“When we were flying into Singapore, Fr Tully gave a serious talk on the dangers of that evil city. If he had said nothing, we’d all have been wrapped up in bed early. As it was, a lot of fellows went out for a walk that night!”
Gerry Quinn, a member of Meath the 1967 All-Ireland winning Meath panel, recalling their journey to Australia for a ground-breaking footballing tour the following year, and the advice of county board chairman, Fr Packie Tully.
In March 1968, the Meath team senior football team set off on an historic trip to Australia, invited as champions to play a number of regional Australian Rules teams in a series of exhibition matches.
This followed a match between an Australian Rules team and Meath in October 1967 when the Aussies surprised and trounced the All-Ireland champions. In the space of ten days, Meath played and won five matches against the Australians in Perth, Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne. It was the forerunner to the modern day Australian Rules series.
Meath GAA legend Peter McDermott was the coach of that team, and published an account of the trip in ‘Gaels in the Sun’. To mark the golden jubilee of that trip, Ballivor-native writer and broadcaster, John Quinn, has published an abridged version of the book, with additional material.
He interviews surviving players on their memories of the trip, including Bertie Cunningham , Pat ‘Red’ Collier, Jack Quinn, and Ollie Shanley, who said: “Fr Tully told you to jump, but Peter McDermott told you which way to jump!”
Paddy Mulvany recalled mistakenly being given suntan oil instead of sun cream, and spending two days in bed in Sydney as a result, while Austin Lyons remembered: “Myself and Kerrigan saw a pineapple for the first time. We bought it and then couldn’t figure out how to open it. We ended up hacking it to pieces with a steel comb!”
2018 is also the centenary of the birth of Peter McDermott, and the new book includes a special centenary tribute to ‘The Man in the Cap’, as well as a foreword by a more recent star, Colm O’Rourke.
Sean Boylan will perform an official launch of the book at 7.30pm in Jack Quinn's Pub at Scurlogstown, Trim, on Wednesday 18th July, to which all are invited. The book will retail at €10.