Text is taken from ‘Caherlistrane G.A.A. and 150 Years of Parish Life’ by Michael J. Hughes.

1961 FINDS us at senior level In league football. Our first league match, on the Sunday before Patrick’s Day, didn’t go so well, for we could only manage two points against Milltown/Kilconly (1-4 to 0-2). Later that March there was better news when Caherlistrane had a good win over Corofin (2-4 to 0-2) at Tuam Stadium where “in a solid defence Brendan Gannon, Paddy Meeneghan and Tommy O’Brien were always on top”. Our luck didn’t hold for the following month, for we were defeated by Milltown (1—8 to 1-3) in the final of the North Board Junior League (1960), played in April ’61. But the team started off well in the junior championship that summer with a runaway victory over Dunmore (2-11 to 0-3) when “the stronger and more experienced Caherlistrane side proved too good for the Dunmore lads”. This win brought us to the North Board semi-final and another match with Milltown. They won again (1-9 to 0-4).

Things were better in ’62. We beat Milltown for a start, and had victories also over Cortoon and Clonbeme. In the match against Clonbeme, the team “showed a big improvement on previous outings, and their forwards in particular gave a very good display”. But the big match of the year was yet to come. That was the North Board Final against Kilconly at Tuam Stadium. The report on the game mentions most of the Caherlistrane team:

“The Caherlistrane defence was the keystone of the team, and here they had a faultless half-back line in which Paddy Curran was the star, with P.J. Connell and Tom O’Brien also playing well. Brendan Gannon was on top form, and Patrick Meeneghan and Michael Monaghan also gave a good account of themselves. Frank Hoade and Padraic Lee struck up an effective partnership at midfield, while in attack Jimmy Corner, Kieran Hardiman, John Joe Lee and Patsy Comer made good use of their service”.

1963 wasn’t so good. On a rough day (and I don’t mean the weather) in Tuam, we lost to Corofin and finished the match with only thirteen men. But ’64 brought something to cheer about. In the opening round of the championship we won by 2-4 to 1-3, when “experience told against a young Cortoon side”. Things weren’t so easy in the next round, this time against Kilconly. The match was played in Tuam Stadium after the Galway v Mayo under-21 Connacht Final. Frank Canney was on the victorious Galway side, and then played against Kilconly. It was raining heavily during the game, and at the end Caherlistrane had just a point to spare.

The win over Kilconly brought us to the semi-final of the North Board Championship. Our opponents were Headford, and in the match “there was little between the sides at any stage, and it was not until late in the hour that Caherlistrane asserted superiority, scoring 1-2 in the last ten minutes”. The score at the end was Caherlistrane 2-6, Headford 0-7.

In October we met Killererin in the North Board Final, and it took two games to decide the issue, for Killererin got a last minute point in the first game, and so forced a draw. Caherlistrane took no chances 1n the replay, and were well on top in the first half, leading by 1-4 to nil at half-time. In the second half Killererin hit back and the big crowd at Tuam stadium saw some thrilling exchanges as hard knocks were given and taken in sporting spirit . Coming towards the end, the pressure was on Caherlistrane, but “their defence rose to the occasion in great style and thwarted the late challenge. Brendan Gannon played a captain’s part at full back, and defenders P.J. Connell, J . Collins, P. Cradock and P J . O’Neill were outstanding”. While the backs were the heroes of the hour, players in other positions were rising to the occasion as well, as “Michael Monaghan and Frank Hoade claimed most of the exchanges at midfield, and in attack F. Canney, the Lee brothers, Patrick Meeneghan and Sonny O’Brien missed few opportunities”. So a jubilant Caherlistrane team brought home the Fox Trophy, having won their game With four points to spare (2-6 to 1-5). We didn’t go on to take the county title, though, in 64. That honour, as in ’62, went to the West Board champ1ons.

The parish teams started off well in 1966. Our minors did particularly well in a match at Milltown. There they were playing Dunmore, who had been county champions for the previous two years. Surprisingly, they beat them easily (4-4 to Dunmore’s 1-1). The juniors, too, were doing well with wins over Cortoon and Menlough that qualified them to meet Headford in the North Board Final. The match, played in Tuam in September, gave Caherlistrane supporters little to cheer about:

“Headford, who set the pace all through, were never seriously threatened and had the issue well in hand at the halfway stage. Although the game never reached exciting heights, it was cleanly fought and there were some neat flashes of football. Caherlistrane never struck true form, and had to give way to the Headford men in most sectors. They tried hard to stem the tide in the second half, but their only reward was a penalty goal in the closing seconds”.

Later in the autumn of ’66 we find Caherlistrane and Headford in a combined team (St. Fursa’s) in the County Senior Football League. Early in November they were narrowly defeated by Tuam Stars (0-11 to 0-8), and with a disallowed goal, were unlucky not to have drawn.

Neighbourly rivalry was back for the next championship clash between Headford and Caherlistrane. This was in June ’68. and the venue, as in the ’66 Final, was Tuam Stadium. But there the similarity ends. This time it was all Caherlistrane as “Tom Cradock and Harry Lee dominated midfield”, and the forwards of which “Padraic Lee, E. Monaghan, P. Connelly and J. O’Dea were best,” ran up a total of fifteen points. In the backs “Paddy Cradock, Paddy Mulroe and Patsy Madden were the mainstay of a defence” that did its job so well that Headford scored only two points in the hour. After that great display another North Board (or county) title looked likely, but we weren‘t to achieve it for some more years.

Our last recorded match of the sixties (in Tuam in ’69) brought a good win over Mountbellew (2-9 to 3-1) in the junior championship. Caherlistrane were four points down at half-time, but “Paddy Mulroe moved to midfield for the winners on the resumption, and this was the switch that made all the difference. With strong support from Leo McHugh and Michael Flaherty, he laid on a steady service for the Caherlistrane forwards. Eamonn Monaghan, Redmond McHugh and Sean Langan were quick to avail of this service, scoring 1-7 in the second period without reply. Others to shine for the winners were Paddy Cradock, Padraic Lee and Kevin Connell”.

Before we leave the sixties, a few words on seven-a-side football at the time. Just as the forties produced our “Shrule Seven“, the early sixties brought another star seven-a-side team that dazzled spectators and opponents in tournaments at home and away. Here are the players: Brendan Gannon (goal), Paddy Curran, Patsy Comer, Jimmy Comer, Oliver Canney, Michael Mc Hugh and Jackie O’Brien.

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