Man O’War Junior Championship 1979 winners: The glory, glory days
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The Dublin Junior Football Championship is generally regarded as one of the hardest competitions in the country to win. Each year over 80 clubs take part, all with the dream of ending up as champions. Things were no different in 1979, when 83 set out on the championship trail. Man O’ War opened their quest for glory at Ballyboughal on April 22 with an opening round tie against Erins Isle from Finglas. Just before the interval one of the Erins Isle officials suffered a fatal heart attack on the sideline. As a result the match was abandoned with the boys from the Yellow Hill leading by 0-3 to nil. Two weeks later on May 6 the sides met again at the same venue and at the end of a very exciting tie the sides were on level terms 1-9 to 2-6. Ballyboughal was once again the setting for the third meeting on May 20. When the full time whistle sounded, it was Man O’ War who progressed to the next round when emerging victorious by 0-9 to 0-6. Naomh Barrog provided the opposition at the next stage. This game took place in Lawless Memorial Park, Swords, and at the end of a very exciting tie the North County men had four points to spare when running out winners on the scoreline 2-8 to 1-7. The Fingal men were back again in Swords on June 10 to play Saint Brendan’s. This proved to be a very easy assignment for them when romping home by 1-14 to 1-3.
It was back to Ballyboughal for the quarter final where Man O’ War’s opponents were O’ Connell Boys. At the end of a hard fought encounter, the Saville Place based side bid farewell to their championship hopes when going under to the Fingal team by 1-13 to 2-5. Parnell Park was the setting for both semi-finals on July 21. Man O’ War opposed Ballyfermot in one while Fingallians meet Thomas Davis in the other.
In their game Man O’ War played against the wind in the opening half but were first to score when Sean Moore secured a point. Ballyfermot quickly replied per Ger Cassidy. Henry Donnelly with a goal and two further Ger Cassidy points enabled them to lead by five points. However, the North County men, renowned for their great battling qualities fought back and thanks to a Peadar Farrell goal and two other points were on level terms 1-4 each when half time arrived. With the wind in their favour on the restart they ended up comfortable winners by 1-12 to 1-5 to qualify for their first Junior Championship decider. Their scorers were Peadar Farrell 1-0, Martin Byrne and Nick Farrell 0-3 apiece and Sean Moore, Cyril Caffrey and Cyril Sheridan with 0-2 each to their names.
In the other semi-final, Fingallians defeated Thomas Davis by 1-8 to 1-3 to ensure an all Fingal decider. St. Maurs Park, Rush, was the venue for the final on August 25. On a beautiful summer afternoon the occasion had all the trappings of a local derby, a great atmosphere in which every score was cheered to the echo by one set of supporters or the other. For most of the hour it appeared as if it would be Fingallians day, but once again the lion hearted efforts of the Man O’ War team was very much in evidence as they fought back in magnificent fashion when all seemed lost.
In the first half it was nearly all Fingallians. After conceding an early point they took control for a long spell during which Cyril Markey, Robert Hoey and Noel McNally (2) put over points while Ollie Caulfield shot a goal. So with five minutes of the first half remaining they held a healthy lead of 1-4 to 0-2. Then Martin Byrne scored a well taken goal to reduce the deficit for Man O’ War 1-4 to 1-2 at the interval.
On the restart, Fingallians continued to pile on the pressure and they were eventually rewarded when after good work by Sean Foley the ball reached Cyril Markey whose shot ended up in the back of the net. Once again Fingallians found themselves five points in front. Entering the final quarter, Man O’ War substituted both wing backs and Sean Moore, their full forward was designated to a more roving commission. These changes had an immediate effect as Sean Moore gaining possession on the 45 metre line sent a high ball goalwards which was deflected to the net by Peadar Farrell. Shortly afterwards the full forward was again seen to advantage when scoring the equalising point. Excitement was at fever pitch as both sides went all out to obtain the next score. Johnny Archer was the man who insured that victory would go to Man O’ War when securing the all important winning point.
Scenes of great jubilation followed shortly afterwards as referee Sean O’Connell sounded the final whistle. Arthur Nolan, chairman of the Junior Football Board presented the Walsh Cup to the wining captain Cyril Caffrey. So after 33 years of trying, Man O’ War had at last realised their ambition and no team deserved it more. Over the previous ten years they had reached the concluding stages on no fewer than eight occasions.
The team that made club history with this memorable victory were Michael Dwyer, Dermot Sheridan, Matt Gaffney, Thomas Garry, Dickie Morrin, Dom Farrell, Tom Dwyer, Martin Byrne, Martin Moore, Johnny Archer, Cyril Sheridan, Cyril Caffrey (captain), Peader Farrell, Sean Moore, Nick Farrell. Subs: Pat Dwyer for Dermot Sheridan, Micheal Harford for Dickie Morrin. Their scorers in their 2-5 to 2-4 win were Martin Byrne and Peadar Farrell with a goal each, Nick Farrell (2), Johnny Archer, Sean Moore and Cyril Sheridan had their points.