PAT ‘Battler’ Mullaney, one of Antrim and Ulster’s most accomplished hurlers, died last weekend.
The stylish forward also campaigned with distinction with the Belfast Rossa GAC.
He belonged to a ‘Golden Age’ of hurling – during the 1950’s and early 1960’s – and was a key performer for a rampant Rossa side that was the first team to clinch four successive Antrim Senior Hurling Championships, the opener in 1956. The fabulous formation also paraded the uniquely gifted dual county and provincial star, Seamus ‘Stout’ McDonald.
The legendary Mullaney was involved in some notable county conflicts, an era that included players such as Kevin Armstrong, Seamus Gallagher, Billy Feeney, Robbie and Brendan Elliott, Brendan ‘The Bear’ Donnelly, Bobby McMullan, Dessie Cormican, Paddy Morgan and Johnny Coyle.
One of the outstanding victories during which Mullaney produced inspired stick work was the NHL 7-4 to 5-5 win against mighty Kilkenny at Corrigan Park in 1953. ‘Battler’ was also heavily involved in Antrim’s win of the All-Ireland Junior Hurling Championship of 1959.
The death of Pat Mullaney, once a competent and competitive amateur golfer at the Balmoral and Ballycastle Clubs, followed the recent passing of another ex-Antrim hurler of the 1950’s – Pat Flynn of Belfast Patrick Sarsfields.
Brendan McTaggart reports from GAA Centre of Excellence, Abbotstown
Antrim continued their rich pre-season form with another
comprehensive victory over Wicklow in the Kehoe Cup on Saturday afternoon. A victory that, while it was expected, the standard
of hurling and performance from all 21 players will have pleased Darren Gleeson
and his management team.
Four goals in a first half that saw Antrim build a
commanding lead, 11 of their 17 first half points coming from play and tearing
apart a side who they face in the first round of the league in January. A return to action in a Saffron shirt for
Neil McManus, the Ruairi Og man helping himself to 10 points during his 45
minutes of action, two goals apiece for Conor McCann and James McNaughton. The Loughgiel star clearly enjoys playing on
the pristine surface at the Abbotstown venue, continuing on from this time last
year, McNaughton was sensational before having to come off injured after an
incident that saw Wicklow centre half Warren Kavanagh red carded.
A bright performance from debutant Aodhan O’Brien in
midfield who dovetailed well with Eoghan Campbell while Alex Delargy came off
the bench to score 1-1 in a 12 minute cameo, taking his tally to four goals in
three games in an Antrim shirt this season.
Showing nine changes from their win over Armagh on Tuesday
night, the first goal of the game came after just 30 seconds. Dan McCloskey turning over possession before
releasing the sliotar into the path of his Shamrock clubmate, McNaughton. Playing a one-two with McManus, McNaughton
got clear and drive the sliotar to the back of the net.
The second goal came in the sixth minute and it was
McNaughton once again. Picking the
sliotar with a delightful touch, McNaughton raced towards the Wicklow goal from
50 yards out. Three defenders on his
heals, McNaughton found a yard and made no mistake. A blistering start for the Saffrons as they
dominated their opponents from the first whistle.
Antrim held a 14 point lead after 10 minutes by the time the
Garden County finally registered a score, full forward Andy O’Brien holding off
the challenge of Stephen Rooney but it was a brief respite from the Saffron
charge for his side.
Their third goal was the Antrim response and McNaughton
turned provider this time. Sending the
sliotar into the path of McCann and the Saffrons captain sent the ball to the back
of the net at the second time of asking in the 15th minute.
McCann doubled his goals tally two minutes later with the Saffrons
leading by 17 points. Rooney delivering
the sliotar high to the heart of the Wicklow defence and the Creggan man used
his body to fend off the Wicklow challenge and turn his marker. He pulled on the sliotar first time and the
match was effectively over as a contest after just 17 minutes as Antrim built a
20 point lead.
Points followed as Antrim continued with their relentless pressure. James O’Connell’s 18th minute point meant all six of the Antrim starting forwards had recorded their name on the scoresheet. Michael Bradley’s distribution from the middle of the park into the full forward line pivotal to the Saffrons performance. They led by 23 points when McNaughton’s game was cut short with injury and Moorhouse saw red. McManus pointed the resulting free and while Wicklow rallied with a flurry of frees from Andy O’Brien (two) and Jack Doyle (one), McManus (two frees) and Campbell ensured Antrim held a 23 point lead at the interval.
Wicklow had the elements in their favour but with a
commanding lead and a man extra, Antrim were able to dictate the contest after
the restart. Wicklow full forward would prove
to be a massive handful for the Saffrons defence during the second half,
scoring the first of his two goals in the 51st minute from a penalty.
Antrim made changes with McCambridge, Nugent, Conor
Johnston, Molloy, Delargy and Sean Duffin all introduced at different times during
the second half and while the game lacked the same flow and cohesion of the
first half, it never looked like Wicklow would get close to causing Antrim any
Wicklow did continue to push hard however and O’Brien got
his second goal in the 57th minute.
Catching a long delivery and instinctively firing the sliotar beyond
Conor McAllister but Antrim responded by finding the back of the Wicklow net
for the fifth time with nine minutes remaining.
Substitutes Ronan Molloy and Alex Delargy combining before the Ruairi Og
man made no mistake with a smart finish.
A comfortable afternoons work for the Saffrons who set their
sights back on the McGurk Cup and a meeting with Longford in seven days time.
Antrim: C McAllister; P Duffin, S Rooney, C Boyd; G Walsh,
R McGarry, C McHugh; A O’Brien, E Campbell (0-4); J McNaughton (2-1), N McManus
(0-10 8 f, 1 ’65), M Bradley (0-2); C McCann (2-2), J O’Connell (0-1), D
Subs: R McCambridge (0-1) for J McNaughton (28); D
Nugent for M Bradley (n/t); Conor Johnston (0-2 1f) for N McManus (46); R Molly
(0-1) for A O’Brien (46); A Delargy (1-1) for J O’Connell (53); S Duffin for G
Walsh (53); G Walsh for D McCloskey (65)
Wicklow: C Staunton; D Quinn, M O’Brien, B Kearney; P
Keane, W Kavanagh, C Moorhouse; J Doyle (0-2 1f), C Breen; L Evans, D Staunton,
G Weir; G O’Brien, A O’Brien (2-8 1-00 pen, 3 f’s, 1 ’65), G Hughes
Subs: G Byrne for C Breen (20); P O’Brien for C Moorhouse (20); S Germaine for G Byrne (24 blood sub, reversed 26)
Penalty shoot-outs have been a hot topic amongst GAA followers this championship season and North Belfast club Ardoyne Kickhams GAC hosted a shoot-out with a difference last week to raise awareness of mental health issues.
It was an Antrim versus Down affair at Fennell Park as Lamh Dhearg’s John Finucane and Chris Hazzard of St Colman’s, Drumaness took turns between the posts to try and stop spot kicks from club members as well as sporting stars such as Saffron football captain Declan Lynch, Olympic boxing medallist Paddy Barnes and Cliftonville’s FC’s Joe Gormley.
The event was organised in conjunction with Mindskills Training, an organisation that works to prevent suicide and raise awareness of mental health issues.
“GAA players are known for being physically fit but the message from the day is that being healthy doesn’t just mean physical health, we must look after our mental health too. Both elements play a part in our wellbeing,” said Ardoyne Kickhams Chairman Philip McTaggart, who is also a trainer with Mindskills.
“Mental health issues can affect anyone but services receive just 0.2 per cent of the health budget. It is everyone’s interest to talk about it and I would encourage all GAA clubs to start the conversation, particularly with their young members about who they can talk to if they are having any issues.”
Antrim Gaels figured strongly in last weekend’s
awards ceremonies with a host of players and officials picking up prestigious accolades.
At the Ulster President’s Awards inner in the Canal
Court in Newry there was a double for the Cunning cousins from Dunloy with
Conal receiving the Ulster Hurler of the Year award with his cousin Colum
receiving his award for refereeing the Joe McDonagh Hurling final between Laois
The Antrim team who won the All Ireland Under 21 Football
title back in 1969 received a Special Recognition award for what was Antrim GAA’s
greatest ever achievement while Sean McManus of Rossa received a Club Coaching
On Saturday afternoon Ulster Camogie held their
awards ceremony in the Armagh City Hotel. Noreen Graham of Ahoghill picked up
the Bridie McMemamin Shield Player of the Year award for her part in the St
Mary’s side’s great Ulster success. Brona McIntyre of Loughgiel received the
award for Best County Final Match Programme for her brilliant design and publication.
Seamus McAleenan, a regular contributor to the Saffron Gael, was awarded the PRO
of the Year trophy while Kathryn Bradley of St John;s Carnlough received the
Chairperson’s Award for her great work with the Ulster council.