As readers of this journal will know the story of GAA in the county is punctuated with drama both on and off the field.
Indeed as recent coverage would suggest, the machinations in the committee rooms would leave the most tactically astute mentor stranded in the dug-out ,so labyrinthine are the ways of the Association in committee mode. And just fifty years ago the sequel to yet another GAA committee classic was played out to a conclusion and in the process gave a double in the same calendar year to one of the county’s oldest clubs – Moorefield of Newbridge.
As Moorefield GAA historian Lorcan O’ Rourke has documented, the club -- founded in the early 1880s as the J J O’Kelly’s club -- marked one of its most extraordinary years in 1963. Because it was in that year that Moorefield annexed both senior football and hurling titles, albeit that the football final was for the 1962 championship while the hurling was for the year in question.
And why was the final not played in 1962? Lorcan O’Rourke has pieced together the answer to this out-of-step sequence in the long roll of honour of the county championship.
In the summer of 1962 Moorefield began its championship campaign by accounting for Athy in the first round of the championship by 5-8 to 0-3, a victory over Rathangan in the second round left the way clear for a semi-final clash with old rivals Kilcock in Naas. After a great game before a huge crowd, the match was a draw at 1-9 each. The replay, again in the county town venue, Moorefield triumphed by one point, 1-6 to 1-5, after a very tough encounter.
The following week the rumour machine went on overdrive suggesting that Kilcock would object to Moorefield. The club was duly informed by County Secretary, Tim Clarke that Kilcock had objected to some of the Moorefield players. The news shattered Moorefield officials, players and supporters.
The objection, and a counter objection, were proved correct by the County Board and the match was awarded to Kilcock. Never a club to go down without a fight, Moorefield appealed to Leinster Council and a replay was ordered. The match was again fixed for Naas in April 1963 and, after a great game, ended in another draw at 0-9 each. Moorefield were victorious in the second replay outscoring Kilcock by 2-8 to 1-4.
After a lapse of 60 years since their only previous appearance in a county final – against Clane in 1902 - Moorefield were determined to win their first Kildare senior title. The game against Kilcullen attracted a huge attendance in anticipation of a great battle, as the Leinster Leader of 18 May reported: “For the first ten minutes of the 1962 senior football championship final at Droichead Nua on Sunday spectators had visions of an epic encounter but the best wine came at the beginning and for the remainder of the match the superiority of the Droichead Nua side was too marked to lend anything more than passive interest to the long postponed encounter.”
The Newbridge side ran out easy winners by 2-11 to 0-2 in a disappointing match. Ten of that team wore the Kildare jersey including Toss McCarthy for 14 years, Paddy Moore for 10, Jimmy Cummins and Dinny Craddock for six each, Jimmy Dowling – father of ‘Sos’ – for five, Joe Moran for four and Harry Fay of Wicklow fame for three.
While Moorefield’s prowess in the footballing code was formidable the club had only one Kildare senior hurling title (1943) to its credit when it embarked on a title-winning run in the 1963 championship. With 14 players who donned the all-white shirt, they were confident of ultimate success.
In setting out their stall in the final against Broadford, Moorefield’s greatest asset was their fine teamwork and this was very apparent in attack especially where scores were registered from passing movements.
According to the Leader report, “Broadford had slightly the better of the exchanges at the start, but could not translate this into scores, due to a superb display by the Moorefield defence, brilliantly led by Harry Fay.
On the other hand, the winners with fewer chances notched valuable points from far out to give them the edge. Broadford needed a goal to give them confidence, but having failed to register this score much of the sting went out of their attack after the first quarter and it was left to their defence from then on to bear the brunt of the exchanges.”
After the first quarter, Moorefield took control in all sectors and ran out good winners by 1-10 to 0-3. Four of the footballers (Jimmy Dowling, Joe Moran, Harry Fay and Paddy Moore) were part of the hurling team. And six of the hurlers played football with the Lily Whites.
Moorefield had to wait until the millennium year to win their second senior football title and they had continued success in 2002, 2006, 2007 and 2010 adding Leinster honours in 2006. A third senior hurling title came to the Newbridge club in 1991 and while their football successes outshine their achievements with the sliotar, the club has had several county successes in other grades in the intervening years. With a claim to be regarded as the oldest club in the county, Moorfield continues to nurture its talent and when county medals are dispensed each year, the Newbridge club will always be in the queue for some of the top honours.
And now for the all important team line-ups. Firstly the finalists in the 1962 Kildare SFC (albeit played in 1963):
Moorefield - D. Craddock, F. Whyte, M. Behan, J. McDermott, J. Cummins, J. Moran, D. Stapleton, P. Moore, P. Anderson, R. Clinton, T. McCarthy, J. Dowling, J. Farrell, H. Fay, J. Gibson.
Kilcullen – T. Lynch, S. Schwer, J. Barker, N. Emanuel, B. Doyle, B. Duffy, T. Aspell, T. Connell, S. Aspell, G. Mitchell, H, Mitchell, J. Kelly, S. Lambe, C. Aspell, M. Lambe. Sub –M. Kennedy for Emanuel. Referee - Kevin Burke.
And last but not least the teams who lined up for the 1963 SHC decider:
Moorefield: Tony Breen, Joe Moran, Ned Goff, Jim Dowling Jim Barker, Harry Fay, Colm Ruffley, Paddy Moore, Tom O’Connell, Davy Dennis (capt), Stephen Schwer, Mick Monahan, Mick Leahy, Art Kiely, Liam Sherry. Subs: Billy Quinn for A. Kiely, Hugh Byrne for J. Sherry.
Broadford: J. Mangan, S. Mooney, P. Gorry, S. Leonard, O. Malone, T. Duffy, S. Hynes, J. Lynam, J. Cummins, J. Ennis, M. Conlon, J. Flood, S. Conway, D. Thornton, S. Hackett.
Acknowledgement: with thanks to GAA historian Lorcan O’Rourke. Series no: 351.
Liam Kenny writes the weekly ‘Looking Back’ column in the Leinster Leader