Micheal (Mick) Brown 1958-1985
Recollections of a Naomh Fionnbarra player
St Finbarrs School in the early days, was where most of the young lads in Cabra West got their grounding in the GAA. I got my love of GAA and hurling in particular at home from my Dad and my brothers.
My dad won an All Ireland Junior Hurling medal playing for Meath in 1927. He also won Meath County Championships and Feis Cup Medals playing for Athboy. He joked that he was the first professional hurling player when he moved to Dublin and signed for Faughs. He had no job when he came to Dublin, Faughs used to give him a few bob every week until they got him a job on the buildings. Faughs and Tommy Moore were good to their players and looked after them.
Moore served as Chairman of Faughs for a total of forty years and the All- Ireland senior Club Hurling Championship Trophy is called the Tommy Moore Cup. Moore’s pub in Cathedral Street Dublin, was a meeting place for the Faughs club and the GAA men after the games in Croke Park.
Because of my dad, all our family supported Meath when I was young. I remember when I was very young and Meath won the All Ireland Football finals in 1949 and 1954 our house in Cabra West was done up in green and gold. But that all changed for me when my brother John Joe was picked on the Dublin minor hurling panel in 1957.
The great Des Foley was also on this panel. Unfortunately Des was injured that day, when Dublin played Kilkenny in the Leinster championship. My brother JJ came on as a sub in the second half of this game and from then on I was a Dubs supporter. My dad never wavered from supporting Meath, but then there’s not many Meath people would.
My other brother Seamus played for the Barrs but his career was cut short when he got a very bad injury to his mouth during a hurling match. My oldest brother Tom was a very good soccer player, he was once asked to captain a local youth GAA team for a tournament game in Croke Park. They won the match but the main talking point of the game was when one of the Cabra lads headed the ball.
My brother John Joe also played in Croke Park around this time, he represented the Barrs in an exhibition hurling match and was presented with a medal by the movie legend Hop a Long Cassidy who was a special guest at the game. This will bring back memories to all who are old enough to remember the black and white movies that far back.
When we were kids in Cabra West there was little or no Hurling or Football coaching done. We learned all we knew from playing the game or practicing by ourselves on the street, in the ball alley, or in the Bogies. The Bogies is the nick name for John Paul Park in Cabra West.
The little bit of coaching we done was when we were put in long lines and were instructed to keep pulling on the ball up and down the line. This coaching was carried out mostly by the famous Paddy (Brawn) Byrne a teacher in St Finbarrs School. Paddy was also a great Irish dancer and singer and appeared on TV and radio. Paddy was the only man who ever tried to give us some coaching.
In Finbarrs school we had many teachers who were inter county players. My first teacher was Tadgh Sugrue obviously from Kerry. Tadgh played for Kerry, he took out the Junior teams for a while and he did teach us the tin whistle?. We also had the famous Murphy brothers Sean and Seamus from Kerry teaching in the School, but I don’t remember them spending any time helping out with any of the teams. Sean Murphy was one of the best ever football half backs at inter county level. He was chosen on the GAA football team of the Millennium in 1984.
The first competitive GAA game I ever played was a junior football game for the School, it was played in Herbert Park in Ballsbridge. We were all loaded on the 22 bus and went into town then on to another bus and out to Ballsbridge. There was no teacher with us during this trip, we were in control of two of the older kids from the school, one of which was Dermot Mongey. So you can imagine the craic on the trip. One of our teachers did turn up in Ballsbridge to try to keep us on the straight and narrow during the game.
The teachers who put most into the GAA in Finbarrs School when I was there were Maurice McAuliffe and Paddy Byrne. Maurice managed all the senior teams hurling and football in our school. He was a very dedicated GAA man and later became the chairman of Cumann Na Mbunscoil.
Maurice put together our senior 1958 hurling school team which was to become the back bone of the Barrs juvenile club team of that time. I was on the team and it was captained by Eamon Hanlon of Bannow Rd. Eamon was the best under age player in the Dublin at the time. He played centre half back for the school and for the Barrs. He was also picked to play centre back for the Dublin schools team against the Antrim Schools.
When we went on to the Vocational school in Cabra, Eamon proved how good and fast he was by winning the Dublin Vocational Schools 100 mts. and 200 mts. sprint finals. He also nearly won the relay race for us on his own; he probably missed out on not becoming an international athlete because there was no interest in athletics in our area. Also on the school team with me at this time was Phelim Brady, Noel Moran, Timmie Myers and Tommy Watson.
This school team reached the final of the senior hurling cup in Croke Park with Maurice as manager in 1958. What a game that was ? We lost to Larkhill by 11-5 to 8-5. We were leading by a goal with ten minutes to go, I scored the goal that put us ahead. I thought we had it won but amazingly we lost by three goals. Larkhill scored four goals in the last ten minutes. It left us distraught, poor Phelim Brady who was a great player, and because he was such a good player he was put in goal. He never went into goal after that game.
The semi-final of this competition it was played in Ringsend Park, known to us as Iodine Park because at that time it sometimes had stones and glass on the pitches. By the way it is now a really great ground. We played St. Laurence’s from Kilmacud in this game and we beat them by five goals to three goals. I scored two goals and Noelie Moran scored three. Noelie was a very good soccer player, he couldn’t use the hurley too well but playing full forward he was always around the square and kicked or used various parts of his anatomy to score goals.
I remember this game so well because it was the first time I played hurling with a new hurling ball. It was like playing with a tennis ball, after years of playing with old sliothars that were well worn and if it was raining you couldn’t hit them out of your way, they were so heavy. I was so used to playing with a tennis ball in the ball alley in Ventry Park playground, that day in Ringsend the ball felt like a tennis ball and it suited me down to the ground.
Also in ’58 we were beaten in the semi-final of the school’s football competition which meant we missed out on playing football in Croker that year. We were beaten by St. Peters of Phibsborough in this game, I scored two goals one in each half and the St. Peters goalkeeper was a Cabra West lad named Gerry Mongey, he was a really good keeper and I was delighted to put two past him. We only lost because our goal keeper Tony Hickey when trying to clear the ball out of the goalmouth hit Willy Costigan our full back and the ball went back into our own net.
Ventry Park playground was only built in the mid-fifties and I spent a lot of time there playing hurling in the ball alley. I even got to captain the playground five a seven a side soccer team in 1958 and we went on to win the playgrounds cup. We beat Pearse Square in the final which was played in Mountjoy Square playground.
We won, by two goals to one, and I scored the two goals. I was very happy with myself being made captain and getting the two goals was very special, because as well having my mates Eamon Hanlon and Noel Moran in the team we had Jimmy Conway playing for us. Also playing on that team were Dessie McCabe, Pat King.
Jimmy lived across the road from me in Ventry Road. We hung around together for a while. We even started playing soccer together for Cabra West Albion. Jimmy went on to play for Fulham, Manchester City and Ireland and was a great soccer player. I used to drag Jimmy out an odd time to play hurling and football for the Barrs.
It was always a struggle, as he was always destined to be professional soccer player. Jimmy actually played for Bohemians Football Team when he was fifteen. He was really too young so he went back to Stella Maris for another year or so before signing for Bohs full time. I’d say he was only sixteen or seventeen at this time.
So it was in 1958 and the same year with a lot of the same players from the school team we went to play for Naomh Fionnbarra (The Barrs), and we went on to win the North Dublin under fifteen hurling league division two. The first memory I have on playing hurling for the Barrs was an under fifteen hurling league game in that 1958 league in the Bogies.
This was the first match in the league and we played against Raheny. It was the start of 27 years that I played hurling for the Barrs. We won and I scored two goals in the second half. Two goals was to become something of a theme running through my hurling career, there were to be many games in the next 27 years that I scored two goals in. On the Raheny team were the McShane brothers, one of whose son Paul is an Irish soccer International.
The Barrs had no teams younger than under 15 when I started playing, I don’t believe there were any competitions for younger teams. Although under 14 started in 1958 and under 13 started probably around 1960.
In the final of the league in ‘58 we played and drew with Erin’s Isle, Larry Maguire kicked a goal for us in the last minute, but we went on to beat them in the replay.
One of the funny things about Erin’s Isles was, we had played them in the league proper and they were beating us after about ten minutes. This kind of surprised us as we were unbeaten at the time, then we realised they had 16 players on the pitch. We agreed to start the game again and we went on to win easily.
Our Manager Gerry Kehoe was the main man in those days and indeed the only man who took an interest in our team and all juvenile teams at the time. Gerry could be seen every Saturday night hail rain or snow on his bike rounding up players for matches on Sunday.
Gerry also went around all the Schools in our area and tried to get new players into the club. He succeeded in getting some new players for us before the 1959 league campaign. Players like Kevin Crooks and Seamus McCarthy.
This new injection of players in 1959 helped us to win the North Dublin under fifteen hurling league division one. This meant we went two years without losing an under fifteen league game. Also around this time Gerry got help from Larry Kearns, Larry was a great help and took some of the load off Gerry
In the under 15 division one final of 1959 we trashed St Vincent’s by 12-4 to 2-4. In my 27 years playing for the Barrs this game was probably the one that gave me the greatest pleasure. What a great summers evening that was, the game was played in the Civil Service grounds in Island Bridge.
Vincent’s at that time were the best club in the Country and dominated GAA in Dublin at almost all levels. Vincent’s had Tony Hanahoe and Jimmy Keaveney playing on their team. But on our team we had Phelim Brady, Tommy Watson, Seamus McCarthy, and Kevin Crooks. Kevin was a big strong player and he went on to play at every level for Dublin in hurling and football.
In one year Kevin was picked on the Dublin under 21 hurling and football teams, the Dublin Junior football team and the Dublin Intermediate and Senior Hurling teams.
Also in 1959 we won the under 16 ½ Hurling League.
We had gone two years unbeaten in the under 15 hurling leagues, but we could not win the championship. We were the best team in North Dublin but we could not beat the best team in South Dublin who was Ballyfermot. At the time the best under age team in Dublin apart from us, was Ballyfermot.
Ballyier always had a hoodoo on us and we could never get the better of them. They were a brilliant team and we had some terrific games against them, we also made many friends with them. In fact when their team unfortunately broke up some years later, Kit Newman and Terry Woods from Ballyier came to play with the Barrs. Some of their other players also went to play with Colmcilles.
Most of the Barrs under fifteen team went on to win under sixteen and minors leagues in football and hurling in 1960, 61 and 1962
Naomh Fionnbarra under 16 ½ Hurling league winners 1959
Back Row L to R: T Dunphy, Larry Kearns Mentor, A Broderick, A. N. Other, M Donnelly, T Watson, K Crooks, A. N. Other, P Ennis, P Keogh, B McIlroy, Gerry Kehoe Mentor.
Front row L To R: M Brown, T Dwyer, D McDonagh, P Brady, E Hanlon, R McKenna, J Creavy, S Byrne, K Bowers.
After Finbarrs school most of us went on to the technical school in Cabra West, I believe it is now the Community College. In the Tech we played Hurling, Gaelic Football, and Soccer, we reached finals in football and hurling, but we lost both. Mr Bunyan was the Physical Education teacher and he looked after all the teams. Obviously his first priority was PE so the other activities were not a priority. It’s great now that the Dublin County board are helping schools with coaching and it is making a huge impact all over the county.
One of the adult matches I attended was in 1961 when I went to see the Barrs win their first ever adult championship when they won the Junior Football Championship, they also won the Junior A League this year. It was a great achievement as these were really difficult competitions. They beat Vincents in the final of the championship, and of course Vincents were favourites.
The Barrs came from behind as usual to win the game with a late goal by Paddy Moyles. Others to shine on the day were Paddy Heaney in goal, Brinsly Lowth at full back, Reggie Sheridan, Norman Long, Eugene and Frank Waters, Paddy Norton and a very young Peter Ennis at midfield.
It was very strange for the Barrs to win the Junior Football Championship because most people would have considered the Barrs were more into hurling. I had also seen the Barrs junior hurling team win the Miller Shield around this time.
My first taste of adult hurling was in 1963/64 season, it was in a junior hurling game against Muindearg in the Bogies. My mates Eamon Hanlon, Tommy Watson and myself were playing. Some of the older guys playing that day were Joe Casserly and Kevin Brady. To say that we had a very bad day would be an understatement. We were well beaten and Tommy got sent off, and I was taken off.
Eamon and Tommy decided after the game that they had enough and would not play again and they didn’t. Of course I also said I wouldn’t play, but hurling was in my blood and I turned out for the next junior hurling match. It was against Rialto Gaels in the Bogies, and I scored two goals and was straight away picked on our first team which was our intermediate hurling team. The first game in the intermediate league was against O’Tooles also in the Bogies. I scored another two goals in this game and after that I was to become a permanent fixture on our senior team.
My first year playing for our Intermediate hurling team was in the league in 1964, but we were still only playing junior hurling championship and we reached the Junior Hurling Championship final in ‘64. We played Craobh Ciarain in the final and we were very unlucky not to have won, we lost by a point. This was Ciarans first team at that time and they went on to win the Inter championship the following year. They also went on to win a senior Hurling Championship a year or two later.
Anyway in the final and semi-final that season, we were short two of our first choice players, Paddy Moyles and Jimmy Cullen who had been sent off in the quarter final against Father Murphy’s. These sendings off probably cost us the championship final. Jimmy was our goal keeper and the joker on the team. Jimmy used to say he was so tin he had to run around the shower to get wet. Paddy was a forward and he and I linked up very well together.
The semi-final that year was against Whitehall Gaels and it turned out to be a great game played in the Civil service Ground in Islandbridge. Timmy Mullane had a stormer in the forward line in this game. Timmy went on to play a huge roll for the Barrs both on and off the field, he was secretary of the club for many years and he also represented the Barr’s at the county board. He is still involved in coaching for the Barrs.
I was picked at midfield for the game against Whitehall, it was the first time I ever played there. I was picked on the basis that I was young and fit and the selectors wanted me to mark one of the Dempsey brothers. He was one of their fittest and strongest players and my job was just to try and keep him from playing.
I was doing alright until the second half after running around the pitch after my man for so long I got cramps in both my legs at the same time. I was in real agony I remember the selectors standing around me and some wanted me taken off, but I was urged to play by Joe Brady one of our selectors and got up and finished the game. Joe was a real gentleman he was one the founders of Fionnbarra, and his family and the Casserly family were some of the corner stones on which the club was built. We beat Whitehall to reach the final.
Well in that junior hurling final in 1964 against Ciarans we were being well beaten at half time, in fact the score was Ciarans 5-0 to our 1-2. They scored three goals from twenty one yard frees and another goal went straight to the net from a side line ball.
They had Eamon Flynn playing in the forward line, he was a brilliant free taker. But in the second half he was kept very quiet and we began to claw back the scores.
I scored a goal and a point, my brother John Joe scored a goal and peter Lowry put over every free we got. We only lost the game by a point. Reggie Sheridan had a great chance to win the game for us in the dying minutes but the ball got stuck in the ground and he just could not connect with it. Other players to star that day were JJ Brown, Seamus Byrne, Phelim Brady and Sean Moyles.
The Barrs 1964 team, beaten by Ciarans in the Junior Hurling Championship Final.
Back Row L to R: John Moyles, Gerry Kehoe, Jimmy Cullen, Nicky Casserly, Frank Waters, Noel Christopher, Seamus Kelly, Kevin Crooks, Paddy Norton, Reggie Sheridan, Pat Keogh, Sean Moyles, Jim Kavanagh, Seamus Byrne, Padddy Moyles.
Front Row L to R: Mick Brown, John Joe Brown, Phelim Brady, Timmie Mullane, Donal Massey, Jack White, Peter Lowry, Philip Lynch, Liam Doyle, Joe Casserly.
The following year 1965 we won the junior hurling championship fairly easily by beating Rialto in the final. Reggie made amends for the previous year and along with Peter Lowry they were the stars of the game.
The strangest thing ever to happen to me and our team was against Port and Docks in this Championship. The Port was made up of players who worked in the docks most of them were from the country. Philip Lynch had played for the Port but had come back to play for the Barrs, and as we all know he played a leading role for the Barrs on and off the pitch. Anyway I was having a very good game against the Port when the guy I was marking started to give me some stick, literally.
We were winning easily and this guy was hitting me every time I went near the ball. Eventually the ref booked him, but he just would not stop and he hit me again late in the game. The ref gave him his marching orders but he would not go, and his mentors could not get him to leave the pitch. This guy then drew out and flattened the poor ref and that was game over. The match was abandoned we were awarded the game and the whole Port and Docks club were banned and disbanded after this game.
The Barr’s trip to Aughrim for a friendly match in 1965.
Back row: Rose Martin, Mrs K Brown, Philip Lynch, Marie Lynch,
B White and Jack White.
Front row: Mick Brown, Josie Brown, Mary Brown, JJ Brown.
The Junior and Intermediate Hurling Championships and Leagues were very difficult to win in these years, because there were several excellent teams around. The Intermediate League was made up of two divisions with ten teams in each division. Most of these teams were made up of lads from the Country who worked in Dublin and they could not get back there to play at home too often.
Commercials and Grocers were made up of bar men, Kickhams were mostly guys working in the retail trade, Air Coir were men in the air force or working in Baldonnell Airdrome. St. Brendans were mostly male nurses from Brendans Hospital Grangegorman, who had a lot of Westmeath players on their team, Father Murphys were Wexford men and Muindearg were Kilkenny men.
Also there was Young Irelands, St. Columbas, O’Tooles, Whitehall and Faughs. We had some great games against these teams especially Kickhams and Grocers. I remember Grocers had P J Lally playing centre field for them. P J was a great player and played center field for Galway in those days. Jim Kenny played for Kickhams and Dublin.
Naomh Fionnbarra team who were beaten in the semi-final of the intermediate hurling league by Kickhams in 1966
Back row L to R: P Brady, P Keogh, S Reid, S Moyles, D Massey, R Sheridan, P Moyles, J Cullen. Front Row L to R: M Brown, JJ Brown, S Waters, S McCarthy, S Byrne, T Mullane,D Moyles.
In 1965 I had been playing junior football and I was asked to turn out for the intermediate footballers. In 1966 we won the intermediate football championship final when we surprised a very good Clanna Gael team. Clans were winning by five points with a couple of minutes to go when we introduced a sub Sean Bohan who scored two goals to leave both teams shell shocked. So we were now playing senior Football for the first time in the clubs history. It was a draw at half time but Clanna Gael took complete control of the game in the second half of this game and as I said they were cruising to a win by 5 points when our super sub Bohan scored those two goals. Some of the players on the Barrs team were Brinsly Lowth, Eugene and Frank Waters, Pat Owens, Sean and Paddy Moyles, Reggie Sheridan, Kevin Crooks, Peter Byrne, Peter Ennis and Peter Henshaw.
In the first round of this championship out in Ballydowd against Agnes’s we could only field 14 players, and we only barely got a draw. Nicky Casserly who was injured and was only out to watch the game, ended up having to play for us to bring our numbers up to fifteen. Of course by the time we reached the final we could field two teams.
We acquitted ourselves very well in senior ranks for a long time. We were never going to win the senior championship but we could hold our own with most teams in the second division. In fact we reached a quarter final in the senior championship, and played against Vincents, but we were beaten heavily. A Vincent’s team who had the great Kevin Heffernan playing for them and dictating the procedures.
A match to remember was a senior football league game against St. Anne’s out in Bohernabreena. We were losing by two points with time almost up. We were awarded a twenty one yard free. The Anne’s players lined the goalmouth and big Brinsly Lowth came up from full back to take the free. It’s the only time I have ever seen a goal scored from a twenty one yard free in any football game. Brinsly just came up and crashed the ball to the roof of the net and we won by a point. We survived at senior level until 1973 when were relegated back to intermediate status.
After playing very well in senior ranks we ended up struggling to stay in the senior ranks for two or three years. One of those relegation matches was a game against Kickhams. It was played in the Bogies and we beat them by a couple of points which meant relegation for Kickhams and we stayed up. After the game a friend of mine Jim Taffe who was from Cabra West and playing on the Kickhams team, came over to shake my hand and he said you had a few foreigners playing for you tonight. It was very embarrassing until he said it’s OK because we had a few as well. This match caused a major row at our next committee meeting.
Two years we avoided relegation from the Senior Football League
Naomh Fionnbarra winners of the Intermediate hurling League 1967, most of this team also played on the Intermediate Football Championship winning team in 1966.
Back Row L to R: B Lowth Selector, T Mullane, J White, P Keogh, J Kavanagh,
R Sheridan, P Cody, K Crooks, D Massey, S Moyles. Joe Casserly Selector.
Front Row L to R: M Brown, M Moyles, P Moyles, R McCarthy, JJ Brown, P Lowry, S Waters, P Lynch, P Brady.
1967 was the year we were promoted to the senior hurling when we won the intermediate hurling league. We had reached the top four playoffs in 1965 and 1966 but we were beaten in the semi-final in those two years. It was very frustrating to lose in the league playoffs two years in a row and you might ask how we could lose out after beating most of the teams in the league proper. But the teams we had to play against in these play offs where teams like Grocers, Commercials, Kickhams and The Air Coir.
These teams were all made up mostly with country lads who worked in Dublin. So they may not have been able to field their best teams at all times, But if any of these teams managed to reach a final or semi-final they could produce an inter county team. So in 1967 the Dublin county board changed the rules and decided that the team who came first in the league won the league, so we won the league proper and were promoted to play senior hurling.
We had a great team in ’67 we had an influx of young players onto the team like Martin and Dick Moyles, Seanie Waters, John Whyte, Bernard Crooks and Robbie McCarthy, and we looked forward to playing senior league for the first time.
It was also around this time that the Dublin County Board encouraged teams who had no real base in Dublin to join with clubs who had a base and juvenile teams. This changed the whole aspect of the nomad teams. We had Crokes and Dalcassions joining with Kilmacud to become Kilmacud Crokes. Columbas joined with Agnes’s to form Crumlin. Commercials eventually moved to Rathcoole where there was a thriving juvenile hurling population.
Kickhams moved out to Ballymun and became Ballymun Kickhams. I think the club who started all of these amalgamations was Craobh Rua who moved out to Killester Joined with the local team and became Craobh Ciarain. Faughs moved to Temleouge and began to build a juvenile base. Eventually Eoghan Ruadh moved up to the Navan Road and Joined with Plunketts. Of course some of the clubs who didn’t join with existing clubs went out of existence. Clubs that eventually vanished were Grocers, Young Irelands, Father Murphy’s, Erins Hope, Sean Mc Dermotts and Muindearg. Some have survived like Civil Service, New Irelands and Brendans but they have all struggled.
So it was in 1968 for the first time in the clubs history Naomh Fionnbarra went on to play in the Dublin senior hurling league. In 1968 there was only one senior hurling league so we knew we would be under pressure to stay up in senior hurling. We were now playing against the big boys of hurling in Dublin like Vincent’s, Faughs, O’Tooles, Crumlin, Ciarans and Crokes. We acquitted ourselves very well in the league and managed to stay out of the relegation battle this year.
Unfortunately the Dublin County Board decided to split the senior league into two divisions and we ended up in the second division. In the first division we had had some trilling games in that first senior year and managed to beat some of the big teams. One of the most exciting victories was against O’Tooles. O’Tooles had come to play us in the Bogies one Sunday morning, they left a few of their main players off the team on the basis that they could beat us without them.
It looked like they were right too, when into the second half they led by ten or eleven points. Then it all turned and I scored the first of my two goals, it was one of the best goals I ever scored. Then Seamus and Robbie McCarthy chipped in with two goals and I got another and we won the game.
Jimmy Kirwan an O’Tooles player who had played with the Barrs for many years was on the line. He was one of their big guns they had left off, Jimmy was on the line and he could see it all going wrong for O’Tooles after our first goal in the second half, he was screaming at his team mates on the pitch but it was too late we had the bit between our teeth.
Jimmy Kirwan had been a great player for the Barrs before he transferred to O’Tooles, and because of this he was completely ostracized by all of the GAA people in Cabra West. The reason he left was obvious, he was promised he would have a better chance of playing for Dublin with O’Tooles. He did play for Dublin at senior level and he also won a junior football All Ireland medal with the Dubs, as well as many county medals with O’Tooles. Kirwan was a huge loss to the Barrs at this time.
O’Tooles had a great knack of getting players to transfer to them, through the years they signed players from all over the place. So it was a bit rich to see them make such a big objection to Eamon Fennell who tried to transfer to Vincent’s over the last few years. It’s not nice when it happens to you. Although I do not believe players should be allowed to transfer from one club to another unless they are living in that area.
The Barrs had a rule many years ago that only players from outside the Parish who played under age for the club could play at adult level for the club. I had a friend who worked with me, Mick Cronin, Mick came training with me and the Barrs for a while but he could not get a game because he was not from Cabra and anyway he was playing junior hurling in Cork. But he had no problem playing for O’Tooles and went on to win several county Medals with them and also played for Dublin at Intermediate level. He also transferred to O’Tooles.
Mickey Whelan and Paddy Holden were two other players from Cabra who won all Ireland minor and senior football medals with the Dubs. As far as I know they never played for Finbarrs. They had gone to St. Peters School in Phibsborough and were brought down to Ringsend by the local school teacher to play for Clanna Gael.
Another super match in those days in the senior hurling league was against Faughs also played in the bogies. Faughs were very strong back then and the game ended in a draw. 5-6 to 4-9. They had many inter county players on their team like Sean Buckley of Kilkenny, Eamon Rea of Limerick and many others, that day Peter Lowry scored 3-2 and I scored 2-1.
Peter Lowry was one of the best dead ball players in Dublin at that time. He scored mostly from frees and if need be he could score goals from 21 yard frees seemingly at will, there were no penalties in those days. This was one of the reasons I was never bothered about being fouled around the goal. I knew that if I was fouled Peter would score from the resulting frees.
I got an ear bashing from Jim Kavanagh (Corky) after this game because late in the game I passed the ball to him instead of taking a point to win the game. What happened was I got the ball on the run and saw Corky’s man, the full back running at me. I passed the ball over the full back to Corky just before I was sent flying through the air by the tackle. The pass was perfect into to Corky but he fumbled the ball right in front of the goal and the keeper pounced and cleared it.
1970 - Intercounty
Playing for Dublin was what all players wanted to do, and I got several chances. I never got a trial at minor level, but as soon as I played Junior hurling I got trials in 1966 1nd 67 for the under Dublin 21 teams. I got to the final trials both years but never made the panels.
In 1968 I was picked on the Dublin Intermediate Hurling Panel along with Sean and Paddy Moyles, two of the four brothers who played for us. In our first match in the Leinster Championship we beat Wexford, Sean and Paddy were on the team I was in the subs. Sean was one of the main men on this team, he had been on the senior team already but as he hadn’t played senior championship he was still eligible for the intermediate team. It was from these games that he launched his long career playing full back on the Dublin senior hurling team.
The next game was the Leinster semi-final, we played Laois and again I was a sub. I was given the number 17 jersey and was told that I was on the official subs list. In the first half one of our forwards got injured and I thought I might get the nod but no, someone else was sent on.
At half time the forward that got injured was deemed to be ok again and he was put back on, what a mistake that was. He lasted five minutes and I was sure that this was my big chance. But no, our selectors in their wisdom got a player who was not on the official subs list and put him on, we won the game so I suppose the selectors were right. But I didn’t think so at the time, I threw my Dublin jersey in the corner of the dressing room after the game, drove straight home and left the panel.
I was approached to go back on the panel the following week after we played Rialto Gaels in the semi-final of the Intermediate Championship. The manager of the Dublin team and Rialto team at that time was Jimmy Nolan. The reason I was asked back on the panel was that I scored two goals against Rialto his club in this match, which we lost. This Dublin team of 1968 went on to win the Leinster final and I missed out on a medal, sometimes now I think maybe I should have hung on. I might have made the team eventually, but then again maybe I was right.
This Intermediate Dublin team also got to the All Ireland final only to lose to Tipperary.
In 1969 I was again picked on the Dublin Intermediate team I was the only player from the Barrs on this team. I actually got onto this team but we were beaten in the first round by Wicklow. Also on the Dublin team that day was Lesley Deegan of Vincent’s who went on to win an All Ireland football medal with the Dubs in 1974. Lesley had also won an All Ireland Minor hurling medal with Dublin. Some other players on the team were some of the best club hurlers in Dublin Joey Byrne of Erin’s Isle, Matt Wallace of Fontenoys and Matt Allen of Good council.
In 1969 I was also picked on the Dublin senior hurling panel for a friendly match against Offaly in Birr. The first I knew about the game was I saw the panel of players in the paper during the week. It was a great to see my name on the panel which included Des Foley my idol. But that was as good as it got because the day went badly, and I was on the bench for most of the game.
I was given a run for the last 10 minutes of the match not very long to make an impression. I remember running on to the pitch which was as heavy as I’ve ever played on and my legs felt like lead. I hadn’t warmed up and again I did the game was over.
Two of the selectors that day were Jimmy Gray and Christy Hayes, two men I knew very well. I had actually played against Christy several times, he played for New Irelands. It was probably the worst day in my hurling career. I think it was Jimmy Gray who got me on the panel that day. The reason he had me picked was because we had beaten Jimmy’s team Na Fianna in a Corn Ceitin Cup game the Sunday before and I had scored two goals.
That was on Sunday afternoon and I had played in a senior hurling match on that Sunday morning and also scored two goals. Anyway that was to be the end of my would be intercounty career. I guess it just wasn’t to be. I must say that Jimmy Gray was a real gentleman and when he was chairman of the Dublin County Board, he and Donal Hickey who was the development officer were to be a great help to me in later years when I was involved in starting up a new GAA Club in Sandyford Naomh Olaf.
The Corn Ceitin was one trophy we never won and should have. One of our best ever performances in this cup was when we beat Kilmacud Crokes in the semi-final. Crokes had won the intermediate league and championship and were already playing at senior level when we beat them.
Crokes had intercounty players Mickey Bermingham, Brian Cooney and John Maher among others on their team. They actually went on to win the senior championship for the first time after we beat them this year. In the dressing room before we went out to play Crokes, Jimmy Cullen was taking the piss out of Seamus McCarthy and eventually asked him how many goals he would score in the game. Seamus looked up at him and bold as brass said four. There was a big cheer.
There was an even bigger cheer when Seamus finished off Crokes by scoring four goals. In the final of the Corn Ceitin cup we lost to a last minute goal, our goalkeeper Seamus Kelly let in a very soft goal with time almost over. Seamus was very upset at the goal and was even more upset when the manager of the opposing team came into the dressing room to commiserate with us after the match and went over specially and shook Seamus by the hand. He was actually a friend of his but it didn’t help, Seamus got some ribbing over that handshake.
1969 turned out to be the best hurling year ever for the Barrs, and I would argue it was also the best Barrs hurling team ever. We won the senior hurling league division two and the intermediate hurling championship. The reason we were in division two in ’69 was that the Dublin County Board decided to divide the senior hurling league into two divisions.
We had avoided relegation but we were in the bottom half of the league and so went into the new division two. At that time I always regarded division two as intermediate as some of the teams in it were promoted from the intermediate ranks without having won their way up. I believe that the County Board divided the first division because a few of the bigger named clubs were to be relegated from division one.
The inter championship semi-final in ‘69 was the match which I remember most, It was against Commercials, they were a team made up of barmen most of whom were from the country. Within two minutes of the start of the game I ran on to a ball sent in from the right, I got away from my man and crashed the ball to the net.After another few minutes I attempted to do the same thing but my marker was ready for me and he hit me such a belt across the knee that I still suffer from it today.
Robby McCarthy duly scored the point and we were a goal and a point up within three or four minutes. Commercials moved Eamon McGrath from left half back to right half to mark me. I didn’t do much more in that game, I don’t know if was down to McGrath or the pain in my knee. Eamon McGrath had been on the Dublin Intermediate panel in ’68 but he was moved onto the Dublin senior panel that year. Eamon now owns a pub in Cabra West, it used to be Kennedys and it was our local before we got our own Club House. I ended up in casualty that night with my knee enlarged by about fifty percent. I still suffer with pains in that knee.
Naomh Fionnbarra Intermediate Hurling Championship and Senior League Division 2 winners 1969 Back Row L to R: P Norton, P Lynch, T Ryan, R McCarthy, S Moyles, P Cody, T Mullane, k crooks, W McDermott, J Cullen, D Massey, A Mooney, D Moyles.Front Row L to R: S McCarthy, B Crooks, P Moyles, P Lowry, J Kavanagh, M Moyles,P Brady, M Brown.
In the intermediate final we beat Kickhams, the game was played the week after the semi-final and because of my knee injury I was not a hundred percent fit but it could not stop me playing. Jim (Corky) Kavanagh was playing full forward in this final and he got a goal which clinched the match for us.
Jim ran to the end line and got his hurley to the ball that was going wide. He had his back to the goal and the ball went back over his head and the keepers head into the net. Corky a Cork man of course and had played with the Barrs from the very early days he was a legend in the club and must have been well into his forties at that time.
He was one of the old stock who played only at full back or full forward, he put the fear of god into his markers. Robbie McCarthy also had a great game that day, he had taken over the free taking after Peter Lowry and he scored every free that was put on front of him.
1970 – Training
Training for us was very varied, during the summer months was never a problem because we could use the bogies, but in the winter we had real trouble. In the winter the gates into the Bogies were locked so we had to climb over the railings and all we could do were laps and sprints by the lights on Rathtoath Road. At one stage we got a key to the dressing rooms and we would go in and tog out in there by candle light.
Eventually the park ranger caught us and we were barred. For a few seasons we went down to Arbour Hill boxing club and stripped off there. We would then jog from there up to the army grounds in the Phoenix Park to do our training. When we finished we would jog back to the boxing club. The great thing about the boxing club was we could have a hot shower when we finished, this was a luxury for us. I would say that this was the time we were the fittest we had ever been. There was never a hot shower in the Bogies even after matches, in fact the shower heads had been stolen and all we had was cold water coming down like a tap. For another few seasons we used to do our winter training in the Technical School on Kilkiernan Road.
It wasn’t until we renovated the Old Legion of Mary house on Ventry Park that we had proper shower facilities, but we still had to climb the railings in the Bogies to do our training. It’s great that things have moved on, to days players don’t know how lucky they are with all the facilities.
We had our first senior hurling championship match in 1970 it was against UCD. They beat us by a point which was a good result for us as they had some fine inter county players on the team. But what completely made us sick was that they could not fulfil the second round against Colmcilles because it was being played on Sunday and most of their stars were playing for their home teams down the Country.
This was one of the reasons in those days that I always objected to UCD playing in the Dublin Championship. We knew we could have beaten Colmcilles, because we beat them well in the league. It was a chance missed as we thought we had a great chance of doing well in the Championship.
I was made captain of the senior hurling team in 1971, we had been relegated from division one, but we went on to win the second division again. This year we were beaten in our first league game against Kickhams but we went unbeaten in the rest of the league.
At the presentation of the senior league medals in the Clarence Hotel 1971.Back: Martin Moyles, Mick Brown, JJ Brown, Bill Guinan.Front, Mary Moyles, Josie Brown, Mary Brown, Kay Guinan.
Around this time we had a tough senior hurling championship game was against Vincent’s in Parnell Park. We were beaten again but we put up a very good show, I scored one goal and three points. I did score some points in games but goals were always on my mind, once I was in striking distance of the goals. Once I got the ball I would make straight for the goal. I always loved to run at defences on the basis that I could draw the defence and pass the ball or if they could stop me it was usually done by fouling and that nearly always ended in our free takers scoring.
Before going out on the pitch to play Vincent’s we were sitting in the dressing room in Parnell Park waiting for the game before ours to finish. The Parnell Park dressing rooms were made of wood and you could hear what was going on next door. Then we heard the Vincent’s manager giving his team talk, he was shouting and screaming at his players about how they were not to be intimidated by us. He called us all the names under the sun it was quite sad to listen to his rant.
Today he could easily be charged with incitement to hatred. But then up popped our comedian Cullen and started to chant Blood, Blood, Blood, loud enough for the Vins players to hear and we proceeded to bang our Hurleys on the wooden floor for optimum noise. So we did try to intimidate them before we even got on the pitch.
Well the first ten minutes in this game were the toughest I had ever played in. Vincent’s were no shrinking violets, they had their fair share of hard men. I remember seeing Lar Foley running the length of the pitch in Parnell Park to jump on some of the Ciarans Players in a Senior Hurling Championship final.
He felt they were ganging up on his brother Des. Lar had to be removed from the pitch by his mentors. Years later I was at a hurling coaching course and it was ironic to hear Lar giving a talk on discipline on and off the pitch. But I suppose if you want someone to talk about discipline who better than someone who has been there and done that. This was Ciarans first senior hurling championship victory and they never looked back.
I must say that Des Foley was my hero in those days, he was Dublins best footballer and hurler. He won medals in hurling and football the same day playing for Leinster. He captained the Dublin minor football team in 1958 when they won the All Ireland, He was also on the Dublin senior football team that won the 1963 All Ireland and was on the Dublin team beaten in the hurling All Ireland in 1961.
The Barrs have a very bad reputation and some of it is deserved and a lot of it exaggerated. Also it must be said that I and lots more of my team mates went through their careers without ever being sent off by a referee. My memories of matches those days is that I personally and the team in general took some stick from opposing teams.
Mind you some of our players could give as good as they got. We had a lot of hard men on our teams but so did every team I ever played against and I have the scars to prove it. We played and lost a semi-final of the Intermediate hurling league against Kickhams in 1966 and we had three players injured and had to go off. I then got a bad knock on the ankle and could barely walk, but I had to limp around the pitch till the end as we had played all our subs.
The next morning Monday, I limped into the A& E in the Mater and there were my three team mates sitting in a row waiting to be seen to. Unfortunately for me I was the only one who ended up in plaster and on crutches with a chipped bone in my ankle. It was always worth a goal or two advantage to us when playing in the Bogies as most teams who came there felt a bit intimidated. Because of this some of the opposition players felt they had to be more physical then they needed to be.
We got to play a senior hurling Boland Cup semi-final in Croke Park against Faughs during the early seventies. We lost but it was great to play in Croke Park with all my team mates from the Barrs. I was also delighted to score a goal which meant I played twice in Croker and scored a goal on each occasion. The other occasion was for Finbarrs School, a game we also lost.
We played in the senior hurling league division one for two or three years and we held our own without winning any silverware. Eventually we started to struggle in division one we started to lose some of our older players to retirement. I was one of the youngest players in 1965 when we won the junior championship so during the early seventies we lost nearly all that team with the exception of Sean Moyles, Timmie Mullane, Jimmy Cullen, Paddy Keogh, Peter Byrne and myself.
Because of the loss of our players we were again relegated to division two. During this time we started to add a lot of new young players to our panel, like Matt Kane, Joe Moran, Jimmy Smith, Luke Conroy, Anto Byrne, PJ Kavanagh, Willy McGauley, Seamus Gleeson and Michael Ward. We had Kit Newman and Gerry Nolan who transferred from Ballyfermot and Rialto respectively. We also had the influx of Gerry Kehoe’s sons, Sean, Nicky, Gerry Jr,Seamus and Vincent Kehoe. Sean Kehoe eventually took over from Sean Moyles at centre back and was a very able replacement. Nicky came in at full back and as everyone knows went on to become and still is one of the leading lights of our club. Gerry was midfield and Seamus played centre forward.
Another player who came to play for us was the now famous mountaineer Frank Nugent. This was before Frank started his mountaineering career. He was deputy leader of the first and successful Irish Everest Expedition, followed in the footsteps of Shackleton across the Island of South Georgia and sailed the Northwest Passage in the wake of Crozier and McClintok.
A game I remember was against Good Council in Galtymore Road. The only reason I remember the game was that I was playing center half back for the first time. The only other thing interesting about this game was that in the second half Council brought on the famous or infamous Liam Lawlor. Who I ended up marking, not many people know that Liam had played for Dublin and Leinster. In spite of the new players we struggled to stay up in senior ranks and in the late seventies it got to be a real struggle as every game in the league was like a championship match.
One of the more memorable senior Hurling Championship matches we played was in 1976 was against O’Tooles. We were being well beaten and couldn’t make any head way against their defence. Sean Moyles was moved up to centre forward and he scored three goals. He had a super game, but we lost the match due to an unforgettable mistake by goal keeper Jimmy Cullen. We were winning by one point into injury time when Jimmy caught the ball on the end line.
I think he could have let it go wide but I was at the other end of the pitch, instead of clearing the ball over the stand he ran right across the goal and O’Tooles were awarded a twenty one yard free for over carrying. Everyone expected Jack Wallace to point the free and we would have another day out. Everyone except Wallace, he was a superb free taker for O’Tooles and Dublin. Anyway Jack walked up and blasted the ball to the net to give O’Tooles their victory. The game ended 6-2 to 4-10. Jack got some stick leaving the pitch from his own players for taking the chance of winning when a draw was assured.
In 1977 our under 21 hurling team had a great season, they didn’t win anything but went very close. The big thing about this team was that the majority of them went on to play leading roles in Naomh Fionnbarra in the following years.
Johnny Smithers the manager, was a lifelong Barrs man and was great footballer in his day and managed many teams for the club. Shane McGill went on play senior football and hurling for the club and was and still is treasurer of the club. Joe Lyons was also one of our senior footballers and a selector on our senior teams.
He was also a selector on the Dublin Hurling team. Derek Sweetman also went on to play hurling and football at the highest level for the club and his son Lar was one of the first Barrs man to win an All Ireland medal with the Dublin junior team. Nicky Kehoe has become a legend in the club, continuing where his dad Gerry left off. All of the other players on this team were to play a leading roles in the Barrs winning our way back to senor hurling and football.
I became chairman of the club in the mid-seventies and our committee done their best to resurrect the adult and juvenile sections of the club. I was chairman for three or four years, we had great workers on the committee and we got a lot of things moving again.
We helped get the community week going every summer, we played adult football seven a sides, and revived the juvenile road leagues. As part of the community week the Dublin senior hurlers played us in challenge matches on a couple of occasions.
After many years and great work by Gerry Kehoe we got our own club house in Ventry Park, it was it was an old house which used to be where the Legion of Mary held there meetings.
We set about renovating the house and it was all hands on board to get the premises up and running. We put in showers rooms, dressing rooms and a committee room. We used the dressing rooms to change in and then run to the bogies for training. We still had to climb over the railings during the winter as the park was locked. Gerry Kehoe, Joe Glynn, Paddy Keogh and John Moyles senior put in a huge amount of work into the renovation of the clubhouse during this period.
During all these years we were heavily involved in the sale of programs in Croke Park. This was organised and run by Joe Casserly, and it was a great source of income for the Club. Joe was a great organiser and nothing was left to chance. He was also Treasurer of the Club for many years and played a huge part in making the club the success that it is today. Because of Joes methodical and dedicated work on the programs the Croke Park people always gave us first choice when looking for clubs to sell.
It was around this time Eilish Brady moved back to Cabra West and together with Madeline Kehoe came on the committee and they played a big part in helping to get things moving again in the club.
Our juveniles were never neglected when Gerry Kehoe was around and with the help of Joe Glynn, Hughie Flanagan and Fred Turner they began to build a brilliant juvenile hurling team. Many of these players were the backbone of the team who helped us get back to senior ranks in 1983. Players to eventually make a big impact on our senior team from this period were Paul Turner and his brothers, Jimmy Fagan, Robbie Brown and Terry Carton.
Club holiday trips to Spain were organised by Joe Casserly, Pat Owens, Jimmy Cullen & Paddy Keogh. The lads were able to get a free seat on the plain for every ten passengers, so we could sell the free seats and make some money for the club. We used to have 30 to 40 on the trips and the craic was mighty.
For many years we had our annual dinner dances on St. Stephens’s night in the North Coast Hotel in Portmarnock and Later in Johnstown House in Kildare. We had trips every summer to play football against Knockananna in Wicklow and after to have the craic in the local hostelries.
We also started to produce a newsletter to try to keep the locals in touch with what was happening in the club.
I went to Croker to see Dublin play limerick in a senior hurling league game in the early seventies. Paddy Keogh from the Barrs was a sub on the Dublin team that day. Jimmy Nolan was the manager of the Dublin team and he made one of the strangest decisions ever I ever seen. Limerick were winning and time was running out for the Dubs. The manger put on Paddy Keogh as an outfield player and took off the goalkeeper.
Dublin played the rest of the game with no goalkeeper, it didn’t work because Dublin lost.
Fionnbarra holidays in Calelle Spain in late sixties.
Nicky Casserly. Eileen Henshaw, Pat Owens, Beryl Keogh, Jimmy Cullen, Paddy Keogh, Josie Brown.
Fionnbarra holidays in Majorca in 1974.
Johnny Eager, Brian Brady, Dick Moyles, Brian Sheridan, Breda Moyles, Mrs Sheridan, Mary Moyles, Josie Brown, Mick Brown, Martin Moyles, Noel.
In the senior hurling championship in 1977 we played and drew with Erin’s Isle. We had a few players sent off in this game, but despite this we fought back and clinched a draw with the last puck or should I say throw of the game. What happened was I collected a ball hit in towards the goal by Sean Moyles. I got the ball and ran straight into Isle’s small square where I went to ground, as I went down I had the ball in my out stretched hand. I was only inches from the goal line so I just threw the ball into the net.
All the isle’s men saw it, and they were kicking up a stink. But the ref or the umpires obviously didn’t, or if they did they weren’t saying so the ref gave the goal and we drew. The referee was Pat Lynch from Civil Service, I knew Pat because he had played for the Barrs before he went to Service. That was when I was still playing at juvenile level.
I don’t believe that is why he gave the goal, but only Pat knows, anyway I firmly believe that I was fouled in the square and if I hadn’t scored I should have got a penalty.
In the replay they beat us.
Eventually after managing to avoid relegation for a few years it was a bit of a relief to some of us when in 1980 we were eventually relegated to Intermediate status. But it turned out to be the best thing ever as we began to build again from the bottom.
After being relegated from senior to intermediate hurling in 1980 we started to regroup and with the help of the younger players like Paul Turner, Mick Ward, Frank Hall, PJ Kavanagh and Kehoe brothers we won the Doyle cup in 1982.
Every hurling team needs a good free taker and we had our share of very good ones down through the years. We had, Peter Lowry, Robbie McCarthy, Jimmy Smith and Paul Turner.
The Doyle cup was the first adult trophy Naomh Fionnbarra had won since 1971. It was great to win a trophy again after so many years, and that one of the selectors on this team was Phelim Brady who I had played with from my school days and whose father Joe was a selector on the junior hurling teams back in the sixties.
After winning the Doyle Cup we were determined to build on this success and make it back to senior status. And in 1983 we did just that in style by winning the treble, we won
The Intermediate Hurling League, the Intermediate Hurling Championship and the Doyle cup again.
We won the league by beating Commercials in the Bogies. I scored a goal and was fouled for two penalties which Paul Turner put over the bar, because we didn’t need goals. Anto Byrne, Paul Turner, Gerry and Seamus Kehoe, were outstanding in this game, Paul scored frees from all over the pitch.
In the championship we beat Ballyboden, Na Fianna and Cuala before playing Brigids in the semi-final. I missed the semi-final of the championship against Brigids as I was on holidays and it ended in a draw.
We had been down by four points with two minutes left against Brigids when Luke Conroy scored a goal and a point, Luke had one of his best ever seasons ever this year. I was back for the replay which we won and I scored another goal.
In the final we beat New Irelands and the stars of the game were Luke Conroy, Joe Moran and Paddy Keogh. Selecting those teams were Philip lynch, Timmie Mullane and Joe Moran. Of course Timmie and Joe were also playing on the team.
Naomh Fionnbarra 1982 and 1983 Doyle Cup winners, and winners of the 1983 and Intermediate League and Championship.
Back Row L to R: H Flanagan, P Byrne, A Bennet, T Mc Donagh, S Gleeson, T Carton, L Conroy, D McAlorum, A Byrne, G Kehoe, R Brown, J Cullen, T Ryan, F Hall, P Keogh, M Kane, P Dillon, P Lynch.
Front Row L to R: J Smyth, P Turner, S Kehoe, T Mullane, N Kehoe, J Fagan, M Ward,
J Moran, S Kehoe, M Brown.
So we were back where we believed we should be, playing senior hurling. This is when another great Barrs man came onto the team. He was Anthony (Gozzy) Costello. Gozzy took over the full back position and was to be one of the main stays of the club for many years. Gozzy played senior hurling and senior and junior football for Dublin for many years. It was great to have played with the great man.
I played senior hurling for one more season before I retired. In my last season, the matches I remember most were when I scored two goals against Kevins in the league and Eoghan Ruadh in the senior championship. Against the Ruadh I got another bad belt for my trouble. The last senior match I played was against Vincents in the league which we lost but we had consolidated our senior status, so I took my number 12 jersey home and retired.
Trophies won by Mick Brown playing for the Barrs from 1958 to 1985:
- Winner under 15 Hurling League division 2 north Dublin 1958
- Winner under 15 Hurling League division 1 north Dublin 1959
- Winner under 16 ½ Hurling League division 2 north Dublin 1959
- Winner Minor Hurling League Division 2 1960
- Winner Minor Football League Division 2 1961
- Winner Junior Hurling Championship 1965
- Winner Intermediate Football Championship 1966
- Winner Intermediate Hurling League 1967
- Winner Intermediate Hurling Championship 1969
- Winner Senior Hurling League Division 2 1969
- Winner Senior Hurling League Division 2 1971
- Winner Doyle Cup 1982
- Winner Doyle Cup 1983
- Winner Intermediate Hurling Championship 1983
- Winner Intermediate Hurling League 1983