Naas Senior Football Julibee Team 1990-2015

November 7, 2018

Naas Bridge 58 Year Gap

In 1986 Naas Footballers were playing in Division 2 of the Senior Football League having won their last 2 games in their previous campaign thereby avoiding the drop to Division 3. They went unbeaten through the 1986 campaign to secure Div 1 status for the first time since the introduction of club league competition in Kildare. A further indication of progress came in the first round championship game against reigning champions, Carbury, when Naas surrendered a 3 point half-time be pipped at the post.

In 1987 the team fought hard to retain its Div 1 status but had a serious reality check when receiving a heavy defeat at the hands of Johnstownbridge. That Johnstownbridge team were defeated in the county final later that year but subsequently claimed the championship in 1988 and 1989. Naas were again drawn against Johnstownbridge in 1988 and despite a much improved showing they failed to eliminate “the Bridge”.

The 1989 championship saw Naas exit by two points to 1987 champions Athy. Despite these disappointments, it was obvious that Naas were progressing. A further indication of this progress was the team’s consistency in the Leinster Leader competition in 1989 when the team went unbeaten through the league series before being narrowly defeated in the final by Sarsfields. As the winning minor teams of 1981 and 1983 along with the Under 21 Champions of 1981 matured and developed, a senior breakthrough seemed ever more possible.

The first round of the 1990 championship saw Naas drawn against Leixlip. Leixlip were backboned by a number of intercounty players spearheaded by six time All Star winner Jack O’Shea. Shay Clarke’s countering of the Kerryman was central to Naas’ victory by three points. Despite the presence of “a promising young footballer” named Glenn Ryan in the Round Towers team, this second round clash did not capture the imagination to the same extent but it was an equally hard fought encounter with Naas prevailing in another tight finish. The closeness of those two encounters stood to Naas when they met Sarsfields in the sem- final. Sarsfields lived up to their pre-match billing as red hot favourites when they went 1-4 to 0-0 ahead after 12 mins – the goal coming from a penalty.

Naas rallied. A succession of points followed by two opportunist goals from Denis Danagher saw the county town retire with a half time lead. The underdogs never showed signs of wilting throughout the second half and duly qualified for a tilt at a first championship success in 58 years.

Despite having downed perennial championship contenders Sarsfields, Naas were again rank outsiders in the county final. While the game was keenly contested, Naas generally appeared to be holding an edge. Leading by 4 points coming up the home stretch, Naas were brought down to earth when the evergreen Pat “Tiger” Lyons took advantage of a long ball to the edge of the square to reduce the deficit to a single point. Despite the shift in momentum, Naas held their nerve and following an inspirational long-range point form Robbie Reilly, Naas were duly crowned “County Senior Football Champions for 1990” with Terry McDonald receiving the Dermot Burke Cup and Daragh McKevitt being awarded the Man of the Match trophy.