ONCE WERE WARRIORS The Westport football squad who won the Mayo Junior championship title in 1970.
DEPENDING on how you look at it, it was either fortunate or unfortunate for Westport that Paddy Muldoon was serving a 12-month suspension imposed on him by the County Board for what the referee termed ‘verbal abuse’ after a game back in 1970.
Naturally, these allegations were refuted by Paddy who stated that the referee hadn’t heard him ‘correctly’ and worse incidents were allowed pass during the game.
Because of that ban, all Paddy’s activities were directed towards administration and management, and he ultimately became manager of the Westport Junior team that went on to win the county title.
At one stage in the mid-60s, Westport failed to field a team in the West Mayo Championship. Some resolved that this would never happen again.
Within two years they contested the West final in 1966, the same year Westport won its first Under-16 County title.
They reached another ‘West final’ in 1967 — defeat again, but the future looked brighter.
In 1968 there was another one, only this time they were defeated by Kilmeena (in which Paddy Muldoon and Chris Grady had 23 wides between them). Success would not be far away, and with the inclusion of some new blood another ‘West final’ was contested in 1969 for the fourth year in-a-row. Everyone outside Balla were willing Westport to win, but they didn’t.
Once more they were thrown back into a state of shock wondering what they had to do to win. What misfortune had befallen them, what exactly they were doing wrong?
Four finals, four defeats!
FROM somewhere inspiration came, and the West Mayo championship was won in 1970 with general ease.
Having accounted for Tourmakeady in the semi-final, Breaffy awaited Westport in the decider.
Five West finals in-a-row, scepticism was rooted deeply in everyone’s mind in Clew Bay.
It was September 20, 1970 and Westport would defeat Breaffy on a scoreline of 3-9 to 1-6.
Few would begrudge the Coveys this honour and it was the first time in over 30 years they won the silverware. It was also the first time ever they won the then-coveted Cusack Cup.
Then came the county semi-final against a decent Kiltimagh team. Westport prevailed after an exciting encounter and won by 1-9 to 1-5.
Next came Westport’s first County Final in 33 years. All the disappointments of the previous years dissipated in an hour of brilliant football by Westport.
A team effort, everyone combining at a hectic pace to which Garrymore had no answer. Westport went on to win by 2-11 to 1-4.
During the Muldoon suspension a prominent County Board official remarked: “He is the most active suspended member I have ever seen!”
Many members of this Junior panel represented the county at various stages at this time and in the future most notably Patsy Kelly at senior and minor.
There was also Seán Langan (minor and U-21), while Michael Fahy and Michael Gannon were both part of the 1971 All-Ireland winning minor team. There was Michael Higgins, Padraic Cunningham and Michael Gannon and, of course, Padraic Bruen, who featured on the county junior team for years.
Both Michael Fahy and Jack King were on the victorious Under-16 county winning team this year.
Fifty years is along time, and while some of the panel are gone to their eternal rest, it is hoped when safer times prevail, the remaining players will gather to honour this momentous occasion.