Naomh Mairtin’s young guns
The following is an account of the history of the Juvenile Committee, as recounted by James Howell: Juvenile football was started in Naomh Mairtin in 1962/63 by Fr Kevin Moran. Jim McDonnell was the first juvenile coach, ably assisted of course by people such as Paddy Mullen, Frank Mulholland, Paddy Meade and Make Hoey.
Up until then, there was some school football in the parish. But Fr Moran decided to harness the rivalry between Tenure and Fieldstown schools to form a juvenile team for Naomh Mairtin.
Jim McDonnell and co brought a very talented team through the juvenile ranks and they reached a minor final in 1966, which they lost to a strong St Mary’s side. Jim also recalls going north to Fr Moran’s native Armagh and competing with a number of tough local teams. There was no John Gorman Bus service in those days so the mentors had to beg for or borrow a number of big cars to ferry the lads north.
Although Fr. Moran organised that the lads’ pockets were full of apples en route home from the orchard county, rumour has it that occasionally bangers and squibs made their way south and it’s alleged that some of them found their way into the Collon Garda station letterbox.
The mentors of that time showed great foresight by bringing the lads to coaching sessions in Gormanstown College, given by the great Joe Lennon and Ollie Walsh. The players that were involved in that era were: James and John Mullen, Fintan and Pat Bromnagh, Ollie Smyth, Brian Brodigan, Bartley Gordan, Gerry Fahy, Dick Usher (RIP), Paddy Halligan, Joe Grogan, John Mullholland, Ray Hoey, Johnny McQuillan, Paul Finnegan, Joe Harmon, Pat Crilly, Mandy McQuillan, Paul Carey, John Boylan, Mickey Campbell, Sean and Brendan Holdcroft.
Then came the Shev era. Jimmy Shevlin coached and organised Naomh Martin juvenile teams from the late sixties to the early eighties and was helped by Liam Campbell and Don McCullough. Also involved were Donal McKeown, Fr Darragh, Patsy Morgan, Willie Harmon (R.I.P), Paddy Meade, Tony Lynn and Jim McGinn (R.I.P).
Paddy Holdcroft, who went on to represent Louth at minor and Under-21 level, recalls Shev taking charge of the Under-14 team in 1969. Shev was a legend in Naomh Martin football. From the outset he realised he would need a very good car to transport the lads about, so he acquired a Ford Cortina from the late Pat Usher, and it was to become the most recognised car in Monasterboice. Rumour has it; on one occasion an entire Under-14 team was packed into the Cortina.
Facilities for changing and playing football were much different than today. Martin Morgan recalls crossing several fields to get to the Cockle Road to meet up with Shev and the team going to games and very often having to take shelter under a bush for 20 minutes before the great mentor would arrive.
When the match was over it was back to the Cockle Road and across the fields home again. The dedication paid off and those same lads went on to win a minor and Under-21 championship with Naomh Baoithe.
Another memorable incident in that period was when Naomh Martin played in Collon in an underage competition. The door of the makeshift dressing rooms was permanently stuck and on the way out through the window to play one of the famous Healy brothers, Pat, broke his arm.
The juveniles played as Naomh Martin up to Under-14, but at Under-16 and 18, they amalgamated with Collon and Tullyallen under the banner of Naomh Baoithe. This arrangement was in place until 1996 when Naomh Martin Juvenile Committee voted to go it alone.
In 1969 Paddy Sullivan, who went on to play minor and senior for Louth, recalls a great victory for Naomh Baoithe Under-16 in the final of the South Louth/Drogheda League. The local lads that played on that team were: Terry Holdcroft, John Crilly, Sean Dowling, Richard and Paddy McCormack, Martin Bowden, Kevin Wall and Martin Mullen.
The early seventies were quiet years as far as trophies were concerned, but the club still held its own. Some of the players of the time were: Dennis and Ollie Hoey, Paddy Holdcroft, Jimmy Campbell, Paddy Byrne, Richie Foran, Mickey Lambe, Kevin Lambe, Anthony Monaghan, Mickey Smyth, Aidan Berrill, Pat Healy, Martin McGahon, John McCann, Patsy Usher, John Campbell, Tom Boylan, Mark Hatch, John Molloy, Noel Berrill, Hugh Callaghan, Larry Healey, Stephen and Martin Finnegan.
In 1974 there was an international Under-12 match arranged with a JFK team from New York. There was pandemonium the night before in the Lambe household in Kilineer. Seemingly one of the lads went to look for a pair of boots under a bed using a lit newspaper as a torch.
One thing led to another, and the bed was set alight. To make matters worse, two of the younger lads were asleep in the bed and they ended up out in the garden, still half asleep, to be rescued from the smoke-filled room. Fortunately no one was hurt.
The Lambe brothers; Brendan, Mickey, Kevin, Aidan, Pat, Paddy, Eddie and Fergus played several roles in the success of Naomh Martin in the years ahead, firstly as players and then as club chairman, manager, selector and committee members. In one game, the Lambes wore 2,3,4,5 and 6 for Naomh Martin.
On a sad note, in 1978 Willie Harmon passed away suddenly at an Under-16 championship semi-final in Louth village. It was a very traumatic experience for all those involved, especially his son Paul who was playing on the night.
Shev, John Roche and Michael Reid worked together and brought a great Naomh Baoithe team through to win a minor championship in ’78 and another in ’80.
The highlight of the Shev era, though, was the great victory in the ’78 Louth Minor Championship and then the ’80 Louth minor championship against the Clans.
Monasterboice players also featured on the Naomh Baoithe team which won the Under-16 team which won a championship in 1981.
Jimmy Delvin left the juvenile scene in the early eighties and worked as a mentor with the seniors. There were many anecdotes about Shev and the unusual tactics would employ to give Naomh Martin an edge over their rivals. There is no doubt that he remains a legend of his time and his contribution to the game and the club is fondly remembered.
Paddy Winters arrived on the Naomh Martin Juvenile scene in the early eighties and contributed greatly as chairman and manager, and he was mid-Louth Board secretary from ’88-’98. His four sons, Gerry, Martin, Fergus and Colm have been prominent players with the club at all levels. Gerry also played for his county. Paddy Meade was the first chairman of the juvenile section of Naomh. Martin when it was formed in 1986.
The following are some of the people who also contributed greatly to the juvenile committee at the time: Tony Lynn, Jim McGinn, Aidan and Noel Berrill, Henry Young – who was chairman and team mentor, and Kevin Wall, Seamie Davis, Joe Delaney, Bridgid Robinson, Pat Loughran, Paul Carry, Damien Lynch and Pat Paddy Winters’ Under-14 team won the Drogheda League and the Mid Louth in 1986. The same team went on to win the Under-16 Mid Louth Championship (Faulkner Cup) in 1988.
Paddy moved on to the seniors in about 1996 and he still writes out the team stats- a great man with a pen was Paddy.
Juvenile football in Naomh Mairtin has been a success story since the committee was founded in 1986 and over the last 20 years our teams have competed well in all the county competitions.
The committee comprised all the managers and mentors of the teams, from which the officers are elected at the AGM. The great thing about juvenile football in that you get a new group of children every year and with them come new mentors with new ideas and enthusiasm- likewise the ones who have worked with the juveniles over the years have the chance to move into senior committee if they wish to. Mentors are encouraged to attend coaching courses to ensure that children of all ages receive a more consistent and better level of training.
We are very fortunate to have former senior players getting involved with the juveniles. The committee endeavours to have at least one experienced player involved with every team and at least three others to help organise training and transport to matches. Parents who bring players to matches and help out as umpires or linesmen are invaluable and their help is greatly appreciated. It reflects well on the club that over the last few years four of our coaches have been selected to coach county development squads, they are: Aidan Berrill, Ray Lambe, Paddy and Ciarán Holdcroft.
Many of our players have been selected to play with the county development squads and this must auger well for the club in the years ahead. One of the greatest challenges for Naomh Mairtin is to organise football for players who have finished at juvenile level and may take a few years to develop into the senior squad.
Naomh Martins have 160 children playing football at present and a great deal of gratitude is owed to the mentors, managers and assistants who volunteer their time and effort to help our children to train and complete at all age levels.
All the club’s sponsors and all who support our yearly raffle are invaluable and the club couldn’t function without their support. The juvenile comittee has a good working relationship with the senior committee and Chairman Mick Fanning.
It is also important to recognise the importance of Tenure and Harestown National School. Tony and Maria Callery in Tenure have done wonders, while Joe Carroll and Fiachra Bell in Harestown have been great coaches to many of our juvenille players over the years. The liaison between the schools and the Naomh Mairtin has brought success both to the club and the schools alike and long may it continue.
People who are new to the parish or who have not been involved in Gaelic football previously are encouraged to get involved in the club. There’s a lot of positivityy (as Fr. Hickey would say) in the parish and it’s a great time to be involved in Naomh Mairtin.
Chairmen: Joe Delaney, Henry Young, Pat Loughran, Denis Brodigan, Mick Fanning, Paddy Holdcroft, John Holdcroft and James Howell.
Secretaries: Brigid Robinson, Eileen Halligan, Ciarán Holdcroft.
Treasurers: Patricia McDonough and Pat Loughran.
The following are the main achievements of juvenile teams in Naomh Mairtin over the past number of years:
Mentors: Richard McCormack, Henry Young, Donal McCullough and Paul Carry: 1995 Under-12 Drogheda Blitz, 1999 Under-16 Secondary A Championship, 2001 Under-16 Championship, 2003 Minor B Championship
Pat Loughran, Henry Young, Donal McCullough: 1990 Under-14 Mid-Louth League.
Paddy Halligan, Brian Halligan, Mick Fanning, Aidan Berrill and Alan Dowling: 1997 Under-10 Mid-Louth, 1999 Under-12 Drogheda League, 2001 Under-16’s B Championship, 2003 Minor B Championship, 2005 Div 2 League and Jimmy Shevlin Cup.
Martin Morgan, Paul Clutterbuck, Damien Lynch, Terry Holdcroft, Dennis Brodigan, Ollie Hoey and Jack Howell: 1999 Under-10 Mid-Louth, 2001 Under-12 Mid Louth, 2001 Drogheda Under-12 Blitz, 2002 Under-13 Drogheda League, 2004 Runners-up County Under-16 Championship final, 2006 Minor A Championship.
Aidan Berrill, Mickey Smyth, Eugene McQuillan and Bernard: 2001 Under11 Drogheda Shield, 2002 Under-12 Mid-Louth League, 2006 Under-12 Drogheda Blitz.
Paul Clutterbuck, Martin Morgan and Eddie Maher: 2005 Drogheda Under-10 Shield, 2006 Under-10 Winter Mid-Louth League.
Thomas Clarke, Donal McCormack, Peter Gordan, Martin McCullough, Stephen Holt, Paddy Holdcroft, Kieran Holdcroft, Anne Marie Holdcroft: 2007 Under-9 Drogheda League.
Special thanks to Denis Brodigan for helping to research the history of the Juvenille Also thanks to Seán Callery for editing and compiling this information.