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Cometh the hour, cometh the man
McCormack marshals All-Whites to victory

A senior football match between Kildare and Carlow exercised the attention of the Leinster Leader GAA correspondent in the issue of 22 March 1958.  In a report which mixed straight reporting with the correspondent’s own opinions on the merits of the respective teams and players, the trends of the game were described and analysed.
We are told that ‘ Kildare had a very meritorious win over Carlow at Athy on Sunday last and the margin of victory 2-5 to 1-3 does not really indicate the complete superiority which the All Whites asserted over their opponents.’
Kildare were a much improved team compared with a previous encounter at Carlow a few weeks previously. A blustery wind prevented good football from being served up but it was seen from the start that the All-White players had lost their lethargy. However Kildare did not have the game all their own way: ‘ When twenty minutes had elapsed, and Carlow could only secure one point with the assistance of the wind, it looked rosy for Kildare but near the end of the first half Carlow had a goal and two further points.’   But cometh the hour cometh the man and according to the Leader reporter ‘ Were it not for the brainy generalship of Larry McCormack, Kildare would have found themselves in arrears at the end.’ Indeed Larry McCormack (a Kilcock clubman) was mentioned on no fewer than eight separate occasions in the same report. At one point the Kildare forwards are chastised kicking the ball away too quickly ‘ were it not for the prompt action of L McCormack in appealing to his corner forward to stand and secure a punched ball from him we would not have secured our first goal.’’ The reporter adds with gushing approval ‘ that is what we want – understanding among the forwards and there is no one better able to do that than the captain, Larry McCormack.’   The same episode is described later in the report along the following lines with reference to another of the Kildare forwards named Hogan ‘ He is inclined to crowd in on the parallelogram and the salutary warning of L McCormack checked him and gave us a chance of a goal.’
Indeed Kildare were in trouble at half time with Carlow having chalked up a goal and three points to a solitary point for the All-Whites. But here comes that man again ‘ Larry McCormack was urging on his men; he kept feeding and marshalling …’
He gets another mention when he took a pass from Paddy Gibbons and sent it over the bar for Kildare’s second point.  Clearly the back bone of the side Larry McCormack was instrumental in a crucial move when ‘ working up the field, Larry McCormack secured a hard shot and passing it to Hogan, that player sent over to Treacy, who was nicely placed and he unerringly sent to the Carlow net.’ Not that the ubiquitous McCormack was the only player to attract the attention of the correspondent. Others who merited mention included P Gibbons who ‘ played a fine game, he was a tower of strength in defence and he deserves great credit for a hard hours work’; ‘ K Daly played one of his best games and is fitting in well to his position at left half-back.’; ‘ S McCormack never spectacular but slow and sure and goes far in a day’; ‘T Connolly at centrefield gave his best display and, with young Maguire, gave our forwards enough of the ball to win twice over.’
Clearly not one to spare blushes the correspondent shot straight-from-the-hip in his assessment of the Kildare players with descriptions such as: ‘ Kehoe on the right wing gave a finished display, and avoided puerile tactics which lead nowhere. O’Malley was much better than in his previous match and was a hard worker. Treacy was an opportunist as usual. Hogan secured one of the goals and was much better than in his last game. “Bah” Dowling kept the Carlow defence on edge.’’
In his description of the closing half-hour the Leader correspondent is equally direct in his style; ‘ We were not happy at all with time ticking away. Dowling and Hogan tried to hold the ball too long, instead of lashing out at the sticks.’  And it was at this point that the ‘brainy generalship’ of Larry McCormack came to the rescue, setting up a second goal for the all Whites who reversed Carlow’s lead and ran out winners by almost double scores on that March Sunday of 1958.      
 Series No. 59

Riveting account of Senior Football Championship match between Kildare and Carlow in 1958, re-told by Liam Kenny, in his regular column, Nothing New Under the Sun, Leinster Leader, 20 March 2008. 

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