Sign just the ticket for Liam
AN enterprising man whose search for tickets for the All-Ireland final was no more successful than thousands of other disappointed Mayo people devised a novel way of not only beating the official system of distribution, but of out-touting the touts on the streets of Dublin . . . temporarily at least.
Standing with his placard reading, ‘Aon ticéad amháin más é do thoil é; I won’t last another sixty one years’, Liam Reilly touched the hearts of dozens of people who came offering him tickets to the match.
“I could have filled my pockets with the tickets I was offered, all at face value, but only needed a few for myself and friends; mind you I was also offered a few ‘bargains’ at double and treble the money,” said Liam.
The Ballina native said many Mayo and Donegal fans stood with him for photographs. “When I met Paddy Prendergast it made the whole escapade worth while as he was a big hero of mine and of all of us - back in the 50s. He looked like he was ready to tog out and, maybe if he did we’d have Sam back in the West!”
What he noticed in the photograph taken by Paddy’s daughter Petra, was the size of Prendergast’s hands which, he said, were obviously a “handy advantage around the square.”
Now living in Cork, Liam said he had no success hunting for a ticket in the weeks before the game, having decided to go to Croke Park for the first time in years.
“So I had to take drastic measures.
“Mind you I cannot claim to have thought it up myself; in 2006 there was another greybeard in Mayo colours parading up and down outside Gill’s pub on Jones’s Road with a hand made sign and a similar plea except that it was 55 years and not 61. I spoke with him and he told me it never failed so I figured it was worth a go.”
Liam, a member of the Ballina team beaten by Castlebar (for whom this columnist played at midfield) in the county minor final of 1954, also attracted a lot of attention from the professional ‘touts’.
“Some of them shadowed me when they saw that I was attracting people with tickets to sell and tried to horn in on the transactions; it was educational to see them at work.”
But they were ready for him when he repeated his plea at the hurling final replay between Galway and Kilkenny.
“I wondered when would Mayo and Galway feature in the finals again the same year, and I had enjoyed the week before so much I felt honour bound to attend the hurling replay.
“Again I could have nearly filled a suitcase with the tickets I was offered, again at face value, and was even handed two premium grade tickets free gratis and for nothing.”
But his second excursion to Dublin attracted more than genuine GAA people. Touts were on to him straight away having recognised retired bank official from the week before.
“Figuring that I was in the same game as themselves, they did their damnedest to get me arrested, and very nearly succeeded too.”
One followed him about shouting that Reilly had a pocketful of tickets and was selling them for profit.
“In the end he persuaded a garda to question me and seize the placard with the threat of prosecution for illegal trading. It was almost game time so I just left it and have yet to collect my placard.
“I haven’t as yet received a summons but I’ll be happy to go to court if I do, and if either county reaches the final next year, while I¹m still able to carry a placard I’ll,” he added.
Liam, who worked in many parts of the country before retiring to Cork, holds 2 Galway football championship medals, one at minor with Ballinasloe  and one at junior level with Clifden .
He was selected to play at full-back for the Mayo minor team of 1955, but having joined the National Bank in Ballinasloe was never contacted about any match even though he had written to say he was available to play.
From Clifden he moved to Castlebar in 1961 and joined Frank McDonald and the ‘Ainsworth Babes of sacred memory.’
Ballagh’ will need to hit the high notes
HOT on the heels of their victory over Curry, Ballaghaderreen face their most difficult challenge so far with the visit of Connacht champions St Brigid’s to McHale Park on Sunday.
And although uplifted by the quality of the football they produced in defeating the Sligo champions, Ballagh’ take on the visitors, who are seeking their third Connacht title in a row, as outsiders.
We have already documented the momentous decision of the club to remain in Mayo for football purposes when Ballaghaderreen town was transferred from Mayo to Roscommon back in the 19th century . . . courtesy of a motion moved at Westminster by the MP for East Mayo, James Dillon.
But to have teams from the same county facing each other in a provincial club final is unique and it should attract a big gathering to Castlebar for what some will regard as a Roscommon county final.
An added attraction to the fascinating fixture is the fact that St Brigid’s is managed and trained by former Mayo stars Kevin McStay and Liam McHale, two men fully conversant with the ‘ins and outs’ of Ballaghaderreen footballers, their strong and weak points.
The Roscommon champions have also the experience of two previous Connacht titles to draw from and a couple of brilliant forwards in flamboyant Senan Kilbride and the crafty old campaigner Frankie Dolan.
They are the fulcrum of a scoring machine that accounted for Salthill by seven points in the semi-final. Stephen Drake, Thomas Regan and Philip Rogers will need all the patience and coolness they can summon in dealing with those St Brigid’s icons.
Midfield, too, promises a stirring struggle between Ballagh’s Barry Kelly and James Kilcullen, and Brigid’s Karol Mannion and Ian Kilbride.
This was the critical battle-ground on which Ballagh’s victory over Curry was founded. Kelly and Kilcullen shaped a template for any aspiring midfielder who cared to watch, and if they replicate that form on Sunday they could be halfway to victory.
But on this occasion they come face to face with a Roscommon duo more experienced than themselves, and craving the victory over a Mayo side that has been denied Roscommon at county level these past few years.
The duel between Keith Rogers at centre-back and Brigid’s Garvan Dolan, and at the other end between Ballagh’s Andy Hanley and Darragh Donnelly, also whet the appetite. The game seems so delicately balanced that the outcome of any one of those individual duels could sway the issue.
St Brigid’s have maintained the high standard of football they set in winning the title two years ago. Having underperformed for years even, paradoxically, in winning the county title last month Ballaghderreen finally realised in the second half against Curry years of potential.
It was as if they had suddenly found deep in their subconscious the missing characteristic, the tool to unlock all that promise.
It was by far the best club championship game in Mayo this year and full marks to both teams for shunning excessive use of the hand-pass for direct football and full use of the wings.
Ballagh’ have the overall ability to cause an upset. But victory will depend on which Ballagh’ turns up . . . the old, tepid combination, or the powerfully driven side of the Connacht semi-final.
It will take nothing less than another performance above the ordinary to overcome a Roscommon side who are deserving champions of Connacht those past two years.
Just a thought …
WHAT joy! John Burke, manager of St Thomas’s who beat fancied Loughrea in the Galway senior hurling final, had the satisfaction of overseeing the contributions of his six sons to the historic win.