Castle 35 Report

Post date: Jun 14, 2016 9:44:9 AM

The celebrations of the 35th anniversary of the club’s founding were an outstanding success on Sunday 5th June. With Garrycastle bathed in glorious sunshine, a huge crowd assembled in the club grounds from early morning. Before the outdoor action commenced the exhibition of old photographs, match reports and other memorabilia was opened in the clubhouse and attracted a lot of attention and plenty of favourable comment. The eagerly-awaited Over-35s match commenced at noon and provided the spectators with some quality football on an excellent playing surface. The highlights of the first half included two brilliant penalty saves by Cathal Mullin and Padraig Cosgrove and some quality point-scoring by forwards on both sides. Several of the older players showed great energy, suggesting that they may have retired prematurely, and the senior management team might be tempted to make a few telephone calls over the next few weeks!

The Reds defence struggled to cope with the smart inter-play by Dessie and Gary Dolan, Rowan Mulvihill, Jim McHugh, Fergal Nugent and Richie Murray. However, Karl Henson and Enda Mulvihill broke up a number of attacks but Stephen O’Reilly aggravated an old injury and had to swap places with Cathal Mullin, who took to his outfield duties like a duck to water. The other Reds’ defenders Aidan Dunning, Mick Mannion, Ray Stankard and John Murphy gradually settled into the game but Dunning had to be moved up front to assist his attack where he made an immediate impact, despite being narrowly off target from the penalty line.

Rival captains Ciarán Ryan and Joe Dunning both enjoyed good spells at midfield, while late arrival David O’Shaughnessy quickly settled into the action. Caolan Bushell “rolled” back the years for the Reds with some acrobatic efforts but Niall Ward seemed only half dressed without his whistle. Eventually, these two linked up well with Colm Holohan, Alan Daly, James Duignan and “Scorch” Sweeney. For the Greens Noel Galvin, Thomas Keena and Graeme Corcoran showed plenty of guile in defence, with younger players Colman Gantley and Gareth Ruane adding the necessary speed and energy. An even younger player, Tom McHugh, anchored the defence superbly but was the subject of some speculation as to whether he qualified on age grounds. There were no doubts at all about his colleague Paul Dillon who was clearly illegal but because he had travelled from Singapore for the game he was given a special exemption to play. Meanwhile, Ashley Cahill was multi-tasking all day and had to make some “snap” decisions as to where he would be most profitably employed, while a late cameo appearance by Mickey Mulvihill finally swung the game in favour of the Greens.

However, hot on the heels of the Christy Ring final controversy the previous day, there were many puzzled faces when referee Gerry Duignan declared that the game had ended in a draw. The Garrycastle branch of the CCCCCC will be convening this week to adjudicate on the affair and a replay looks a distinct possibility. In the interests of player welfare, however, the GPA will insist that any replay should be deferred for 12 months to allow sufficient recovery time for some of the older players. By that stage, ace commentator Doron Harte may be eligible to play, and no doubt some players may then avail of the opportunity to exact revenge for some “slagging” they received this year.

After the game we had a flag-raising ceremony, where Commdt. Michael McMenamin led the club’s founder members as the tricolour, the club colours and the Westmeath flag flew proudly atop the brand new flagpoles. After Fr. Michael Bannon, a native of Altown, had celebrated Mass on the pitch, attention was focused on the club’s younger players, who were led onto the pitch by a lone piper. The club’s minor committee had lined up a host of novelty events and there was plenty of fun and games for all the young boys and girls. All afternoon there were refreshments available, with a barbeque providing lots of appetising food for everybody. Overall, this was a great community occasion for which thanks are due to so many people who gave unselfishly of their time in the days and weeks beforehand as well as on the day itself, not forgetting those who gave up much of their Bank Holiday Monday to help put everything back to normal.

To round off a special day, there was a very enjoyable function in the Shamrock Lodge Hotel, which was the venue for the club’s first AGM and first dinner dance back in 1981. Once again the hotel management and staff came up trumps and ensured that nothing was left to chance. Special mementos of the occasion were presented to the club’s founder members Seamus Nugent, Jack Veale, Felim Finnegan, Eddie Martin and Roddy Hogan (representing his late father Dan). The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the superb dance routine presented by the Concannon/Ganly Academy of Irish Dance. The club is very grateful to Dairine and her brilliant young dancers for providing such outstanding entertainment – a fitting climax to a memorable occasion.