2004 a big year for Shane O’Neill’s

2004 was a big year for Shane O’Neill’s GAC Glenarm and today we look back at their achievements that year and carry photographs taken during that memorable season.

Glenarm had actually been beaten in the Antrim final by Shamrock’s Loughgiel Reserves but went through to the Provincial series as the last non reserve side to be knocked out in the county series. They went on to defeat Newry Shamrocks of Down in the semi-final to advance to the final against St. Malachy’s Portadown.

Ulster Junior Club Hurling Final

Shane O’Neill’s 4-13 St. Malachy’s, Portadown (Armagh) 0-5

Shane O’Neills, Glenarm eventually cruised to an impressive victory over a gallant St. Malachy’s, Portadown in this first ever Ulster Club JHC final in Casement Park on the 31st October 2004. So the Antrim champions became the first ever holders of the Paddy O’Rourke Cup named after the former late Monaghan stalwart.

In a game that produced some good hurling it was always eveident, apart from the opening quarter, that the Glenarm side possessed too much power, skill and accuracy desp[ite a valiant effort by the Portadown side, which never gave up the battle despite the odds stacked against them.

Glenarm dominated mid-field through Ronan Matthews and Jim Petticrew while a brilliant half-back line of Bryan O’Neill, Blain McDermott and Ciaran Campbell blotted out the St. Malachy’s attack which lived of scraps of possession throughout the game.

However, Shay McStravick proved accurate from frees for the losers with Ruairi Garvey and Kevin Quinn working hard. The Shane O’Neill’s attack moved with fluency and precision with Hugh Martin McKay, Brendan McDermott and Brendan McAllister most prominent. Peter Gorman Ryan Sands and Charlie O’Neill worked overtime in the St. Malachy’s defence

St. Malachy’s played their best hurling in the first quarter. They took the lead with a point from Stefan McStravick after two minutes. Sean Waide levelled from a free two minutes later. St. Malachy’s playing strongly, regained the lead with a Ruairi Garvey point after 10 minutes but that proved to be their last score of the half.

Glenarm settled and Sean Waide pointed two frees while Hugh Martin McKay added another. The all-important goal came five minutes before half time when a long free from Blain McDermott was collected by Donal McAuley and the centre-half-forward fired low to the net to give Glenarm a 1-4 to 0-2 half time lead.

Brendan McDermott pointed a Glenarm free within a minute of the restart. St. Malachy’s fought back bravely with three pointed frees by Shay McStravick in the following eight minutes but these were their last scores of the game.

The final 20 minutes saw Glenarm move up a gear starting with Brendan McDermott and Hugh Martin McKay slotting home great goals inside two minutes to put the game beyond the reach of St. Malachy’s as they cruised through the final ten minutes adding their fourth goal from Blain McDermott.

Shane O’Neill’s: Kevin Cotttrell, B McMullan, C McNeill, J Milligan, C Campbell, Blain McDermott (1-2), B O’Neill, R Matthews (0-1), J Petticrew, B McAllister (0-3), D McAuley (1-0), J O’Boyle, HM McKay (1-2), S Waide (0-4) Brendan McDermott (1-1)

Subs: J McAllister for O’Neill, L McAuley for Brendan McDermott, J Magill for Petticrew, P McAuley for O’Boyle, B Campbell for McMullan.

After a hard-fought win against British Intermediate champions, John Mitchell’s in the All Ireland quarter-final, Glenarm gained their semi-final place against Galmoy of Kilkenny

Brendan McDermott’s last minute goal proved proved the decisive score as Shane O’Neill’s triumphed 1-7 to 0-8 against a good John Mitchell’s side at Pairc na hEireann.

All Ireland JHC club semi-final Galmoy Kilkenny 6-15 Shane O’Neill’s 1-5

Early in 2005 Shane O’Neill’s bid for glory came to an abrupt and sudden end at a bitter cold St. Vincent’s when they were comprehensively beaten by an excellent Galmoy of Kilkenny. A big crowd accompanied the Antrim champions on the trip to Dublin arriving early at the St. Vincent’s ground.

A driving and swirling wind which blew down the unfenced St. Vincent’s pitch hardly provided the perfect setting for such an occasion but in truth the conditions were the same for both sides but it was the lads from Kilkenny who adapted much better to the difficult conditions.

Shane O’Neill’s battled all the way but in the end were forced to succumb to superior Galmoy side who would not have been out of place in the Intermediate competition.

Today we carry some action photographs from that famous day in Dublin and photographs of the many fans who made the journey to St. Vincent’s to cheer on their heroes.

Later in the same year Shane O’Neill’s Minor team recorded their own little bit of history by beating Eoghan Rua of Coleraine in an Ulster Minor B Hurling final at Lamh Dhearg and today we carry some photographs from that game.

My thanks to Terence Mulvenna for his assistance in putting this article together. Terence supplied me with newspaper clipping from 2004-2005 and it would not have been possible to publish this article without his help.

Antrim beat Carlow in the 2006 Christy Ring Cup final

In the lead up to the Joe McDonagh Cup win we carried reports of other National titles Antrim had won, like the Intermediate final and Division 2 title in 1970, plus the Division 2 league title in 2003. However the 2006 Christy Ring Cup final against Carlow has largely been forgotten, even though it has equal status with the other wins, as the Christy Ring Cup was the second tier competiton at the time. Dinny Cahill had departed after a very good spell for the Saffrons, which saw us run Tipperary and Wexford close in the All Ireland quarter finals of 2002 and 2003, plus that league final win over Kerry in 03. 2004 saw them suffer a heavy defeat to Cork in the quarter final and the following year 2005 they conceded big scores against Galway and Limerick, and though they ran Laois to just two points in the round robin section, they ended up getting well beaten by the same opposition in the relegation final in Navan.

After Dinny departed in 2006 Paul ‘Humpy’ McKillen and Jingo McKernan took over the reins and got away to a flier by beating Galway and Laois in their first two games, which secured their Division 1 status. The also added the Ulster title when they beat Down in the semi-final at Casement Park before beating New York in a unique final at Canton Park, Boston.

The Christy Ring campaign did not get off to the best of starts when Down beat Antrim’out the gate’ in their opening game at McKenna Park, Ballycran, the Ards men running out winners by 1-23 to 1-7. Down went on to top the group with full points but Antrim joined them in the semi-final with wins over Roscommon, Meath and London in their remaining games

Paddy Richmond fires in a goal in the semi-final win over Kildare in Mullingar.

The semi-final draw saw Antrim play Kildare and Down take on Carlow with both games set as a triple-header in Mullingar. Antrim played Galway in the minor semi-final in the curtain raiser, Joe Canning captaining Galway and Neil McManus Antrim.

Things seemed to be set for and all Ulster final when Antrim beat the Lillywhites in the first game, but Carlow caused a bit of a shock when they beat hitherto unbeaten Down in the second game to set up a final meeting with the Saffrons.

This set up a first ever championship meeting between Antrim and Carlow, though they would become very familiar with each other in the years to follow.

Antrim captain Karl McKeegan lifts the Christy Ring Cup after his team’s win over Carlow

Christy Ring Cup Final

Antrim 5-13 Carlow 0-7

Antrim got off to a flying start with a flurry of goals putting them 3-6 to no score clear. Goals from Joey Scullion (13 minutes), Johnny McIntosh  (15) and Kieran Pinky Kelly (17) gave them an early lead, while Carlow waited 27-and-a-half minutes before Damien Roberts opened their account with a point. They matched Antrim for the remainder of the half – with Roberts and team captain Robbie Foley swapping points with Paddy Richmond and Brian McFall to cut the gap to 14 points by half-time.

Joey Scullion solos through to score Antrim’s opening goal

Carlow raised the tempo for the second half. Pat Coady landed a free and two ’65’s to help his side pare back the difference to 3-8 to 0-6 by the 53rd minute. Carlow hit four of the second half’s opening five points with substitute Seanie McMahon firing over the best of the lot from a tight angle on the left. Antrim steadied themselves on 56 minutes when Barney McAuley dangled a ball deep into Carlow territory and McIntosh latched onto it to thump home goal number four off the ground. A Coady free was then batted off the Antrim line before Foley notched his second point for a 4-8 to 0-7 score line. More Antrim points followed before a strong 66th minute run from Malachy Molloy ended with McFall netting the fifth goal. Foley scored a penalty for Carlow, however, the difference in standard was apparent and Antrim powered to an 18-point victory.

Brian McFall fires in Antrim’s fifth goal.
Antrim scorers – J McIntosh (2-04 (4f)), B McFall (1-02), K Kelly (1-01), J Scullion (1-00), M Molloy (0-02 (2 ’65’)), P Richmond (0-02), P Magill (0-01), B Delargy (0-01).

Carlow scoers – F Foley (1-00 (1-00 pen)), P Coady (0-03 (1f, 2 ’65’)), R Foley (0-02), D Roberts (0-01), S McMahon (0-01).

James McVeigh- a tribute by Tir na nÓg PRO Aimee McAtamney

James McVeigh, Tír na nÓg Randalstown.

Boxing Day 2020, was a day that many Gaels woke up to the devastating news of the death of our dear friend James McVeigh. A life taken too early, in just 42 short years what a positive impact James had on so many.

Over the past couple of days, the testaments from all around the world have paid compliment to James’ personality, infectious smile and love of all things Irish culture, language, friends, family and GAA. James’ boyhood club was Kickham’s Ardoyne, where he was brought up by his loving mother Louise and father Jim and had the values of the GAA instilled in him from a young age alongside his brother Anthony and sister Clare. James took an early interest in coaching and getting the best from young boys and girls. His earliest success was with the Ardoyne U16 hurling team.

During his studies James devoted himself to Ulster University and became Chairman of the Sports Union. It was clear from the beginning that he had an expertise in many areas and took a keen interest in developing all aspects of the sporting clubs he was involved in.

Moving to England to continue his career in teaching, James became a member of the Erin Go Bragh and James Connolly clubs. He continued coaching and progressed to county level leading Warwickshire GAA to an All Britain U21 Championship in 2009. He also had success with the U16 and U18 teams. In 2002 and 2003, James won Intermediate Hurling titles with Erin Go Bragh. His uncompromising style demanded nothing but greatness from all involved, and in 2006 he helped to capture a historic Senior Hurling Championship. At James Connolly’s, his tireless work on and off the field reaped the rewards with many cup wins and perhaps more importantly the days out with friends. A spokesperson at James Connolly stated “The work James did within the club laid the foundations for all successes in the clubs future Senior history. He was an inspirational Gael, and empowered a wider group to take over after he left to go home. We were lucky to know him”. He was also a huge figure at Aston University GAA in Birmingham. The club consistently had no Irish players – or players of any GAA experience – but with James’ help, they fielded in BUCS championships consistently, including the launch of a ladies team. James created community spirit wherever he went.

James with members of the Camogie team at the Tir na nÓg Centenary Gala in June 2019

When James moved to Randalstown with his parents, Tír na nÓg, Antrim and Ulster gained an invaluable member who went above and beyond in everything he got involved with. He quickly got involved with coaching Antrim development squads before securing a job with Ulster GAA, where primary schools all around Ulster, and in particular Co. Antrim, experienced the love of GAA that James oozed. At the time of his passing, he was also secretary of South West Antrim. When asked to piece together these few words, I was asked what roles did James fulfil in Tír na nÓg. To be honest, it would be easier to state what James wasn’t involved in. He began with coaching Gaelic for Mother’s and Others, it’s fair to say his method was fun and craic, particularly their outing to the annual blitz in Malahide. James then stuck with the ladies and played an active role with the Senior Camogs, before taking the reigns of the underage structure within the club and re-grouping a sub juvenile committee. He identified particular underage teams who were struggling for numbers and single handedly began recruiting and took charge or assisted these teams until they too were excelling.

The children of Tír na nÓg had a genuine love for James, no task was too big for him and he regularly enjoyed putting on the blue suit of the underage mascot “Gorm”. Outside the 4 lines of the pitch or 4 walls of the committee room where he was actively involved in writing a club master plan, James was an enthusiastic character taking part in the club Strictly Come Dancing and dressing up as Princess Elsa to perform “frozen” in the club’s 2018 Lip Sync. It is true, James was larger than life and had such a welcoming smile. He had time for everyone within Tír na nÓg and further afield. Always keen to help develop the coaches and encourage others to complete their foundation and level 1&2 courses. In line with this, James started moving up the age ranks and coached the U21 team and brought a few senior men along with him to help inspire these young lads. For the first time in the club history, James led the U21 footballers to an All-County Final in November 2019. At the beginning of the 2020 season, James was appointed Senior Dual coach. Despite the challenges of Covid-19, the men were kept occupied over this period with different fitness and skill challenges. With the games up and running again, James and JP put a plan in place. One young player asked him before the Intermediate Hurling Semi-Final ” How do you think we will get on in this game?” James replied in his broad accent “I’m only thinking about the final mate”.

James McVeigh (back right) as Tir na nÓg celebrate their win over Cloney Gaels in the final of the Antrim Intermediate Hurling Championship at Dunsilly.

On Saturday 12th September, James helped deliver a Hurling Championship that our club yearned for years and years. Emotionally charged, he acknowledged all the work done over the years by everyone involved in the club, not only in the recent years.

The tributes have flowed in over the past few days and as a club we have set up a “Book of Memories”. Please feel free to leave your personal memory of James, which we will present to the family in the weeks to come.


In accordance with government guidelines the Wake and funeral will be strictly private. Family flowers only, donations in lieu if so desired to Chest Heart and Stroke NI. To conclude, James first and foremost you were a friend to everyone. You have left a void in many people’s hearts and indeed within our club which will never be filled. For now, we will do our best to support your family during these difficult times.

Sleep tight our dear friend.

Aimee McAtamney

Tír na nÓg PRO

Funeral arrangements

James’ remains will be removed from his late residence, 127 The Meadows, Randalstown on Friday 1st January, at 9.30am to St. MacNissi’s Church for 10.00am Requiem Mass. Interment immediately afterwards in the adjoining cemetery.

The funeral can be viewed through the church webcam on https://www.mcnmedia.tv/camera/st-macnissis

James McVeigh RIP

We at the Saffron Gael are saddened to hear of the untimely death of Tir na nÓg GAC stalwart James McVeigh Here we share the club’s tribute from their Facebook page

Tir na óg GAC

As a club we are lost for words…It is with a heavy heart that we announce the loss of our dear friend, committee member, former senior camogie, Gaelic for mother’s and others and u21 coach, former juvenile coordinator and current senior dual hurling and football coach, James. For the first time in our club history James helped to deliver a much sought after Intermediate Hurling Championship only months ago.We extend our sympathy to James’ family circle. We offer our condolences and will do all we can to support you in these challenging times.

Ar dheis lámh Dé go raibh a anam uasal Gaelach. Séamus Mac an Bheatha – fear uasal, Gael go smior, a thug a bheatha ar son a theaghlaigh, an chultúir Ghaelaigh agus ar son Thír na nÓg. Gabhaimd comhbhrón le Jim agus Louise agus lena theaghlach ar fad. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal Gaelach. Mairfidh tú linn go deo.(James McVeigh – a gentleman, an Irishman to the core who dedicated his life to his family, Irish culture and Tír na nÓg. We extend our sympathy to Jim and Louise and to all his family circle. May his noble Irish soul rest with God. We will never forget you.)