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Fair weather fans miss GAA classic at Athy, 8 April 1907

Leinster Leader 19 April 2007

Fair weather fans miss GAA classic at Athy


Liam Kenny

The expression ‘fair weather followers’ is often to be heard when a successful team suddenly attracts greater crowds to its fixtures as it progresses in the county championships. However it is not entirely a new phenomenon as the Leader correspondent of 8 April 1907 reported in his colourful account of a game between Roseberry and the Lord Edwards played at a rain-swept show grounds in Athy.

Our intrepid reporter begins his account at Sallins railway station on the morning of the match. He acknowledged that the weather had turned bad  but that does not deter him from delivering a rap on the knuckles to local GAA supporters who stayed home rather than travel to Athy.

‘  yet I was surprised when at Sallins station I met but a fair-sized handful of Gaels who were hardy enough to brave the weather … I thought the Gaels were made of sturdier stuff.’

Whatever about the deficiency in numbers there was high praise for the local club in Athy which had gone to great rounds to ensure the efficient staging of the fixture ‘At the Show Grounds everything was well arranged for the contest … The ground was railed in, a barricade was erected around the goal and point posts. Never once was there the least obstruction from the crowd. The members of the Athy (Geraldine) Football Club were everywhere in evidence.’

The game itself was reported in prose that was both clinical in its accuracy yet unsparing in its enthusiasm. It is worth taking quoting some passages at length to savour the writing style of the day.  ‘The first exchanges were in favour of Roseberry and for fully five minutes the Lord Edwards goal was besieged. The heavy going and the wet ball put anything like pretty play out of the question.’

The Newbridge side (Roseberry) had bad luck with the wet pitch ‘ Jack Murphy failed at the kick out, for in an endeavour to send to the side, the ball slipped off his foot right into a bunch of players in front of the goal. In the melee that followed McCormack got posession and shot the third point for Lord Edwards.’

The Edwards retained their lead to half time with a four points to two scoreline.  The men of 1907 were clearly built for stamina because while half-time was blown the players got no rest. ‘ Without any interval Mr. Crowe (referee) whistled up both tteams and immediately was begun the most sensational half-hour’s football it has ever been my good fortune to witness.’

This time it was Roseberry’s chance to reassert themselves. In the breathless prose of the Leader reporter:

‘ With the wind and sun in their favour, Roseberry set to work to level matters … Scott, Conlon and Kennedy were simply blinding the Lord Edwards backs and they ran up four points by the most brilliant play.’

The excitement of the reporter comes screaming through his frenetic account of the closing ten minutes: ‘ Now it is death or glory and the pace becomes even more terrific. Losty secures possession and is interfered with by Jack Murray who held the terrible little forward by the legs.’  But things were to get even more physical: ‘ Terrible play at midfield; Scott (of Lord Edwards) gets knocked out and a consequent delay.’  Clearly Scott had Lazarus like qualities because he not alone recovered but grabbed the hopped ball taken by the referee after the incident and ‘ scored the equaliser from very far out’.

The match finished at seven points each and the excitable correspondent concluded as follows: ‘The ball was slippery as an eel and how the players managed to control it so perfectly passes my comprehension. It was by far the greatest game of football I ever witnessed.’!

 Compiled by Liam Kenny from the rich resource of the Leinster Leader files, Local Studies Dept., Kildare County Library.  Series No.12

Liam Kenny's article from the Leinster Leader 19 April 2007 regarding a football match between Roseberry and the Lord Edwards at Athy in the Leader of 1907 - from his regular column, 'Nothing New Under the Sun.' Our thanks to Liam. 


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