Sport Gaelic Football

Tuesday 21 November 2017

First Mayo medallist made mark with Dublin

We are indebted to Chris Shouldice who wrote to tell us about a nice piece of sporting serendipity which he rightly points out is "of interest particularly to those favouring the red and green".

"The first Mayoman to win a Senior All-Ireland medal," writes Chris, "my late father John F (Jack) Shouldice from Ballaghaderreen, achieved this in the 1908 decider, albeit playing for Dublin. The final was played in Jones's Road in October 1909 when Dublin defeated London, having a few months earlier beaten Kerry in the Home Final in Thurles. Jack was right corner-forward for his club the Geraldines who as County Champions represented the Dubs.

"Jack had gone to London as a Boy Clerk in 1899 aged 17, and was inducted into the IRB, Gaelic League and London GAA by the great Sam Maguire, who became his mentor and friend. Also among his colleagues there were Peadar Kearney, composer of A Soldier's Song, and Harry Boland with whom he shared exciting times in the Easter Rising and War of Independence.

"Towards the end of his playing career he became involved in GAA administration and was Secretary of the Leinster Council from 1917 to 1927. One of his most memorable and perilous times was on Bloody Sunday 1920, when as Leinster Secretary, he was also Liaison with the Volunteer Dependents Association, and was set aside by the Black and Tans 'to be dealt with'. He was fortunate to be released, the second last civilian to escape that awful day. His only happy memory of the occasion was the remarkable fact that all but £5 of the £160 gate receipts were handed in, a fine testimony to the integrity and honesty of the gate collectors.

"My first experience of an All-Ireland day was as a five-year-old in 1936 when my father lifted me over the stile to see Mayo defeat Laois. Jack Shouldice, Mayoman and Dubliner, never lost his love for the National Games. In the early 1940s he was one of the founders, with Canon Fitzpatrick, of the St Vincent's Club in Marino.

"Which team would he be favouring today, I wonder? My instinct tells me, that while I'd be in a blue and navy mood, he'd be favouring the red and green. But he'd just be thrilled to enjoy the occasion."

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Irish sprinter Jason Smyth was in Dublin on Thursday to support Vision Sports Ireland and promote sport amongst the vision impaired community of Ireland.

When Smyth was eight he diagnosed with Stargardt Disease which led to degeneration of his central vision to less than 10 per cent. He is a natural athlete who played several sports as a child before concentrating on athletics.

Smyth – who is based in America – is a double paralympic and world champion sprinter. He hopes to qualify for both the Olympics and Paralympic Games in 2016.

Vision Sports Ireland was founded in 1988 with the goal of enabling blind and visually impaired people to participate in sport and recreational activities.

Formerly Irish Blind Sports, the organisation has been renamed and rebranded to mark its 25th anniversary and to reflect the needs of its members. The organisation offers a wide variety of sports such as football, athletics, swimming, golf and tandem cycling.

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IF, as expected, Martin O'Neill is appointed manager of the Republic of Ireland, he will be the first of our managers to have played against the Republic, as neither Jack Charlton nor Giovanni Trapattoni had that pleasure.

In O'Neill's case, he played twice against the Republic and both were games of great significance, being in the European Championship qualifying campaign for the 1980 finals.

The first game, which took place at Lansdowne Road 35 years ago, was an historic first meeting between the two sides, with Danny Blanchflower's team earning a 0-0 draw against Johnny Giles's men.

In the return game at Windsor Park the following year, Northern Ireland won 1-0, in a turgid affair best remembered for Gerry Daly being hit by an object thrown from the crowd.

Marie Crowe and Seán Ryan

Sunday Independent

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