The Meath players and mascot from the 1939 All-Ireland SFC final against Kerry at Croke Park (from left) was: back - Joey Loughran, Jim Kearney, Matt O’Toole, Ted Meade, Paddy Beggan, Hugh McEnroe, Hugh Lynch, M Clinton, Tom ‘Bolier’ McGuinness; front - Jim Clarke, Jack Cummins, Tony Donnelly, Kevin Devin, Christy Reilly, Pat Donnelly, Willie Brien, Mattie Gilsenan; mascot - master Newman (Bohermeen).

COLUMN: Brendan Cummins has compiled an important collection

Following last week's column about old match programmes, they feature again this week.

A number of sports enthusiasts have been in contact about old match programmes and family connections to publications that were highlighted last week.

They will be featured over the next few weeks, but former Meath GAA Co Board official Brendan Cummins has provided a wealth of information for this week.

Brendan included details of the oldest programme in his substantial collection that dates back to a Croke Park camogie double header from 1915 - 106 years ago.

Another very important publication from that era is the 1939 All-Ireland SFC final programme for the game between Meath and Kerry.

Brendan's father, Jack Cummins, was full-forward on the Meath team.

Brendan takes up the story.

Photographer: David Mullen

1939 - MEATH v KERRY

"Approaching the end of the 1930's Meath's disappointing championship record showed few signs of improving. The last, and only, Leinster success had been achieved as far back as 1895 when Pierce O'Mahonys from Navan represented the county and were most unlucky when going under to Arravale Rovers of Tipperary in the All-Ireland final.

"Some 44 years passed with just a handful of provincial final appearances, but no title and in 1939 expectations were not particularly high. However, there were signs of improvement in the National Football League as successive finals in 1938 and 1939 were reached, but Mayo registered emphatic wins on both occasions.

"Meath's opening game in the 1939 championship was against Laois in Mullingar and they avenged the previous year's controversial defeat at the hands of the O'Moore County.

"The semi-final against Kildare in Drogheda led to a great deal of controversey when Meath won by two points, Kildare subsequently protested that one of Meath's goals was scored after the referee had whistled for a free. The matter went to Leinster Council, but the referee's report stood, much to the fury of Lilywhite officials.

"Meath's opponents in the Leinster final were Wexford when Matt Gilsenan and his men had four points to spare thus bridging the 44-year gap.

"This was followed by an eight-point win over Ulster champions Cavan in the All-Ireland semi-final and Meath were now within an hour's football of becoming All-Ireland champions for the first time.

"Meath's preparations for the big day took place at Randlestown House under the guidance of team trainer Fr McManus and despite the outbreak of World War 2, there was massive interest throughout the county.

"Meath won the toss to wear green and gold while Kerry wore the red and white of the Dingle club.

"It was all square at half-time (1-2 apiece) with Matt Gilsenan scoring a superb goal for Meath. There was huge doubt about the legitimacy of Kerry's goal scored by Dan Spring.

"The Meath goalie Hugh McEnroe always insisted that the ball never crossed the line, but his protestations were in vain as Kerry won by two points, 2-5 to 2-3.

"Meath's second-half goal was scored by Jim Clarke while Dan Spring scored his second goal for Kerry. Meath received much praise for their performance, not least from Kerry players and officials and although defeat was their fate, they had sown the seeds for the historic breakthrough which was achieved 10 years later.

"The programme for the All-Ireland Football final in 1939 is also special because my father was full-forward. His immediate opponent was Joe Keohane and the Meath team included legendary figures such as Tony Donnelly, Joey Loughran, Matt Gilsensn, Tom McGuinness and Ted Meade (uncle of racehorse trainer Noel).

MEATH TEAM

The Meath team was: Hugh McEnroe, Paddy Beggan, Tom McGuinness, Pat Donnelly, Ted Meade, Christy Reilly, Jim Kearney, Joey Loughran, Matt O'Toole, Matt Gilsenan, Tony Donnelly, Jim Clarke, Wille Brien, Jack Cummins and Kevin Devin. Sub - Hugh Lynch.

1915 - CAMOGIE

"The oldest match programme I have come across, and I have assembled a very significant collection, dates from September 1915 and relates to a camogie double-header at Croke Park - Meath v Dublin North and Louth v Dublin South.

Photographer: David Mullen

"The Meath team that started had nine of the starting 12 from the Killeen club. Killeen is part of Dunsany parish and the names will be quite familiar to Dunsany and Kilmessan people.

"The Meath captain was Miss M Wall who had played with Kilmessan in 1912, but when the Kilmessan club disbanded the players joined Killeen.

Killeen went on become the best team in Meath while Miss M Wall is described in the programme notes as an exceptional player. "The two full-backs were Ann Collier and A Geraghty, T Loughran and M Brabazon were in the half-back-line and in the forwards were M McEntaggart, S Douglas and M Loughran.

"The other three members of the team were from Dunboyne while the three subs listed were all from Killeen, A Loughran, T Loughran, and R Coffey.

"The Meath colours were white with a green sash and the prize was a Donegal Home-Spun."

MEATH TEAM

The Meath team was: Miss M Wall (Killeen), Miss Ann Collier (Killeen), Miss K Geraghty (Killeen), Miss M Mullally (Dunboyne), Miss T Loughran (Killeen), Miss M Brabazon (Killeen), Miss Margaret Mullally (Dunboyne), Miss M Byrne (Dunboyne), Miss A Clynch (Killeen) Miss M McEntaggart (Killeen), Miss S Douglas (Killeen), Miss M Loughran (Killeen).

More from this Topic