early Fifties Millbrook won the Castltown Finea Medal Tournament, defeating Castletown/Finea in the final.

In the Thirties Millbrook also had a hurling team which played in the Meath Junior Hurling Champoinship for about four years. Most notable of the hurlers was the late Garda Mick Ahearne, a native of Tipperary and serving in the Oldcastle Garda Station. How delighted the Millbrook supporters would be, when they saw Mick Ahearne taking a seventy, which he invariably and effortlessly ient over or under the bar. Other hurlers of note in the team were Mick Hill (R.I.P.), Jim Kearney, Dessie Kearney (R.I.P.), Jack Graal, Tommy Graal, Barney Spollen (R.I.P.) and Paddy O’Farrell(R.I.P.), who won a Minor All-Ireland Medal with Tipperary.
When this hurling team faded out in Millbrook about six of the players, including Jim Kearney and Paddy O’Farrell, joined the Killskeer club and helped them to win a Meath Junior Hurling Championship.

In the days of Millbrook football the players used to travel by lorry to all their games, accompanied by a large crowd of supporters the volume of whose vocal support depended on the amount of the blackstuff they put away before the match. The late Johnny Halpin provided the lorry for all the games. Money to defray expenses was made by running a 3 fifteen card drive and raffles for a calf or a pig. One cannot but remember the generosity of the Harmon family, owners of the sportsfield who gave it rent-free to the club and who co-operated in fund-raising.

Peter Duffy, who played at left half back, was a native of Latton, Co Monaghan, and worked in Gibney’s Hardware. Another outstanding player was Noel Walsh who played a wondenful game at full-back against Arhboy in the divisional final at Kells when Millbrook were defeated by the minimum score, Athboy went on to win the championship and admitted afterwards that Millbrook were the best team they met.

Many players and officials of the club have passed to their eternal reward. Go ndean faidh Dia trocaire ar a n-anama go leir.

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