Slane GAA club celebrated some notable anniversaries at its well-attended annual awards function last month.
It was always going to be a night of highs and lows for the club, however, after the deaths this year of two esteemed club members, Gary Harding, a former player with the club, and Oliver Harding, one of the long-time father figures in the club.
The achievements of both Gary and Oliver were acknowledged on the night.
It was also a night for recalling what might have been, after Slane lost out on returning to Junior ranks when losing the Junior B final to Na Fianna in October.
However, this was also the year when the fabulous new clubhouse at Toddy Harding Park was completed – a landmark development in the history of Slane GAA. And, in recent days, the construction of a walking track which will run to almost 900 metres around the perimeter of the club’s grounds has begun.
“The walking track and new clubhouse will put our club very much at the heart of the community,” said chairman Nicholas Tallon.
“There is great excitement in the area about the development of this walking track as it will provide a safe place for walkers and joggers to exercise. We have seen since our clubhouse opened in time for the Feile during the summer that it has really become a focal point for us.”
But 2018 was also a landmark as, coincidentally, it marked three significant anniversaries for Slane GAA. Slane won the Junior Championship title in 1918 (the final was actually played in 1919, as was common back then); and the Intermediate title was annexed 50 years later, and, then, 25 years later, as hard as it is to credit now, Slane’s second team secured the Junior B championship.
The 1918 team was represented at the recent function, held in Stackallen Tennis Club, by Joe Ledwidge – whose father Joe was on the team which defeated Athboy O’Growney’s at the Showgrounds in Navan.
The 1968 intermediate success, 50 years ago, was a major moment in the club’s history. Many of the surviving members of that win over Bohermeen, which was considered a shock at the time, were present in Stackallen.
The Junior B win 25 years later showed the strength in depth of the Slane club in the late 1980s and 1990s, an era which also saw success at minor and under 21 level, as well as two Feis Cup final appearances and two senior championship semi-final appearances.
A medal was presented to each of the players from the 1968 and 1993 teams following an address from Anthony Harding on behalf of the 1968 team and Peter O’Brien on behalf of the 1993 team. Anthony was one of four brothers – the others being Eamon, Kevin and Thomas (Toddy) – on that team.
There were also awards presented to current members of the ladies and men’s sections for their performances in 2017 and 2018.
Slane fielded a record number of teams in men’s and ladies football this year and the sense of optimism in the club at the moment carried through to the celebration night where members and friends, young and old, mingled and shared stories.