When the Kilmainhamwood warriors became kings
On November 18th 1973, Kilmainhamwood, that included one 11-year-old player, claimed victory over Summerhill in the u-21 Bracken Cup in Pairc Tailteann. Kilmainhamwood GFC will host a reunion on this Saturday, 25th November, in Keogan's Lounge. Music by Paul Kiernan, admission free, everyone welcome.
It was a warm summers evening in May 1973 when a motley crew of young lads from Kilmainhamwood assembled in Castletown to play the first round of the Meath under 21 FC.
This was an ungraded competition open to all clubs in the county on a straight knockout basis. There was a sort of ad hoc selection committee comprising Pee Corbally John Joe Crosby (club Chairman), Noel Shankey(club Secretary ) and Sean McCormack.
The first headcount revealed only 12 players of suitable age . Matthew Farrelly and Aiden Bennett both 15-year-olds were pressed into action to bring the number up to 14. The final throw of the dice was to conscript Frank Corbally at the ripe young age of 11 into action. Yes, that's right, 11!.
The whites of Kilmainhamwood and the reds of Drumconrath took to the field and Kilmainhamwood ran out winners on a score line of 2-8 to 1-4.
The prize was a second round meeting with the great Navan O'Mahonys in Kilberry two weeks later . By this time we had recruited sufficient numbers to retire our under age assistants but their contribution was not forgotten.
Thanks to an amazing performance from everyone of the greatest underdogs since David faced Goliath in biblical times Kilmainhamwood found themselves only 2 points in arrears in the final moments of the game.
A long speculative ball kicked into the O'Mahonys' square broke loose and was booted to the corner of the net by corner forward Davy Shields to see Kilmainhamwood finish as winners and O'Mahonys scratching their heads about how that had actually happened.
As a side note to that game Davy Shields had his appendices removed in Navan Hospital later that same night .
Next up was a quarter final meeting with Rathkenny in Kells . Again we found ourselves as underdogs going into this encounter and fully justified this tag as we trailed by seven points going into the last ten minutes of the game.
Although the game had been a mild mannered affair up until that point due to some minor incident a bit of a disturbance arose on the pitch.
When the referee restored order and awarded a throw in to restart the ball was punched out to the waiting Padraig Gogarty who launched a huge effort towards goal which incredibly ended in the back of the net.
Philip Mc Cormack scored a couple of points in quick succession afterwards and when Cristo Shankey was pulled to the ground while in position on the square Johnny Clarke dispatched the resulting penalty to see us finish as winners again .
The semi final was fixed in Pairc Tailteann against St Bridget’s Ballinacree . This game was a tense and nervy affair with both teams playing under their best form. A draw seemed a fair result and the replay was fixed for Kells .
The replay was on a very wet autumn day and the rain fell from start to finish . However the overhead conditions did not deter the Wood and with Johnny Clarke at his free flowing high scoring best we won by a good margin and found ourselves in the final awaiting the outcome of Seneschalstown and Summerhill .
Then disaster struck when our star midfielder Patrick Mc Dermot sustained a broken jaw in a tournament game in Moynalty. Pat had been our powerhouse at midfield and we felt his loss would be a big blow to our chances in the final.
The final day arrived and we faced Summerhill on a fine crisp day in November . Yours truly was moved out to midfield to partner Denis Farrelly and Cristo moved from full forward to man the forty yards position.
We had great faith in our defenders who had held firm all year and with Fintan Shankey in goals a full back line of Gerry Hennessy Martin O Connor and John Curtis ,Martin Gilsenan (team captain)RIP John Farrelly and Padraigh Gogarty manning the half backs we knew they would withstand most of what Summerhill would throw at them .
We also knew that our ace card in this match as in all the other matches was the accuracy and free scoring ability of Johnny Clark . I’m not sure what his final tally was but he accounted for most of the scores . That said it would be incorrect to attribute this incredible win to any one player as the entire team put in a Herculean performance and finished 1-9 to 1- 3 winners .
There are more stories to be told both on and off the pitch about this fantastic achievement but I will those to others who may wish to do so . Henry