Pearses reached the Promised Land in 1968


Two eighteen year old Antrim Football clubs hit the jackpot yesterday for the first time in their career. Moneyglass lifted the county Junior Football crown in a dramatic game with city team O’Donnell’s, while the All-Belfast senior football final also at Casement Park saw North Queen St club, Pearses, easily defeat favourites St John’s. Playing in their fourth senior final in six years, Pearses at last broke through with a very decisive win over old campaigners St John’s, chasing their eleventh title. Unlike previous finals, where the fans had to tolerate dismal weather conditions, the setting yesterday at Casement was perfect, although a swirling breeze played tricks with the ball in a game that by no means was a classic. The winners surprised everyone by the fact that they more or less dominated the game right from the start. They seemed much fitter, tackled hard and tossed the ball about with an air of confidence. This determined combination had the game wrapped up at the interval and had they played with the same zip in the second half, they would have won by a wider margin.


St John’s, apart from staccato bursts, were never really in the picture. Their defence was a little hesitant, mid-field was out of the hunt and their attack never clicked as a unit. The writing was on the wall at the interval. St John’s were truly up against it as they were outplayed in every department and even with wind advantage, they trailed by six points. It was a brilliant move three minutes from half time that sealed the game for Pearses. Earlier, Martin Green was splitting the St John’s defence wide open with spectacular solo run. Combining with high catching Joe Mulvenna, he set off bearded Vinty Kearney down the right wing. The wing forward’s pass found the stocky Jimmy Kelly who placed big Pat O’Hara in position on the edge of the square. The burly Pearses captain didn’t reckon on heroic Johnnies keeper Henry Gallagher who forced him to return the ball to unmarked Kelly who sent a rocket into the roof of the net. Earlier, St John’s must have bemoaned two great chances of goals but Eagleson showed great anticipation when he stopped McGrogan and later a point-blank shot from Andy McCallin.


With such a confident lead, plus the sun and the wind in their backs, Pearses lost their edge. St John’s tried to make a fight of it and the switching of Micky Gallagher and Des Armstrong to centre field gave them more attacking play. This made little difference as the two stars of this win for the North Queen St club really emerged. Full back Aidan O’Prey, a 21 year old school teacher and right half back Jimmy O’Reilly. It was certainly worth flying cherub-faced O’Reilly a 20 year old, from Derby where he is a research worker. On the short side for a defender, O’Reilly out jumped the opposing attack to bring off some brilliant catches.


The cool O’Prey cut off many of St John’s attempts….. So much so that late in the game the Corrigan Park mentors moved corner back John Maguire, ex Fermanagh county star up field to try his luck on the edge of the square. Maguire did fist a point but he too was out caught by O’Prey. When Pearses began to lose their dominance on the game mid-way through the second half, team, manager, Patsy Burns, a happy man after the game took off injured Hugh O’Hara, moved Phelim Green from full forward to centre field and brought on the clubs oldest player, 34 year old process worker Liam Steele as poacher. This helped to tighten up the slack and the title was clinched. Eagleson played a steady game in goals, back Etherson, O’Prey and O’Neill were resolute.


O’Prey excelled while Loughran played it close against johnnies most dangerous forward Sean Burns. Mulvenna had a wonderful hour at centre field where his fielding was perfection and along with the hard working George O’Hara, outclassed their opposite numbers in the first half, success that played an important part in the win. Martin green was the pick of the attack, which moved sweetly at times, but their finishing was poor and a few of the players tended to hold on to the ball too long.


For the losers, goalie Henry Gallagher did his utmost to save his team but there was too much hesitancy by some of the men in front of him. Eamon Grieve, Artie McGlone and Des Armstrong worked hard, while up front Din Joe McGrogan and Sean Burns looked the only match savers, but here, too, shooting was rather sloppy.

Patrick Pearse GAC

George Eagleson

Robert Etherson     Aidan O’Prey     Fergal O’Neill

Jim O’ Reilly           Joe Loughran         Hugh O’Hara

Joe Mulvenna    Geordie O’Hara

Vincent Kearney     Martin Green      Phelim Green

Jimmy Kelly           Pat O’Hara (c)    Seamus Lavery

Subs: Liam Steele for Hugh O’Hara

Scorers: M Green (0-4), J Kelly (1-0), S Lavery (0-1),           

J Mulvenna (0-1)    

St. John’s GAC

Henry Gallagher

John Gough            Eamon Grieve       John Maguire

Artie McGlone         Micky Gallagher    Des Armstrong

Gerry McClory        Clem Stewart

Din Joe McGrogan       Sean Burns          Andy McCallin

Seamus Gallagher      Tony McGlone      Brian Rainey

Scorers: S Burns (0-2), A McCallin (0-1), J Maguire (0-1)

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