Living Legends live at Old Coach Inn, Castleblayney

September 10, 2018

There have been some marvelous nights of entertainment over the years at Watters Old Coach Inn, Castleblayney but few can match the poignancy and nostalgia of last week’s meeting of two GAA Legends in their own right, after a lapse of 62 years.

Household GAA personality Kerry’s Mick O’Dwyer was Guest of Honour for an informal chat show which drew people from far and near to listen to what the most highly rated football player and manager had to say.

But for one man, Culloville’s Joey Byrne, the night was even more special as the two football rivals were meeting up for the first time in 62 years. Inniskeen native Joey played for his club and represented Monaghan for the best part of 20 years

Needless to say lots of reminiscence went on between Mick and Joey especially when it came to the 1956 All-Ireland Junior Football semi-final when both men lined out at midfield for their respective counties. At Clones on August 19 Kerry, the county with the most All-Ireland Junior Titles (19) were held in a thrilling 3-7 apiece draw. The lively banter between the octogenarians intensified as Micko quipped “we would have won the replay at Newbridge, only for me getting sent off,” as Monaghan reached the “home final” on foot of a 2-6 to 3-2 replay victory. Monaghan beat Kildare in the All-Ireland home final in Navan in September 1-8 to 0-5 and a month later lifted their first and only Junior All-Ireland title to date by beating London in Carrickmacross 3-7 to 2-6.

For the record the exiles team was drawn from 10 different counties with Mayo supplying three players, Kerry, Meath and Longford two each, Cork, Galway, Kildare, Wicklow, Donegal and Armagh one each. Subs who came on during the hour were from Kerry and Longford. Team v London: Monaghan: Tommy McArdle (Drumhowan), Gene McArdle (Donaghmoyne), Ollie O’Rourke (Inniskeen), Brendan Hamill (Aughnamullen), Denis McGuigan (Clones), Pat McGuigan (Cremartin), Dessie Ward (Ballybay), Joey Byrne (Inniskeen), Seamus McElroy (Latton), Seamus Mulligan (Threemilehouse), Ted Duffy (Clones), Pat Murphy (Clontibret), Pat Clarke, captain, (Clontibret), Noel Ward (Ballybay), Eamon McCooey (Donaghmoyne). Subs; Eamonn Murphy (Ballybay) for Seamus McElroy. Others on the Monaghan panel throughout the series were: Peter McGinn (C’Blayney), Matthew Dooley (Inniskeen), John Tavey (Donaghmoyne), Matt Conlon (Carrickmacross), Ritchie Moore (C’Blayney), Pat Sherry (Scotstown), John Moen (Ballybay), Matthew O’Dowd (Carrickmacross), Dermot Connolly (Killanny), Benny Connolly (Emyvale), Jim Duddy (Carrickmacross), John Slevin (Carrickmacross), Jim Woods (Clontibret), Jimmy Sherry (Scotstown), Fergal O’Hanlon (Monaghan Harps), Pascal McArdle (Monaghan Harps), John Freeman (Threemilehouse), Michael McCarney (Clones). Team Management: Fr. Enda McCormick (team trainer), Paddy O’Rourke, John Gilsenan, Christy Fisher, Pat McGrane, Percy McCooey. 

But the night in the Coach was very endearing to all in attendance as Joey in his 85th year and Micko in his 82nd year relived and reiterated that special bond which makes the GAA such an everlasting and vital ingredient as a sport and social outlet for Irish Society in general.