REMEMBERING THE LEGENDS OF 1969
‘YES, 1969 was one year we’ll remember’. With these words Jim Brophy finishes his article in the Leathers Echo devoted to the exploits of the Wicklow Junior Football team which beat Kerry in the 1969 Home final played at Croke Park.
1969 was also a great year at under-21 football level with the Garden County unlucky to lose the Leinster final by a point to a Bobby Millar powered Laois. In fact, Mick O’Toole scored the equalising point but was adjudged to have picked the ball from the ground.
There was a huge overlap of 12 of the under-21 players on the junior panel which meant that when the Junior team came together in Murphy’s Hotel on Saturday night last, October 5, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of that great All-Ireland win, it turned out to be practically a reunion of both sides. With Liam O’Loughlin doing M.C. for the night, it brought the under-21 representation to 13.
Iar Uachtaran Liam O’Neill and his wife were guests as was Wicklow Uachtaran Fr. Liam Dunne. Thankfully practically all of the 1969 Junior team were present and enjoyed a great night of reminiscing and nostalgia.
Full-back Chris Keogh and forward Murt Doyle have passed to their eternal reward but were represented on the night. In all, the panel represented 11 clubs but the heavy lifting was done by Ashford, Tinahely, Stratford and Dunlavin with four players each. Rathnew had three while there were lone rangers from Baltinglass, Ballinastoe, Donard, Arklow Gers, Carnew Emmets and St. Patrick’s.
The Ashford brigade was led by captain Noel Carthy, there along with his brother Pat, Mickey Behan and Glenealy hurler/footballer Tommy Glynn, Stratford’s Pat Cronin, Jim Bollard, Joe Cullen and Tom Humphries were there in force as were Dunlavin with Tom Foley, Willie Whelan and Liam Keogh.
Mary Sullivan, who was there with her husband Michael, represented her late father Chris Keogh. The Tinahely crew was represented by Jimmy Hogan, John Simpson and Gerry Moran. It was a special occasion for John Simpson with the Shilelagh hurler/ footballer also celebrating his 70th birthday.
Gerry traveled from Newbridge, Co. Kildare where he has resided for many years. He got involved in Bord na nÓg activities with the Lilywhites and continues to fly the flag at underage level.
Rathnew’s Johnny McDonald was there while his club colleague Mosie Coffey was unavoidably absent but will be in attendance on Sunday next when the team comes together at the County final in Aughrim.
The Ballinastoe man, John Davis, still regrets greatly the hand injury he received at work in the week prior to the final which kept him out.
The great Carnew man, Willie Hilliard, was unable to be present but the exploits of the ciotóg hurler/footballer were fondly recalled on the night.
Willie Wall of Baltinglass and John Doyle of Donard were also present. The Baltinglass man was returning from a serious leg injury which had kept him out of the game for almost two years and came into the panel at the later stages of the campaign.
Like a number of the players on that team, John Doyle was also an accomplished hurler and went on to score the winner against Hertfordshire two years later in the 1971 three-game saga. Sin sceal eile.
Another player who traveled from Kildare was Mick O’Toole, the great St. Patrick’s club man. Mick spent more than 30 years teaching in Kildare town, lived in Newbridge and lined out in the Sarsfield’s colours for a long time. He now lives in retirement in Clane.
John Power from Arklow was sub goalkeeper with the squad and had almost faded from recall as he had ‘emigrated’ to Tipperary almost immediately after the campaign. He played football in Clonmel for some years and moved to Galway. He eventually moved to rugby and was one of the leading campaigners to save Connacht Rugby when the IRFU had different plans for it.
John remains heavily involved but was heartily delighted that AGB had got trough to the County football final earlier in the day when they overcame Blessington in their semi-final replay in Baltinglass.
Everyone present was delighted to see the great Jimmy Hatton from Kilcoole present. Jimmy had traveled with his son Colm and is hale and hearty in his 80s. Jimmy is the sole survivor of the management team of Co. Chairman Pat Murphy, Jim Byrne, George Nichols, Jimmy Hatton and team trainer and captain Mick Farrell from the Curragh. Mick Farrell’s cement block regime came in for recall.
However, the name on most people’s lips was Pat Murphy, who sadly died a couple of years ago and now lies in his final resting place on the Beara Peninsula in West Cork. If 1969 is a year to remember, Pat Murphy is a man who should not be forgotten.
Players and representatives of the Wicklow Junior football team who won the All-Ireland ‘Home’ title in 1969 who gathered in Murphy’s Hotel last weekend for a celebration.
John and Lily Davis enjoying the evening in Tinahely.
Former GAA President Liam O’Neill and Martin Coleman.
Tom and Louise Humphries.
Michael Behan with Noel and Pat Carthy.