‘TEN YEARS TOGGING’
BY MICHAEL JOE SHERIDAN
I was born in the Parish of Robeen. I went to School in Ballygarris and it was there in a field at the crossroads that I played my first football. On Sundays around 1946/47 there would be fifty or sixty young fellows gathered. Mickey Conroy and the Heverin’s would be up from Ballyglass and though it was rough and tumble stuff we made the best of it.
At a seven-a-side Competition at Hollymount Sports in 1947 I played for Ballygarris against Garrymore. Paddy Noone (father of Frank Noone) was the oldest on our team. He was a good footballer and a good boxer as well. Garrymore were more experienced and beat us that day.
I played for Ballinrobe after that. I played alongside, Joe Mulrooney, Bertie Cronin, Tony Jennings, Peter McCartin and Owen Roe O’ Neill. We played 7 a-sides against, The Neale, Cong and Kilmaine. We beat The Neale/Cong in the Final that year.
In 1949 I played for Carras against Mayo Abbey. With me on the Carras team was Jody Brennan, Fr Bell, Mickey McDonagh, Jim Mannion and the Fahy’s. Mayo Abbey had the famous Paddy Forde and Peter Browne. That game was played at Malachy Forde’s and it ended in a draw.
In 1951 Mickey Conroy enticed me back to Ballintubber. There was a seven a side Competition with teams like Carnacon, Ballintubber, Ballyheane and Partry taking part. Ballintubber had a hard game with Partry in the semi-final and though Partry won, Carnacon beat them in the Final. A lot of Carnacon / Ballyglass lads, Christy Finnerty, Mickey Conroy, Seamus Langan, Frank McDonnell, Mike Reilly, Jack Hurst, Paddy Mellette, Gerard O’ Malley, Stephen Munroe, Malachy Casey and Martin Hughes played around that time. Mike and Ulick Burke from Newtown were playing then as well. Martin Reilly, Sean Malone, Willie Brennan, Pake Joyce and others came later.
The Club played in the Street Leagues in Castlebar with such teams as the Hat Factory, St Mary’s Hospital, and the Bacon Factory all had teams. Jimmy McNally was the man pulling us all together. He was a great organiser and a great full back as well in the early years. When Jimmy moved to the wing, Tom Hughes a blacksmith in Kilcoyne’s played fullback for a time.
I guess I was lucky to make the famous 1954 team. It had to be a good side to beat Swinford. We beat Belmullet in the semi’ and we had beaten Islandeady and other good teams as well. Paddy Prendergast, Alex Coakley, Michael Cannon, Aiden Horan, the E.S.B boys and Brennan at full forward were all good footballers. We played the final in Garvey’s field in Hollymount, as the main pitch in Hollymount was flooded. Some of our boys missed out as well from playing Rugby. It was a sin at the time but not as big a sin as playing Soccer. We were an experienced side from playing Achill and teams from all over. Money was scarce and I can remember coming from Achill when Mickey Conroy suggested we have a meal in the Great Southern Hotel. We had a fine feed but when he said we had to leave a tip that put ‘the tin hat on it’ as most of the boys hadn’t the price of the dance for the night left.
In 1955 we were beaten by 1 point in the 1st round by Westport. When a team loses the first round of a Championship it knocks the heart out of them. The E.S.B lads moved away and things were at low ebb.
In 1956 I moved back to play for Hollymount and we won the Junior Championship. Rob Fox, George fair, Sean Stagg (a great forward) Tommy Joe Keane and the Faheys were among those who featured on that great Hollymount side.
That ended my football career made up of many ups and downs. Still I enjoyed every day of my ‘Ten years Togging’.