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Leader's GAA reporting a long established tradition

Leader's GAA reporting a long established


Liam Kenny

Gaelic games in Kildare went through a halcyon period in the early 1900s: All Irelands in each of the first three decades consolidated the Lilywhite’s repute as a powerhouse on the playing fields. It was at local and club level that the seeds of such success were laid and the Leinster Leader carried reports of local fixtures which, often written in breathless prose, conveyed the rampant enthusiasm which surrounded even the humblest Gaelic fixture. One such report appeared in the Leinster Leader of 9 February 1907 under the heading ‘ Harristown v Two Mile House.’ The report began ‘ On the leather being sent among them Harristown broke away but their forward was checked by Keogh of Two Mile House and some nice play followed’. However the Harristown men (who were tipped because of their team being much heavier than their opponents) renewed their attacks but ultimately to no avail with the half time being reached with no score.
On the restart Two Mile House broke away with a ‘grand rush’ and some spirited play ensued. Three minutes elapsed in which ‘give and take play’ was witnessed and then ‘ a minor per Morris placed the Harristown men ahead’. The term ‘minor’  was used to describe a pointed score in the early years of GAA reporting. Harristown scored another point and there were no further scores. Nor were there any sour grapes as the report concludes with an endorsement of the referee ‘ The whistle was carried by Mr. John Kearney, District Councillor, Mullacash, whose decisions gave all round satisfaction’.
The Leinster Leader did not confine its coverage of GAA activities to Kildare with the club business of the neighbouring counties getting equal prominence. Across the county boundary in Offaly there was an item in the 9 February issue on a meeting of the ‘Rhode (Shamrock) Football club’ when upwards of fifty members attended. At the unanimous wish of the members the Rev. Father Seale consented to become president of the branch. His reverence spoke highly of the efficiency of the players, ‘as evidenced by the successful records of the past year’.
There was excitement among the Gaels of the Royal County too as evidenced by an item in the same edition which announced that a special meeting was to be held ‘for the purpose of selecting a team to represent County Meath in connection with the Leinster Championship against County Kildare at Jones’s Road on Sunday, 17th February, 1907’.   Jones Road later became known as Croke Park.
The central place of the GAA as a standard bearer of parish, county and national pride is clear from the detailed coverage afforded by the Leinster Leader to the games throughout not just Kildare but also Offaly, Laois, Meath, Dublin and Wicklow. Indeed given the presence of the then editor of the Leinster Leader, John Wyse Power, at the legendary inaugural meeting of the GAA in Thurles in 1884 it is not surprising that the paper was generous in its coverage of the emerging national games. There is no doubt that the careful attention of an early generation of Leinster Leader reporters and editors to the cultural phenomenon of Gaelic games cemented the paper’s repute as the leading sports journal in the province.
Compiled by Liam Kenny from the rich resources of the Leinster Leader files, Local Studies Dept., Kildare County Library & Arts Service, Newbridge.
First published in Leinster Leader 8 February 2007
Liam Kenny's article from the Leinster Leader of 8 February 2007 on the paper's coverage of GAA events 

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