00:00 Saturday 19 November 2011  Written by Sln go Fill

Dohenys book is a must-read for all Dunmanway folk

ISN'T the GAA a wonderful organisation, even though we're always giving out about it. Last weekend I attended a wedding in Meath/Monaghan and ended up chatting to a man who marked Christy Ring in a Cardinal Cushing game in the USA and also to the son of the legendary Phil 'Gunner' Brady of Cavan. The accents may have been poles apart but the GAA was the common link.

Apparently, for the Cardinal Cushing games eight or nine top hurlers and eight or nine top footballers would travel to Boston to play the local teams and sometime in the early sixties Christy Ring was one of the players. He ended up playing in the football match too and was marked by this man from Monaghan, who didn't even know that the great Christy Ring also played football. He admitted he was still a hard man to mark, even at that late stage of his career.

I had great pleasure in telling him that Ringy was a more than adequate footballer and had won a county football medal with St Nick's, but he laughed when I told him that he had once advocated that all footballs east of the Viaduct should be burst.

I was informed also that the famous Gunner Brady, who won three All-Ireland medals with his native Cavan, including the famous final against Kerry in the Polo Grounds in New York in 1947, had also won about ten county medals with various clubs. One of his medals, now the property of his son Martin, is a Cork senior football medal from 1950. Gunner Brady was a Garda and he was stationed in Cork in the late 1940s when a team called 'Garda' was formed to play in the county championship in 1949. They had some fine intercounty players, including Cork's Con McGrath. They won the county title in 1950, beating St Nick's by five points in the final. Martin said that his father told him that the team was eventually banned from the championship because they had too many intercounty players to pick from but in fact they continued to play until 1965 without contesting another final.

When they won their only title in 1950, they actually beat Clonakilty in the semi-final in the Athletic Grounds and thereby hangs another tale. Clon were well on top in the first half and were awarded a penalty. Dessie Cullinane was the Clon kicker and Con McGrath went back into goal for the penalty. Dessie scored with his shot but the referee ordered that the kick be re-taken as some of the players had moved before the kicker. McGrath saved the second kick but the referee immediately awarded another penalty as McGrath had touched the ball on the ground.

Again McGrath stopped the re-take and was smothered in a swarm of players. A hop ball resulted, which was cleared by the Garda backs and they went on to win by a goal. That great Clon team included legendary footballers like Tadhgo Crowley, Tom Moriarty, goalie Moll Driscoll, who retired after that defeat, Mick Finn, Fachtna O'Donovan, 'Hitler' Healy, John 'Shutter' Crowley, Liam Aherne, Seamie O'Donovan, Dessie Cullinane and Nealie O'Neill, the only surviving member of that team.

It's amazing how even a wedding in Monaghan can dredge up great memories of another era in the GAA.

Talking of another era, they celebrated 125 years of GAA activity in Dunmanway last weekend. The club was the first to be founded in West Cork in 1886 and in 1986 the Dohenys celebrated their centenary in style, including the publishing of their club history. Now, they have published their second volume detailing all events over the past 25 years and including hundreds of photographs.

Probably the biggest growth in the GAA during the past 25 years has been the huge amount of photographs now available but with digital cameras now the norm actually getting hard copies of GAA photos is again becoming more difficult. The new history book is now available from the club and no Doheny should be without it for Christmas reading.

Now that Dohenys have produced their second history book, I wonder will it act as an incentive to those West Cork clubs who have still to produce their first. I refer especially to big clubs like O'Donovan Rossa and Bandon, two clubs who have been with us since the early days of the association in West Cork and who have yet to put pen to paper.

Every day people with great GAA knowledge of the past are being lost to us and their stories are being lost with them. I would love to see the story of the Kilmacabea club in print as they were the first champions of West Cork in 1888 and have had a really colourful existence ever since.

Another area that has really blossomed during the past 25 years is the growth of underage games in all clubs. Every club now has teams from U8 to minor and those teams play far more games than their adult counterparts. Hand in hand with that is the development of underage hurling in West Cork. Once confined to a handful of clubs, mostly in the east of Carbery, every club now, bar two, in the division has underage hurling teams and it is most encouraging to see such a worthwhile development.

None of this would have been possible without the imagination and drive of divisional officers and of club mentors who often row against the tide to keep the hurling ship afloat. Unfortunately, a lot of the good work done over the past ten years in particular would seem to be in danger through the faulty framework that has now been introduced.

While the new East Region can run underage championships with up to fifteen teams involved, the new West Region is limited to a handful, with not enough hurling teams to run championships in some grades. One problem is the new tendency of West Cork hurling clubs to join the East Region in search of proper competition and the first solution must be the return of all those western teams to their own region. Then the steering committee must look at a redrawing of the new boundaries so that clubs on the boundary between East and West, including Muskerry, might be encouraged to play west.

Unfortunately, it would seem from meetings already held that there is little will to tackle the new boundaries by those in charge. Common-sense alone dictates that the East Region is far too big, a monster in danger of collapsing in on itself, and that it cannot survive in its present form. We await developments with interest but with little hope.

Unabated

It's getting late in the year for important matches but the action continues unabated. We missed the county junior football final because of our wedding commitments but were surprised on the double, first by the defeat of hot favourites, Mitchelstown, and then by the gap in the scoreline. We had watched the Kanturk minor footballers the previous weekend coming back from the dead to beat Ilen in the county final and they carried that spirit with them into the junior final.

It's good to see the Kanturk club coming good in football again as we can go back almost fifty years to the day they beat Dohenys in the county junior championship, inspired by the great Johnny O'Mahony, and the game, in Ballingeary, finished in a huge free-for-all. It was rough justice on the new Cork champions that they had only 48 hours to recover last weekend before taking on the Kerry champions in the Munster Club Championship. Little wonder that their legs gave out in extra-time.

What was described to us as the best game of football this season saw Kilmeen minors winning the county C football final against Cill na Martra. This game went to extra-time, after Cill na Martra had scored an equalising goal six minutes into injury time and Kilmeen seemed to be on the way to defeat when they trailed in extra-time. But a blistering finish, which included a penalty goal from man-of-the-match James Clancy, saw the Kilmeen lads winning by two points, 3-18 to 3-16.

Apparently, this game had everything that makes Gaelic football such a great game when played properly and one can only wonder if the fact that it was 12 a-side, rather than fifteen, had something to do with that?

Maybe there are too many players on the pitch in an ordinary game and certainly in intercounty now the players are so fit and the style of play so negative that there is little room for attractive football. It is definitely worth a look by the powers that be but we have been saying for years that the best football is consistently being played at underage level and not at adult level.

The SW Junior Board, whose convention is timed for Wednesday 23rd in Dunmanway, will have three new officers with rúnaí, Ogie Crowley, and cisteoir Frank Long, both stepping down, while PRO, Donal Leahy, has completed his term in office. Donal moves sideways to the position of rúnaí and he will have a job on his hands to repeat the efficiency of the outgoing Ogie Crowley, who dragged the workings of the division into the technological age. But Donal did a marvellous job as PRO, including setting up the division's own website, and he will do a good job.

John O'Sullivan of Kilmacabea and Patjoe Connolly of Bantry contest the position of cisteoir, while there are three candidates for the position of PRO, Jimmy O'Sullivan of St Colum's, Donie McCarthy of Dohenys and Denis Keohane of St Oliver Plunkett's. All will be revealed on Wednesday night but the division is lucky to have men of such calibre offering themselves for these vacant positions.

At the last meeting of the SW Board, a vote of condolence was passed to the Fleming family of Timoleague on the recent tragic death of their daughter Kate. A great GAA family, we have soldiered through underage with Peter and his dedication to his club and area knows no bounds.

One of life's gentlemen, Peter, and his family, will take time to recover, or come to grips with this horrific tragedy in their lives but they can battle through it with the knowledge that they have the full support of all Gaels during this heart-breaking trial. They are not alone in their grief. Go dtuga Dia suaimhneas dóibh go léir.

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