Lá na gClub a great success

November 8, 2018

Lá na gClub a great success

Cathoirleach (photos Laurence McAlinden and Brian Cunningham)

Thanks to so many for making this a great day

Club President Teddy Rice assisted by Club Vice Chairman Rory McCabe raises the 125 GAA Flag to commence the Lá na gClub celebrations in St Malachy’s Park (scroll down fgor more photos)

Thanks for the help given by so many club volunteers over this special week-end. It would be impossible to get around everyone individually so please accept this little acknowledgement of our appreciation of the commitment given by so many and in particular by members of the club Executive who have been planning the events over the past couple of months.

Help was also given in abundance by members in so many other areas also without which the day would not have run so smoothly, and many spent a number of week-end prior to the event painting and preparing the stand and carrying out other clean-up and maintenance duties in both the Park and the Club.

Thanks to Jim Rice, and Martin and Patricia McKibben for the lend of many photographs, medals jerseys etc belonging to the late Pat Rice, our Club photographers Laurence McAlinden and Brian Cunningham who have provided a great montage of photographs capturing the event for future generations, the ladies who done such a splendid job preparing and serving delicious refreshments in the clubrooms throughout the day, and the men and ladies who manned the hot food stall and shop outdoors, DJ Mcgiggs for the use of his PA equipment, Angela Owens who provided the necessary veils for the memorial plaque, Brendan Brannigan and St Malachy’s High school who provided the display boards, Granite, the McCrickard family and Emer Walsh who provided the excellent musical interlude, the town’s primary schools for their assistance in running the school poetry and painting competitions, Fr Sean Cahill and Father John Fitzpatrick for blessing of the stand and Dr Maurice Hayes for delivering such a warm address on the late Pat Rice and his contribution to the GAA.

Last but by no means least we are extremely grateful that so many families in the parish participated and attended as spectators and that many members and former players both County and Club travelled long distances to be with us on this special occasion making it a most successful and memorable day in the history of the club.

Castlewellan celebrated the Lá na gClub as part of the associations 125 celebrations with the opening of the PAT RICE stand “Ardán Phádraig De Rís”. (Report by Kevan Owens PRO)

This was a day that will live long in the memories of Castlewellan Gaels. The day dawned bright and sunny in the midst of wet and windy weather and shone on the whole proceedings all day ! It was great top see so many Castlewellan Gaels resplendent in club dress at the event.
We marked the day with both a enjoyable and memorable ways as we had organised a whole range of sporting and social events that was of interest to all our members and all age groups. They included Adult 5 a-side games in hurling, camogie, Gaelic football men’s and ladies; Poc Fada, kick Fada and Free taking.

There was also some athletics including the 100 metres (won by Liam McKibben) and the fastest 1 mile (won by Thomas Becket). On the social side Saturday 9th May was set aside for a member’s night in the social club with a karaoke competition between all the Club adult teams and it decided once and for all who the best team singer is never mind who the best team player is. Special one-off club training tops with the 125 logo were presented to the winners : who were. Ladies Football ; Nina Ciarns, Senior Mens : Danny Cassidy, Hurlers :Tracey Burns and Members : Gary Ciarns. The overall winner was Nina Ciarns.

Also on Saturday night Rory and Veronica McAlinden presented a trophy to the Club which will stand as the U20 footballer of the year award. The trophy is in memory of their son Rory (Pint) who was tragically killed in a drowning accident 2 years ago. Many thanks to the family and it is fitting that Rory will be remembered annually in this way. It was fitting that this years winner was Liam McKibben cousin of Rory (RIP).

L-R brian McAlinden, Rory McAlinden, Liam mcKibben, Veronica McAlinden and Ciara McAlinden.

There was also a primary school poetry and painting competition involving the 4 primary schools in the parish with winning entries being displayed in the social club and each winner presented with special 125 year memorial medals.

Before commencing the presentations An Cathoirleach Ciaran Crilly congratulated St Malachy’s PS on being awarded the Irish News PS of the year for their commitment to Gaelic Games.

“This is a fantastic achievement and one in which we here in this club reap the rewards of their labour as we do with all the parish schools and we wish all our local schools including St Malachy’s High School continuing success. We are indeed fortunate to have passionate Gaelic Gaelic coaches and club members in all these schools and
In st Malachy’s High we have Paul Duffin Jim Burns and Oliver Rooney; in St Malachy’s PS principal Maurice O’Neill and Cormac McCabe and in St Mary’s Aughlisnafin Principal Paddy Hardy and all these men work closely with our club and Paddy Hardy in particular is also involved with the Down U21 team and also with implementing the coaching strategy within our club I would also take this opportunity to thank all our club volunteers of which we have many for their contribution 52 weeks of the year,. Every night during the summer our two pitches are in use with hurling camogie men’s and ladies football being played and coaching and training sessions taking place. This and all the administrative work required in our club would not be possible without the precious club volunteers all of whom we honour here today and on that note we all wish a speedy recovery to Sheila Murdoch one of our camogie coaches in the club who was injured in a road accident last week-end”

Above the Primary School winners of the Poetry and Drawing Competitions are as follows:

Poetry (P5-P7)
1st – Dan McCartan
2nd – Cliona McComisky
3rd – Claire Owens

Drawing (P1-P2)
1st – Matthew McCabe
2nd – Kari McVeigh
3rd – Aodhan Wynn

Wining Poem;
Hurling Game by Dan McCartan

Pack my bag, it’s time to go.
I’ve got a hurling game you know.
Got my boots, studs are tight.
Everything has to be right.

Get My Helmet, protects my head.
It’s very important my mum said.
Need my shin guards, they’re tough.
This hurling sometimes can be rough.

Meet at the Club, don’t be late.
Need my dinner, clean my plate.
Swing My Stick, the game’s begun.
The whistles gone, I hope we’ve won.

L-R Jim Rice, patricia McKibben, Teddy Rice and Dr Maurice Hayes

The highlight of the Club festivities took place on Sunday at 1.00pm with the naming of the stand in St Malachy’s Park “Ardán Phádraig De Rís” in memory of our great hero, Pat Rice, with keynote speech delivered by his old friend Dr Maurice Hayes who was Secretary of the County Board from 1956 to 1964 and one of the pioneers of that most successful era in Down football. Dr Hayes spoke about the importance of the GAA in the community and he also spoke movingly about the contribution Pat Rice had made to the great Down team of the 1960’s

Pat’s County achievement’s include 2 All-Ireland Senior Medals in 1960 and ’61, 2 National League medals in ’60 & 62, 2 Railway Cup medals in ’60 & ‘63, 3 Ulster Championship medals in ’59, ’60 &’61, a St Brendan Cup medal won in 1960 when Down defeated New York in Dublin and 4 Dr McKenna Cup medals, as well as Dr Lagan Cup medal. On top of that Pat played in two Ulster teams which were beat in the Railway Cup finals and he was selected to play for Ireland against the Combined Universities. This was the equivalent of an All Star today. In 1966 Pat was captain of the Down Junior Team, which was beaten by Cork in the All-Ireland final. As is typical of Pat he makes no boast about his impressive achievements. In fact he is constantly thankful for the honours and enjoyment the game has given him, and puts it down to good luck as well as being patient and being determined to do well.

Pat was never selected to play for the County at minor level or U.21 level and started his county career playing for the junior team in 1955. His debut was at right back against Monaghan in the Junior Championship, in Newry, a game that Down lost by a point. Monaghan incidentally went on to win the Junior All-Ireland title that year. In 1956 Pat played midfield on the junior team, and in 1957 he made his debut on the senior team in a challenge match against Armagh. Good displays for Castlewellan in the Feis 7’s and in a Barony League, which had been organised to unearth new talent, resulted in Pat’s call up to the Senior ranks.

In that same year Pat played midfield against Donegal in the Ulster Championship, a game refereed by Mick Higgins one of the great Cavan players of that era, and he played against Tyrone in the final of the Dr Lagan Cup; although he remembers being taken off in that game.

In 1958 Pat played at left full back, Leo Murphy was full back, and George Laverty was right back. This was to be Down’s first choice fullback line on the successful team of the early ’60’s. 1958 The following year Down won the Ulster title defeating Cavan in the Final. Their opponents in the All-Ireland semi-final were Galway, whom they had already defeated in the Wembley Tournament in London.

In 1960 and ’61 when Down created history by becoming the first team to bring the Sam Maguire over the border. Pat played at left full back on this victorious team.

For Pat there were a lot of great moments at County level. He was part of the team that achieved a lot of ‘firsts’

First Down team to win the McKenna Cup
First Down team to win the Wembley Tournament
First Down team to win the Ulster Championship, and of course
First Down team to capture the Senior Football Championship.

Maurice Hayes said that he would always remember Pat Rice as a great calming influence on the Down team and when ever there was any sign of internal strife or arguments Paqt would step in to settle the team down. He was a great gentleman a great GAA man and a great friend concluded Dr Hayes.

Club Chairman Ciaran Crilly addressing the crowd spoke of what Pat Rice meant to his Club and Community

“…..With the advent of any major event in the club calendar the first thing we do in St Malachy’s as is probably the case in most clubs is to form a sub committee to drive the project forward and when former club chairman Gerry Dougherty An Runai Ronan King and myself sat down to plan this event we did want to mark it in a memorable way and in a way that would hold special significance for all our members past and present and would also be meaningful in the wider GAA community. It didn’t take long to come up with the one common denominator that would meet all these needs, and our Club Executive readily endorsed the proposal that we should name this stand after one of our great club volunteers – Pat Rice or big Pat as he is fondly remembered by all who knew him and today we will honour his memory by naming this stand ‘Ardán Phádraig De Rís’.

When we commenced this stand and new changing rooms in 2001 it was our intention then to have it completed with roof and individual seats for our centenary year in 2005 but as often happens competing priorities intervened when the opportunity arose in 2002 to purchase land at Dublin road for much need additional pitches for the club’s 23 teams so the completion of this stand had to be put on hold since then. However perhaps this event here today will provide our membership with the impetus to complete the outstanding work as soon as funds can be made available.

Pat Rice, has won every senior honour that could be won at Club or County level during his playing career. His most significant achievements of course were as a member of the victorious All-Ireland winning Down team of 1960/61, and I would take this opportunity to welcome Pats former Down teammates and thank them for attending this special event. I also welcome our special guest Dr Maurice Hayes who was Secretary of the County Board from 1956 to 1964 and one of the pioneers of that most successful era in Down football. Maurice was also a special friend of Pat and Pat often spoke fondly of the kindness and generosity that Maurice had shown to him as a young man fresh on to the Down senior team in the late 1950’s. Our Club felt it appropriate therefore that Dr Hayes should be invited here to day to deliver his own particular tribute and memories of that great era in Down’s history and of big Pat, and thankfully Dr Hayes accepted our invitation.

Above An Cathoirleach Ciaran Crilly presenting Dr Maurice Hayes with signed copy of ‘The Town’ and accompanying DVD on history of St Malachy’s GAC.

To St Malachy’s GAC big Pat was first and foremost a great clubman. He was of that true breed of Club volunteer which has always been the hallmark of the GAA. Despite his achievements he remained very humble, and unassuming. For 60 years right up to his death he remained a dedicated Clubman, as passionate and enthusiastic about the game he loved, as he was when he first pulled on the town jersey at 13 or 14 years of age. Despite his success at county level with the great Down team of the early 60’s, and all the memories of classic games played alongside men of legend, he got as much joy playing for any of the Club teams from juvenile through to senior team and even after he should have retired from the game he was still togging out for our 3rd’s well into his forties

Pat often said that his success came about as a result of the encouragement and support he received as a youngster. In particular he recalled Dan Rooney and the late Paddy O’Donaqhue and Cyril Wells who as young teachers in Castlewellan, introduced underage football at club level.

He later moved on to play in the club’s junior team before making his senior debut in 1953 when he played as a forward against Kilcoo.

In 1951 Pat had been a member of the Castlewellan Minor Team which won this East Down League and this panel now formed the nucleus of the emerging senior team, which achieved runner up slot in the league in 1954 and went one better in 1955.

In 1958 he was captain of the Castlewellan team that won the Championship and the Feis 7’s. His team mates included his younger brother Jim, Pat Rooney, Paddy McAleenan Jim Jennings, High McAllister, and Eugene McGreevy. Their opponents in the final were Clonduff, the same opposition Castlewellan faced when they next won the Championship in 1965. His team mates then, included Dermot ‘Chum’ McCabe, Fr John Fitzpatrick Des Farley, George Glynn, Dermot ‘Ginger’ Jennings, Hugh McAllister, Jim Rice, Mickey Magorrian and Tom McGrady.

In 1964 Castlewellan again won the Senior League, suffering only one defeat, at the hands of Ballykinlar. Pat recalled later that he always remembered that match because of the display given by Paddy ‘Mo’ Doherty (Down team 1960s) who beat Castlewellan almost single-handed. Pat continued to play for the Town until 1974 when he eventually hung up his boots, and he always proudly wore for the rest of his life the watch, which the Club presented him on that occassion. Pat was always proud of the fact that despite the physical nature of the game in the three decades that spanned his playing career, he was never sent off, and very seldom booked. An example indeed to everyone of our club players here today

His retirement from football n 1974 was however short lived, as he donned the club jersey to play for the II’s and even turned out for the III’s when they were first formed. In fact it used to be said that ‘Big Pat’ always kept his boots in the car in case the Town were ever a man short.

After his playing days Pat continued his involvement with the Club. He turned his hand to refereeing but this didn’t last long. He recalled refereeing a schoolboy match, and as the match progressed he became aware that the referee hadn’t blown the whistle. Then he released he was the ref. but had been so involved in the game he forgot to blow.

Pat also became a member of the Club Committee and was Club Chairman in 1974 and 1975, when the premises were purchased for the new social club Indeed Pat was one of the main voluntary construction workers involved in that project, and when the social club opened, Pat also did his voluntary stint behind the bar

Pat was involved in the management of the club senior team on several occasions most notably in 1978 when he and Danny Hillen formed the panel which won the Kilmacud 7’s as well as the championship in 1979.

Work commitments through the 80s and 90s took Pat across Europe and the Middle East. But no matter where his work took him, he always met people who recognised him as part of the great Down team of the 60’s and he often said that this made it easy for him to make new friends and provide plenty of material for a good nights craic

With his travelling days behind him Pat once again joined the Committee, and once again became a member of the senior management squad. But his work for the Club didn’t end there. After every home game, when players had changed and gone, Pat remained behind. The great man who had achieved the highest awards in Gaelic football and as a member of the famous Down team of the early sixties set to work with brush, shovel and mop ensuring they were left ready and spotless for the next game.

Pat very much looked forward to the Club Centenary celebrations planned for 2005 and in particular the launching of the Club history book in that year in which he featured so prominently. Sadly his health began to deteriorate in 2004 but although in failing health he attended the annual dinner that year when members of the Club’s 1965 County Championship winning team were guests of honour and Pat enjoyed meeting all his old team mates who had travelled from far and near to attend. He also attended the launch of ‘The Town’ Centenary DVD in which he had featured talking about his own memories of St Malachy’s club, and his final club outing was to the launch of the Club Centenary year in March 2005.

With these important milestones behind him Castlewellan’s favourite son passed away peacefully on Friday 6th May 2005. He didn’t live to see the book launch that he had so looked forward to but he would have been so proud that his picture with Sam Maquire taken in 1960 adorns its front cover.

There are so many memories of this true and gentle Gael for all who knew him and particularly for those who can remember the historical All-Ireland successes of 1960 and 61 when local supporters carried him shoulder high in Croke Park after the final whistle blew on that first All-Ireland victory. Then the homecoming afterwards and bonfires in Castlewellan’s upper-square when he was welcomed home as the conquering hero, the first Castlewellan man to win a senior All-Ireland medal.

Pat Rice has been an inspiration to everyone in St Malachy’s as a dedicated footballer, for club and county and as a true club volunteer. He has been an inspiration to generations of club members and an example of everything that is great about the GAA.

That is why we honour his memory here today and for ever and a day his name will now be proudly displayed on this stand overlooking his beloved meadow.”

The ceremony included unveiling of a memorial plaque and the hoisting of our 125 Year flag by Club President Teddy Rice.

Afterwards light refreshments were available and there was a display of Pat Rice memorabilia in the clubrooms, including His Down All Ireland, Ulster and Ireland Jerseys not to mention his fantastic display of medals. Pat Rice, won every senior honour that could be won at Club or County level during his playing career. Pat’s County medals on show included his 2 All-Ireland Senior Medals in 1960 and ’61, 2 National League medals in ’60 & 62, 2 Railway Cup medals in ’60 & ‘63, 3 Ulster Championship medals in ’59, ’60 &’61, a St Brendan Cup medal won in 1960 when Down defeated New York in Dublin and 4 Dr McKenna Cup medals, as well as Dr Lagan Cup medal not to mention his 2 Down Senior Championship medals. It was great to see former team mates of big Pat (RIP) both Club and County from the 1960/61 team namely: Paddy Doherty, Joe Lennon, Sean O’Neill, Eddie McKay, Eamon Lundy, Tom Smith, Colm McAlarney to name a few. We sincerely thank them for taking time out to attended the ceremony. It was very evident in their attendance how highly Big Pat was and is held among their ranks.

Above some of the invited guests who attended the dedication of the stand L-R An Cathoirleach Ciaran Crilly, Dr Maurice Hayes, Aidian o’Neill, Patricia rice, James McKenny, Paddy Dougherty

L-R An Cathoirleach, Club President Teddy Rice, Colm McAlarney, An Runai Ronan king
Front Gareth McKibben (grandson of Pat Rice), Martin McKibben Jim Rice, Patricia McKibben (daughter of Pat) with Cormac McKibben(grandson of Pat Rice)

The final event of the day was an exhibition rounders game. And with St Malachy’s GAC renowned throughout the country on welcoming the stranger into their fold this game featured the Club ‘Natives’ (baptised in this parish) versus the Club ‘blow ins'(not baptised in this parish ) This proved to be great craic with the Natives running out winners in a closely contested final However there was a little controversy as the “Blow Inns” well and truly threw the toys out of the pram (namely Ollie Doyle and big Gregory McCartan) as their interpretation of the rules left a lot to be desired. Judges Ant & Doc had their hands full trying to keep things under control as well as trying to keep Nial King (Blow Inn) on his feet at all times. Although the only prizes on the day was bragging rights it was still great to see Fintan McGreevey at last win his first Championship medal.

This was a fun competition in what was a fun packed day for all the family. Many thanks to all involved and especially to those who helped out in any way to make the day such a success as it was.

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