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24 November 1984

Thigeen Roe: colourful writer of G.A.A. events

THE WORK of Father Edward Ramsbottom started to appear in the Leinster Leader in early 1906. His comments on Gaelic affairs in the county were well timed, coming in between All-Ireland finals, and were written in a critical and often scathing style.
By August he was offering a 10/- prize for anyone who might think up a pen-name for the "nameless one" in the Leinster Leader. Two weeks later the name Thigeen Roe appeared at the end of his column. His column lasted for two years, and left some of the most colourful descriptions of GAA affairs in any provincial Irish newspapers.
A selection of his writing, quoted in Kildare GAA: A Centenary History gives a picture of GAA affairs in the county at the time.
January 6, 1907, (on the 1905 Leinster final, in which Kildare beat Louth 0-11 to 1-7): "On Sunday a large number of Gaels waved white flags. I hate to see such practices creeping into Gaelic games for they are desperately like mafficking, a decidedly Saxon custom of which Baden Powell is patron saint. Louth played a great game. Why not wave our little white flags in their faces?"
January 26, 1907, on the County Hurling final: "The Clane fellows kicked the ball now with one foot now with the other foot, then they shovelled it along and finally won comfortably by 24 points to 13, running all the time."
February 2nd, 1907, on club football in Kildare: "I have seen Dublin, Kilkenny, Louth and Kerry, play but I would rather watch Roseberry for ten minutes than see the other best teams for an hour."
March 16, 1907, on Kildare player Jack Fitzgerald: "I know that Jack had donned an overcoat and when the ball happened to come his way he had first to take off his overcoat."
March 23, 1907, on the selling of a match by three players for 10/- apiece: "The all white colours have been disgraced. Let us strike our colours at once with the bookmakers and adopt new ones. Let Kildare adopt new colours ― colours of penitence."
March 23, 1907, on GAA relationships with the RIC: "The Gaels of Kildare and Dublin don't want themselves or their pastimes to be even remotely associated with the Royal Irish Constabulary."
April 20, 1907, on the Clane v Roseberry County Final in Athy: "Were it not for the large crowd of enthusiasts who travelled by train, there would not have been present the makings of a land-grabber's funeral. It was simply ideal that there was not a single policeman to be seen on the field."
May 11, 1907, on the County Final replay: "To Gaels from other counties, Roseberry and Lord Edwards present an enigma. Walking from the station at Athy to the battlefield may be seen the players in little groups, Fitzgerald and Merriman, Jack Murray and Bertie White, in all probability, or rather possibility, forming another group; then Gorman, Cribben, Bracken and Gundy Fitzgerald may possible come next, while Donnelly, Kelly, Connolly and Joyce Conlan may be hob-nobbing last. There they go, talking and chatting and laughing and joking, these 34 players, the greatest living exponents of Gaelic football. The greatest rivals at home, the greatest allies outside Kildare."
July 13, 1907, on the shock Leinster final defeat against Dublin: "Anyone who has keenly followed the tactics of the Kildare team knows that they are real masters of the wide play. Kildare never force a game at midfield. They send the ball to the wings. At Kilkenny on Sunday, Ned Kennedy, Connolly and Conlan were frequently spilled not by Dublin but by the crowd who insisted on encroaching on the field of play."
July 27, 1907, on the 1906 county final second replay: "Nothing in Gaelic football was witnessed faster or more exciting than the beginning of this game. Lord Edwards were victims of bad luck and overtraining."
October 12, 1907, on the success of Kildare's junior hurlers: "Our hurlers once more proved how bad some of the Leinster Junior hurling teams can be. The Kildare captain during the last half was a decidedly interested spectator. He is a man whom nothing can disturb for he smoked his cigarette as calmly on the field as he would were he in Staplestown. After all, a man would think very little about a team without expressing that little in smoke."
"If the final of the Leinster Junior championship for the year 1905 be played at Jones's Road on 22 September 1907 and the semi-final of the Leinster Junior Hurling Championship for 1906 be played at Jones's Road on October 6, 1907, when and where will the final of the Junior Championship for the year 1906 be played?"
November 9, 1907, on the Roseberry-Clane county final: "Between Roseberry and Clane the most intense rivalry exists. The bitterness of defeat to either is extreme yet they always fight their battles to a grand and sporting finish. They can win and they can bear defeat unflinchingly. One never runs away from the other."
"The South Kildare committee have turned out to be a useless body. They are no good for King or country. They won't meet. They won't make fixtures. They'll do nothing but talk."
"Knowing Messrs. Radley and Moynihan, I am surprised that they have as yet done nothing for the girls of Kildare. In the whole county there is not yet one colleen hurling club."
December 7, 1907, on the state of the nation: "A Kildare game is to keep the ball to the wings. The kick out is not going far enough. The ball usually goes over Merriman and the Half backs and not far enough to Grundy and Rafferty. And I hope I won't hear that raucous music-hall, soccer, rugger, half-Saxon, half-Scotch roar "Go on Kildayre".

An article on the colourful columnist 'Thigeen Roe,' from the Leinster Leader GAA centenary edition of 24 November 1984

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