Fr. Brendan Duggan saying mass at Mass Rock overlooking the parish of Athea

A Job Well Done

by Domhnall de Barra

Well done to Athea GAA for organising a wonderful night at the Devon Inn on Friday last. It was a great idea to bring together the surviving members of the 1963 and 1968 teams and honour them in the way it was done. It was a humbling experience for myself, as a member of the ‘68 panel, to be in the company of such great athletes once again. Some of the players I had not met since 1968 as I went back to England soon after that match and it was great to share memories and see how much we had all changed over the years.  It is only with the passing of years that we come to realise what a fantastic achievement it was for a small club like Athea to take on the might of all the great divisional teams in the county and win the senior championship in such a convincing manner. I doubt if it will ever again be done with the changes that have occurred since then. Football has changed out of all recognition and is now so unattractive to watch that, unless the rules are amended quickly it will lose its popularity. Tactics borrowed from soccer and basketball have removed some of the great skills of the game. Back in the days you had to fight for your ball, there was nothing soft. Backs and forwards mostly stayed in their positions and there were some great personal tussles. High fielding was the order of the day and there was no one in the county better at that than our own Timmy Woulfe. It was a privilege to play alongside him as I did on many occasions and witness not only his great skill but his enthusiasm and passion for the game. I count him among the top three footballers I have ever seen. The greatest, in my opinion, was Mick O’Connell of Kerry who dominated the mid-field for over a decade in the middle of the last century, and then there were two Limerick men, Timmy Woulfe and Tony Fitzgerald of Askeaton.  Those players had everything, style, skill, heart and the ability to inspire the players around them. We may never see their likes on the playing fields again.

Sadly, some of those who brought glory to Athea have passed to their eternal rewards, the most recent being Gerry Carey just a few short weeks ago. Their families can be really proud of them, as we all are.

It is easy to underestimate the amount of work that goes into the running of the GAA. It is the foremost organisation in the country and can be found in almost every parish. It does fantastic work with the younger players, coaching them for future stardom but also giving them valuable physical exercise and character building experiences. This all costs money, most of which has to be raised locally by volunteers who put in many hours of their time for no other reward other than to see the club doing well. We should be very proud of Athea GAA and what it has achieved over the years and continues to do so  under the leadership of Paul Curry. He might be a “blow-in” but wasn’t it a lucky wind that blew him from Mayo to Athea!!

In my day we arrived at a pitch to play a match (the “pitch” was little more than a field that might have cattle or sheep on it before the game) and had to put on our togs under the nearest bush.  There were no dressing rooms or showers in those days. I remember starting off with the under 14s in the late ‘50s. To be picked for the team was a great honour but I had a problem; I had no togs. My mother soon solved the problem and I lined out for the first time with Athea in a beautiful white pair of shorts she had made a couple of nights before from an old flour bag.!  Nobody knew the difference. Getting to matches was another problem. There were no buses so we had to travel in the back of a turf lorry. This, of course, was not legal so we had to walk outside the village before climbing over the rails into the back. One of my memories is being in the back of the lorry coming home from a match on a rainy day, waiting outside a pub, no longer with us, which was beyond the White River on the Kerry Line, while the mentors, who had been travelling in the cab, had a few celebratory pints. Can you imagine it happening today.  Our training was very limited and we honed our skills in local fields with neither goalposts or line markings. Two coats spread apart on the ground provided the posts and this gave rise to many an argument as to whether the ball was over or under the imaginary crossbar. Somebody would score a goal only to be told “no, ‘tis over the coat” . This often ended in a bout of fisticuffs which died down as fat as it flared up.

I look with envy at the scene today where young players are really well looked after from a very early age. The club has come on in leaps and bounds through the hard work of its committees but also due to the generosity of the people of Athea who give financial support to the efforts year after year.  Back in my day there was very little money around and few opportunities so most of us had to take the boat from Dunlaoghaire to make a living across the water. Even so, the club did Trojan work in keeping the games alive and continued down through the years to reach the stage we are at today with a pitch and facilities that are second to none. Well done to all and hearty congratulations to all the players who received awards on Friday night last. You are the inspiration to the current young players who will strive to reach the bar you have set at such a high level.

“Come on Athea”

Athea Tidy Towns

The tidy towns results were released on September 24th along with the adjudication report. Athea fared well in the competition with an increase of 7 points from the previous year. The report gave a positive report on the condition of our village on adjudication day with some recommendations for potential improvements. These recommendations will now be taken on board for 2019, god willing! It is important to note that it takes many many years of hard work and determination to become one of the front runners in the competition. Listowel, who won the overall title, have been competing in the competition for over 25 years. We live in hope! We hope to publish the report in the newsletter over the coming weeks.

By the time you are reading this the results of the Limerick Going for Gold Competition will be released. Our group were shortlisted in this competition as well as 12 other communities from Limerick for a top prize of €10,000. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for our results.

Our Church Gate Collection will take place on October 27th & 28th before all masses. This is one of our main fundraisers of the year and we are appealing to everyone to please support. Donations can also be handed to any member of the committee.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Scanlon Construction Ltd for their support with a recent project.This support was invaluable and one we are all very appreciative of.

Athea Parish Journal

Please continue to send in your material for the Parish Journal as soon as possible. In particular we ask the clubs and associations to start sending in their submissions and photographs so that we can get the Journal on the shelves in good time for Christmas.

Irish classes – Comhra Gaeilge

Class for parents wanting to brush up on Irish to help with homework/comhra gaeilge for competition/ fun Irish classes / functional Irish or anyone who wishes to learn can be arranged if there is enough interest.

Please contact 087 6758762 if you are interested. Sorry for the wrong number last week.

Athea Comhaltas

Will hold a Trad Session in the Top of the Town on Sunday night from 7-9pm. All are welcome to come along and enjoy the music, song and craic.