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Intermediate Football

By Jimmy Nally

1969 started with high hopes of success in the Intermediate Championship. As a result of winning the south junior title in 1968, the team were automatically up-graded to Intermediate standard. The Club also entered the Senior Championship which was run on a League basis and we were put into the amalgamated club’s section. For the Senior Championship, the Club had to have an amalgamated of at least two Clubs and the second club being Mayo Gaels and Garrymore’s ……. and they also had to take the name as distinct from Garrymore and became Known as St.Patrick’s. Only one player from mayo Gaels Played with Garrymore that year, which was Peter Joyce. He played in the first round of the Senior Championship. After that the team was made up solely of fifteen Garrymore players.

The team had been strengthened this year by the inclusion of the minors of 1968, Danny Dolan, Mattie Walsh, Joe Melette, and Walter Henry. The Captain was Brian Healy and the Manager Bertie McHugh. Basically the team had plenty of talent, but due to the fact that so many players resided outside Garrymore , collective training was almost impossible. This major inhibiting factor had upset the preparation in 1968 and indeed, was responsible for their defeat in the County Junior semi-final against Ballaghedereen that year.

The only players that resided at home for the 1969 championship were as follows: Mattie Joe Connolly, Joe Mellette, Tom Tierney, and Pake Connolly and this trebd remained the same in the early 1970’s. The intermediate championship was run on a league basis and the senior championship was on a knock-out basis. The team moved smoothly through the Intermediate championship with gains being – one cup won comfortably.

In the senior championship the progress was just the same and subsequently the senior County semi final and the Intermediate semi-final were reached by Autum time. In the senior semi-final, Ballina were the opposition and after a good game Garrymore were beaten by three points. This Ballina team had dominated football in the 60’s and had reached numerous county finals. Garrymore did not play up to form on that day and seemed to be overawed by the reputation of the opposition.

In the Intermediate semi-final the opposition was an up-and-coming Knockmore team. Naturally, Garrymore were firm favourites as a result of their progress in the senior championship. The members were worried that maybe after such a hard season, competing in both grades, that the team might be tired and leg-weary. The semi-final against Knockmore was played on a blustery day in Castlebar and after a hard game; Garrymore had a narrow win by three points.

In the final the opposition was Ballintubber. Great old rivals of Garrymore down through the ‘60s. Indeed, memories of the 1965 Intermediate final were still fresh in the minds of people. Garrymore were favourites for this game. They always seemed to be able to defeat Ballintubber on the important day and such were confirmed as firm favourites. The final was played in Claremorris and after a hard, dour game, on a wet day, Garrymore emerged narrow winners.

Brian Healy had a tremendous year as Captain with his cute and cat-like anticipation for the breaking ball. Jimmy Fitzgearld was surly the best midfielder in Mayo that year with his unselfish grafting at midfield, and to beat Garrymore that year, a player had impossible task of trying to curb the gigantic Fitzgearld.

The tall and improving young Danny Dolan was also beginning to show his talents in the middle of the field. Vincent Nally had a great season in a number of positions during the championship. Mattie Walsh was gaining a reputation as one of the fiercest forwards in the county with his surging runs and bursts, and every goalkeeper in the county dreaded Walsh’s incursions into the penalty area. Joe Mellette at full-back was developing into a fine defensive player, a brilliant pair of hands, with a great catch and deceptive turn of speed.

So hopes were high again that the future was bright for Garrymore and 1970 and the whole decade of the ‘70s was looked forward to very much by all Garrymore people. We seemed to be on the crest of producing a number of promising players, young players, who would blend in with our more seasoned campaigners.