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Lahardane make the big breakthrough

Sport

CHILD’S PLAY These young Lahardane supporters were celebrating their club’s Mayo Junior ‘A’ championship win last Sunday at MacHale Park, Castlebar. Pic Conor McKeown

Reflections

Willie McHugh

LAHARDANE is a tiny village crossing between Pontoon and Crossmolina. It has already carved one deep niche in history. From the parish of Addergoole, fourteen people set out in the early days of April 1912 heading to Queenstown to board the ill-fated Titanic ocean liner.
Eleven of the group perished at sea when the ship hit an iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland on its maiden voyage to New York. The Addergoole Titanic Society was established in 2001, and in 2012 the Titanic Memorial Park was opened in Lahardane on the foothills of majestic Nephin.
The structure is a fitting memorial to those who died on a fateful April night. How Lahardane’s community was overlooked for a Mayo Association award for this iconic Titanic landmark is baffling beyond extreme.
Last Sunday Lahardane added another historic chapter when her footballers won the Mayo Junior championship for the first time in the club’s history. They took the Pete McDonnell trophy across the Windy Gap after their late rally overcame Kilmaine in the final.
For long they have lived in the shadows of their more illustrious Crossmolina neighbours, but Sunday afforded them their own glory day.
It didn’t always look like the fairy-tale ending it was. Trailing by five points at the interval (0-10 to 0-5) it seemed their dream was turning into a nightmare before them.
A highly entertaining game saw Kilmaine play all the good football in the opening instalment. Six minutes into the second half full-forward James Maughan careered through the Kilmaine defence to find the net and give Lahardane hope. But Kilmaine responded, reeling off points suggesting they had weathered the storm.  
We barely noticed when Lahardane manager John Maughan summoned Michael Coleman from the substitute’s bench. Little did we realise we were about to see history’s flag unfurl before our eyes. Coleman scored the goal to send Lahardane on the road to immortality. The roar acknowledging it echoed off the Timoney Bell. There was only going to be one winner now. Through technological advances word spread rapidly from Addergoole to Adelaide and Bofield to Boston of lovely ‘back home’ Lahardane about to stand up and take its rightful place among the nations of the new world.
In MacHale Park the denizens of this idyllic hamlet created an almighty rumpus. Their long-awaited hour had finally come. The roar and bedlam almost lifted the roof off the stand.
As full-time approached supporters came tumbling down the steps in their droves. It was the charge of the black and amber brigade. The officious area steward attempting to prevent a pitch invasion might as well have been trying to corner cattle in a round field.  
Perfect (and indeed some imperfect) strangers hugged and kissed as Lahardane folk celebrated gleefully. Holding court at pitch side was the legendary Toss Gibbons. Toss is of Shrule lineage. He was born and reared in the renowned hostelry on the borderlines of Galway and Mayo.
But marriage to Marcella Devaney meant the genial Toss would spend his adult life in Lahardane. He’s been one of their own a lifetime now. He was active on the committee that gave Lahardane its beautiful memorial park.
Toss is Lahardane GAA Club President. Fifty years ago this year they elected him club secretary. He served Lahardane well over the half-century, even managing them for a spell. He’s in the finest of fine fettle and he visits the Titanic Memorial Park daily.
Wintering will be easy in Lahardane. Sunday’s heroic deed is already etching into footballing lore. The gasúrs of Lahardane now have their own local heroes to admire for ever and a day.
And chances are they might even erect a statue to John Maughan in the Titanic Memorial Park when celebrations appease. Maughan was on the bridge plotting and charting this brilliant cruise of discovery Lahardane now finds itself on. They are voyaging across the broad horizon. 
We wish those on board fair winds and a following sea.

 

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