The Pride & The Passion (Paddy Prendergast)

‘The Pride and the Passion’
By Paddy Prendergast

My earliest recollection of Ballintubber teams was going to matches as a young lad and watching the skills and the commitment of the likes of Dick Feeney, John Tuohy, Willie Cawley and Jim Horan. Having watched those early Ballintubber teams in action I realised that they all had two things in common – a great pride in the Ballintubber jersey and a great passion on the field. The “Pride and the Passion”, the badge of successive Ballintubber teams down the decades. Years later some of those players brought the same fervour to the sideline when supporting other Ballintubber teams. One of the most vocal and passionate was Tom Carthy whom I remember with great fondness.

I made my debut with Ballintubber when I was aged 15 or 16. I played with my brother, Tom, Anthony Lally, Jimmy Walsh, Brod Kirby, Pake Gibbons, Jimmy McNally and I can remember such luminaries as Joe Moran, Richie Horan and the incomparable Paddy O’ Malley. Joe Moran had played for St. Jarlaths College in the Connacht championship and playing for Jarlaths in those years, as Joe probably knows, was only one step below beatification.

Richie was a Divinity student in Maynooth in those days and I remember that he had to take a year sabbatical because of an unfortunate incident in Matt’s field. He and I, playing on the one team, collided during the course of the game and Richie sustained a broken jaw. It must have been very traumatic for him not to be able to return to Maynooth for the year but I often thought afterwards that it was a blessing in disguise. You see, Richie was very interested in magic and was quite a useful amateur magician. I’m sure he spent that year developing and perfecting his magician’s skill, and years later, after he was ordained his performances on the stage gave immense pleasure to countless people throughout Mayo and Galway. The ways of God are sometimes strange!

Then there was Paddy O’ Malley the most elegant of them all. He played for St. Pat’s Druncondra in the Leinster Colleges championship and he won an All-Ireland Minor medal with Mayo in 1935. He was definitely good enough for the Mayo senior team at that time but apparently he wasn’t a favourite of some of the selectors.

During those years we travelled to matches all over west Mayo on bad roads and on bad bicycles but nobody complained. We just enjoyed being young. Sometimes we enjoyed the luxury of travelling in the back of Tom Carthy’s lorry – that was special!

Then to that championship of 1954. We had a good team of accomplished footballers and we won the County Final very easily. The manner in which we lost it afterwards had very little to do with sport or sportsmanship.

So as I reflect on my playing days with Ballintubber and get a whiff of my youth again I cherish the memories of lifelong friendships and I remember with fondness all those who shared with me those golden hours.