A Bit of Mullingar Shamrocks-Pearse’s shared history.
1958 Junior County Final: Pearse’s 2-5 Raharney 3-2
Our sister club in the early days, Pearse’s Hurling Club, achieved senior status by winning the 1958 Westmeath Junior hurling title. They qualified for the county final, played on 24 August 1958, by defeating the Mental Hospital (3-9 to 2-5), Kilbeggan on an objection (after losing 4-4 to 3-5) and Maryland (5-9 to 2-2) compiling an impressive 11-23 on the road to the final. This was Pearse’s third junior final appearance. The structure of the team was utterly different from the ones that contested previous finals. Home produced for the most part; a product of the street leagues and college hurling. This was a young team and one hurling judges believed had the potential to compete effectively at senior level in the future. Those hurling judges were correct and Pearse’s went on to win the senior hurling title in 1962.
Raharney with wins over Castlepollard (4-6 to 1-3) and Cullion (4-3 to 3-2) provided the final opposition and could also boast of some promising young players. Nicky Weir, Mick Flanagan and Matt Mullen were only sixteen; Kevin Lynch slightly older. Heavy rain fell throughout the game with the atrocious conditions not providing any favours for the younger, smaller and lighter Pearse’s team. Producing some of their best hurling all year the town side led at halftime by 1-4 to 1-0 and were deprived of what would have been a deserved victory when Brendan Shields scored a late Raharney goal to level the match (2-5 to 3-2). Mick Carey was the outstanding player on the field getting strong support in defence from his brother Noel and seventeen-year-old Davy Nolan. The veteran Denny O’Callaghan, , returned for the final and justified his presence by scoring 2-1, and was well assisted by Ollie Mahedy and Eamonn Hassett.
Pearse’s: Jimmy Savage; Paddy Browne, Sean Mullen, Noel Carey; Davy Nolan, Mick Carey, Seán Mulderry; Vinny Newman and Nicky Watson; P Mullally, Denny O’Callaghan, Ollie Mahedy; Frank Wallace, Martin Purcell, Eamonn Hassett.
Replay: Pearse’s 3-7 Raharney 1-4
The replay played on 12 September was euphemistically described by the Westmeath Examiner as a ‘hard hitting, close marking game’. Translated this means ash flying all over the place, plenty of sledging, the kind of game Liam Griffin once described as one ‘you’d be pulling splinters out of yourself for a week afterwards’. Pearse’s using a fitness advantage and moving the ball quickly were clear 3-7 to 1-4 winners. This time round the performance of Jimmy Savage in goal was crucial to Pearse’s victory. Vinny Newman dominated the mid-field exchanges and as a bonus provided four points from accurately struck frees. The Pearse’s forwards adopted tactics of constant movement orchestrated round the flicks and deliveries of Denny O’Callaghan. Raharney had done their homework well and delegated the task of neutralising Mick Carey to Matt Garland and the duel between these two players was one of the game’s highlights. Vinny Newman and Eamonn Hassett with two points each and Matt Purcell with a goal sent Pearse’s into a 1-4 to 0-1 halftime lead. Early in the second-half Davy Nolan goaled from fifty yards to secure a comfortable nine points lead for Pearse’s, a winning margin they maintained as the sides exchanged 1-3 each before the final whistle.
Pearse’s: Jimmy Savage; Paddy Browne, Seán Mullen, Noel Carey; Davy Nolan, Mick Carey, Nicky Watson; Vinny Newman and Martin Purcell; Frank Wallace, Liam Ralph, J Rea; Denny O’Callaghan, G Smith and Eamonn Hassett.
Raharney: Willie Keane, Ritchie O’Keeffe, Colm Doyle, Nicky Weir; Johnny Greville, Kevin Lynch, Mattie Mullen; Eamonn Hickey, Mick Flanagan, John Harris, Matt Garland, Brendan Shields: John Mooney, Sean Quinn, Jimmy Rooney.
Inevitably, the outcome of the game and some incidents became the focus of boardroom debate. Raharney objected to the legality of Martin Purcell and Liam Ralph claiming the latter played with Thurles Sarsfields and was not properly transferred. Pearse’s produced the necessary Central Council proof to show that Ralph was properly transferred.
Seán Stokes, who captained Castletown Geoghegan to victory in the senior championship, was the referee on the day. His report to the board put Raharney in the disciplinary dock and provided an insight into the real meaning of tough and uncompromising. Stokes reported that in the fiftieth minute following a clearance from the Pearse’s goalmouth he ‘turned around suddenly and saw a Raharney player striking a Pearse’s player in a very dangerous manner’. He ordered the player off. He first refused to go until told to do so by his captain. A number of skirmishes followed and when a Raharney player struck a Pearse’s player repeatedly with his hurley when the ball was elsewhere he too was ordered off. Seán Stokes also reported that he was struck on the head by a Raharney hurley when trying to break up an argument. Finally, almost on full time a third Raharney player was ordered off but was encouraged by his colleagues to refuse to leave the pitch. As the game was in its final minutes, the referee decided it was wiser to leave him on the field in order to finish the match. In the end, three Raharney players were suspended for two months each. All three explained at the County Board meeting, they were only pulling on the ball when the Pearse’s players were accidentally hit. One player told the meeting that he was only ‘pulling fairly hard’ when the player was hit. ‘He was playing the game as it should be played’. A second ‘was pulling on the ball at the time and his hurley broke.’ The third player sent off was pulling on the ball on the ground when a Pearse’s player who was on the ground put out his hand to pick the ball and he was hit. Another Pearse’s player then jumped on his back. The player who had been on the ground came back and gave out a lot of ‘guff’. ‘I gave him a tip of a hurley’. He had no idea why he was called in to a County Board meeting.
Fógra: It is interesting in the context of the recent under-age eligibility debate in the GAA to see that up to 8 minors including at least four sixteen-year-old players (Seán Mulderry, Mattie Mullen, Mick Flanagan and Nicky Weir) were playing adult hurling at a time when the game was essentially a blood sport. The Westmeath League Final between Castletown-Geoghegan and Rickardstown played a few weeks later was abandoned after 15 minutes. In the Feis Cup final between the same clubs, Steven Bolger interest in the game was terminated at the throw-in.
County Chairman, Eamon Moynihan was a busy man. These two games and the Raharney-Pearse’s match were dealt with at the first County Board meeting of 1959. At the same meeting a request from The Downs to be regarded to junior (from intermediate) was granted and sensationally in the course of the meeting the great Jobber McGrath announced that Rickardstown had decided to resign from the GAA: ‘We have no grounds and no hall. We tried to keep the team going and played honestly and sportingly. We now feel we can not continue any longer and we are resigning from the Association’. (Guess who won the 1959 Senior Hurling Championship and who they beat in the final?).
And just to show that the issues in the GAA tend to be recurring it was decided at the meeting to write to all clubs requesting that they supply two members who were prepared to act as referees
Fógra Eile: In 1959, Pearse’s player Liam Ralph won the Irish featherweight senior boxing title – a useful skill to bring on to GAA pitches at the time.
Fógra Specialta: Kilbeggan had some consolation for losing out to Pearse’s on an objection. Two weeks after the county final Pearse’s were beaten 5-4 to 0-1 by Kilbeggan in the Junior League Final.
@followers .. thanks to Tom Bardon for the photograph.