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1
Antrim / Re: Antrim Football Thread
« on: October 16, 2021, 03:54:44 PM »
Irish News today

Long Kesh and Casement Park: The paths of the Adams family
     

Andy Watters
16 October, 2021 01:00

Gerry Adams was a keen footballer and hurler but political activism shaped his public life. Picture Mark Marlow
LONG days in Long Kesh. From sunrise to sunset the same bearded faces, the same barbed-wire fences. Caged-in, prisoners kicked their heels and thought of home and of ways to pass the time.

Gaelic Games were a welcome diversion for the “men behind the wire” and Gerry Adams was an eager participant in them.

He’d played hurling and football during his school days but by the time he reached his late teens in the late 1960s, his focus was fairly and squarely on the political activism that shaped his public life as leader of Sinn Fein.

Perhaps in different circumstances he would have made his name as a county player?

His son Gearóid doubts that: “He’d tell you he was a class hurler but I haven’t seen much evidence of it,” he says with a chuckle.

In 1973, Gerry Adams was arrested and interned at Long Kesh and after an unsuccessful escape attempt he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment.

It was packed with young men like him. Inter-cage football matches and cage-versus-cage games were organised and, for as long as they lasted, the players’ minds escaped to playing fields from the Springfield Road to South Armagh.

“There were very lively football games between the different cages and I remember in Cage 11 we tried to get hurling sticks in but they wouldn’t let us,” Adams recalls.

“So a bunch of us led by a guy called Terry ‘Cleaky’ Clarke cut down the bits of wood around the huts and we made hurls. It was just boxwood and they broke very quickly but we made the point - we had one game of hurling behind the wire.”

Several members of Antrim’s 1969 All-Ireland-winning U21 team, including Liam Boyle (the captain) and Mickey Culbert, spent time in Long Kesh and, although the inmates were mostly from the six counties, there were men from Dublin, Limerick, Clare and other parts of the island there too.

“There was a huge interest in Gaelic Games and huge rivalry between the different counties when it came to the Ulster final and even between different clubs,” says Adams.

Gerry Adams was a keen footballer and hurler but political activism shaped his public life. Picture Mark Marlow
“Most of the Hunger Strikers were accomplished players – Kevin Lynch most famously, he had captained the Derry minor hurling team - so there was a very lively interest in Gaelic sports; it was a way of passing the time.

“I played for all the school teams I went to. I started getting involved with the Republican movement around 1965-66 and then increasingly in 1967, ’68 and ’69. While I’ve always retained and interest in Gaelic Games, my own playing career was short but my proudest achievement is that I played in the St Mary’s (Christian Brothers Grammar School) team and Aidan Hamill (Antrim U21 All-Ireland winner) was my captain.

“We all think we were better than we actually were, but my playing career, such as it was, gave way to political activism and all that went with it.”

As the Troubles raged throughout the bloody years of the 1970s and ’80s, the roots of the GAA clung to stony ground around the North. Facilities were poor, media coverage practically non-existent (apart from The Irish News) and the constant threat from the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries loomed large.

Jobs were scarce and young men left for London or Boston in their droves. Despite all of that, the games were played.

“One thing that struck me during the conflict was that the GAA kept going through it all,” says Adams.

“Particularly in places like Belfast where things were very, very tough, people still diligently got the kids to the training and the matches and the myriad of tasks from washing the geansais to all the mentoring and fundraising.

“It’s a beautiful representation of the volunteer spirit – that sense of the meitheal, good active citizens all helping each other. So the GAA is very much a part of the life of this nation and it fills me with great pride at whatever level it’s played at but particularly when you see these outstanding displays of football or hurling or camogie.”

ULSTER went from Down’s third win in 1968 to 1991 (their fourth) without a Sam Maguire but the GAA in the six counties endured the Troubles and the Association has shaped the life of Gerry Adams’s nearest and dearest.

His only son Gearóid was four and-a-half when he was released from the Maze and if his father’s public life was shaped by his political beliefs, Gearóid’s has been defined by GAA activism.

His mother Collette (nee McArdle) had played camogie for Antrim and, after coming through the ranks as a dual player with the St John’s club, Gearóid also wore the saffron jersey - he didn’t miss a game in 13 seasons with the Antrim senior footballers.

“Hank Lavery took Gearóid to a couple of training sessions with Rossa at Falls Park and then Gerry Begley and John Grego started a team in Ballymurphy, that’s where I’m from, so my brother Paddy took him down and he’s been a Johnnies man ever since,” Gerry Adams explained.

Throughout his infancy, Gearóid had made weekly trips to visit his dad in Long Kesh. He has “vague recollections” of him coming home to Harrogate Street and the biggest change was that his name switched from ‘Wee Gerry’ to the Irish ‘Gearóid’.

“Thank God that changed,” he says with a smile.

“One day somebody rapped our door and asked: ‘Is wee Gerry here?’ He was told ‘Wee Gerry doesn’t live here anymore’ and I was Gearóid after that.”

He has “strong personal political beliefs” of his own but has never gone public with them and isn’t going to start now. Was there ever an ambition to follow in his father’s footsteps?

“No chance,” he says.

“I’m supportive of what my da has done and what he continues to do but I’m not going to be on social media espousing this, that, or the other.

“It’s no secret that a lot of my family were involved in politics or in the IRA. It’s not something that we hide and throughout the conflict there was always either an Adams or, on my mum’s side, a McArdle in jail. That was the same for a lot of families but for me sport always seemed to take priority.”

As he grew up, his father grew in stature as a world famous political figure. As the leader of Sinn Fein and MP for West Belfast, he was loved by supporters and loathed by opponents. Of course, Gearóid was aware of his father’s global profile – he only needed to turn on the news to confirm it even if his words were spoken by an actor which was the case for a six years during Margaret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister.

But he says “there was never any big deal made of it” when the front door closed in Harrogate Street.

“My da was as much infamous as he was famous,” he says.

“He became an MP in 1983 and was vice-president of Sinn Fein when I was only 10. You’d be aware of it but living on the Falls Road in those days everybody just got on with their own business. “Harrogate Street was a very close community and everybody looked after each other in a time of turmoil so we just got on with stuff – you’re talking about the 1970s and 1980s when times were tough.

“Everybody was busy and I was going through school and my da was getting into politics. It was never a big deal for me, he was always normal with me and he was always normal with my mates – they’d still all be close to him even after all these years.

“My biggest memories from my childhood are going away on holiday to Omeath and different parts of Ireland. He was a big walker and we walked plenty of beaches and did plenty of sight-seeing. It was all as normal as possible and it still is with my children.

“If we get an opportunity to go to Donegal he’ll have them out for hours on the beach.

“They would be aware of who their granda is (as a public figure) but there still wouldn’t be any big deal made about it and it’s not as if we sit in the house and have political discussions – we talk more about hurling or football. I suppose he spends enough time talking about politics, he’s happy to get a bit of relief, a bit of escapism.

“I think he probably would have become a teacher, or a lecturer (if the political situation hadn’t taken him in a different direction) because he has that interest and knowledge of literature. But his situation changed and he left school at 16 after getting his ‘O’ Levels and took the path he took. I wouldn’t say he was ever a career politician although he did a good job of it.”

THE Adams family did their very best to live a ‘normal’ existence but that wasn’t always possible. In 1984 Gerry Adams was hit three times when UDA gunmen riddled the car in which he was travelling in central Belfast. Adams was hit in the neck, shoulder and arm and was rushed to the Royal.

“I remember my uncle Paddy coming to St Finnian’s and taking me out,” says Gearóid.

“He was giving me some spiel about the Adams’s being as hard as nails – he was preparing me for the news – and then he told me what had happened, that my da had got shot.

“At that age you’re trying to fathom it but we went straight to the hospital and saw him and he was okay, he was talking away to me and obviously trying to give me comfort. My mum was there too and she was able to comfort me – me and my mum are very close because we were together for a long time on our own. I’m an only child so there was only the two of us for a long period.

“That was part and parcel of it – if you were from the Lower Falls, Lenadoon, Andytown… anywhere in west Belfast in the late ’70s/early ’80s. The house was raided four or five times a week and I can remember the Brits coming in, the RUC coming in… As a child that’s what you were used to. I had a wee place where I had to stand because you didn’t want them planting anything so you had a stand and keep an eye on them – this was when I was three or four, my dad wasn’t even there.

“That was the case for a lot of houses in the area – a lot of people went through exactly the same experience. I have no monopoly on that because there were hundreds of people who went through it.

“I remember the Hunger Strikes in 1981 when the tension was palpable. You knew that something really massive was going on that was affecting the area and people in the area. And I can remember standing on Beechmount Avenue with my ma for 10 or 15 minutes one day while a gunfight went on between the IRA and the Brits.

“We waited until it was over and then we just walked on home!”

Many young people, from both sides of the political divide who grew up at that time and in that environment were drawn into the conflict. Gerry Adams had followed his father into the Republican movement but Gearóid chose a different path and from early days his ambition was to be a county player.

“It wasn’t as if I was conscious of it, but GAA took over for me,” he says.

“I went through school playing sport. I played a wee bit of basketball but I didn’t really fit into the soccer because they played matches in areas where I wouldn’t have been too safe - although I snuck to a few matches with school for a bit of craic.

“I had Sean McGourty (La Salle) to keep me in line and then on to the Ranch (St Mary’s University College) for Sigerson and Ryan Cup and then I became a PE teacher, so everything has been based around sport.

“I wouldn’t say it was an escape, maybe it was a refuge? It was where my priorities were and somewhere I just felt comfortable in, so the GAA has a big hold on me.”

His kids play now and their granda likes nothing better than to cheer them on.

How far we’ve come since his Long Kesh days.


Part 2 on Monday

2
Down / Re: Down GAA Championship 2021 Prediction Competition
« on: October 14, 2021, 06:36:44 PM »

SFC

Kilcoo vs Ballyholland
Burren vs Clonduff

SFC Relegation

Bryansford vs Rostrevor

IFC

Drumgath vs An Riocht
Annaclone vs Darraghcross

IFC Relegation

Bosco vs Dromara

JFC

Finn vs East Belfast
Drumaness vs Dundrum

3
Down / Re: Down Club Hurling & Football
« on: October 14, 2021, 06:33:04 PM »
Some dung talked today about the state of Down football and imminent changes to be made in the coming weeks.

4
Down / Re: Down Club Hurling & Football
« on: October 10, 2021, 03:02:14 PM »
Patsy and Dessie are back  ;D, 'great to have you back Dessie, delighted to be here Patsy.'

5
Down / Re: Down Club Hurling & Football
« on: October 07, 2021, 07:44:53 PM »
It actually makes me laugh when people talk about NMCA taking our club to a new level - he did no such thing. Won absolutely f**k all in his tenure and that’s what success is based on. Not taking s**t from players is one thing - but players not being allowed to play for their own club teams because a blow in getting £££ (and a very hefty back room team) is dictating is completely wrong.
At same time I feel Mulholland made mistake this year letting players who trained only a month play championship. Setting those type standards is not what wins year in year out.
If we want to compete - we need to compete at top level at all underage teams, we need to freshen up the senior team every year with 2-4 players putting themselves forward for consideration. But these players need a chance to play. No point playing the same old every year especially when they have proven on the championship stage they can’t cut it..

That's a bit harsh Johnny, what do you mean? I'm not talking about the money as he was supposedly looking £1000 a week from Clonduff for his management team. As for playing players only back, they were recognised seniors and had helped get the Point close to the top in Down, whey would he not play them?

Bringing underage players through is the lifeblood to any senior team but if the Point are playing lower level stuff then the chances of having 2/3 younger players into the senior set up every year is slim. That's not going to help them in the long term and if they don't win a championship very soon then it's never gonna in the next 10 - 15 years.

6
Down / Re: Down GAA Championship 2021 Prediction Competition
« on: October 07, 2021, 05:58:48 PM »
Morgan Fuels SFC Quarter finals

Ballyholland V Glenn
Downpatrick V Clonduff
Burren V Mayobridge
Kilcoo V Carryduff

Morgan Fuels SFC Relegation Play off semi finals

Rostrevor V Saul
Loughinisland V Bryansford

Parador Lodge IFC quarter final draw

Annaclone V St Paul’s
Tullylish V Darragh Cross
An Riocht V Saval
Liatroim V Drumgath

IFC Relegation Play off semi finals

Newry Bosco V Bright
Dromara V St John’s

Parador Lodge JFC quarter final draw

Aughlisnafin v Kilclief
East Belfast V Newry Mitchell’s
Dundrum V Ardglass
Glasdrumman V Drumaness

7
Down / Re: Down Club Hurling & Football
« on: October 02, 2021, 08:43:27 PM »
Word on the street is that our Full back from 91 is the new manager 👀👀

I've been hearing this for weeks now and for the future of Down football I sincerely hope this is completely untrue. We have had some bad managerial choices over the years, none more so than our last man but if this man was to be appointed it would be the biggest retrograde step in the history of Down football.

8
Down / Re: Down Club Hurling & Football
« on: September 30, 2021, 07:24:29 PM »
Folks is the online coverage from Pairc Esler decent this year? Won't make the games so was going to watch online if it does the job
Yeah pairc esler coverage is good

Just turn the volume down unless Patsy is commentating.

9
Down / Re: Down GAA Championship 2021 Prediction Competition
« on: September 30, 2021, 05:31:28 PM »
Round 3 (Losers Round)

SFC

Clonduff V Cumann Pheadair Naofa
Longstone V Carryduff
Glenn V Castlewellan
Bredagh V Mayobridge


IFC

Clann na Banna V Saval
Attical V St Paul’s
Darragh Cross V Newry Shamrocks
Drumgath V Ballymartin

10
Down / Re: Down Club Hurling & Football
« on: September 26, 2021, 05:53:41 PM »
Kilcoo seriously efficient again today. There for the taking and Clonduff will rue the easy chances they missed throughout the game, they have only themselves to blame. Kilcoo now have a week off to sort out any niggles with Clonduff being bruised and back out next week. Ballyholland down by 3 at half time, should be an interesting second half. Decent production today but no harm to Mc Grath but he is hard to listen to. I hope Patsy is doing the game later on.

11
Down / Re: Down GAA Championship 2021 Prediction Competition
« on: September 23, 2021, 04:40:18 PM »
SFC Winners Draw

Glenn v Burren
Downpatrick vs Longstone
Bredagh vs Ballyholland
Clonduff vs Kilcoo

SFC Losers Draw

Carryduff vs Saul
Loughinisland vs Mayobridge
CPN vs Bryansford
Castlewellan vs Rostrevor

IFC Winners Draw

Atticall v Annaclone
Darraghcross v Liatroim
Clann Na Banna v Tullylish
Drumgath v An Riocht

IFC Losers Draw

Shamrocks v St Johns
Ballymartin vs St Johns Bosco
St Pauls vs Bright
Dromara vs Saval



JFC Losers Draw

Aghaderg v Ardglass
Teconnaught v Kilclief
Mitchels vs St Michaels

12
Down / Re: Down Club Hurling & Football
« on: September 19, 2021, 06:18:53 PM »
Kilcoo good for their win, obviously there for the taking but Mayobridge stepped back and stopped going at them. Even when they were four down with 5 minutes left, they were still conditioned to sit back and not go for it. Why change a plan that was working in the first half and really troubled Kilcoo.

Just wondering why the so called 'Down's oldest club' have changed their traditional sky blue colours.

14
Down / Re: Down GAA Championship 2021 Prediction Competition
« on: September 12, 2021, 06:36:48 PM »
SFC

CPN V Longstone
Saul v Burren
Bredagh v Castlewellan
Mayobridge v Kilcoo
Clonduff v Rostrevor
Loughinisland v Ballyholland
Bryansford v Glenn
RGU vs Carryduff


IFC

An Riocht v Ballymartin
Clann na Banna v Dromara
St Johns Bosco v Atticall
Shamrocks v Drumgath
St Johns v Liatroim
St Pauls v Annaclone
Saval v Darraghcross
Tullylish v Bright


JFC

Mitchels v Glasdrumman
Drumaness v St Michaels
East Belfast vs Aghaderg
Aughlisnafin vs Teconnaught
Ardglass v Dundrum

15
Down / Re: Down Club Hurling & Football
« on: August 03, 2021, 09:43:56 PM »
You must have been some player Lotto in your time, if you have as many medals as Paul Devlin - for I thought it was only at swimming you got medals for diving but then again jealousy effects people in different ways!

Do we have to put the underscores in your name to quote you, it's a bit much?

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