LEINSTER LEADER 18 FEBRUARY 1978
Clearing up some historical facts
With the snow of the weekend bringing field activity almost to a halt, I am provided with an opportunity to catch up on some correspondence.
Recently with the help of a cutting from an old “Irish Press”, I published some prematch facts of the Kildare v Cavan All-Ireland Senior Football title of 1935 and I am more that happy to say that the short recapping of those interesting historical items were widely welcomed.
However, down Clane way, all I did write didn’t meet with complete agreement. This very old stronghold of GAA games has first hand knowledge of the happenings of those old days. Clane people are not happy with the explanation as to how Kildare came to wear the all white strip as told us by the £Green Flag”. He got his information from that famour [sic] Kildare and Roseberry footballer of long, long ago, “Joyce” Conlon.
“Joyce”, a survivor of the historic Leinster Championship winning team of 1903, Kildare’s first, indicated that it was because of the great Rafferty that Kildare first donned the all white.
“Green Flag” Version
Just to re-familiarize readers with the position I again quote, “Green Flag”, August 1935:
“The old Kildare man, who was assisting with the preparation of the Kildare side at OakseyPark, Celebridge, told me, how “The Lilywhite” first came to be adopted as the county colours. Clane were in the early part of the century champions in the short grass county. And while their colours were black and green, Rafferty, who captained the tea, usually wore a white singlet. The bronzehaired Clane footballer was an outstanding figure on the field and when the question of county colours arose, Roseberry, a newly established club, advocated a white sweater, and white it has been since”
This explanation is questioned by the present Clane Club chairman, Joe Bracken. Joe, by the way, is a nephew of the famous Bill Bracken of the lofty days of the early nineties.
The long-time Clane official was a close friend of Bill Merriman, who died in 1963. His exploits in football and hurling would need a special book to do full justice to him. Joe has a very different version of how Kildare got their colours and all this coming from Bill Merriman’s lips.
For the younger ones information, Bill Merriman was a dominant figure in a dominant Clane in the late part of the eighties and right up to the early 1920’s when he moved to Rathcoffey, and continued to play hurling and football well into his fifties and indeed climaxed a great career when he came on a sub to assist Kildare to their first Leinster hurling title in 1934. Something unique to relate about this historical encounter is that, also on the Kildare junior hurling side that beat Kilkenny at Naas were his two sons, Bill jnr., and Tom.
In the late part of the last century, G.A.A. games weren’t that well organised in the county, and indeed, there were periods when the functioning of the CountyBoard completely lapsed. During the last of those barren periods, a Clane team was picked to play another Kildare side from Tiermoghan, in the parish of Kilcock, and for the occasion the local ClongowesWoodCollege, where several of the side were employed in the bakery, loaned them a set of jerseys. Apart from the school crest, they were all white.
That was the start of it. At a later date Clane playted a side from Dublin in a challenge game and through their members in the Clongowes bakery, flour bags were suitably adjusted and turned into jerseys. Unfortunately for the Kildare side, the opponents spotted the “Anna Liffey” brand mark on the inside of the jerseys and the “Dubs of the day called the Clane men the flour bags.
Another correction of that article of some weeks ago was my assertion that “Joyce” Conlon was the only link between the Kildare All-Ireland wining team of 1905 and 1919. Untrue of course. Clane’s Larry Cribben, better known as “Hussy” and an uncle of popular longstanding official Sean, played left fullback on the 1905 winning side, as he did in 1903, and was the Kildare keeper on the side that ousted Galway in the 1919 All-Ireland Final.
A durable person was “Hussy” and not long ago I was told by one with close connections with the period that he played a very vital part in the 1919 win when early in the game he clashed with Galway’s top forward, “knacker” Walsh, who after the clash could never get into the game. “Hussy” played for the all whites for another twelve months. In 1920, Kildare reached the Leinster final and drew with Dublin. An old injury saw “Hussy” cry off for the replay in which Kildare lost their Leinster crown.
“The Railway Cup” games as we know them were started in the mid-twenties but there was also an Inter-Provincial competition in the early days of this century. And in 1907, mainly manned by Kildare men and led by Rafferty, Leinster won the Railway Shield with such notable old stars as “Joyce” Conlon, Bill Merriman and “Steel” Losty in the lineout.
Isn’t it a pity that Kildare’s G.A.A. history, so laden with interest, is slowly dying. It took that 1935 cutting to again stimulate such interesting discussion and to bring to light such aspects s The Jersey” story, the Railway Shield, the Merrimans, and Cribbens.
Kildare, awaiting their National Football League Quarter-Final opponents, swing into competitive action at ConeffPark, Clane, next Sunday when they take on Galway in a game to mark the first playing of the Kaesar Bracken Memorial Trophy competition.
Hopefully by then the weather will have cleared and the all white supporters will be given the opportunity to support a worthy cause while at the same time study the present wellbeing of their favourites.
Over the past weeks, a lot has been made of the so-called raw deal handed out to counties in the lower Divisions because of the present set up of the National Football league but something that has not been afforded much publicity is the factor that while the Division 11 sides have been having regular and competitive outings in the series, Kildare has been marking time, with no game since playing Kerry on the first Sunday in December.
Eamon O’Donoghue and the selectors will be glad of the chance of putting the squad through their paces, but they must have an amount of uneasiness in their approach to the March game taking ito account that their opponents, whether it be Armagh or Down , will have had the benefit of at least three very competitive outings.
For Sunday’s game, the side chosen is the strongest available and while Pat Dunny has been picked to man a corner forward berth, the Raheens man will be travelling to Rathdowney to assist the county hurlers in their vital National Hurling League tie against Laois.
Incidentally, the selectors have extended their panel, and now listed in the substitutes are Allenwood’s Mick Moore and Moorefield’s Alex Whelan.
Kildare team v Galway – O. Crinnigan; D. Dalton; P.O’Donoghue; F. Mulligan; J. Giblin; J. Crofton; D. Reilly; E.O’Donoghue; J. Geoghan; H. Hyland; P. Mangan; M. Condon; P.Dunny; T. Carew; M. Condon.
Subs; L. O’Neill; M. Lynch; C. Feeney; A. Bracken; R. O’Sullivan; B. O’Doherty; A. Whelan; T. Herbert; P. Swords; M. Moore; M. Gorman; P. Kenny.
For the hurlers, currently going through their most disappointing National League run for years, Sunday’s game at the Laois venue is very much a crunch one. So far they have only gathered two points, and with Westmeath having compiled the same total, it looks to be between the two as to which will make the drop to a lower Division.
On the face of it, Kildare seem to have the better chance on Sunday. The Midland county will be facing a Waterford side deadly keen to win and thus gain a promotional spot. A Decies defeat would bring Antrim into the reckoning, while at the same time Kildare would have to beat Laois to maintain an interest.
Form doesn’t indicate a Westmeath victory, but neither does it point to a win for Kildare. Nevertheless, despite the advantage of going into enemy territory, I feel that Kildare on their best form would be capable of taking the two points, which would leave them with four.
Something interesting here: if Kildare do beat Laois and I am more than hopeful they will, and Westmeath account for Waterford, then it would be a Kildare-Laois-Westmeath playoff for the last spot in the table.
The mentors had arranged for a selection meeting on Saturday last at Ardclough, where the team has been having weekly training stints. However, the weather put paid to the latest stint, and it will be later in the week before the selectors will be able to get together to finalise the side.
At this stage, there have been no additions to the usual panel but it is expected that, whatever the outcome of Sunday’s game, the coming months will see a big drive to unearth some new talent for the Championship.
On Sunday morning there will be a full list of Senior League games and they will start at 12 noon. This is a special arrangement to avoid a clash with the county game fixed for Clane later on Sunday.
G.A.A. Comment By Offcor
Re-typed by Mary Murphy