Remembering the Gaels of Down’s illustrious past
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DOWN PLAYER PAGE
VOTING STARTS ON FEBRUARY 20TH
Down has always been fertile ground for harvesting footballing talent, and Matt Fitzpatrick took a trip down memory lane to pick his top 50 from the Mourne county
LED the county to only its second ever Ulster SFC first round victory over Antrim in 1920. The Liatroim clubman, playing in the full-forward line, scored two of his side’s goals as they won by 3-1 to 1-2 in Newcastle. An alert attacker with an eye for goal. A marksman supreme.
THE Mayobridge stalwart with the safe hands gave away few chances. Was a permanent fixture on the county side in the first two decades of the 20th century.
ANOTHER of the famous Liatroim Fontenoys players who donned the county jersey in those early days. Played in several positions, but the full-back line was his favourite position. Read the game well and was always reliable as a sweeper behind the other defenders.
BERNARD was the leader and mainstay of the now extinct east Down club Rossglass. Played for several years – mostly in defence – for the county, but was adept at moving forward to take a score.
BRIAN was a half-back of distinction. His power, strength and brilliant football skills shone through. Those same skills, power and tenacity rubbed off on his famous sons in later Sam Maguire Cup wins. Brian was an ever-present on county teams for over a decade. He completed his county career at full-forward.
A LIVELY corner-forward with an eye for goal, the Kilcoo clubman had a few seasons in the Down attack. Played a major part in Kilcoo winning the county SFC in 1925. Scored Down’s goal in the Ulster SFC game against Monaghan, which the Farneymen won by 3-5 to 1-3.
ANOTHER famous name who graced the county teams. Along with Brian McCartan and Paul Murphy (Mayobridge), formed the strongest line on the team. An outstanding half-back line. George was captain of the county junior side that won the Ulster title in 1934. The Mussen name became famous three decades later to start Down’s glory days.
THE Warrenpoint player burst on the county scene in the late ’30s, and was an ever-present for several years. Recognised as a talented defender, he became county captain and led from the front. His defensive qualities were outstanding, but his overall versatility saw him make several appearances as an attacker.
THE Castlewellan defender was one of the most outstanding players of his time. Was named as a substitute on the Ulster team which won the first-ever Railway Cup for the province in 1942.
THE Ballymartin clubman was another player whose football abilities were recognised outside the county. In 1936, the GAA organised an international tournament between Ireland and England. Tom was a member of the Ireland side that won the football competition. Tom was an attacker of renowned ability.
THE Castlewellan defender or goalkeeper became an historic figure in the county. A brilliant athlete, John played in goals for the county and as a defender for his club. He became the first Down man to win a Railway Cup medal as a player when he guarded the goals for Ulster in the 1947 and 1948 victories. He was between the posts in the 1942 Ulster final, which Cavan won easily in the first Ulster decider played outside the province. The game was played in Dundalk. John was also a well-known administrator, as he was a member of the east Down and county boards. He was also a founder member of the now defunct Ballyhackamore GAA club.
AN outstanding defender from the Warrenpoint club, John quickly established himself on the county side and for a decade was an ever-present on the team. A steady player, he used his strength and pace to outwit attackers.
ONE of the famous Carr family Gerry was an attacking half-back with plenty of pace. When the going got tough, Gerry was always ready, willing and able to play a major part in the exchanges.
THROUGH the years, Down have always produced goalkeepers of outstanding ability. Jimmy was in that mould. He was the keeper in the 1940 Ulster final against Cavan. In the opening Ulster game, he was absolutely brilliant against Tyrone. In the semi-final against Monaghan, he was in excellent form again but his luck ran out against Cavan in the final when he conceded a penalty. Jimmy, however, continued to play his part on the county side for several years.
WHENEVER football is talked about in Annaclone, Dan’s name always comes up. A midfielder of outstanding quality, his high fielding and forceful play gave both club and county sides a real lift.
NO man in the history of the GAA in Down is better known than Barney Carr. He was the man who, as manager, guided Down to their first All-Ireland victory in 1960. But, 16 years earlier and playing at centre half-forward, Barney played a major part as Down won their first ever senior title – the McKenna Cup. In the semi-final he scored two goals against Donegal, while in the final he contributed another two goals against Tyrone.
IN the days when midfielders started to play a major part in the flow of football games, it was Brian Denvir who shone through. The Kilclief man was a stylish player, and high-fielding was a feature of his play. His qualities were also recognised by the Ulster selectors on several occasions.
ALTHOUGH Noel may have been more famous for playing another code at Glentoran, Gaelic football was his first love. He was the left half-back on the Down side that brought the first All-Ireland football title to the county, when they beat Warwickshire in the All-Ireland JFC final. The Downpatrick man was a real star that season, and played a major role in that victory.
ANOTHER of the famous Warrenpoint footballing clan, Gerry – known as ‘Joker’ – was the captain of the 1946 All-Ireland winning junior side. He led from the front, and was a supreme leader.
THE Banbridge student came to the fore at St Colman’s College, Newry. Graduated to the county senior football team as a talented attacker whose pace and accuracy, along with Barney Carr, formed a brilliant half-forward line.
THE history-maker. No matter when or where Mourne football is discussed, the name of Kevin Mussen will always be first to be mentioned. Played for Down seniors while still a student at St Colman’s College, he led the county to their first All-Ireland win and became the first man to carry the Sam Maguire over the border.
ANOTHER product of St Colman’s College, the big Kilkeel full-back with the massive kick-out saw off the best forwards in the country. His contributions to Down and Ulster wins is well catalogued.
THE quiet man of those All-Ireland winning teams, the Kilwarlin man acted as a sweeper behind the full-back line and guarded ’keeper Eamon McKay. Safe and confident, he gave away few scores.
BIG Dan was a centre-half of outstanding ability. He was quick in the tackle, cleared with accuracy and was always in front of his man in the race for possession. Dan moved to full-back in 1968 and, along with Joe Lennon, Paddy Doherty and Sean O’Neill, became the winner of three All-Ireland medals.
ONE of the most talented players to wear the red and black jersey. His contribution to fitness schedules and his vision played a major part in restructuring team effort for major games. A great leader, he brought home the Sam Maguire Cup for the third time.
THE Dundrum clubman was at home in either attack or midfield. It was in the middle, along with Joe Lennon, that he found his best position. A tireless worker, he led from the front and was always forcing his way forward into attack.
A FOOTBALLER supreme is the only way to describe the Newry Mitchels man. A team player with a brilliant side-step and a quick injection of pace, he was a player of immense ability and was quite rightly recognised on the GAA’s centenary team.
James McCartan snr
THE Glenn attacker led the line with dash, power, courage and determination. His goal against Offaly in the 1961 All-Ireland was a piece of sheer genius and turned the game Down’s way.
WHAT can one say about the great Paddy Mo? A genius whose left foot wrecked so many team defences. He was Ulster’s leading SFC scorer until Peter Canavan broke that record a few years ago, but Doherty’s feat was in 60-minute games. His 15 points against Connacht in the Railway Cup final is still a Croke Park record.
ANOTHER left footer, the Newry Shamrocks man was adept at sending the ball over the bar with an expert fist as with his boot. Roamed outfield to get possession and then race through for a score.
THE Clonduff clubman was the ideal full-forward. However, it was when he moved to full-back after winning his All-Ireland medal in 1960 that Patsy really came into his own. After scoring four goals against Galway in the Wembley tournament in London, one English Sunday paper carried a story that Chelsea were interested in him. Thankfully, Patsy stayed at home.
FEW players have contributed as much to the Down attack than the ‘Annaclone Cyclone’. Small in stature, his sturdy body saw him dominate much taller outfield players.
ONE of the most outstanding defenders in the county. A steady player who covered well and gave away few chances. In the days when defenders kicked out the ball, Pat had a great delivery.
AS a College player, the Liatroim Fontenoys star’s high fielding, turn of pace and finishing made him an automatic Allstar. Colm is the only footballer to have won Railway Cup medals in three decades. (1968,1971, and 1980)
ONE of the best corner-backs in the country. His delivery of a ground ball was amazing. It didn’t matter whether it was for his club, Mayobridge, or county, he always played the same steady game.
AN outstanding half-back with boundless energy. An attacking player who was always in the thick of things. No matter whether for his club Kilclief or county, he always played a steady game.
THE Downpatrick keeper was the joker in the pack. His net-minding abilities were immense and, coupled with his quick wit with both colleagues and opponents, he became a legend, and was known as ‘the bearded wonder.’
A CENTRE half-back of great talent, the Liatroim Fontenoys man always had a steady game. His high-fielding and well placed deliveries played a major part in any game.
A CORNER-back who made up for his lack of height with quick tackling. There were few better corner-backs in the country.
A PLAYER of immense talent with the Sean O’Neill-type body swerve, Mickey was a forward who worked tirelessly for the team
A TRULY unique talent, the Warrenpoint player could slide the ball over the bar with accuracy.
A BORN leader, Paddy graduated through minor and U21 to captain the side to All Ireland glory in 1991. His steady displays and brilliant leadership played a major part in an historic victory.
BRIAN emerged through the great Bryansford side to fill the county full-back berth. Used his great strength to best advantage in the red and black
ONE of the most stylish players to emerge from Bryansford, Eugene used his pace to great advantage.
CURRENT senior county manager, Ross has had plenty of experience as a player. A half-forward with a sweet left foot, he played a major part in Down successes in the 90s
THERE have been few better footballers in Down over the past two decades than Greg Blaney. He was a brilliant reader of the game. Worked tirelessly at centre half-forward and set up chances, while notching a few himself.
James McCartan jnr
WEE James’ pace and swerving runs terrified defences, and his scores made from nothing changed the flow of many games.
A FEARLESS half-back, he inspired those around him with his forceful play. Always prompted the attack with expert deliveries.
THE Downpatrick defender or midfielder’s fielding and finishing power helped turn many games. Encouraged those around him.
THE versatile and talented Mayobridge player tore defences apart with his pace and scoring power. Used both feet to expertly notch scores, and always gave 100 per cent.
THE big Loughinisland midfielder is the current captain of the county team. His high fielding makes him a vital cog in the machine.
A PLAYER of immense talent and power, the Mayobridge man has all the qualities of a great player. A real goal-getter, he can turn games with his scoring prowess
ONE of those players whose defensive qualities were recognised by both county and province. Helped Loughinisland climb from divisional to all county level.
Remember if you think, we have left someone out who you think merits a place on the top 125 of Ulster's great footballers feel free to add you own.
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