Ardee St Marys hosted a major celebration of the former Ardee Minors teams of the mid-1960s on Friday night last, with the four-in-a-row teams of 1964, 1965, 1966 and 1967 honoured for their record breaking achievement at the event.
Back in the 1960s, the Ardee minor team was an amalgamation of players from not only Ardee St Marys, but also Hunterstown Rovers, John Mitchels and other local clubs. Their run of four Louth GAA championships in a row was a record at the time – and fifty years on, it has yet to be matched or bettered.
The brainchild of Marys stalwart Ango Courtney, the reunion and celebration took a lot of work to put together. A list of players were amassed through memories, clippings belong to people close to the club – and old newspaper archives which the club gained access too thanks to the local publications.
Among the players celebrated were three players who were involved in all four wins – Mattie Reilly, Dennis Murray and Michael Bennett. PJ Callan was also honoured for managing the sides in each year of their Championship triumphs (above).
Explaining the thought process behind the night to ThisIsArdee.ie, Ango said “The Ardee Minors won the Louth Minor Championships in the 60s – 64, 65, 66, 57 – four years in a row which has never been done before and has never been done since. So, therefore it’s a record at Minor Championship level in Louth.
“It’s 50 years this year since the last win, so that’s why we did it this year. We had to go through whatever records we had. Actually, they’re records we wouldn’t really have,” he continued. “We went through the Dundalk Democrat and Drogheda Independents and all their reports. Then there’s memories – and two of the selectors of that era are still alive, you have Paddy Callan and Pat Leavy.
“We formed a sub-committee and they were on it. It was a bit of an exercise but it was good. And then to get in touch with all the people, – it wasn’t just the Marys. The Marys were the driving force behind it. But it was a parish thing. You had Hunterstown and the Mitchels and some players from the Seans too. That’s the way it was back then – at minor level, it was all amalgamation.”
Ango, who himself one three Championships in the time, told us that there were 47 players involved in the Ardee Minor set-up over the four years. Obviously, there were many players who took part in more than just one campaign. Of that number, 43 attended the night.
“There was four people deceased,” he tells us. “But they all sent representatives.
“All the Minor lads were there at the function. It was great to see them there. It was fantastic. Fair dues to them, they’re in a Leinster final. It’s a big thing for them anyway.