Emigration and retirals had now brought that strong team of the forties to an end, and the early fifties bring us into a lean period in parish football. Indeed, it seems we were out of competitions for a couple of years. But even then there was something of interest happening, for it was in the early fifties that the Walsh lands of Bawnmore were being divided by the Land Commissron, and a few acres were set aside for a G.A.A. pitch. It would be another twenty years before that pitch would be developed, but from the start football was played
there, and on many a summer evening in ’52 and ’53. young men (many of whom would never make it to a parish team) played football there for the sheer fun of it—as they did in local fields throughout the parish.

We were back in championship football in 1954 with Martin Newell inspiring his teammates with some fine displays at midfield. The team reached the North Board Junior Final that year, having beaten Cortoon, Headford and Kilconly on the way. The other finalists were Newbridge, and we met them in Mountbellew on a wet Sunday in October. A rain soaked pitch ruled out stylish play, and although Caherlistrane led at half-time, Newbridge forged ahead in the second half to win by five points (1-6 to l-l).

We weren‘t confined to junior football in 1954, for juvenile competitions had now started, and Caherlistrane boys were enthusiastic. In their first game against Annaghdown we find Caherlistrane a bit slow at first, but “on the change over they made amends when their snipers went into action. Hanley burst through for a goal, Whelan boxed another, and a Heneghan ‘grasscutter’ carried them to a comfortable lead, with Lee’s point adding to Annaghdown’s tale of woe”. The backs too were sound that day for “though Whelan, Fahy and Hanley were Caherlistrane’s most conspicuous defenders, it must be admitted that the other trio – Higgins, Walsh and McHugh – kept their opposite numbers very quiet indeed. Francie Flaherty, too, was very sound in goal.”

In spite of the team’s best efforts, Annaghdown forced a draw that day with a last minute point, but Caherlistrane were back with “star back Costello” to beat them (0-3 to 0-1) in a replay, and went on to reach the final of their group in that year of ’54.

The years 1955-57 were again slack ones for junior football, and in an effort to build up a good team it was decided to start a parish league, with teams from Beaghmore. Killamonagh, Feeragh, etc. taking part. Things did improve in 1958, and in June of that year there was a good win over Dunmore in the North Board Championship. The ’58 team included Brendan Gannon, Jackie O’Brien, Michael McHugh, Sean Langan, John Joe Lee, Patrick Meenaghan, Vincent Roche and Francie Flaherty. Those players were on the combined Caherlistrane/Headford team the following year when they had victories over Tuam, Carrantryla and Glenamaddy.

A Caherlistrane man, forestry official Tom McHugh, was a regular on the Galway Senior football team from the early to the mid-fifties. In the 1954 All-Ireland semi-final in which Kerry beat Galway we find that “Tom McHugh was perhaps least affected by the general wave of nervousness”. The following year he was playing for Connacht in the Railway Cup and “gave a very sound performance, being the most accurate forward on the side.”. In 1956 he was unlucky to break a leg in the semi-final against Tyrone, and so missed the All-Ireland final against Cork. However, he got an All- Ireland medal for that year.

Similar Posts