Sunday 16 June 2019

Sad day for football

Last Friday, Dromin United pulled out of senior football after 45 years of tireless endeavour. Hubert Murphy recalls the glory days...

They say the Dromin United story began back in the early 1970s amongst a group of players on the way back from a heavy defeat while playing with Camillus Malone's Ardee Celtic side.

Brian Flynn, Frank McGahon, Frank McCullough and Tommy Henry came up with an idea - let's form Dromin United.

The Village Saloon hosted the first meeting in early 1971 - Mrs McConnon looking on - and the four above with Tommy Flynn snr, Benny Carrie, Francis Clarke, Ollie Henry, Peter McCabe and Tommy McArdle were on the first committee.

Their first game would be on Francis Clarke's Clara Park, with nets borrowed from Smarmore FC.

Their first league was the Dundalk Summer League and their first game, a 0-0 draw with Boro United from Stabannon.

The team for the record was: Eamonn Kelly, Brian Flynn, Dermot Smith, Aidan Murray, Frank McGahon, Dessie Connor, Tommy Henry, Tommy McArdle, Sean McArdle, Frank McCullough and Bobby Gaffney.

It was quite a league, over 20 teams, and including the likes of Ardee Hibs, Brookville, GEC and PO United. Striker Sammy McMillen created history when he scored seven in an 11-2 win over Qeleq. The great and much missed Benny Carrie was the first manager.

They moved on to the Louth and District League and players came and went, goalkeepers including the mighty Dickie Kieran, former Sligo netminder Chief Supt Pat O'Boyle and the first, Eamonn Kelly from Philipstown.

Guys like Gerry McKeever were special while one of the most talented was Dessie Connor. He was a sterling centre half/ midfield general and it is said he could have gone on to play at a much higher standard.

By 1975, Gerry 'Snitchie' Reynolds from Togher had signed with his cousin, Gerry, Pat Brannigan from Walshestown and Pat 'Ces' Downey, joining such names as Aidan Murray, Joe Dolan and Jim McDonnell and that year they won the league.

Joining the North East League, they added to the squad, the legendary Sean 'mousie' Brennan and Malachy Carroll included.

There have been many great seasons, many wonderful cup runs, but surely the best ever was in 1987/1988, for many of the players of that era, still etched in their memories.

They were playing in the 10 team Louth League and were entered in the Leinster Junior Cup.

They enjoyed success early on and as the weeks went by, found themselves, for the first time in the last 32, against unbeaten Cashel

Celtic. They won 5-2 after extra time.

Then they beat Ballybrack and shocked Villa United 1-0, the goal coming from Liverpool lad John McKeown.

Now they were down to the last eight - a sensational achievement, but they faced kingpins Usher Celtic. The Junction hosted the game and it was typical Dromin, never say die, 1-0 down, chances disappearing and Padna Lane slides in to level it, sparking incredible scenes. It went to penalties and Usher edged it, later going on to win the FAI Junior Cup - showing just how good they were.

It was a super team, Aidan 'The Cat' King in nets, Irish capped Cathal Muckian, the majestic PJ Callan, Gerry Matthews and Leo Dunne included.

In 1988/89, they joined the Meath League and won the cup, Colm 'The Hitman' Lally their hero, players like Patrick Callan, John McGeady,, Paul Comer, Derek Farrelly and others part of the squad.

The 90s and the years ahead brought more success, more glorious days.

But times changed and last Friday came some shock news.

'It is with great disappointment that we announce Dromin United will be withdrawing both senior teams from all competitions for the remainder of the season,' a statement read, pointing out that the juvenile section will not be affected.

'It is highly unlikely that there will be senior football with Dromin United FC for next season.

'There are numerous reasons for these decisions at both committee and player level. We have found it more difficult in recent seasons to compete with the increased professionalism of GAA clubs in the area as well as the proliferation of football teams in the Dundalk and Drogheda areas.

'Just last year we were voted NEFL Club of the Year after our firs team gained promotion and our reserves won the league and cup double. This season we were confident of retaining our Premier League status and of our reserves claiming another double but it was not to be.

'This year is our 45th in operation, an incredible feat in this day and age so it is with great sadness that this announcement is made.'

They thanked main sponsor Victorys Centra Dunleer and all the other local sponsors.

'We also need to give our utmost thanks to Stuart Reynolds. This year Snitchie took on to manage the reserves and after our first team

manager departed, he took on the first team duties as well.

'Every weekend he organized two teams, usually while playing himself. The club cannot thank him enough and without his efforts this season, the decision may have come even sooner.'

Former Dromin manager Dermot Gaffney once wrote 'During my time as a player, I was always conscious of a great will to win. I can recall many games in which it looked like we would be beaten but somehow we dragged a little bit extra from tired bodies and were duly rewarded, in lots of cases with a victory.'

They'll be hoping around the Junction that the 'never say die' spirit will rise again in the years to come and as the crest, designed by Dromin NS principal Colm Herity states, 'Ar Aghaidh go Deo' - 'Forward We Go'....

Drogheda Independent