One of only two clubs to have achieved the remarkable SFC and SHC double in the same year, Navan O’Mahonys, recalled the glory days last week when they celebrated the silver jubilee of their outstanding achievement at the Brews Hill clubhouse.
The 1939 Kilmessan teams were the only other club to have achieved the remarkable feat.
In a year that will always be remembered for Live Aid or when Boris Becker won his first Wimbledon aged 17 years old and when crowd violence led to the death of 39 football fans at Heysel Stadium, Navan O’Mahonys created their own piece of history on the Meath GAA fields when they claimed the double in 1985.
With performances that were reminiscent of some of the great comebacks in one of the great movies of 1985, Rocky IV, O’Mahonys were the all-conquering heroes and stunned the GAA fraternity, especially when they added the SHC title to the football crown.
While the annexing of the Keegan Cup wasn’t such a massive shock, O’Mahonys victory in the SHC was amazing as 1985 was their first appearance in the hurling final.
The decider had been delayed because of the passing of goalkeeper Paul Matthews’ mother.
The Brews Hill club edged out Killyon in Trim with Matthews producing several heroic saves.
There was an element of fatigue in Killyon’s play as they needed three games to see off Athboy in their group play-off and then required a replay to hold off Trim in the semi-final, but O’Mahonys were worthy winners under the guidance of player-coach Ben Tansey.
Such a victory appeared unlikely after the first round defeat by Boardsmill (1-9 to 2-11), but O’Mahonys refused to panic.
A decent draw with Kilmessan in round two gave them the confidence to go on and hammer Longwood and negotiate Trim to book their place in the semi-final.
Rathmolyon provided significant opposition in the last four, but goals from Donal Mitchell and Gerry Kelly gave them a 2-10 to 2-6 win.
In the final O’Mahonys looked set for an easy win as Justin McCarthy’s goal boosted them to a 1-7 to 0-1 interval lead. However, after the break Killyon came storming back and narrowed the deficit. O’Mahonys grabbed just one point in the second-half, but some outstanding defending and great saves from Matthews ensured the Jubilee Cup rested on Brews Hill for the first time.
That great O’Mahonys side retained the cup the following year and team captain and selector Sean McKeigue recalled those glory days and great players at the function.
“They don’t grow on trees, lads like that. We haven’t won one since, so I take my hat off to those men that won those two SHC titles in 1985 and 1986,” he said.
The hurlers completion of the remarkable double capped a superb year for the club.
The football leg of the famous double was achieved on the last Sunday in September when Skryne were defeated 0-10 to 0-7 in the last final to be played at Pairc Tailteann before it underwent significant reconstruction.
Despite winning their opening four games with victories over Moynalvey, Summerhill, St Patrick’s and Ballivor, few gave O’Mahonys much hope against Castletown in the semi-final. However, goals from Tansey, Michael Downes, David Beggy and Finian Murtagh booked the Navan men’s final spot.
Skryne’s semi-final win over Walterstown, which denied the Blacks a four-in-a-row shot, marked them as favourites to lift the Keegan Cup.
O’Mahonys defied the odds with Downes and Murtagh contributing four points each as O’Mahonys claimed the title
When recalling the 1985 SFC final, captain Joe Cassells remembered manager Pat Duffy’s speech prior to the game.
“It actually made the hairs stand on the back of my neck just thinking about what he was saying in the dressing room. It was an inspirational speech,” remembered Cassells.
Cassells was one of only five players to win both senior hurling and football medals for the club that year.
Cassells was the only player to start both finals, although Tansey would also have started both games if he had not been injured prior to the hurling decider. He did make an appearance as a substitute. The three other dual players were Donal Smyth, Gary O’Hare and Mick Dineen.
Navan O’Mahonys SHC team - Paul Matthews; Fergus Duffy, Liam Galvin, Noel Quirke; Philip Ward, Brendan Ryan, Mick Dineen; Joe Cassells, Gerry Kelly; Donal Mitchell, Justin McCarthy, Mick Flynn; Tom Kinsella, Simon Murphy, Sean McKeigue. Subs – John Norris for McKeigue, Ben Tansey for Duffy, Michael O’Connor, Myles McHugh, Gary O’Hare, Donal Smyth, Padraic O’Brien, Michael Wall, Christy Moffatt, Tom Reilly, John Nelson, Richie Cahill. Manager - Ben Tansey; selectors – Liam Kerrane, Louis Kinsella, Martin Smith, Sean McKeigue, Tom Donohue.
Navan O’Mahonys SFC team - Donal Smyth; Brian Smith, Damien Sheridan, Donal Finnegan; Brendan Murray, Brian Reilly, Timmy Creavin; Joe Cassells, David Beggy; Garry O’Hare, Eamonn Dunphy, Michael Downes, Finian Murtagh, Ben Tansey, David Nelson. Subs – Paul Mallon for O’Hare, Dermot McDermott, Frankie McEvoy, Tommy Mullen, Con Murray, John Creavin, Paul Beggy, Henry Finnegan, Colm Kane, Paschal Reilly, William Stanley, Davy Carolan, Michael Dineen. Manager - Pat Duffy; trainer – Joe Tallon; selectors - Seamus Clynch, Louis Kinsella, Jim Cahill.