SWANLINBAR ST. MARY'S GAA CLUB
A Kerryman called O'Connor who was an engineer in the area founded
the Club in 1904. He trained the team and their first match was
against Knockninny in Co. Fermanagh, which they duly won by a narrow
margin. Many games were played over the next few years but football
in the area had reached a low ebb by 1916 when a curate by the name
of Michael Young was appointed to Swanlinbar. He immediately set
about re-forming the club. The officers elected on this occasion
||Rev. Michael Young
||Peter Drumm, Peter Reilly, Con & John Darcy,
Tommy Burns, Pat McGrath, Hugh Leonard,
Tommy McGovern, Patrick Lunney and Francis Owens.
The team was selected from the following:
Terry McDonnell, Andy Sheridan Barney & Jimmy McAuley, Francis
Owens, Jerry McGovern, P. Owen, Jimmy Murphy, Pat & Francie
Greene, John & Packie Gilleece, Christy Beacom, Ted McKiernan,
Ben McHugh, and Charles Murray.
The first game was against Corlough, which they won. This team only
lasted a few years due to the civil war and political struggle of
the early twenties.
Some of the first club members and indeed players were:
(Big) Joe McGovern, James Murphy, James Carney, Oliver Murray, and
many more who have long since passed away. The club competed at
Junior level and the home matches were played in several different
places including Leonards field in Uragh and in the townland of Gubrawolley.
In the mid 1920's the leading players with the club were the O'Reilly
brothers, Michael, John, Joe and Tommy. Tommy O'Reilly played on
the Cavan team that won the All-Ireland Junior Championship in 1927.
Another leading player in the club at that time was James McAuley
who was known as 'The Athlete'. Brothers James and Patrick McGovern
also played with Swanlinbar in the same year.
As was common in those times emigration took its toll and a lot
of players took the boat to England, Canada and the U.S. Due to
this the club was dissolved for a period of the 1930's. However,
in the late 30's it was reorganised. At that time one of the best-known
Swanlinbar players was the late Sean Young. He played with Cavan
College (St. Pat's) and won an All-Ireland Minor medal with them
Unfortunately once again in 1939 the club were not able to field
a team. However in 1942 the club was reorganised again and the men
behind the club this time were the Young brothers, James McGovern
and his brothers Joe and Owen Roe McGovern plus many many more. This
was a very successful period for the club and in 1944 they reached
the Semi-finals of the County Junior Championship. A lot was expected
of the team at this time as the team consisted of young players,
but unfortunately emigration took its toll once again with 8 of
9 players going abroad. Other members were Pat McManus, the McKenna
Brothers (Patsy & Ben), the Young brothers (Joe and Charlie),
Paddy McHugh, Christy Crowe, Tommy Gregory McGovern, Terry Woods,
Sonny McManus, Phil McBrien, and the aforementioned Owen Roe McGovern.
In 1945 Owen Roe was picked for the Cavan County panel.
During his inter-county playing career, Owen Roe won two National League titles, two All-Irelands and four Ulster championship crowns. He had come into a fit and young Cavan team for the first time at the seasoned age of 27, after winning an All-Ireland medal as a member of the Armed Forces football team and impressing alongside his brothers James and Joe with Swanlinbar in the county junior championship. He was in the team that contested the only All Ireland final played outside Ireland when Cavan faced Kerry in the Polo Grounds in New York in 1947.
When the victorious team returned to Ireland victory rallies
were held throughout the county with every town and village buzzing
with excitement and joy. Owen Roe McGovern and TP O'Reilly headed
the victory celebrations in Swanlinbar and it goes down in history
as being one of the liveliest nights in the town. Owen Roe sadly departed in his 93rd year on 2nd May 2011 in New York.
Taken from Anglo Celt 14/12/1946 :Belturbet minors win thrilling final
"Two of the grandest minor teams to be seen at headquarters for a considerable period gave a sparkling display in the final of the competition at Breffni Park on Sunday and there was a thrilling climax in the last second of the game when Belturbet crashed through a goal to rob Swanlinbar of victory on the score 3-4 to 3-3. These coming stars, a number of them at all events, caught and fielded like veterans, and although at one period Belturbet with a five point lead looked all set for a walk over. The laurels might easily have gone to Swanlinbar who seemed to have it in the bag a minute from full time.
Midway through the first half the scores were level and entering the last quarter it was again level pegging. Then Belturbet had a spate of superiority during which they got in for a goal and two points, but Swanlinbar made a splendid recovery and fought back to take a two point lead which they held until Corrigan’s last second goal gave Belturbet the championship.
A goal ( FrankieMeehan) and a point ( Patsy Mc Hugh) gave Swanlinbar an early lead in the first half, Corrigan replying with a goal and a point for Belturbet A point by L Reilly (Belturbet) left the interval score Belturbet 1-2 Swanlinbar 1-1
Five minutes after resumption Patsy Mc Hugh pointed for Swanlinbar to equalise and when Belturbet swept back to attack McCaffrey (1-1) and Corrigan (0-1) give them a substantial lead. A point by Patsy Mc Hugh off a free was followed by two goals (Liam Woods and Jim Mc Govern) to leave Swanlinbar on top until Corrigan with practically the last kick of the game shot into the back of the net to give Belturbet a point victory. Mr J Finley refereed."
Teams: Belturbet F Reilly, J Mc Donald, J Rogers, D Reilly, J P Prunty, A Smith, S Kelly, F Magee, A Corrigan, B Mc Namara, K Mc Kenna, L Reilly, S Mc Elgunn, F Reynolds, B Mc Caffrey
Swanlinbar: Malachy Quirke, Sean Lunney, Paddy Mc Govern, T Kelleher, P J Mc Adam, Seamus Reilly, Hughie Nolan, Patsy Mc Hugh, Aidan Lunney, Paddy Mc Hugh, Teddy Owens, Barney Kelly, Frankie Meehan, Liam Woods, Jim Mc Govern,
"The game was remarkable for its speed, great catching, driving and combination, and both sides had the assistance of students. There was plenty of hard tackling, it certainly was not a lady like affair but the sporting spirit was good and the boys acquitted themselves with manly pride and are a credit to the Association. The age limits seem to be fairly well recognised. It is a pity we had not more of these games earlier in the season when the weather would more suitable for supporters to travel. There was only a few score of supporters on Sunday, but what they lacked in numbers was made up for in enthusiasm, and nearly everyone assumed the role of instructors for the boys on the pitch. It was certainly a most interesting game even for those who had no club leanings. The weather was bright with a frosty tinge and notwithstanding the heavy rain the previous day and night, the pitch was quiet crispy and firm. There was scarcely another ground in Ireland about which the same can be said in this broken season."
Sadly once again emigration in the 1950's affected the club and
they found it difficult to field a complete team and their success
was limited. However, some of the outstanding players around this
time were Johnny McGovern, Enda Maguire, and Gabriel McHugh.
In 1957 the first title came to the club when they won the Under
14 title and the following year they won the Under 16 title. In
1962 team members included Andy Kelly, the Prior Brothers (TP &
James), Jim Morris, Michael Maguire, Peter Gillece, The Cullen Brothers
(Sean & Tony), McDonald Brothers (Kevin, Sean & Frankie).
Sean Cullen was the best prospect the club had at this time. He
played with Cavan at Minor, Junior, Under 21 and Senior Level. The
Club later amalgamated with neighbouring club Corlough to form
a team due to lack of numbers. This continued into the early seventies. In 1972, the club
reorganised as the Swanlinbar G.F.C. In the same year they won an
Under 14 Championship. In 1977 the present day club came into existence.
The 1980's ushered the first success at adult level. In 1981 the club
won its first Junior League title and another in 1984. Among those playing at this time
was Sean Gilheany jnr. who later played with the County team. He
also captained the Cavan team who won the Ulster Junior championship. In 1985 the club
won its first Junior Championship by defeating Belturbet. Great tribute must go to Ben
McHugh (Senior) and Tony Cullen who each nagged, trained and selected
the team. Other selectors at that time were Pat Brennan, Oliver Prunty Snr., T.P. Prior, Sean Gilheany Snr. Michael Leydon and Pierce McBarron.
Tribute to 1985 Team
(To the tune of "Up the Junction" by Squeeze.)
"I never thought it would happen,
that we'd be Junior Champions.
That rainy day in Breffni
will live long in the memory.
When Swad played with a passion,
in some or other fashion,
and overcame Belturbet.
Indeed that was the sweet bit.
The football wasn't pretty,
the tackles they were gritty,
Belturbet tried the rough stuff
but Swad was made of tough stuff.
We were playing at our leisure,
by half time had their measure,
the goal scored by Big Gerry,
he fisted home a cherry.
Now we're several years older
and some of us don't soldier.
We spend nights by the telly.
Our old kit bags are smelly.
Our old boots they are rotten
but we'll not be forgotten.
When Swad first did the business
I'm glad I was among yis"
In 1990 the Swanlinbar team reached the Division 3 League final where they
were defeated by Kilinkere but gained promotion to Division 2. In
1996 Swanlinbar reached the Junior Championship final where they
lost to Knockbride. In 1998 they again reached the Junior Championship
final where they gave one of the finest displays of football seen
in Breffni Park for many a year to take the cup to West Cavan after
a comprehensive victory over Mullahoran. That same year the 2nd
team reached the Junior C final but couldn't do the double. In June of 1999 Swanlinbar were invited to play in the inaugural Ulster Junior Sevens tournament in Ballykinlar, Co. Down. Kieran McGovern had to scour the town that wet Saturday in order to find enough players to field a team. The few he found have tales to tell of getting lost on the way and not even being sure of the rules in the first match. Despite this, Swanlinbar battled through and defeated the Armagh champions, Granemore, in the final.
last Div. 2 league game of 1999 club history was made when Swanlinbar
defeated the then Intermediate Champions, Ballymachugh, to gain
promotion to Div. 1 and claim senior status for the first time.
In 2000 Thomas Prior was selected to play for the county senior
team and made the full back position his own for many years. In 2004 Swanlinbar reached the Div. 2 League Final only to loose to Cuchullains by the narrowest of margins.
Swanlinbar again reached the Junior Champioship Final in 2006 where they came back from being nine points behind in the second half to draw with Muntirconnaght and force a replay. Two weeks later Swad were more focused and ran out easy winners by 18 points to 9. The team represented Cavan in the Ulster Junior Club Championship against Armagh champs An Port Mor in Crossmaglen. Despite a plucky performance they were on the wrong end of a 3:09 to 2:08 scoreline. Michael Cunningham made his inter-county senior debut in Feb '07 against Derry.
He was in the thick of the action from the off, finishing the game with three excellent points and was awarded "Man of the Match"
However, Swad didn't build on the success and went back to Div 3 and to Junior Championship soon after. It was the arrival in 2009 of coach John Joe Stewart that sparked them to the level that they always had the potential to be. John Joe, from Belcoo, had a "Bill Shankley" attitude to gaelic football - "it isn't a matter of life and death, it's much more important than that". he got the team fitter and more focused than they had ever been and managed to reach the '09 Junior final but were beaten by Butlersbridge, although injuries and suspensions didn't help their cause.
Undetered, in 2010, history was again made when Swad gained promotion back to Div 2 and secured the Junior championship and the Div 3 League Cup. The double was a first for this small club which takes up 1/3 of the parish of Kinawley. We again represented Cavan in Ulster and defeated the Derry champions, Ardmore, then defeated Drumaness (Down) in the semi-final and faced Corduff of Monaghan in the Ulster Final. Although they lost on the day Swanlinbar were awarded the game by Ulster Council after Corduff fielded an illegal player. Unchartered territory and an All Ireland semi final beckoned against the Leinster champions, Ballinabrackey (Meath). Robbie Prior proved to be the hero for the Cavan-men in a low-scoring encounter with two second-half points for the Ulster representatives. And so to the holy grail for all GAA people, an All Ireland Final appearance in Croke Park. The record will show that Swanlinbar were well beaten by St Mary's, Caherciveen. Swad were level at half time but with the experience of 9 players who played in the Kerry senior championship, most notably Bryan Sheehan, they pulled away in the 2nd half. So it was journey's end in Croke Park but what a place to end it. The experience of having played in the best stadium in Europe will live long in memory of the Swanlinbar team of 2010/11.
Juvenile football was strong from the 90's onwards
thanks to dedicated work by underage coaches and mentors. In 1990
Swanlinbar won the Roinn D Under 14 title. In 1996 & 2000 the U-16's as
Dernacrieve Gaels (Swad/Corlough) lifted the Div. 4 Championship title. The Swanlinbar U-12 and U-14's
won their respective Roinn D League Finals in 2000. In 2001 the U-12's won
the Roinn C League final and gained promotion to Roinn B. In 2002
the U-14's won the Roinn B league title and made club history by
being the first juvenile team from Swanlinbar to compete in Roinn
A. In 2003 they more than held their own and reached the semi-final
of the league only to loose out to the eventual winners Cavan Gaels.
Success continued at underage level in 2004 when the U-14's won the Roinn B Championship in an all west Cavan duel with Shannon Gaels.
In 2005 the U-16's as Dernacrieve Gaels (Swad/Corlough) lost the Div 3 Championship Final against a strong
Redhills side. Dernacrieve Gaels contested the U-16 league Final in 2006 where they lost to a last minure goal against Killygarry. Also in 2006 they won the Div 2 Minor Championship with a great display of football against Belturbet.
In 2007, due to a shortage of player numbers and a change of rule where girls are not allowed to play with boys after U-12, both Swanlinbar and Corlough decided to merge underage as Dernacrieve Gaels for an initial period of 5 years. They had some success most notably winning an U-14 Championship in 2010.
Many thanks to Andy Kelly for his help and co-operation with the
Dr. McKenna Cup History
When Dr. Patrick McKenna, Bishop of Clogher presented the McKenna Cup to the Ulster Council in 1925, he was one of only a small group willing at that time, to be publicly associated with the GAA. Ireland in the 1920’s was slowly emerging from war, unrest and change.
When the Ulster Council sought donors for trophies there wasn’t a queue to their door with offers. From 1923 the council were actively looking for a donor for their senior championship and in 1925 the treasurer of the council proposed the establishment of a second competition to prepare teams for the championship.
Two loyal GAA stalwarts came to the council’s rescue in 1925. JF O Hanlon, owner of the Anglo – Celt newspaper presented a trophy to BC Fay, secretary of the Council. It was decided to use the trophy for the Ulster senior championship and it was first presented to Cavan who won the 1925 Ulster championship. Treasurer O’ Duffy was successful in securing a trophy from the bishop of Clogher and the new cup was presented to Council in 1925 although it was not until 1927 that the competition got underway.
Patrick McKenna was born in the North Monaghan parish of Errigal Truagh in 1869. A pupil at St Macartans and Maynooth, he was ordained in 1894. He taught English at Maynooth and was appointed curate of Currin parish in 1896. He spent a period teaching in St Ciaran’s Kilkenny before returning to Clogher as curate of Enniskillen. He was appointed professor of Theology at Maynooth in 1904 and in 1909 he was consecrated Bishop of Clogher.
The Bishop provided a glowing reference for Eoin O Duffy to help him secure the position of assistant –surveyor in the Clones/Cootehill district. Later in 1918 O ‘Duffy was arrested in Clones and Bishop McKenna issued a lengthy statement condemning the arrest. When the Bishop McKenna presented the cup to the Ulster Council in 1925 the council recognised an old friend.
The regulations for the new McKenna cup were drawn up at the Ulster convention in 1926 and the competition commenced in 1927. The first final was played in Clones on May 8, 1927 with Monaghan defeating Donegal 2-7 to 2-3.
The first and only trophy presented to the late Cormac Mc Anallen as captain of the Tyrone senior team was the McKenna cup. It was fitting that Miceal Greenan as Uachtaran Comhairle Uladh presented that original McKenna cup as a permanent memento to the Mc Anallen family. It resides now with pride in Brantry.
A Moment in History - Cavan Ulster Minor Champions 1974
1974 was a good year for Cavan underage football that culminated in winning the Ulster Minor Football Championship.
In the First Round of the Ulster Championship against Armagh in the Athletic Grounds Armagh, we won by a single point with a score line of 2-7 to 2-6.
This win meant that we earned a place in the Ulster Semi-Final against Down. In the run up to the Ulster Semi-Final we were guided by Fr Sean Brady, now Archbishop Sean Brady.
For the second time in the Ulster Championship that year we won by the smallest of margins, beating Down 1-10 to 1-09. The Cavan team had a strong sense of comradeship in it and this was reinforced with two set of brothers playing on the day.
Sean and Tony Brady (Castlerahan) played on the forward line while Owen and Pauric Martin of Templeport were the second brother duo to play on the day. We were now starting to think seriously about the possibility of winning an Ulster Minor Title.
Our 1974 management team was Seamus Morris of Arva (R.I.P) and Eammon Sheridan (R.I.P), father to our full back and grandfather to Joe Sheridan of Meath was the Chairman of the Minor Board. Tom Kelly Cavan Gaels, our Secretary and our Treasurer was Benny Brady while Gerry Barry of Baileboro and Archbishop Sean Brady both acted as selectors.
Gerry Barry, a selector, nearly always collected my brother Sean and I to bring us to the matches. On other occasions we travelled with the Sheridan Family in the back of their Ford Transit Van.
It was not only the getting to the match that was different. Ireland was a very different place in 1974 and so was Cavan. None of us had football bags, instead we rolled up our socks and togs and pushed inside our football boots, which we carried in our hands. As a player your entrance ticket to the match was your football boots.
The Ulster Final was played on the 20th of July 1974. We played Derry in the Ulster Final - Paddy Crozier, former Derry Senior Manager, was corner forward on the day. We beat Derry and became Ulster Minor Champions that day with a score line of 3-09 to 1-04.
The winning team was; Francie McGuire, Christy McCutchen, Damien Sheridan, Ray Culllivan, Robbie MC Dermott, Matt Rudden, Martin Brady, Gerry Brady, Paddy McNamee, Sean Brady, Owen Martin, Padraig Martin, Philip Finnegan, Bernard Donoghue, Tony Brady. Subs used; Hubert Conarty and Sean Kearney. (Cootheill)
We went on to play London in an All Ireland quarterfinal in Croke Park which we won but we were defeated by Mayo in the All Ireland semi final.
Winning the 1974 Minor Championship was a great victory, a victory that holds together a team of men with the memories that each one of us have of that time.
Most of that team are still involved in the GAA in one way or another, some through management, others as spectators, while others have their sons and daughters gracing the football fields of the Breffni County. I hope they can look back and say they enjoyed it like I can.
This article was provided by Tony Brady, Castlerahan.
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