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HURLING AND FOOTBALL AT MONASTEREVAN. THE "METS" HAVING A DAY IN THE COUNTRY

The Celtic Times December 17, 1887
 
HURLING AND FOOTBALL AT MONASTEREVAN. 
 The "Mets" having a day in the country
 by
OUR SMOKING REPORTER
 
 
 
Sunday last the Metropolitan boys invaded Monasterevan, for the purpose of popularising the game of hurling, and trying their luck against a splendid football team. People in cities and large towns generally indulge in a long sleep on Sunday mornings, and the Mets are far from being exceptions to this weakness of humanity. Out of the forty-two that had been selected for the hurling and football teams, only twenty-three were able to get out of bed in time for Mass and the half-past nine train, but it must be said that one of these twenty-three missed his breakfast to be in time for his duty and the fun. Those of the Mets who were lucky enough to rise early had a grand day from start to finish. As the train steamed out of Kingsbridge the echo of national airs completely drowned the monotonous noise of the rattling of the carriages, and for an hour and three-quarters a smoking concert continued to the delight of all hearers, “barrin” an occasional “polis” man. Along the whole line down to Monasterevan there was not much to be seen. Two or three fields in Kildare, whose sub-soil had not been turned for many a long day – aye, year – have recently been ploughed; with the exception of these the eye could wander only on the grass plains, closely cut hedges, some big trees, bullocks, sheep and the sky. In the far distance a great smoke might catch the eye, but it would be impossible to satisfy one’s self that it was emanating from a prosperous manufacturing town, and not a mere fog on the Dublin mountains. Midway between two stations a traveller should say to himself, “Well, if there be any people in this eer country they must be in the train”.
Anyhow, about a quarter-past eleven, a railway official was heard calling out: “’On’sterevan, ‘On’sterevan;”and, sure enough, it was, for there on the platform were lined up the members of the Monasterevan Distillery and Brewery Hurling and Football Club, headed by the popular captain, Paddy Molohan, from near Ennistymon. When the Mets saw Paddy they were at home, for Paddy was a very prominent and popular member of their club a short while ago.
From the station to the Committee Rooms
The Monasterevan youths and seniles fell into ranks two deep, having their camans shouldered, and led the way through the streets to the Courthouse, followed by the Metropolitans, keeping step in good style. The visitors had lunch, then were shown through the distillery and brewery, where they spent a pleasant time admiring the inventions in machinery, whereby the products of nature are converted into such luxurious beverages as whiskey, ale, and stout.
The Field  
At about twelve the field was reached – a nice sized field for Gaelic purposes, with an “up hill and a down hollow” in it. For money-taking, or for ‘a gate’, the field is a bad one, being along the roadside, and presenting a full view beyond the pale. Whether it was that the view from without was so good, or from some other cause, the field was a long time with nobody but players, and the road mound was thickly lined. In the course of the play, however, the crowds came nearer, and before the end of the first match a solid mass of orderly, enthusiastic spectators lined the ropes.
Football
The Mets were not sanguine in their hopes of being the victors at football on account of their want of practice at the game, and knowing that the Monasterevan team had already gained a good name on the football field. However, as the day was fine, the field in good order, and the home team good natured to a man, the Mets could take a good beating in the best of humour for the fun of the thing. After an hour’s play it was a surprise to everyone that the visitors had won, and won easily, the Monasterevans only having scored one point. The Mets had two men too many, for Quane, Captain of Helen’s Babies (formerly known as the Rosannas of Tipperary), did three men’s work.
Hurling
There is nothing but surprise going in this world- except monotonous stupidity, and that’s no longer in Gaelic ranks. Captain Kenny and his boys believed all along that they could win the hurling, hands down. So far from their expectations being realised, they never sustained such pressure from any previous opponents. The ranks of the Mets. were often broken through, and it was only the training of veterans like Tom Molohan, O’Mullane, Hanly, and myself, that won the day.
The Banquet
It is not all law that is in a Courthouse. If it was law that the Mets had on Sunday night they’ll become so fond of legal lore that they’ll all become ‘torneys or Q.C.’s, or maybe Judges. If the players had great appetites they had proportionate varieties of necessaries and luxuries from which to select. For the time being, one would forget that he was sitting in the august presence of a magisterial bench, and fancy that he was in a large hotel in which all the inmates had thrown off that “stand off” air of importance and superiority (?) and had assumed a brotherly and national friendship worthy of our democratic age. “The order of the day” was, eating, drinking and all-round enjoyment, and when the dishes were removed a second smoking concert, salted with some speech-making and declamations, occupied the time until the Metropolitans were due to catch the train for Dublin. But you should hear the singing, and see the short grass growing green again, as we passed by many a style, whereon oft’ sat a Lady Dufferin, Mary, and the inevitable other, side by side. The roaring was loud and dreadful, and like the lions in the lesson book, being heard in the night, it resembled distant thunder. We though of the hollow in the Curragh, wherein Donnelly staved in the Saxon Cooper’s ribs, and afterwards offered to hoop any old barrel for the benefit of the waifs’ “Home” in Townsend Street. We thought of St. Brigid’s Cloak, that flattened out the Curragh of Kildare, and with ill-suppressed choking curses contrasted the condition of Kildare under the shamrock of saints – Patrick, Brigid and Columbkille – with its present condition under a foreign garrison and their rotting wrens. We thought of the Hill of Allen, and of the glorious Fenian era, when Fionn and his followers were called together from every greenán within the four seas of Erinn, by three loud shouts, to go on hunting expeditions “over the hills and far away”, through the glens and valleys of Munster, And, being hurlers, we “thought long” on Diarmuid, and of the days when his “light, airy bound” carried him over every obstacle, and enabled him to plant the soles of his two feet firmly on the other side of the garden wall. We thought of the days when the mighty hurler and chess-player and warrior could run through the enemies of the Fenians, and under them and over them, until they were all scattered or annihilated. We could see them, when hunting or hurling or fighting, sweeping along with the speed of a cloud shadow on a March day, and we almost wished that we had lived when Connor Macnessa fell dead.

The Celtic Times of December 1887 describes a visit by the Metropolitan Gaelic football and hurling teams to Monasterevan.


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