The Players of the late 30’s
The six ladies of the 1938-1940 era of camogie in Ballymacnab were recognised for their contribution to the playing and development of the game in the area. Mary Kerr (formerly Rocks) was presented with a commemorative print of the history of camogie in Ballymacnab by one of today’s underage players- Kate McGivern. Molly McClelland (formerly Mackin) was presented to by her granddaughter and current camogie great Mairead McClelland, Sarah McKee, better known as Mannie McKee (formerly Short) was represented on the evening by her daughter Elizabeth, who received her mothers award from underage player and grandniece Michelle McParland, Lizzie Beagan (formerly Cassidy) was presented to on the night by under16 player Elish Canavan, Rose Frances Lambkin (formerly Cunningham) was represented by family friend Colette McCusker who received Rose Frances’ award from Jayne Lavery and last but by no means least, Beatrice Short (formerly Cosgrove) was presented to by her grand daughter and current senior star of the back line Mairead Short.
All of these six great women have made their own mark on camogie in Ballymacnab and their presence on the night greatly added to the occasion. Thanks were expressed on the night to one of these ladies, Mary Kerr who was a great source of information in the weeks running up to the Gala. Mary’s memory is still as sharp as her wit and her input to the success of the evening cannot be measured. Thanks to all of our six ladies of the 1930’s for your work for camogie in Ballymacnab, the current generation of players will strive to keep strong the tradition that you were so involved in all those years ago.
Liz Howard- President of Cumann Cam¾ga?ochta na nGael
The main special guest of the evening was Liz Howard- President of Cumann Camogaiochta na nGael. Liz gave a very good speech which recognised the great work of the Ballymacnab club in the past but also to the sterling efforts that continue today, with three of the club’s members being qualified as Coaching Tutors. She thanked in particular Gerard Gribben, for his work as Development Officer for Cumann Cam¾ga?ochta na nGael. Liz reminded all present of the contribution that a club like St Brenda’s makes to the community as a whole. Liz then remained on the platform to make the presentations to the team of 1968.
Short history of camogie in Ballymacnab
After a number of barren years of camogie in the Nab during the 40’s and early 50’s the game was again started up in the late 1950’s when another batch of players came to the fore. This team was successful in 1959 winning their league when beating the famous Blackwatertown team in the final but however after this short successful run, camogie in Ballymacnab experienced another lean period. It was great to see three members of this 1950’s team at our Anniversary gala- the great Eithne Rice (nee McParland), the great Maura O’Kane (nee Beagan) and the great Patricia Boyle (nee Beagan).
Camogie became active in Ballymacnab again in 1968 when the club was reformed under the Chairmanship of the present Club President Brendan Harvey, and since then it has grown from strength to strength. The successes of the club over the past 40 years were recounted last Saturday night and would stand against any club record across the country.
The contribution of the Ballymacnab Club was recognised in a very nice congratulations letter received in the run-up to the night from current Chairperson of Armagh County Camogie Board, Yvonne Morgan. Whilst Yvonne’s comments were not relayed on the night this report can quote: “”Congratulations to St. Brenda’s Camogie Club, Ballymacnab on promoting the sport of Camogie for the past 40 years. It is a fabulous achievement and the club has enjoyed great success on the playing field during this period of time. I would like to express my gratitude to the St. Brenda’s for their commitment both at club and county level””
1968- The team of Honour at 40th Anniversary Gala
The presentation of commemorative prints to the players of 1968 was the finale and highlight of the evening.
The team of 1968 that were honoured at last Saturday’s Gala Night were:
Rosie Devlin: Captain in 1968. One name that keeps popping up when talking about great Nab camogie players is Rosie Devlin. Rosie was the Berlin Wall for many’s an opposing team, no way around, no way through! Rose Devlin was voted Club Player of the Year in 1968, an outstanding individual achievement for an outstanding player in her first season of camogie. Rosie went on to remain in camogie for many more years as a player for Ballymacnacb and later as a player and administrator in neighbouring club Mullabrack. Rosie was described on Saturday night as Ballymacnab’s “”Rock””- a reference to the great hurling star of Cork- Diarmuid O’Sullivan. There’s no doubt that in her day Rosie would have given Diarmuid a very good run for his money!
Anna Mary Haughey was a very talented mid-fielder and a great free-taker. Anna captained Ballymacnab for a few years in the late 60’s/early 70’s period and Anna went on to play for Clan Eireann when she moved to Lurgan. Anna showed her outstanding natural camogie skills and leadership talents when she captained the Clans to senior championship titles 1975 and 1976. A naturally gifted player who also starred for county.
Alice Beagan was another very talented mid-fielder who continued to play for Ballymacnab until the mid 70’s. Alice captained Ballymacnab to their first Intermediate Championship in 1975. She was one of Armagh’s outstanding players in the 1970 All Ireland final and was County Player of the year in 1975! A player described as in a class of her own, Alice had it all- style, speed and a great reader of the game. Alice travelled home to our gala from England and it was great to see her there with all the Beagan sisters!
Ann Fearon started her camogie days in Ballymacnab as goal-keeper but moved outfield to make her position in the half back line. She was always as steady as a rock and saved the nab from many an attack Ann’s exceptional administrative skills were noted on the night as she worked very hard behind the scenes back in the 1968-early 70’s era.
Kathleen Fearon goalkeeper supreme in the late 60’s for both Bllymacnab and Armagh. Fearless between the posts and was the saviour for both club and county many’s a day. Kathleen won an Ulster Minor Championship with Armagh in 1968 and was one of the stars for Armagh on All Ireland Final day 1970, when Armagh were narrowly beaten by Dublin.
May Fearon May is the third of the Fearon trio of camogie players of the 1968 team. An all-round player who switched between the midfield and centre half back lines. Very strong in both attack and defence and totally committed.
The contribution of the Fearon household was remembered and recognised on Saturday night when the Fearon’s house to camogie in the late 60’s/eary70’s was what Tommy O’Hare’s was to football- the meeting place where it all happened. Many’s a late evening would be had with Paul centre stage and Mary (RIP) providing the unending supply of tea into the wee small hours. St Brenda’s send their best wishes to their former great stalwart Paul Fearon who is unwell and thank him for his work all those years ago.
Ann Gribben was a defender in the half back line in 1968. A very strong pucker of the ball and a tenacious back. When you were coming up against Ann you would find no way through!
Olive Gray was a forward back in 1968 and not surprisingly given the talented and sporting family she is from, she had plenty of style and flair. She was fast and nifty and gave many’s a defender a hard time. One of Olive’s other great attributes was that she brought her wee sister Mary into the club not long after 1968 and for this introduction as much as for Olive’s own playing contribution, the Nab will be forever grateful and all other teams in the county will be forever envious!
Stella Gribben was a classy half forward in 1968. She was the scorer of many goals for the Nab and was quoted as being the one the man on the line hoped would have the ball when a score was needed- and Stella rarely let him down!
The Gribben family has been synonymous with Ballymacnab camogie down through the decades and Dymphna, with Stella were the flag bearers in 1968 and fly the Nab flag high they did! Dymphna was a very strong player who asked for nothing from her markers and definitely gave nothing in return! A great player back in 1968 who gave nothing less than 100%.
The Harvey household has been another great supplier of camogie players to Ballymacnab. Back in 1968 it was Teresa and Una that played, both very determined and skillful players.
Una Harvey was a very speedy forward who had great all round potential. A player who received the overdue attention of many’s an opposing defender but Una took whatever came her way, got up and got on with the game. A great player in the Nab colours.
Teresa Harvey was a very versatile player who had no shortage of determination. A great asset to the team of 68 with speed, skill and style to burn and who made life difficult for many of her markers.
Another set of sisters on the 1968 team were Ann and Eileen Donnelly.
Eileen Donnelly was one of the tightest markers around in 1968. Eileen was always as steady as a rock, a tenacious defender who let nothing past. Her manager Brendan Harvey had nothing to worry about when the ball went down Eileen’s wing- he knew who would be coming out with it and that was Eileen.
Ann Donnelly was a player who could switch from midfield to forward. Ann was a real grafter who had an abundance of skill and determination and was always present when a score was for the taking. Ann was a classy player who also represented Ballymacnab on the winning Armagh minor team that beat Antrim in the 1968 Ulster Minor Championship final.
The Loughran sisters- Ann, Rita and Marion all played on the 1968 team and played for Ballymacnab through until the late 70’s.
Ann Loughran was usually in the full-forward position and gave many’s a fullback a good drubbing. She was a fantastic player to have as a target women up front and got her name on many’s a scoresheet. Ann’s disallowed goal in the 1976 county senior final was also referred to on Saturday night, even 32 years later we’re all still convinced it was over the line and Ann was denied her moment of glory! We’ve great memories in Ballymacnab when it comes to great players like Ann Loughran. Ann’s husband Aidan’s fantastic contribution to camogie in Ballymacnab was also noted on the night with many of Aidan’s coaching tips back in the mid 1970’s and again in the 80’s being memorised by several of his protogees who have no hesitation in citing Aidan Reynolds as being one of their major influencers in terms of their enjoyment from and love for camogie.
Rita Loughran was another of great defender for Ballymacnab not only in 1968 but also in the 70’s and 80’s. Rita player a major role in the successes of Ballymacnab in the years after 1968 and she was referred to once by the great St Joseph’s Madden forward of the time- Rita McGuigan, as the hardest player she had to play against- a great endorsement for one great camog from another!
Marian Loughran is the youngest of the Loughran sisters but could push her siblings every inch of the way when it comes to guile and cuteness on the pitch. Marian was part of many a winning Nab team right up into the 80’s and was said to have been able to sort out many’s a challenging forward by her strong defensive play and determination. If you beat Marion to the ball you had to be a good one!
The second set of Loughran sisters- Kathleen and Noreen (RIP) also played their part in the 1968 team and subsequent years.
Kathleen Loughran was a stylish player who had a great turn of speed. She was an all rounder who had it all- skill, stamina and style. Kathleen was a great tem player and a great asset for the girls in maroon and while.
Noreen Loughran (RIP) was the youngest player on the team 1968 at just 12 years of age and was a raw talent as a player and showed this to great effect in later years being a leading player in the Intermediate championship team of 1975. Noreen turned many’s a game in the Nab’s favour in the 70’s. Sadly Noreen is now in her heavenly home.
Eileen McGeown was one of St Brenda’s defenders in 1968, a solid player who gave and asked for no quarters! Eileen could also foray upfield to take a chance at a score. She was agreat reader of the game and very solid and determined who always gave her all in the Nab jersey.
Maureen McCone was a very versatile member of the 1968 team who played in several positions. Maureen was a fantastic club worker and was the clubs first secretary back in 1968. Maureen’s tremendous contribution to Ballymacnab camogie around the committee table was also recalled on Saturday night.
Mary McGeown was an all-round player whose versatility saw her in both defence and attack for Ballymacnab back in 68. Mary was very determined and committed and left nothing to chance when going for a ball, her technique was not one of fancy style but of was definitely one of great effect. Mary now resides in Belfast and it was great to see her join us on Saturday night.
Bernie Keeley was one of the 1968 who was always ready and willing to take up any position or job asked of her. Credited with keeping the craic going for the Donnelly and Gribben girls when walking up Lisnadill Hill to go training, Bernie was able to speed away with the ball in midfield when called to duty.
Betty McCreesh (RIP) is the last member of the 1968 team to be reported on here but by no means the least. Betty was a versatile player who gave many years to camogie in Ballymacnab from the beginning in terms of playing and administration. Betty’s enthusiasm and hard work for the team both on and off the field of play, most significantly as a hard working committee worker, has left Betty’s fingerprint indelibly marked in the history books of Ballymacnab Camogie. Betty may also have gone to her heavenly home but her sense of spirit for the Ballymacnab club remains very strong within today’s members.
Brendan Harvey All great times need to have a great manager to take the best out of them and the Nab girls of 1968 definitely had one of the best around in the form of Brendan Harvey. Brendan would today modestly proclaim that he was just learning as he was going along and made things up as he went along but Brendan knew a lot more about managing a team than he is prepared to admit and has probably forgot more about lining out and motivating players than many’s a manager even knew! So Brendan’s place in the history of Ballymacnab and his contribution back in 1968 both as Club Chairperson and as Team Manager was also rightfully recognised last Saturday night!
These 24 players along with their manager of 1968 were honoured at the Club’s Gala Night on Saturday past. They received a standing ovation from those present and what was an historic moment in the history of our club was also a very emotional one that few will forget, especially the girls of 1968. They were the girls who proudly wore the maroon and white for St Brenda’s 40 years ago back in 1968. Little did they know the extent of the positive impact that their efforts and those of te committee behind them would make for the young girls and women of Ballymacnab who would come during the 40 years after them! Ballymacnab still reaps the fruits of the seeds that were sown by these girls back in 1968.
On Saturday night, St Brenda’s said “”Well done and thank you”” to these 24 women & to Brendan Harvey. Go dtaga rath agus blßth ar bhur gcuid oibre!
Thanks are extended to Molly Kerr, Brendan Harvey and Joe Halpin in providing background material for this report and in previous reports. Thanks also and well done to all those who played their part in helping to organise the night. Your work paid off with dividends!
Anyone wishing to obtain photographs from the Gala evening may do so at the below website. is (www.photoboxgallery.com/armaghgael). St Brenda’s wish to thank John Merry for his excellent coverage of our 40th anniversary year to date and most especially for his work last Saturday night.