(FROM AN INTERVIEW IN 1980)
My first memories of the G.A.A in Ballintubber go back to 1909 or 1910. I was a young boy then but I know that there was football played here in my fathers time.
Ballintubber and Killawalla played a match in Log in about 1910 and I remember that Killawalla won that match. Killawalla had a good team and I remember the O’ Malleys in particular being very good athletes. There was John and his brother Joe who was Connacht Champion high Jumper. He used to jump over 6ft at that time.
Later down in about 1917 or 1918, Ballintubber had a strong team. John Jack Malone from Gortbawn was a wonderful footballer as was his brother Michael. There were two Conaboys from Islandeady who played for Ballintubber then. There were also two Cannons from Ballyheane, Pakie and Mike, Bernie Kerrigan from Aughagower and two Prendergasts from Cortoon, Martin (Tom’s brother) and Michael (Phil’s brother).
They played a match against Castlebar in Castlebar about 1918. Jack Ryder was at it. He said that Castlebar won it. The G.A.A rules became stricter about this time.
During the ‘Troubles’ the British authorities banned the local football matches as they wanted no crowds assembling. The authorities asked Paddy Tuohy, Brendan’s father, not to allow his field to be used for a local match but Paddy said he feared to think what would happen if he tried to stop them. ‘Lock’ Staunton from Skehanagh, a brother of Peter and Pat said they would play the match ‘ in a field of spuds’ if they had to. I remember being at a match in The Coarsepark, a field owned by Broddie Tuohy, at the back of where Keaveney’s live now. It was in the 1920s and Ballintubber got beaten the same day. Dick Lydon who was beside me at the match said “It’s God help poor Jack Malone” as Jack was playing half the opposition on his own.
In those early days almost every village could field a football team. Families were very large, eleven or twelve children in a family was not unusual. I remember on one occasion the village of Cortoon playing a challenge game among themselves. On one side of the boreen you had the Ryders, the Dunleaveys, the Feeneys and the McGreevys, on the other, the Gibbons’s, Quinns, Newell’s and the McDermotts. Regretfully some of those family names are no longer with us. How rural Ireland has changed!