Issue 9 – November 2012
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[wptab name=’Scór na nÓg – Bliain agus Tríocha ag Fás i mBaile an tSaoir’]
Scór na nÓg – Bliain agus Tríocha ag Fás i mBaile an tSaoir
By Aodán Ó Lorcáin, Tom Chambers & Mick Wren
“ … and may you stay forever young”, a dúirt an t-amhránaí, Bob Dylan;
”may your feet always be swift” – meas tú an raibh sé ag smaoineamh ar rince seit ?
“may you always be courageous, stand upright and be strong” – a Dhia na ngrást … to perform in front of a sea of 2,000 faces in the Theatre Royal Castlebar you’d have to be all that and more !
“may your heart always be joyful and may your song always be sung … … and may you stay forever young” – sin é, dearfa, … he was talking about Scór na nÓg !
Scór na nÓg is that extraordinary all-Ireland talent competition run by the GAA since 1969 which continues to thrive to this day, encouraging young club members to “abair amhrán nó inis scéal”, to dance, to act, to play music or to answer a few general knowledge questions in the hope of doing their club proud against other clubs in their county. If they are successful in winning their county final they might dare to hope they could be competitive when matched against the best of their province. The ultimate dream would be to represent club, county and province in an all-Ireland final competition to find the best of the best in Ireland – and be crowned Champions of All-Ireland !
In 2012-13 our hopes now rest with a Ballad Group drawn from the youth of Ballinteer St Johns.
Robert Aherne, Ben Broderick, Fionn Doherty, Enda Larkin and Andrew O’Connor, have won the hearts of all who have heard them perform and, most importantly, they are also Dublin County Champions having won the final against stiff opposition from across the county during November. Footballers and Hurlers all, they are no strangers to the winner’s podium at county level, having won the Dublin Division 2 Football Féile in 2010. They were proud to represent Dublin at Féile Dhoire 2010 where they made friends for life with our hosts, Erin’s Own GAC Lavey, sa Ghualainn Dubh. They would love nothing more than to return to Derry, where the 2013 Scór na nÓg final will be held, to represent Dublin once more in another GAA All-Ireland final. Guímid gach rath orthu.
Andy O’Connor, Enda Larkin, Fionn Doherty and Robert Aherne with coach Gráinne Larkin
Bhí Raidio na Life chomh tógtha leis an ngrúpa seo gur chuir siad faoi agalamh iad agus chraobhscaoil beo cúpla amhráin á chasadh acu i ndiaidh dóibh Craobh Bhaile Átha Cliath a bhaint amach. Má tá fonn éisteachta oraibh cliceáil thíos.
This year marks an exciting new dimension to Scór na nÓg as TG4 are planning a televised competition to run over 13 weeks in the new year featuring many of the county finalists from across the country. Auditions are being held in December and the first programmes are due to air on Sunday evenings from the end of January. Look out for Ballinteer St Johns on your television sets in the New Year and cheer them on.
Ach más súil romhainn é seo, agus mé ag tabhairt aghaidh ar an dtoghchaí le dóchas i mo chroí, ba mhaith liom an deis seo a thapú le súil a chaitheamh siar chomh maith agus cúpla focal a rá i dtaobh na ndaoine a las an lóchrann timpeall na h-ama ar bunaíodh an chumann.
If our young hopefuls are dreaming big dreams and working hard to try to make them become a reality it’s no more than following in the footsteps of the founding fathers and mothers of Ballinteer St Johns who set out 30 years ago to build a great club which would be recognised and respected for excellence in all the codes of the GAA.
People like Mick Wren, then Club Secretary, who organised the first Scór na nÓg competition in Ballinteer St Johns as long ago as 1984 among the national schools which incubated the first teams to wear the tangerine jersey with pride.
Our Lady’s Boys and Girls schools, St Attracta’s and Scoil Naithí competed in the inaugural event organised as part of the club’s celebration programme for the GAA centenary. The finals were held in the school hall in Ballinteer. Lucan Sarsfields GAA club provided a team of adjudicators. The event was a huge success with the hall packed to the rafters with parents, teachers and supporters from the four schools.
Mick Wren ina Fhear an Tigh ar chomórtas Thráth na gCeist, thuas, agus bolscaireacht i leith Scór, thíos, cúpla bliana dar gcionn
Tom Chambers followed where Mick led and, through the 90’s and into the new millenium, organised our entries into Scór na nÓg and Scór Sinsir.
In 1995 the provincial final was held in the Gaiety theatre in Dublin. BSJ were represented by Íde Nic Mhathúna who came second. The following year we won the solo singing in both Scór Sinsear, through Seosamh Mac Donnacha, and Scór na nOg, again, with Íde Nic Mhathúna and question time too. Our most successful competitors in this period were Íde Nic Mhathúna and Róisín Chambers who won many Dublin titles in both Solo Singing and instrumental music. Our most successful question-time team comprised Colm Ó Riain, Colm Ó Muirgheasa and Oisín Chambers who were runners up in Leinster in 2000.
Íde Nic Mhathúna, Róisín Chambers & Seosamh Mac Donnchadha
One of the main aims of Scór is to support the Irish Language and entrants are encouraged to use the cúpla focal if they are able and one team question will always be asked, as Gaeilge, in the Tráth na gCeist competition. So it’s always a good idea to have at least one brainbox who has cumas na Gaeilge on the team.
As we cast our minds back to the early days of Ballinteer St Johns and think of the Irish Language we reflect that Scoil Naithí was not long ar an bhfód ag an am sin. As Ballinteer St Johns took the field at Áras na nÓg, across the road Scoil Naithí was teaching those immortal words, “is mór an onóir dom an chorn seo a ghlacadh”, to the first pupils who would ever have cause to say them in earnest. Pádraicín Ní Mhaoileáin, its first principal, remembers how she walked around Ballinteer at night knocking on the doors of houses, where she could see childrens’ toys in the garden, to ask if their parents would consider sending the children of the house to the new Gaelscoil operating out of the portacabin on Broadford Road. As BSJ celebrates its 30th birthday Scoil Naithí can also celebrate a job well done in the knowledge that a new secondary level Gaelscoil will soon open in Dundrum. St Johns will have no shortage of Gaeilgeoirí to support Scór and utter thosse immortal words go deo na ndeor.
Craobh Naithí of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí na hÉireann operated for many years out of Ballinteer Community School and numbers many Johns members amongst its ranks. In Craobh Naithí many of our members learned to play traditional Irish music to the highest levels and our members regularly win top awards at county, provincial and national fleanna ceoil na hÉireann.
Ballinteer St Johns members Liam Fitzpatrick, Iarlaith Mac Gabhann, Eleanor Gaffney, Enda Larkin and Jane Tully make up half the Craobh Naithí Céilí Band at Fleadh Ceoil na hÉireann in Cavan in August 2010
Tráth na gCeist and Set Dancing Teams and Solo Singer from Ballinteer St Johns with their Dublin winners medals and trophies in 2010
Philip Denmead, of Craobh Naithí, teaches Irish Dancing from Scoil Naithí on Saturdays mornings and it is here that the successful BSJ Scór Set Dancing team of 2010-11 learned their trade. Under Philip’s encouragement and accompanied by Fionn Morrison, Philip Óg Denmead and Conor Leavy, Ballinteer St Johns took the Dublin Scór na nÓg Set Dancing title and progressed to the Leinster semi finals in Leixlip together with a very talented Tráth na gCeist team and our Solo Singer. Gráinne Ní Lorcáin and the Set Dancers went on to represent club and county in the Leinster finals at Ballymore, Co Westmeath, that year before Gráinne eventually reached the 2011 All-Ireland Final in Castlebar.
Gráinne was grateful for the strong support from Kildare, Offaly, Westmeath and Longford as she took the stage in Castlebar
Our great musical tradition was again to the fore at the Dublin rounds of Scór na nÓg in 2011 where Róisín Nic Uileagóid, Enda Larkin, Iarlaith Mac Gabhann, Jane Tully and Robert Aherne were successful against very strong competition from Cuala, Lucan Sarsfields, Na Fianna and more, and were unlucky not to progress beyond the Leinster semi-final stage.
Which brings me back to the beginning, contemplating the future with eager anticipation and always hopeful of great things to come. Will 2013 be the year in which Ballinteer St Johns brings home its first ever All-Ireland title and will it be Scór na nÓg – Bailléad Ghrúpa na hÉireann. We dare to dream.
All the omens are favourable. If we are successful at the next hurdle in Clonaslea, Co Laois, on the 15th December 2012 we will be through to the Leinster Final to be held in Erin’s Isle of Finglas on 12th January 2013. This is only a short hop away for the coachloads of supporters who will surely want to urge us on. Our lads are coached by an All-Ireland finalist who is a talented and highly motivating musician. We have a truly wonderful group of lads who regularly make us proud on the Football and Hurling pitches of the county. A couple of them have also represented Dublin at national level, at Féile Dhoire and in the Arrabawn Championship 2012. So their feet are swift, they stand upright and are strong. They are courageous. If they win Scór na nOg they will stay forever young in the Hall of Fame of the GAA and Ballinteer St Johns. And if we reach Derry, we are sure of a warm welcome from the people of Lavey, in whom the Spirit of Féile burns brightly and where we are all forever young.
[wptab name=’A season on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays…’]
A season of Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
By Pádraic Ó Conchúir
In 2002 the senior footballers of Ballinteer struck for Division 1 with a star studded team including Coman Goggins (then Dublin Captain), Johnny McNally and a whole host of other parish heroes. That year we defied the odds to sneak into the playoffs to beat Round Towers (who were unbeaten in the league up until their last game) and local rivals Naomh Olaf. The baby faced Gerry Quirke lifted the Division 2 trophy to the delight of the Loretto Faithful.
Fast forward ten years and most of that team had retired with the exception of the greying duo of Gerry Quirke and Mark Kavanagh, the forever youthful John ‘turbo’ Gillick and Pádraic Ó Conchúir. On the first Monday night of 2012 and under the expectant stewardship of former Dublin and Ballymun Kickams footballer Declan Sheehan and the recently retired Johnny McNally, you could’ve been forgiven for thinking it was an audition for ‘Ballinteers Got Talent’ as every footballer in the Parish descended on Floodlit Broadford. The roll call alone lasted 20 minutes.
After the first few sessions it was clear that Ballinteer had some serious new talent. The enthusiasm was refreshing and we sat down to chart out our goals for the season.
The main goal was to emulate the team of 2002 and take a seat at Senior Footballs top table. All the early season form, despite injuries, looked very promising. With Gerry Quirke marshaling the defense from full back we drew our opening game away to Cuala who had reached the play off final in 2011. Next up were promotion chasing Perequins who were dispatched thanks to a late penalty by new recruit Glenn Whelan after a barnstorming run from Conor ‘the Bull’ Parker McCabe. That was followed up by a win against Erin’s Isle thanks to some early goals, and an away draw with Naomh Mearnóg. So four games in and the team was well on track.
Next up was Championship and the sizable challenge of Lucan Sarsfields. Driven by a masterful display at midfield by Peter O’Curry, who outplayed and outfought one of Dublin’s brightest prospects, Emmet Ó Conghaile who had a week previously won an all-Ireland under 21 medal at midfield, Ballinteer pushed Lucan all the way to extra time. Led by the wonderful left foot of Glenn Whelan, Ballinteer were in the driving seat until the last few minutes of extra time when Lucan found an extra gear to fall over the line. We not only lost the game that night in the Iveagh Grounds, but we also lost one of Ballinteer’s most prestigious talents in Gerry Quirke. After 12 senior football seasons, the ever youthful Quirke decided that it was time to stand aside. His final display was a true reflection of the class and grace that Ballinteer will do well to match let alone replace.
Unfortunately the challenges that lay ahead were on an equal footing to the Lucan one with high flying Raheny in the league and Thomas Davis (now managed by former Ballinteer supremos Alan Byrne and Martin Walsh) in the second round of the championship. Luck eluded us against Raheny and the unfortunate concession of the two early goals against Thomas Davis despite a spirited comeback meant that we exited the championship in round 2.
Despite the setbacks we were well positioned in the league with a third of the games played. With the summer came the inevitable migration of youth to sunnier climes. The team needed to desperately dip into its reserves of fine club men who have served the club superbly over the years. Over the next tranche of five league matches some of Ballinteers finest re-graced Marlay with their considerable talents, Johnny McNally took the No. 1 jersey, Coman Goggins gave us fifteen minutes to remember against St. Marks, James Oliver provided cover on more than a few occasions. John Hickey stepped up to the plate to deliver some telling performances capped by a crucial goal against St. Annes, and despite some stern tests the team managed to pick up 7 points from a possible 10. The only defeat coming against a heavily fancied Round Towers Clondalkin side.
With 10 games gone we were still very much in the hunt for a coveted playoff spot. Most teams were resigned to seeing Kilmacud’s first team make a swift return to Division 1 after been surprisingly relegated the previous term. So with 5 games to play our goal was in sight. The team was also shored up by some defensive back up in the form of Dublin senior hurling panelist Cormac ‘COB’ O’Brien and former Dublin minor Footballer and Hurler Keith Nolan.
Our next three matches were to define our season. The Ballinteer road show descended on Drumnigh to take on the struggling Trinity Gaels who had also been relegated from Division 1 the previous season. With our resources stretched to their absolute limits we fell agonizingly short to come away with nothing from the game, we were sent back over the M50 with our tails between our legs after a narrow one point defeat. Up next were Naomh Barróg who themselves had been struggling after winning promotion to Division 2. After a relatively close first half Ballinteer moved up a gear in the second half to pull away running out five point winners in the end.
The next test was to prove decisive. We were sitting in the last play-off spot with Skerries and Naomh Mearnóg breathing down our necks. Skerries lay in wait on a Saturday evening in August. Unfortunately we were to come up short again and Skerries ran out deserved winners with goals in either halves determining the outcome. And as the evenings shortened in late August so too did our chances of getting into the playoffs. With two matches to play we knew we had to get something from both games.
An old enemy lay in wait for us next. Goliath now lives in south county Dublin and wears the club colours of Kilmacud Crokes. The considerable talents of Kilmacud’s first team were fine tuning their Championship preparations when they visited Marlay Park in early September. A team of ‘whose who’ of county stars, ‘David’ wearing the tangerine and black of Ballinteer devised a cunning game plan to outwit their opponent and for the opening 20 minutes the game was finely poised. But Goliath was only ever going to be taken down once and the considerable efforts of the season had taken their toll on ‘David’. Goliath ran out comfortable winners in the end.
While Championship and League honors eluded us, we had performed remarkably well in the AIB Cup. We were unbeaten when Perequins visited Marlay for a semifinal in late September. A victory set up a mouthwatering tie with promotion chasing Raheny. The game was played in the wonderful setting of St. Clare’s, home of DCU. We had our shot at our first major senior honours in 10 years when we took the field against Raheny on a crisp Saturday afternoon in October.
Ballinteer out played Raheny in the opening quarter but the score line did not reflect our dominance and Raheny grew in confidence and ended the first half on top. Ballinteer trailed by 3 at the break. The second half followed the same pattern as the first where we dominated and were rewarded with a goal and a point inside the first couple of minutes. The goal coming after a superb run by Feargal Duffy who dispatched the ball to the back of the net after showing former Dublin footballer David Henry a clean pair of heels. The game settled again both teams matched each other over the course of the next 25 minutes. The defining moment came late in the second half in which the Ballinteer defense found itself exposed and within three swift passes the ball found its way from the Raheny keeper to the back of the Ballinteer net. Time ran out for us and although we managed to pull back a point we could not find the killer score to edge out Raheny.
With one league game to play mathematically we were still in with a chance to clinch a play-off spot, the only thing that stood in our way was Fingallians and the need to beat them by over 40 points. Try as we might we could not overturn our crippling points difference and although we ran out easy winners in the end, we finished joint 5th in the league but lost out to Skerries on a play-off spot on score difference.
SO a season that started on the first Monday in January ended on the first Sunday in November. After ten months of blood, sweat and, privately anyway, a few tears the season drew to a close. We had moved meaningfully forward and had put Ballinteer back on the senior football map in Dublin. We had stand out performances from Colm O’Donnell, Ciaran and Niall McCabe, David and Nick Deveroux, Cormac COB O’Brien, Cormac O’Broin, Keith Nolan, Connor Parker McCabe, Kevin Power, Mark Kavanagh, Ciaran Kilcoyne, Paddy Corcoran, John Hickey, Aaron Tulie, Jack Gilligan, Fionán and Aodhán Clabby, John ‘high tower’ Magee, Gary Mitchell, Peter McGlynn and Shane McCann. Youth had flourished and at times showed real glimpses of brilliance. The performances of Peter O’Curry and Glen Whelan against Lucan will go down in Ballinteer folklore, the consistency, speed and willingness of Feargal Duffy, the astuteness and intelligence of Stephen Fitzsimons. Talent appears to lie in every corner and only needs to be unearthed. Robbie Gaughan and Sam Tully were both thrust into senior football and both were outstanding, fearless and at times inspiring.
Every player who pulled on the Ballinteer jersey deserves tremendous credit and a pint if you see them lurking in the clubhouse over the Christmas.
While the players will take the accolades when a team performs well it would be unwise not to recognize the men who took on the considerable task of putting us back on the road to where this club belongs. Declan, Johnny, Jim and Derek have in the space of 10 months turned a team from relegation candidates to a team chasing promotion.
As the old adage goes, one swallow doesn’t make a summer. The team has turned a corner but bigger challenges lie on the road ahead. But potential itself has a shelf life and as Vince Lombardi once said ‘Winning means you’re willing to go longer, work harder, and give more than anyone else’
[wptab name=’Aindriú Ó’hEithir BSJ Mentor & Friend’]
Aindriú Ó’hEithir BSJ Mentor & Friend
By Shane Casserly
Aindriú Ó’hEithir was a Mentor for the current U11 hurling & football teams for a number of years. He had a particular love for the game of hurling. He played for a while as a child with Kilmacud Crokes but was introduced to Ballinteer St. John’s through his sons.
Pádraic currently plays at U15 level and Iain is part of the U11 team that his Dad mentored. His other son, Colm is a great supporter of his brothers. Aindriú was immensely proud of his sons and loved to watch them play; by his own admission though he “was never as good as them” when it came to playing GAA! As well as mentoring Aindriu was also a very generous benefactor of the club, sponsoring jerseys and tournaments in the past, indeed up to April of this year he was still offering Féile sponsorship to the club.
Sadly, Aindriú lost his battle with Cancer last May, 2012. He is greatly missed!
In November, the U11s hosted a hurling tournament in his memory, with teams from Cork (Sliabh Rua), Clare (Ruan) and our neighbours Naomh Olafs. The lads did him proud ensuring the Aindriu O’hEithir Cup stays in Ballinteer for its first year.
His legacy will live through the fine young players he helped to develop and through his own sons. He was our mentor and our friend.