Sarsfields Newsletter.

November 8, 2018





The Weekly Online Newsletter of Sarsfields GAA Club


Happy New Year to all our Sash readers and may next year be even better on and off the pitch than last year. Sarsfields annual dinner dance/awards night will take place on Friday February 1st.

                                               A History of

Sarsfields in Verse

By Joe Dunne

“A true son of Sarsfields in word and deed”

 As we all know Sarsfields club was founded in Roseberry in the year 1897 as well as we are aware that we have our detractors who would dispute this and claim that Sarsfields and Roseberry were two different clubs. The late Jimmy Conlon from Rickardstown was very empathic that Sarsfields Club was founded on a Sunday morning in a spot afterwards known as the Son’s field, within sight of the ruins at this particular time because it is now generally accepted that the stones from that building were used in the building of British army barracks in the town of Newbridge itself. Hence the name Roseberry Sons of Sarsfields was the original name until it was amended to Sarsfields  about 1945 with the line of continuity from 1897 remaining unbroken.

The rise of the Sons of Sarsfields to football greatness was phenomenal. While it is hard to equate or evaluate past and present standards, but the mere fact that Sarsfields won 9 County Senior titles, six of them in a row, in a space of 12 years, speaks for itself. The name of the Murrays, Fitzgeralds, Conlons, Scott, Kennedy, Keogh, Donnelly, are all household words now in the annals of Kildare football lore, and of course it was the captain John Murray who led the Lily Whites to their first All Ireland title in that famous game in Thurles – the 1905 final. And there were 30,000 people present at the final, a record at the time. Indeed the series of games between Kildare and Kerry in those early years of the 20th Century is acknowledged by GAA historians to have brought Gaelic football into the modern era in terms of increased popularity.


The late Joe Dunne who was Sarsfields Secretary from 1952 –1973 was also a great writer and poet. Below is Joe’s history of great Sarsfields triumphs told in verse up to the breakthrough in 1982, which ended 30 years of Championship famine and heartbreak. The story is told through seven verses with Joe giving a bit of background between each verse and the final one is called the Unsung Hero’s about club workers, mentors and junior footballers. 


Birth of  SARSFIELDS & Great Sarsfields Triumphs

Close by the town of Newbridge,

In the heart of green Kildare,

Lie the fields of Roseberry

Beside the Liffey fair;

There once a lordly castle stood

That bore a patriot’s name

The home of Patrick Sarsfield,

Of such legendary fame.

Then in 1897, near that spot,

One Sunday morn,

A group of lads had gathered

And a famous Club was born,

They named it Sons of Sarsfields,

What else could it have been

And choose his noble colours too,

White sash on jacket green.

This century was very young and

Like breakers on a strand,

The torrent now of Gaelic games was

Surging o’er the land.

The Sons had risen swiftly too,

And in that rushing tide

Swept their first of many crowns

Back home to Liffey side.

And then began that onward march

Along the road to glory,

Their impact on the football scene

Was told in song and story

Their speed and skill was oft compared

In tales of victories great

To hares out on the bogland brown

Or trout in rivers spate.

Just then the County of Kildare,

A title in their sight,

Asked the greatest champions

To leas the Lily Whites

And when they vanquished Kerry

On that hallowed Thurles ground

The heroes of the short grass

Were Kings of Ireland crowned.



  Now many years have drifted by

This century has grown old,

But on that screen of memory

A picture must unfold,

Of hosts of proudly marching ones

With sash across the green,

The famous names and honours gained

In all the years between.

The group of lads who started all

On that far distant day

Now from their home in heaven

Must be surely hear to say,

“To all whose deed in any way

Enriched that scroll of fame

Well done, to every Sarsfield Son –

You always played the game.”

And now to number two on the list and to what was in my memory the most sentimental and emotional of all the great Sarsfields triumphs. I am referring of course to the 1945 County Senior Final in which they comprehensively and decisively defeated traditional rivals Raheens. Now this fact alone would have been sufficient to guarantee a supply of supreme joy in the heart of every follower for at least a year, but the euphoria generated by this particular victory was so incredible around Newbridge, that there had to be other contributory factors and there were.

Firstly, Sarsfields themselves had been absent from the pedestal for quite a long number of years, mainly due I feel to the economic climate prevailing in the area during those years. Remember Newbridge was a British garrison town and as such was almost totally dependent on the business from the local troops and from the considerable over-flow from the thousands of troops on the Curragh itself. Once they departed, Newbridge became what has generally be termed “ a ghost town” and indeed remained so until the mid 1930’s. This was the era, with employment almost non-existent, and Newbridge lost very many fine footballers on the emigration ship during that period, a period indeed of nearly 20 years. Add to the fact that it was the first year that the Senator Cummins Cup had been presented to Kildare County Senior Champions. Unbelievable as it may seem,

there was no trophy for the Senior Championship of County Kildare, until that year of 1945, other than medals of course.

The Senator himself had been a great worker for the community in Newbridge and had been also headmaster in the local boys’ school from the time of its foundation I would imagine, in 1914, until his own retirement in the very very late 1930’s. And since everyone of the Sarsfields team on that day had been pupils of that school, it had to be I suppose, an emotional occasion, and it certainly was. I never expect to see the likes of it in

Newbridge again – I hope I do, but I would have the gravest doubts.

One way or the other I am calling this one THE DREAM OF ’45 – maybe that’s what it was!


I remember well those classrooms,

The school field and gravel yard,

And remember too that teacher,

Long gone to his reward

A bluff and genial Corkman

Full of rebel county lore,

With poems like Bells of Shandon,

Goubanebarra and Glandore.

It was only when with schooldays gone,

And years going ever faster,

One realised, at least I did,

The value of that master.

Perhaps his style of teaching was in

An old informal mode,

But he taught us all the basics,

For the guidance on life’s road.

He was Senator William Cummins,

To his pupils just ‘Old Bill’

In his adopted home of Newbridge,

He remains a legend still.

Indeed the Cup that bore his name,

Kildare’s own Senior Crown,

Was presented in his memory

By the people of that town.

That year of 1945, it must have been

A master’s dream,

For the first to take that trophy

Was a brilliant Sarsfield team.

The names of that famous football squad,

Read like an old roll-call,

For the schoolroom down the Chapel Lane

Had known them one and all.

Jim Gaffney was between the posts,

To keep his goal intact,

And made with staunch full-back line,

A wall that never cracked.

That trio of defenders on that day

Each one a star,

From left to right, they were,

Ned Keogh, Jim Cash and Connie Maher.

The half-back were impregnable like a

Rampart made to last.

Their anchor man was Jack Fitzgerald,

A fielder unsurpassed.

His flankers too made very sure their

Line was watertight.

John Keogh of great tradition and

Confident Dick White.

The captain was Mick Geraghty,

With that flashing burst of pace,

With County and with Province,

He held an honoured place.

His mid-field partner in that game,

Was a lad of grit and skill,

Who never used the word defeat, his

Popular brother Bill.

Then that galaxy of forwards,

A truly talented sextet,

Spearheaded by big Paddy White,

Who could really shake the net.

At left half was Tommy O’Hanlon,

A marksman quite superb,

In front of him his brother Con,

Cool, clever, full of verve,

On the right was Kevin Brennan,

Who in speed and dash excelled,

And in the corner with his height

And craft, was Eamonn Fitzgerald.

Full forward, Bunny kavanagh,

Was strong and powerful around the square,

And Mick O’Reilly too come on,

To show his old-time flair,

There was strongly built Mick Collitan,

With heart and fire to match,

And Tom Geraghty of the famous clan,

High balls could rally catch.

There too was stylish Tom Fitzgerald,

Unbeatable in the air,

And Paddy Gainey, fleet of foot,

With football brains to spare.


So that completes the roll call,

That conquered brave Raheens,

St. Conleth’s Park will never more

See such tremendous scenes.

This was the Cup they wanted,

Those lads in green and white,

And Newbridge town just went berserk,

With fervour and delight.

Yes, I well remember many trophy-laden years,

And remember too great triumphs, the emotions, joys and tears,

But if I could by magic wand, one special scene revive,

It would be that County Final day in 1945.

Now we move to number three, and if the 1945 Final was the most emotional, then

without any shadow of doubt the ’47 Final was the most colourful. It was a final that really had everything going for it, despite what the weathermen say that 1947 was one of the worst on record, this particular Sunday in early October was a gloriously sunny mild day and I have a very vivid recollection of the day in general. I was working, reluctantly I would say, in Gallivan’s public house from 2 p.m. and can always recall about that hour of sound of marshal music coming from the Curragh direction. It was the Army Band and they must have commenced playing somewhere around

Moorefield Church. But they were followed by a cavalcade of highly decorated lorries,come of them containing the team and also literally thousands of foot followers, all

equipped with yellow and white flags, including amongst them quite a smattering of Newbridge folk, both ladies and gentlemen.

Since there was to be a ceremonial welcome, the streets were jammed packed on both

sides. It was a scene I suppose that should have given great joy to any followed of the game, but it certainly at that moment did nothing for my morale. But then of course the next few hours did.

The final had been put back to early October, pending the arrival home from New York of the great John Joe O’Reilly, who had led Cavan to the famous Polo Grounds victory over Kerry. Now John Joe, besides being a magnificent footballer, was I suppose one of the GAA’s greatest gentlemen. He was captain of the Curragh team for this final and with him on that team was a host of other football stars, men like the great Martin O’Brien, who played for Louth, Kildare and Leinster for years, the almost legendary Kilkenny born midfielder Sean Brennan, again he graced the colours of Kildare and Province for years, plus lads like the great old Hooker Regan, Sean Gallagher, Liet. McNicholas, Big Jim Flynn, indeed I would say everyone of the team was of inter county calibre. But there again, Sarsfields were also a superb outfit around that time. They had lost only two of the title winning team of 1945. The retirement of Eamonn Fitzgerald and Dick White lead to the inclusion of Larry Mooney and Enda Sweeney.

The pre-match ceremonies of course were conducted with typical military pageantry. The

army band was in full control, and I’m not downgrading present bands that appear as

County finals, but to put it mildly, there was absolutely no comparison.


The game itself, well I think everyone of the 10,000 people in the grounds that day,

contrast this to the 5,000 average of the present day – but everyone generally accepted that this was the greatest football game ever played in County Kildare. And I would agree.

It was a magnificent football match, played at tremendous speed and with a degree of sportsmanship that was – well to say the least of it – unusual in deciders.

Sarsfields really had to play above themselves to win that game. Indeed they were

behind I think with about 10 minutes to go, but did stage a superb rally. This was the final, I feel that cemented a friendship between Sarsfields and the Army that has existed right down to the present day, and indeed, in my own capacity with Sarsfields in later years, I had many proofs of this unique friendship.

The loss to Kildare football of those Army teams was incalculable. I know they always gave me the “coly-wobbles” when I saw them appearing on the field to play Sarsfields, with their bright yellow jerseys and stockings, but at least we were always sure of one thing – a feast of high – class football, played with tremendous sporting spirit. I don’t suppose we will ever see them on Kildare playing fields again – more is the pity.

I will call this one what was – THE ’47 CLASSIC

Atmosphere and the glamour,

Excitement and sheer thrills,

A battle royal between two teams,

Endowed with all the skills.

That was the ’47 Classic,

And the critics always say,

They saw the greatest final

On that fine October day.

This too was the very year,

In which history was made,

When the first All-Ireland Final

On foreign soil was played.

It was held in faraway New York,

A famous Cavan team had won,

And their leader, John Hoe O’Reilly,

Became Breffnies favourite son.

Now 10,000 people stood and cheered

With one accord,

As John Joe led his Curragh team,

Out on St. Conleths’ sward.

An impressive star-packed outfit,

With their saffron jerseys bright,

For that epic clash with Sarsfield,

In their own green and white.


As autumn sunlight slanted

O’er that field so lush and green,

There was a ceremonial welcome,

To add lustre to the scene.

With clasped hands the rival captains

Held the Sam Maguire Cup there,

The hero of the Polo Grounds and

Mick Geraghty of Kildare.

Then that rousing army band

What marshal airs they played,

With such military precision,

In that colourful parade.

A scene of almost pageantry,

A perfect setting for a stage,

Which gave the annals of the

Short Grass another golden page.

This was a football banquet,

A pulsating hectic hour,

A contest never equalled for

Speed, and style and power.

The mighty crowd was spellbound,

The very air was stilled

The ovation was like thunder,

When the final whistle shrilled.

And the victory went to Sarsfields

In that Titanic game,

Another day of glorious triumph,

That set the hearts aflame.

But Gaelic games were also winners,

In that superb display,

As well the gallant loser too,

For sportsmanship that day.

Since we are all contestants,

In times relentless race,

Passing years bring changes,

A fact which every club must face,

But with those lads from Newbridge town,

Sweet lady-luck had been,

Of their squad of 1945, they still had

A great sixteen.


Tom Fitzgerald, and brother Eamonn,

Had both retired from the scene,

With Tom Geraghty and Dick White as well

In those two years between.

So deadly accurate Larry Mooney,

And Enda Sweeney with such heart,

With Frank Timmons, and Luke Sweeney,

Were now there to play their part,

And this memorable struggle had,

A major role to play

,In the bonding of a friendship

That still exists today.

A sporting link unbroken

And always spoken of with pride,

Between the Army and the Curragh

And the club from Liffeyside.

And if in the Sarsfields saga,

There was just this single game

It would warrant their inclusion

In Kildare’s own Hall of Fame.

Forgotten it will never be,

Where football lore holds sway,

The 1947 Final on that Sunlit

Autumn day.

Now, lot number four, as an auctioneer would say! Firstly I had better put the facts

straight. The Senator Cummins Cup had a life span of 30 years, from 1945 until 1975. It was then replaced mysteriously as far as I’m concerned, by the Dermot Burke Cup. But anyway, it was won in all by 12 different clubs, needless to remark, otherwise I would not be speaking of it, only one of them could take it for three successive years – Sarsfields being the victors in 1950, 1951 and 1952. Now this should have been a performance that one would imagine would have aroused tremendous enthusiasm around Newbridge, but looking back – I don’t think it did! And I have a feeling that there was a basic reason for this. Every football follower in Kildare reluctant or otherwise anticipated and expected that Sarsfields would perform this feat – they were that much superior to any other team in the county. They had lost a few stalwarts from the mid and late 1940’s, particularly of course Mick Geraghty who had retired at the end of 1948. But they also had acquired a host of new talent. Their biggest capture was of course Sean Brennan, who had played against them in the ’47 and ’48 finals. For me Sean Brennan was one of the greatest midfielders I have ever seen, a superb footballer and athlete, who feared nothing or no one. Liam Hastings had arrived – a bustling strong full forward, who had won an All Ireland title with Mayo. Billy O’Donoghue a very fine club full-back and Tommy Maloney, a good stout defender.


Willie Doyle and Mick Dunne had also arrived on the scene, plus an influx of very good young talent, many of whom made big names for themselves in later years, lads like Miko Doyle, Ray Swan, Barney Weller, Morney Murrihy, John O’Neill, Billy Dempsey, Martin

Kavangh, Owen Lawler, Sean Maher, Paddy Monaghan and I’ve no doubt I am omitting some names but I have no records here in front of me so I will claim the old commercial excuse – error and omission accepted.

But that they were a very fine football team is beyond question, the mere fact that

they did win the Cup for three successive years supports this view. And some idea of the prevailing feeling in the County can be gauged from the fact that Carbury thought it fit to have the last of the three finals played in Naas! They were following the old maximum –get Sarsfield out of Newbridge and you will beat them – But they made a very grave mis-calculation!

I will call this one MY FRUITFUL PROMISE as told by the cup itself – who better to relate it? It does reside in Newbridge now, and I hope will remain there – that is where it should be. So here it goes:

In 30 years of wandering

Across the County of Kildare,

With drinks and celebrations

I was greeted everywhere.

I think everybody welcomed me,

The Senator Cummins Cup,

In my travels in the Short Grass

I was always being filled up.

In a life of active service,

With 12 clubs I have been.

To offer me a permanent home,

They all were deadly keen.

Said I, if any one of you

Can hold me three years in a row,

Then, when I and made redundant

To live with your folks I will go.

Raheens gave me some anxious hours,

As well I can recall.

Clane had always booked for me

A place in their new hall.

Carbury thought that Derrinturn

Was where I should reside.

Kilcock just said their love for me

Could never be denied.

Round Towers brought me to Kildare,

St. Bridget for to hear

And add to that, this list of six

With whom I spent one year.



I travelled up to Ballymore

The Wicklow hills to view,

And went to visit Eadestown

Where they dressed me in light blue.

In the fine old Moorefield club room

I was treated like a Prince

And made a trip to see Ardclough

But have not been back there since.

On the military College sideboard

I really sat in state,

And joined the Army and the Curragh too,

In 1948.

And when my working life had ended,

Years of song and dance and tears,

The checking of the records at least helped

Dispel my fears.

For it was with Sarsfields only

That I met my Waterloo,

They held me tight in 1950,

’51 and ’52.

I remember well those finals,

Two in Newbridge, one in Naas,

And recall three different captains,

Their names are on my base.

Bill Geraghty and Paddy White,

And Tommy O’Hanlon too,

They led the teams in green and white,

And made my dreams come true.

For although I made a promise

To all with whom I stayed,

Of being forever from my birthplace

I was very much afraid.

But now in my retirement

From this worry I am free,

For the old town by the Liffey bank

Is home sweet home to me.

Now the passage of time us to number five on the list. The latest – the 1982 County Senior Final and triumph and surely for a host of life-long Sarsfields supporters, including myself, this had to be one of the great nostalgic occasions. This was a final – it was absolutely imperative to win.


Transportation to Siberia of Iran or some of those places would have been a mild

sentence, compared to what would have been inflicted by the general public on every

Sarsfields player and supporter had the result gone the other way. But it just did not

happen and when I say that there was a host of gloriously happy characters around

Newbridge for a long time after that Final, I would not be exaggerating in the slightest!

For 30 unbelievable years we had waited for this day and during that period, without any shadow of doubt, we should have taken the title on at least six or seven occasions.

We were beaten in two finals and in at least seven or eight semi-finals. Such a lot of first and second round exits, which to say the least of it were nothing short of shear flukes.

But that 12th September in 1982 made up for all this.

Again the question will be raised – how good was the team? And my intuition tells me that a lot of veterans will not agree with my view. But my opinion is that the total pool of talent available to this side compared favourably with any of the great Sarsfields teams of the past. All one has to do is to glance at the personnel. Every single one of the 18 that took to the field that day have played inter-county football. Ninety nine percent of them at senior championship level, and five of them have worn a Provincial jersey. There were,

besides those 18, thirteen more substitutes on the sideline that day – a phenomenal

number and again a lot of those lads have worn the County jersey, some of them even in senior ranks and they were substitutes!

Lads like Anthony Brennan, Tom Cash, Maurice Furlong, Peadar Quinn, Dinny

Callaghan, Bill Sexton, Jim Dempsey, Tommy O’Hanlon and the younger school like Kieran O’Neill, Michael Geraghty, Seamus Crofton, Declan Conlon, Brendan Conlon. This by any standards is an impressive list and I cannot record in my memory and it stretches back quite a good way, any team in a County decider being able to afford the luxury of bringing on three substitutes and yet winning by a margin of 13 points. I think this in itself conveys the quality of the team. One way or the other, for a lot of us, it turned the tide and turned it in real style. Any they will always go down in my memory as one of the great teams. And if I were a supporter of any other club in the County, which I don’t suppose I could described as, I would be distinctly worried as to what this particular team might achieve

in the future. As I said, for us it turned the tide and I am calling this one THE TURNING OF THE TIDE.

I was at that County Final

It was a nice September day

Hugely thronged St. Conleth’s Park

Was bedecked in colours gay.

A mighty roar filled autumn skys,

From terraces and stands,

As St. Laurence’s and Sarsfields

Stepped out behind the band.

The young and popular “Larries”

With their base in Ballitore,

With their legion of followers,

Could not see defeat in store.


From all parts of the Country,

They had flocked to see them win,

The yellow and red colours waved,

Midst the tumult and the din.

But they say that hunger is good sauce,

Its whets the appetite,

And very hungry for that crowd,

Was the team in green and white.

So their host of loyal supporters

Long before the hour was up,

Were already celebrating

The winning of the Cup.

This was a power-packed effort,

In which each one had a share,

A victory of real magnitude,

With thirteen points to spare.

Mick Walshe must take full credit,

For his captaincy and play,

Indeed the forwards as a unit

Were just lethal on the day.

There was high fielding Shay Fahy,

And superbly fit Tom Shaw,

Ray O’ Sullivan always dangerous

And young Joe Murphy with no flaw.

Plus that man named Dermot Earley

With his drive and football guile,

While Pat Murphy and John Courtney

Owned mid-field with their style.

Speedy clever Sean O’Sullivan

And lovely stylist Mick O’Toole,

Fast and mobile Berney Geraghty,

And John Crofton strong and cool,

Steve Keneavey and Liam Callaghan

Two stalwarts in defence,

And big fair-haired Des Bergin

Whose team value was immense.

Christy Sweeney never beaten,

And Gerry Maher with touch of class,

An array of out-field talent

Now easy to surpass.

Star Goalkeeper Kevin Nolan,

He really had a holiday,

But was always ready for the shot

That never came his way.

And proudly waiting on the sideline

With the sash across the green,

Was a panel of great substitutes,

All eager tense and keen.

So after 30 luckless years

The breakthrough had come at last,

And as one of Sarsfields greatest,

This triumph must be classed,

For that 12th day of September,

Saw frustration disappear

And in its place success and hope

And a whole new atmosphere.

And into football history

went another brilliant side,

They will always be remembered

As the lads who turned the tide.

I have not forgotten ’45

Or that huge emotional scene

Or that ’47 Final

no doubt the finest ever seen,

But in the album of their memory

All supporters staunch and true,

Must surely keep a special spot

For the team of ’82.

Now we come to number six on the programme and maybe there’s a touch of nostalgia

here but I think the facts are reasonably accurate.

It has often struck me how many fellows must have worn the Sarsfields colours down through the years, and given that the Club itself is 86 years in existence, in this year of 1983 the number must surely run into thousands. Now a lot of those lads retired in their teenage years. More opted out early in their careers, perhaps feeling they would never achieve top grade. There were others who kept plugging away all the time, some of them

indeed without gaining any particular success from the games, and there was of course the select band who did hit the peak.

But as far as I’m concerned, every one of those contributed in a big way to success

attained by the Club over the years. In my own memory I can recall days when to avoid humiliation of conceding a walk-over, some of those lads were pressed into service and did their best. I always get the feeling when I meet any of those lads especially those who retired early in their careers, that they are always deadly keen to speak of their football days, recording incidents and episodes that happened to either themselves or companions on the field. Perhaps the onset of age or with the onset of age I should say they are looking backwards and imagine that those were the very good days, and without any shadow of doubt they were. Maybe I’ll just call this one THE THOUSANDS – short and sweet!


Sometime when you’re dreaming,

Let your fancy take full flight,

And see again the thousands,

Who have worn the green and white

Seniors, Juniors, Minors

and Juveniles as well,

All who have helped in their own way

That honours list to swell.

It needs no flight of fancy,

The famous triumphs to recall,

The names and games will all be

Enshrined in Memory’s Hall,

With their record haul of titles

You will see the seniors there

And with them countless trophies

From victories everywhere,

And see out on that field of dreams

Another crowd has massed,

These are the gallant Juniors,

Their flag nailed to the mast.

They reaped their golden harvest too,

In memorable years,

No teams were more deserving

Of the plaudits and the cheers.

And let imagination linger

For another little while,

And see that throng of youngsters,

With their youthful dash and style.

They were always at or near the top,

As statistics clearly show,

The minors and the juveniles,

Those lads of long ago.



And there are others in your vision,

With no trophies to their name,

The wearing of the colours

Being their only claim to fame.

But every individual who travels

Through your dream,

Has been of great importance

In the shaping of some team.

So now a massive cavalcade

Has crossed your dreamy gaze

A multitude who raised the hearts

On lots of glorious days,

Some have gone to their reward,

More have drifted far away,

And there are of course the many

You meet almost every day.

Perhaps it is just fantasy,

But it’s pleasant now and then,

To wonder in eternity

Will they all meet once again,

For a real old get-together

To have one big mighty game,

Yes all the lads in all the years,

Who played in Sarsfields name.

Now we arrive at number seven, and the final one. And some may say – Thank God for

that! For this last little bit, I have a special old gra for, not for the rhyme itself indeed but

for the people to whom I refer. Anyone who has been connected with clubs or

organisations down through the years, will have met and known hundreds of this type – men and of course ladies nowadays, who worked tremendously hard, always behind the scenes maybe, perhaps never in the public glare but as far as I’m concerned always on the job. No club or organisation could survive for any length of time without having on its membership list a hard core of committed dedicated workers and certainly without those the fruits of success would be quickly and easily eaten. I am speaking now of club officials and there are many very good ones, team selectors – they are always in my view walking a tight rope. The not so prominent players, shall we say maybe junior players, the lads you generally see on the sub bench in the big-time games. Again, they are always there. And who could omit the die-hard supporters, you see them all the time, along the sideline, in all kinds of weather, shouting, swearing, criticising, instructing, and generally casting a jaundiced eye on the doings of the referee. I suppose in all truth, you could not call them an unbiased impartial group, but again they are always there. They could be in many different places but obviously their heart is in the team and the game.

So for all those people, this is my little tribute, I am calling it UNSUNG HEROES and even if I say so myself I think the title is not altogether unsuitable.

I knew not the unknown warriors,

Who in famous battles fell,

But I know of unsung heroes

Again their names I cannot tell,

To me these are the special ones,

Dedicated to a cause,

Who never seek the limelight

Or received the wild applause.

Unsung heroes, those officials

With such energy and drive

Without their zeal and purpose

No club could ever thrive.

When real success seems far away,

And hope is almost gone,

For them like stage performers

The show must still go on.

Unsung heroes, team selectors,

Well their seat is always hot,

When they win, they get no credit,

When they lose, they should be shot!

Just a thought for constant critics,

Who have all the problems solved,

Do sit a while and contemplate

The work and stress involved.

Unsung heroes, junior players,

In a club with higher grades,

Poor relations of the seniors,

Always living in their shade.

And when they have their triumphs,

How many others care or know,

But it is from little acorns,

That mighty oak trees grow.

Unsung heroes, true supporters,

Strung out along the line,

When winter winds are chilling,

Or on summer days so fine.

They do instruct and criticise

And see only green and white,

But if those were silent sidelines

The trophies would be light.

Unlike the unknown warrior

They do not like soldiers fall,

But always when the bugle blasts,

They rally to the cause.

So when you read this Sarsfields story,

Keep this little line in sight,

Were it not for Unsung Heroes

There would be no history to write.

Now by coincidence rather than intent, the end of both tape and recitation has arrived at exactly the same moment! Perhaps for some listener it has been a boring 45 minutes (did he say 45 minutes??!!) But as I said at the beginning it was intended to convey accuracy, condition, triumph and sentiment, but it was also a personal tape of thoughts, comments, recollections and reminiscences. And for some other listener I would hope that it has brought back very many happy memories, maybe forgotten ones, of days of glorious triumphs of victories and celebrations in the history of a great Club. I know I am not unbiased but for me the lads who wear the green jersey with the white sash have the most famous name in the history of Kildare football – in other words I am speaking of SARSFIELDS Gaelic Football Club and the year is 1983 and it’s Joe Dunne signing off.


GAA tapestry brings colour to all our lives.

With another GAA season just around the corner in the New Year Eugene McGee reflects on the unique nature of the GAA and what it means to Irish people.

By Eugene McGee.

THERE I was, desperately thinking about how I would somehow compile a

column for today’s newspaper, what row would I deal with, what mad
manager would I home in on or what GAA official with his mental
faculties jammed in a time-warp would I analyse in depth for the benefit
of readers.

And then I got a flash of inspiration – after all it is the season for
that sort of thing – even though I was cold sober at the time.

Why, now since it is the end of the year and all that, not just
highlight some of the great things that the GAA brings to Irish life
year after year?

Forget the rows, the controversies, the court cases, the fixtures mess,
the Croke Park debts, the quality of inter-county football and even the
abolition of Rule 42. Just think of the good times. So here goes . . .

THE NEW CROKE PARK: One of the advantages of the extravagant type of
democracy practised in the GAA is that every member of the organisation
feels they have as much of a say and a right to everything as the top

Therefore, the completion of the magnificent new stadium struck a
special chord with every GAA member around the country and abroad. What
really brought that home to the masses was the use of the stadium for
the Special Olympics and the spectacular television coverage of the
opening ceremony. Every GAA person stood a bit taller after that
momentous evening last June.

ALL GAA IS LOCAL: To paraphrase the late Tip O’Neill re politics –
nothing gives the GAA such authenticity in the Irish psyche as the club
championships from under-14 level to senior.

In every county in the land they capture the imagination of young and
old, revitalise parishes that have been socially and economically
dormant for years and galvanise the local people into a mad outburst of
civic pride in their locality that nothing else under the sun can do.

In every county every year we see amazing outbursts of joy, excitement
and sense of belonging when a team comes from nowhere to win a county
title for the first time or to regain a title after a lapse of a
generation. This year we saw first time successes for Caltra in Galway,
Blackhall Gaels in Meath and the Arles parish in Laois which sent out
teams to win both the county senior and intermediate titles after a
local row split the parish some years ago.

The GAA never worries about a row or two, which is just as well maybe,
but usually gets stronger when the combatants have returned their swords
to their scabbards. This sort of thing rarely happens in other Irish
sports – in the GAA it happens every year on several occasions

GAA IS FOR CHILDREN: The massive investment in coaching over the past 20
years has ensured a vibrant

The GAA never worries about a row or two, which is just as well maybe
youth structure in the GAA and in every corner of Ireland the happiest
GAA faces are to be seen in U-14, U-16 and U-18 teams at parish level as
thousands and thousands of young boys and girls give their all for the
honour of the local parish.

The sheer joy of just participating on a summer evening is all these
youngsters want, but if success is added in then so much the better.
Nobody has ever tabulated the real extent of this underage activity in
the course of a summer’s week.

That’s a great pity because it could be as many as a quarter of a
million teenagers every week. What would Ireland be like if that
facility for releasing physical and mental tension was not so readily
provided for these young people? The GAA doing the government’s, and
often parent’s, work and getting very little thanks for it.

THE GREAT THEATRICAL EVENTS: The All-Ireland finals, provincial finals
and county finals bring spectacle, drama, excitement and entertainment
on the grand scale to the masses of Irish people every year.

They are now taken for granted of course which is a pity because massive
effort goes into each ‘final production’.

Players make colossal sacrifices, managers work themselves to the verge
of breakdowns, officials do all the background work and the referees
conduct the orchestras. , ,

The whole thing coalesces into a series of magnificent theatrical events
from county final day in every county to All-Ireland final days in Croke

Without these spectacles, the lives of millions of Irish people would be
so much poorer emotionally and even spiritually and the actual quality
of the finals is never really that important. It is the event that

We should never take these things for granted when we see how great
occasions in some other sports have been besmirched by thuggery,
drug-taking or financial avarice and we should pray that the great GAA
events will not go the same way.

OUR LOCAL HEROES: Possibly the greatest thing the GAA has going for it
is that the biggest stars in the game who constantly illuminate our
playing fields with their skills and motivate the next generation to
attempt to emulate them are all from some local area.

They are part of the plain people of Ireland. They are not just pictures
on the television or in the papers like the great soccer stars. The GAA
hero returns to his native place after every game and the national
superstar becomes just a local lad again.

He can be met in the local village or town the next day. He might be
sitting in front of you at the local Mass on the morning of the big
match. He may be a teacher in the local school, a garda in the local
station or delivering your post every morning.

This local involvement by our top stars differentiates Gaelic games from
most of the other major sports. They are living proof that GAA games are
of the people and not divided like UK soccer between pampered, spoiled
superstars on the one hand who live in a different stratosphere and the
plain people who pay good money every week to watch.

THE CRAIC AND THE CHAT: There are hundreds of thousands of Irish people
whose lives would be totally barren without the opportunity to engage in
the chat and the craic associated with matches.

Getting there, meeting people, giving out to the ref, seeing famous
people from the GAA, spotting former great stars in the crowd, and going
for a few jars in a GAA pub afterwards. Take all that out of many
people’s lives and they would have no wish to keep going on this earth.

After the recent famine, they will welcome the O’Byrne, FBD and McKenna
Cup games in January like manna from heaven.

That’s (in part) the GAA for you. All things to all men and women. But
where would Ireland be without it? Happy Christmas!

GAA Quotes

Ah yes the career of the Gaelic footballer can end in a flash. Just ask any Roscommon player. — Keith Duggan on Roscommon’s nude pool playing.

That’s the first time I’ve seen anybody limping off with a sore finger! — Armagh’s Gene Morgan to ‘injured’ teammate Pat Campbell.

In terms of the Richter scale this defeat was a force 8 gale. — Meath fan after the 2001 All-Ireland final.

I’m going to tape the Angelus over this. — Meath fan after recording the same match.

He’s as useless as a back pocket in a vest. — Kerry fan on Colin Corkery.

Colin Corkery is deceptive. He’s slower than he looks. — Kerry fan

I think Mickey Whelan believes tactics are a new kind of piles on your arse. — Disgruntled Dublin fan

The rules of Meath football are basically simple: if it moves kick it; if it doesn’t move kick it until it does. — Tyrone fan after a controversial All-Ireland semi-final.

Q. What do Kerry footballers use for contraception? A. Their personalities. — Cork fan.

A Kerry footballer with an inferiority complex is one who thinks he’s just as good as everybody else. — John B. Keane

Life isn’t all beer and football: some of us haven’t touched a football in months. — A Kerry player during the league in the early 1980’s

I love Cork so much that if I caught one of their hurlers in bed with my missus I’d tiptoe downstairs and make him a cup of tea’ — Joe Lynch (actor)

Brothers in Arms for


The following is a list of brothers who won medals at some level of

Kildare football over the period 1904 to 2006. The first six listed were

members of the first team to bring a senior championship title to Sarsfields.

Jack & Mick Murray

Jimmy, Frank and Tess Conlan

Jack & Mick Collaton

Michael & Font Fitzgerald

Tom & Mick Keogh

Peter & Jim Grady

Mick, Bill & Tom Geraghty

Jack & Ned Keogh

Jack, Eamon & Tom Fitzgerald

Dick & Paddy White

Tommy, Con & Joe O’Hanlon

Eamon, Sean & Connie Maher

Mick, Derry & Billy Nolan

Jim & Mick Cash

John & Seamas Crofton

Frank, Peter & Pat Timmons

Jimmy, Joe & Tossie Keogh

Sean & Seamas Duggan

Vincent & Tommy O’Hanlon

Billy & Seamas Dempsey

Pat & Tom Cox

Ben, Mattie & Paddy Reilly

Jim, Paddy & Tom O’Neill

Kevin, Brian & Michael Nolan

Joe & Jarlath Kelly

John & Maurice O’Neill

Tom, Seamas, Peter & John Cash

Ray, Rod & Sean O’Sullivan

Pat, Tommy, Seamas & Mick Buckley

Tom, John Joe & Con Kelly

Tommy, Peadar & Liam Brennan

Kevin, Anthony & Willie Brennan

Leo, Matt & Paddy Dempsey

Joe, Sean & Kieran Murphy

Darren & Paddy Campbell

Tom & Liam Brennan

Tom & Jackie Brown

David, Conor & Dermot Earley

Raymond, Morgan & Graham O’Sullivan

Michael G & Niall Buckley

John & Seamas Byrne

Noel, Seamas & Owen O’Neill

Liam, Denis & Seamas O’Callaghan

Paddy & Eoin O’Sullivan

Mick & Saa Brown

Ollie & Paddy Geraghty

Eddie, John & Tom Loughlin

Keith & Niall Hedderman

Paul & Martin Murray

Enda & Luke Sweeney

Martin & Michael Dunne

Pat & Jimmy Murphy

Mick & Tom Doyle

Kieran, Brian, Jim & Michael Dempsey

Liam, Philip & Michael Ward

Liam & Tom Sex

Niall & Eddie Morrissey

Dermot, Michael & Kieran O’Hanlon

Sean & Liam Mulpeter

Des, Kevin & Tony Bergin

Christy & Martin Sweeney

Tom & Dick Shaw

Gerard & Eric Thorpe

Tony & Brendan Ryan

Miko & John Doyle

Paddy & Jim Monahan

Pat & Noel Loftus

Willie, Kevin, John & Frank Brennan

Liam, Tommy, Peadar, John & Christy Brennan

Barry & Willie Brennan

Andrew & Owen Brennan

Barry & Christy Brennan

Tommy & Paddy Moran

Tom & Michael (Butcher) Keogh


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