Reviving and Fostering Gaelic Games Part 11 (1915-1927)


by Paddy O'Reilly

The first part (of this article described how 'Gauger' Murphy and his comrades helped revive Gaelic Games in 1886 in the parish of Taghmon. Also outlined were the efforts of teams like Taghmon FBC, Taghmon Shamrocks, Taghmon Fear Nots, Caroreigh and St. Fintan's to foster and popularise the game. The article demonstrated that even though handball and hurling enjoyed occasional bouts of popularity, football was the game that caught the imagination and emerged as the people's favourite sporting pastime. Indeed it was through football that the first Wexford championship title was brought to the parish, when the Trinity Stars won the junior football crown in 1915.

This follow-on article looks at the years 1916 -1927, a period in which football's position was enhanced by (i) the winning of two more county championship titles and (ii) local pride in having a Taghmon man playing in and wining All- Ireland medals.

The article seeks to throw light on how Gaelic Games fared during the confused and turbulent years from 1916 to 1923 and the reader should bear in mind that GAA affairs during this period were conducted to the background of World War 1, the 1916 Rebellion, the War of Independence and the Civil War.

World War 1 and The Easter Rebellion

The most dramatic impact of the Great War on Gaelic pastimes in the parish was the death, on the battlefield in 1917, of Pte. Michael Cooper, a young football enthusiast.

Of more insidious and long term consequence however, was the loss to these pastimes of many young and athletic men attracted by the romance of war and the chance it afforded the less well off to supplement meagre family incomes.

Following John Redmond's Woodenbridge appeal for volunteers, a recruitment day in Taghmon attracted large numbers. When enlisted, these men marched in torchlight procession from the village to Wexford town. John Kennedy, Matty Parle, and others described how relatives, wives, girlfriends etc. accompanied the parade as far as the Wexford road. When parted, those left behind could watch the lights of the procession as it passed through the Cross of Furlongstown and beyond as it wound its way to Wexford(.

Shortly after playing the county final of 1915 (delayed until March 1916), Skipper Codd, Matty Parle, and Jim Kehoe travelled to Dublin to play with the county junior football team. Matty Parle was later to describe how Sackville Street (now O'Connell St.) in Dublin was still burning as they made their way to Croke Park. It was to the backdrop of The Easter Rebellion, as well as World War 1 that the GAA organisers of the parish called the Trinity Stars AGM to plan their campaign for 1916. At the meeting the chairman congratulated members of the team on the achievement of winning two sets of medals - one for the Wexford district league and the other for the 1915 junior championship, which they had 'won on their merits'. On the motion of Robert Brereton, seconded by Wm. Martin, a vote of thanks was passed to Mr. Wm. Parle, Clovervalley for his kindness in placing a field at the disposal of the club. The following officers and committee were elected: Captain, Mr. J. Kehoe; Vice-Captain, Mr. M. Parle; Secretary, Mr. Ed. Rochford; Committee: Messrs John Cullen, James Cullen, T. Codd, N. Codd, L. Crowley, R. Brereton and Wm. Martin.

1916 Championships

Following the AGM, players began training two and three times a week under the iron hand of Skipper Codd and sometimes they would assemble in Taghmon and run by road to Larkin's Cross and back.( On the field of play, the hurlers were the first in action and near the end of July they were beaten by Parnell's on a score of 2-2 to 1-2 in a keenly contested 2nd round junior championship game.

In September, the footballers variously called Taghmon, Taghmon and Trinity United or Trinity Stars began their campaign to retain their crown by defeating Murrintown by 3-2 to 1-2..

They then went on to meet Tullicanna in a tie that went to two replays. According to the report in The Free Press, when the sides met for the second replay in December 'The excitement of both sets of followers eclipsed anything seen in Wexford Park for a number of years and towards the finish, backers of both sides invaded the pitch and the referee as usual, came in for his share of "opinion" '.

In a hotly contested game both teams fought strenuously for victory and the result was in doubt up to the last minutes. Taghmon appeared superior as footballers - their catching and kicking being sweet and accurate, but they suffered from bad forwards. Tullicanna, on the other hand, had good big men and had it all their own way physically. They looked likely winners with four minutes remaining until Codd boxed in a goal for Taghmon. After this Taghmon's energy redoubled, leaving the final score Taghmon 1-2 Tullicanna 1-0. The Taghmon team was: James Kehoe (Capt), Patrick Codd (goal), Nicholas Codd, Thomas Codd, James Codd, Michael Codd, Michael Crowley, Patrick Crowley, Laurence Crowley, Matthew Parle, John Cullen, James Pender, John Wadding, Robert Brereton and William Martin.

County Semi-Final.

Following their marathon local derby with Tullicanna, Taghmon progressed as Wexford district winners to meet Ferns in the county semi-final in March 1917. The game ended level and the match reporter thought that both sides were evenly matched. He added that 'Taghmon's forwards gained a lot of possession but their shooting was erratic and several opportunities for scoring were lost on this account'. He considered the Ferns forwards 'a nippy bunch', but their shooting was also defective. His observations were borne out by the fact that neither team scored in the first half and only managed one point each in a hard fought second half. He concluded that Taghmon were unlucky to loose the service of Parle, a useful player who got injured and that Rob Brereton, Crowley and Codd were their best players. Taghmon: J. Kehoe (Capt), T. Codd, P. Codd (goal), N. Codd, P. L. and M. Crowley, Matty Parle, Rob Brereton, J. Pender, J. Cullen, Billy. Martin, T. O'Brien, T. Nash and M. Codd.

Taghmon, now becoming known as replay specialists, beat Ferns in the replay at the Showgrounds, Enniscorthy, in April 1917 on a score of 2 goals to 3 points. According to Ted in 'Gaelic Pastimes'8 the improved form shown by the Taghmon Stars spoke well for the organisation and determination of the team. It was the general opinion, when they last met, that Ferns were the better team, so that Taghmon's 3 point victory in Enniscorthy must be considered a meritorious performance. While conceding that Taghmon were the better team all through and deserved their victory, he thought that the players on both sides have still a lot to learn before they can be classed as good junior footballers.

County Final.

In May 1917, a little over twelve months after their historic breakthrough, the Stars contested their 2nd Co. Final and the following is an unabridged account of the game.4
Taghmon's Lucky Win.

The final of the junior football championship of the county between The Trinity Stars (Taghmon) and Brideswell was played at the showgrounds, Enniscorthy on Sunday and ended in a very lucky win for the Trinity Stars by the narrow margin of one point. The day was beautifully fine and a large gathering of Gaels assembled to witness the contest which was of a most uninteresting description. The players on both sides showed a lamentable knowledge of even the most elementary points of the game. In view of the fact that both sides were the winners of the championship in their respective districts, the display which they gave was really disappointing. Both sides failed to score in the first half. The Brideswell men certainly held the upper hand and missed several opportunities of scoring. Just before the halftime whistle sounded, Doyle on the wing crossed to A. Kehoe who missed the net in a hopeless fashion.

The second period opened with a goal for Taghmon by Crowley. From the delivery, Brideswell got to the opposite end and responded with a point by Kane. They continued to control the play, the ball being kept almost all of the time in Taghmon territory and scored a 2nd point per Kane. Soon after, the same player drove towards the net for Codd to make a creditable save. Getting to the opposite end, the Stars made a determined effort to score. Dan Whitty, the Brideswell full back saved by taking the ball off the ground. The resulting free was badly kicked by M. Crowley, the leather going well over the endline. Taghmon were soon after declared the winners on the score of 1 goal as against 2 points for Brideswell.

Trinity Stars: J. Kehoe (Capt), P. Codd (goal), T. O'Brien, Matty Parle, J. Pender, Rob Brereton, M. Crowley, W. Codd, J. Codd.. J. Wadding, J. Cullen, Billy Martin, P. Crowley, N. Codd and L. Crowley.

According to Seamus Keevans5, there were many great characters on this team. It seems that Billy Martin, though small in stature, won many a match by simple waiting near the square while his marker and others sought immediate action and followed the ball. To old Gaels of the parish, there was no full forward in Ireland as good as Billy Martin.

The victory provoked much excitement locally and for a long time afterwards every action in the game was replayed and analysed by Gaels and others whose custom it was to meet at Piggott's, Reville's and other village corners to discuss the affairs of the world.

The Great Jack Crowley.

Three Crowley brothers featured on the 1916 championship winning team. The most successful Crowley, however, played nearly all of his club football in Wexford Town.

Born in Growtown to Michael and Ellen, Jack Crowley went to Wexford in 1908 to serve his apprenticeship at Keating's public house -where Marlowe Cleaners is now situated. He began training with the old Sarsfield's Gaelic football club(, a forerunner of the present club with which his four sons, John, Martin, Jim and Pete were later to play. He won a junior medal with the Sarsfields in 1908 and a senior medal in 1910 with the Wexford Faugh's, a combination of the Sarsfields and the Volunteers. In 1914, 1915 and 1916, he won senior medals with the Blues and Whites. He was first picked on the County team in 1914 and won a Leinster senior medal that year. He was brought on at mid-field in the 1915 All-Ireland championship to mark Johnny Doyle, a great Wexford player, then playing with Dublin. Sean O'Kennedy, the Wexford caption advised Crowley that 'you can't play football with Doyle, but you can stop him from playing'(. Crowley did just that and Wexford, thanks to his magnificent display, won more easily than the score of 2 -2 to 1- 3 suggests. He failed to make the first fifteen for the All-Ireland Final. However, he was a sub and went on to play on the Wexford All-Ireland winning football teams of 1916, 1917 and 1918. He won DeValera and Croke Park tournament medals in 1918 and continued to play for Wexford until 1924 when they were beaten by Dublin in the Leinster final after a replay. This was one of his last appearances for the county team and he retired in 1927. The only reference to Jack playing for Taghmon was in 1919, when he and some of his Blues and Whites clubmates opted for Taghmon in the senior league of that year. He was also a noted hurler and his determination allied to his unlimited stamina made him a formidable handballer.

Jack Crowley married Annie O'Connor in 1921 and they lived at No. 1 Thomas Street, Wexford. He died on April 22 1964, aged 74 and is buried at Crosstown.

Jack Crowley of Growtown (1890-1964)

Some of the medals won by Jack Crowley

1917 Hurling Championships

Basking in their success, players turned their attentions to the 1917 championships and faced the Volunteers in junior hurling in August at Mulrankin. The town club had a narrow victory with the final score reading: Volunteers 4 -1 Taghmon 3 - 2.

Taghmon: E. Rochford (Capt.), P. Cullen, M. Crowley, L. Crowley, Pat Crowley, J. Kehoe, C. Fitzhenry, J. Codd, M. Parle, R. Brereton, J. Cullen, W. Martin, T. Sinnott, J. Parle, P. Cogley.

Death of a Soldier - Michael Cooper M.C.

A poignant reminder of events in France occurred late in the same month when a special meeting of Taghmon and Trinity hurling and football Club was called in order to propose a vote of sympathy with Mr. & Mrs. John Cooper, on the death of Pte Michael Cooper M.C., who, before volunteering to fight the Germans, had been a member of the club. Rob Brereton said, 'They all regretted the death of "poor Mike". It was only recently that he had won the Military Cross for his bravery on the field of battle. Although only in his teens, he had few equals in the football field and he loved to participate in the game of the Gael.' The following vote of sympathy was proposed by P. J. Cullen and seconded by Mr. Wm. Martin and passed in silence.

'That we the members of Taghmon and Trinity football and hurling clubs, tender our deepest and profound sympathy with Mr. & Mrs. John Cooper, Taghmon, on the death of their beloved son, Pte Michael Cooper M.C. who died from wounds received on the battle-field in France'.

Tension

In early September there was evidence of tension building between pre 1916 Constitutional Nationalists and Sinn Féin supporters who had begun using the Gaelic field to advance their politics. In his 'Gaelic Pastimes' column, Ted called on Central and Provincial Councils of the GAA and the County Board and warned them of the danger of allowing Sinn Fein to hold meetings in places where Gaelic games are being carried out. He speculated that if the practice was not stopped the GAA would suffer badly. 'Politics should not be discussed on the field of play', he insisted. 'There is bound to be opposition to these meetings and they could bring the GAA before the courts.'

Senior Scorchers and 'Pulling at the Post’

In September, the 2nd division footballers were eliminated from the championship. On a day that was ideal for sport, a fairly large crowd turned up to see them play Glynn and Barntown. Taghmon played very well in the first half but were unable to hold the strain in the second half and had to give way to the Barntown forwards who notched 1-3 to 1-0 in reply.

Also in September, Taghmon who, according to rumour, were fortified by a number of senior players, lost to Duncormick on a score of 1-3 to 0-2 in a tournament match. Later that evening the Taghmon team and their friends were hospitably entertained by the local team in the A.O.H. Hall in Duncormick. Songs of a patriotic nature and exhibitions of step dancing were contributed by several members of the company. Enjoyment turned to anger however when it was discovered that a number of bicycles left by their owners in a yard near the pitch had been taken out by some lads aspiring for fame as 'scorchers' and, as a result, were badly damaged.

In November, headlines 'They didn't want to do it' appeared in the local paper. The correspondent mused 'What should have been a good game on Sunday in the Park between the Blues and Whites and Taghmon ended with the latter "Pulling at the Post" to let the Blues and Whites home by a short head'. 'Tis' a pity for the sake of the association that Taghmon did not play the game', he added. 'If they had been defeated in a trying game it would have been no disgrace and they could have gathered some experience, but their idea of wanting the Blues and Whites to win and their action of "pulling" at the finish was not a commendable one'.

Unrest

Interest in Gaelic games declined dramatically around this time as issues like conscription and independence dominated political thinking. It was July before a Taghmon team took to the field. In April the British Government passed the Military Service Act which empowered the extension of conscription to Ireland. The threat of conscription allied to widespread revulsion over the executions of the 1916 leaders appeared to fan the flame of nationalism and cause interest in Gaelic pastimes to take a backseat. Local feelings and attitudes are reflected in reports of two assemblies in Taghmon. One was a parochial protest against conscription in March, when the Rev. Chairman9 in the course of a spirited address claimed 'that the man who would not resist conscription would be a coward' and the meeting passed the following resolution. 'That we the Priests and People of Taghmon Parish, in public meeting assembled, join our voices with those of our fellow countrymen all over Ireland today in protest against what we consider the unjust law of conscription and its enforcement on our people without their consent'.

The second assembly report was a meeting of the Taghmon branch of Sinn Fein where Robert Brennan10 from Wexford stated, to loud applause, that it was 'People's solemn duty to learn the language of Ireland, to study its history and to hold any sacrifice light that was made in the cause of Ireland'.

The Permit

Local papers were full of reports of countrywide raids for arms, arrests, deportations and raids on R.I.C. barracks, as well as the ejection of police from Gaelic matches. GAA affairs became so confused and political that the Government ordained that a permit would be required to play matches. This in turn prompted the Central Council, in July, to direct that any individual or committee that sought a permit would be automatically and indefinitely suspended. Central Council then organised a 'Gaelic Day' as a protest against 'the restrictions placed by the Government and its agents on our national games and pastimes'. Although rain fell practically everywhere it was stated that about half a million people turned out 'in enthusiastic fervour' nation-wide and that 1,500 games were played. In Taghmon however, a match arranged at Growtown between Taghmon and Barntown fell through because one of the teams did not field.

In August, the authorities issued a circular to the police to the effect that the playing of Gaelic games be allowed, provided they are not related to politics.

The 1918 Championship

It was no surprise, considering the highly charged background, that the Taghmon junior hurlers failed to field a team against Crosstown in the district championship. At a subsequent meeting of the district committed Ed. Rochford complained that his team had been unfairly treated. On the date of the match Taghmon could not procure brakes and in consequence could not travel. He notified the secretary, but he heard no more until he saw in the paper that Crosstown had been given a walkover. No decision was made on the matter at that meeting. The game was refixed however at the next meeting and finally played on the first Sunday in September.

It seemed to have been an interesting affair, with both sides 'displaying a fair knowledge of the game'. It appears that Taghmon far exceeded the expectations of their supporters and though they lost, played a game equally as good as their opponents, but fortune did not favour them. It looked as if the match would be a draw but Crosstown scored a goal to win by 4 - 0 to 3 - 0.

Taghmon : Ed. Rochford (Capt.), Pat Cullen (goal), James Codd, Charlie. Fitzhenry, Jim Kehoe, Matty Parle, Jim Parle, J. Cullen, Billy Martin, Rob Brereton, James Pender, Jas. Crean, Paddy Culleton, Wm. Fox and P. Daly. On the following week Tom Murphy, Mike Egan, M. Tottrell and T. Donovan were best for Camross when their junior footballers failed against Cushinstown in the New Ross district championship. It seems that the match was a most uninteresting affair as both teams were new to the game. Camross, who failed to score, lined out as follows: T. Murphy, J. Murphy, Terry Kavanagh, Wat Murphy, Joe Edwards, Pat Doyle, Larry Byrne, M. Tottrell, T. Donovan, W. Fitzpatrick, M. Egan, Pat Grannell, J. Carroll, M. Lawlor and Joe Deacon.

Senior Football

September 1918 marked the first reference to senior football in Taghmon since the introduction of grades in 1903. It appears that All-Ireland player, Jack Crowley, brought several of his Blue and Whites clubmates to play senior football for Taghmon in the senior league. Efforts to complete this competition were frustrated by the state of unrest within the county as well as a very bad influenza epidemic that raged around this time. Such was the appetite for football however that around 600 people were disappointed at Carrig-on-Bannow when Gusserane failed to field for the opening match against Taghmon. Likewise patrons were disappointed when Taghmon were unable to muster a team to play Davidstown/Ballyhogue sometime later.

In reference to the influenza, Ted in 'Gaelic Pastimes' observed that 'perhaps the most tragic feature of the deadly epidemic in our midst is its ravages among the young and athletic manhood' and his column recorded several votes of sympathy by various clubs to bereaved relatives and clubmates.

1919

To illustrate the confused state of GAA affairs around this time, neither the Taghmon hurlers or footballers turned up for their championship engagements against St. Margaret's and Dr. Dwyer's respectively. It appears that the hurlers had applied for a postponement on the grounds that the fixture was too quickly arranged and prevented the organisation of a team. When Jack Fane objected to the granting of a walkover to St. Margaret's at a subsequent district meeting, it was stated that existing rules obliged the committee to award a walkover.

This decision was reversed however at a subsequent meeting at which Jack Fane again represented Taghmon and in November the Dwyer's scored a runaway victory in a most uninteresting match which Dwyer's won on a score of 6 -1 to 1 - 0.

The Taghmon Team on duty that day was: Jack Fane (Capt), T. Murphy, Bill Parle, Phil Parle, Jim Boggan, T. Leonard, P. Jackman, P. Mahon, D. Muphy, E. Rochford, J. Cullen, W. Whelan, P. Kehoe, J. Donovan and T. Donovan.

Later the same month Matty Parle, Pat Crowley, Rob Brereton, Billy Martin and Jim Kehoe played on the Wexford district team that took on New Ross district at Taghmon.

GAA Affairs Take a Back Seat

As 1919 turned into 1920, newspaper reports indicate that conditions in the county had become even more unsettled. Pages were filled with reports of shootings, murders, military running amuck, terrorism and conflagrations. Gaelic Games slid down the priority scale, as the political situation became more serious. Many players who had, up to this time, paraded and drilled openly as members of the Volunteers at Tom Boggan's field at Growtown repaired to the secrecy of Murphy's loft at Harristown and Ryan's loft at Tomcoole to undergo more serious training in the art of war.

An effort was made to complete the 1919 championship when the County Committee reassembled in July 1920. Matters deteriorated however and even though the Black & Tans were introduced to help restore order in March 1920, GAA affairs took a back seat, as the country convulsed into the War of Independence, in the first instance, and then into the cauldron of The Civil War. It was September 1923 before Taghmon parish produced a championship team in either hurling or football again.

James Parle

Even though championships were suspended during this period, players continued to play hurling and football and several practice matches were played. In March 1923 a tragic event provoked considerable sadness and resentment among Gaels of the parish and county. At eight o'clock on the morning of March 13, James Parle, Clovervalley, a popular member of the Stars team and adjutant of Bob Lambert's flying column11 was executed in Wexford gaol along with colleagues John Creane from Clonerane and Pat Hogan from Wexford town.

His execution further strained already delicate relations between players who shared Parle's political outlook and those who supported the Government side and delayed the fielding of full strength parish teams for sometime after the cessation of hostilities.

Games Relaunch

Following the cease-fire in May 1923, the GAA correspondent of the Free Press heralded in September 'That the national pastimes are again being launched after the many vicissitudes in the general affairs of the county'. On the following week a fixture list appeared for the Wexford district and it included two Taghmon teams, with Tomcoole as the venue for all opening round matches. On the last Sunday of September, Taghmon's No. 2 footballer's had the distinction of relaunching championship football in the parish when they lined out against a team from Wexford Town and lost by 2-1 to 1-2. On duty for Taghmon that day were: John Jones, Jacob Donovan, John Cooney, Jack Fane, Patrick Culleton, Patrick Dempsey, Edward Walsh, Patrick Cullen, John Cleary, James Dempsey, Patrick Clancy, James Kelly, James Murphy, John Condon and Patrick Dillon. Surprisingly, Pat Crowley was in charge of the whistle.

A newspaper advertisement for the 1921 Wexford senior football final between Gusserane and Ballyhogue - to be played at Taghmon. The pitch, now known as 'Simmons's Lawn Field' is on the Taghmon to Barry's Cross road, just before the residence of Seamus Murphy.

The first team did not fulfil their engagement. Indeed several teams failed to appear around this time, either out of respect for dead and interned Gaels generally or because they had players interned. A letter to the editor of the Free Press from a Murrintown supporter, taking the County Committee to task for making fixtures at this time, demonstrated prevailing attitudes and emotions. He wrote 'The action of the committee in trying to run off championships while the county is in its present state is, to say the least of it, not wise. Have they no respect for the memory of the good and true Gaels who have fallen on both sides?' That this was the popular view was demonstrated at the November meeting of the County Committee in Enniscorthy when a resolution was unanimously adopted suspending all fixtures under the association, out of respect for the Gaels in the county who were on hunger strike.

Fallen Heroes Tournament

In September 1923, Republicans organised a tournament in order to raise funds for the erection of monuments to the fallen. At the end of March 1924 the organisers under the Presidency of Denis Asple, Galbally, met in Taghmon to arrange fixtures and venues. Local Gaels, reflecting disorganisation, did not enter a team at this meeting. At a later meeting in April however, they entered junior hurling and football teams.

Their first outing in this tournament was in June when, playing on home soil, they beat Bannow, 'Cormac' in his column12 stated how glad he was to record that Taghmon, fresh from their victory, had made a vow 'they will come back'. He opined that if they do come back and follow in the footsteps of the famous Stars, 'I have no hesitation in saying they will prove to be the dark horses of the tournament'.

They lost to St. Anne's in the same month in what the match reporter described as 'being as good a game of football as ever witnessed'. The redoubtable veteran, Rob Brereton, played a great game and the reporter speculated that if Taghmon continued fielding veterans like Brereton, Fox, Martin and the Crowley brothers, blended with younger blood such as Parle, Culleton, Murphy, Creane, etc., they could go a long way in the tournament.

Defeat was again their lot in July however, when reorganised Gusserane, with the assistance of the recently released Howlett brothers, held them scoreless. Their best players on this occasion were the brothers Parle, Creane, Boggan, Murphy, Brereton, Martin, Fox, the Crowleys and Fane.

They suffered a third defeat on the trot when they failed to Cathal Brugha's at Cullenstown in August. In September 1924, republicans decided not to play anymore games in this tournament until Bob Lambert was released from gaol. Taghmon lost again when the tournament resumed in 1925. It seems that long grass spoiled attempts at scientific football when they met Murrintown at Ballymitty. As a result the game became a hard slogging contest that 'provided good sport' and 'pleased the spectators'.

District Semi-final

In June 1924, Taghmon played Gusserane in what was described as 'Perhaps the best football game for a number of years in the south of the county'. The game was the semi-final of the 1st division junior football championship at Carrig- On-Bannow. Many were of the opinion that Taghmon would not have 'a ghost of a chance'. However, they nearly caused a surprise and Gusserane won by a mere point. A special feature of the game was the display of Fane, who was, without doubt, the star of the thirty players. The reappearance of Skipper Codd on the playing field was hailed with delight, as were others of the old Taghmon team'. Taghmon led at the interval by 1-4 to 1-3 after a first half of 'high excitement' during which Jack Fane, at one time, beat six opponents to score a great Taghmon point. On resuming, Martin missed a goal by inches but a couple of minutes later rattled the net after good work by Cloney at midfield. The last ten minutes were the most exciting ever witnessed in the district and patrons concluded that the game would end in a draw. Gusserane were not to be denied however and with three minutes to go scored the winning point. Taghmon looked like scoring from their last attack when the long whistle sounded leaving Gusserane the narrow winners by 1 - 9 to 2 - 5.

Taghmon: J. Codd (Capt), P. Codd (goal), Jack Fane, Matty Parle, Phil Parle, Bill Parle, P. Wade, J. Colfer, P. Cloney, Paddy Culleton, T. Doyle, Billy Martin, J. Hillis, Jim Boggan and R. Cleary.

In July, the No. 2 hurlers also made their exit when they went down to Young Ireland's on a score of 3-1 to 2-1.

Local Rivalries in 1925

The footballers' outstanding performance against Gusserane prompted an epidemic of football in the parish. In the Dirr area, local followers were enthusiastic over the rapid progress the newly organised 'Dirr Bruisers' were making. They were described as playing with 'grim determination' in a match against Brownstown, in which 'half a dozen of the "Bruisers" embraced mother earth at one time'. Their leading lights in this game were the Brady brothers, W. Sinnott, M. Hayes, W. Jones and P. Kehoe.

In July, Wat Murphy from Harristown, described as 'that fine Gael' formed a team called the 'Comets' and himself played a giant part in victory over Taghmon's first team. Other players of note on his side were Brereton, Fox, Murphy and the redoubtable 'Jem' Kehoe, who came out in surprising form.

The 'Comets' threatened to suspend Wat after he turned out for the Taghmon 'Planets' against the 'Dirr Bruisers'. The match reporter however saw the popular Wat in a different light and enthused 'to this genial sportsman may be attributed the fine sporting spirit which prevailed in Sunday's contest. Also, it was to his energy that Taghmon were in attendance'. Prominent for the 'Bruisers' were Sinnott, Brady, Redmond, Walsh and Hayes, while Wat Murphy, Furlong, Kelly and Cooper distinguished themselves for the 'Planets'.

In July, a Parish League involving the Bruisers, Comets, Planets, Stars and Growtown was initiated. It seems that naming teams after celestial bodies brought out the best in the local wits. It was predicted that there would be a total eclipse of the Comets. To which Wat Murphy responded by declaring that there was nothing in 'Old Moore's' about the eclipse of the Comets and forecast that the Comets tails would completely overshadow the Stars very soon.

With a view to strengthening their 2nd division team it was decided at a club meeting in July that the Planets would play Bruisers on the Pattern day in Trinity. Wat Murphy presiding, said that he had practical experience of the Bruisers and felt that they would give the Taghmon side a good trial. The match demonstrated that Bruisers were more than their name suggested and they scored an easy victory over a strong and well-trained Planet selection.

The victors went on to play Growtown on the August 15 in Pat Culleton's field. It was reported that the Growtown team had undergone a special course of training for the contest and expected to lower the Bruisers colours. However, the latter won comfortably. Prominent were W. Jones, W. Sinnott, M. Hayes, P. Jones and T. Harper for the Dirr side while J. Doyle, J. Condon, J. Leacy and J. Winters played well for Growtown. The proceedings were enlivened by a selection of music by the Taghmon band, including the rendering of 'Just before the Battle' as the teams lined up for the throw in.

On the last week of August, in J. Codd's field at Tracystown, Growtown fielded five Crowleys in a further attempt to lower the Bruisers colours. During the first half, when P. Kinsella scored a goal and M. Crowley a point to leave Growtown leading and excitement high, some of the Growtown supporters began singing 'Where are the Bruisers now?' The Bruisers showed that they were still around by scoring a goal amidst 'terrible excitement' to snatch victory.

Amalgamation

The Bruisers went on to play Kilmore twice later in the month and amalgamation with the Planets and Comets became a reality at the A.G.M. of the parent club, when members decided to call their first team the Stars and the 2nd team the Bruisers. A number of Bannow and Ballymitty Gaels were among the large attendance at this meeting, which was chaired by Mr. Ned Rochford. Officers elected for the following year were: President: Mr. Ed. Rochford, Hon Sec: Mr. J. Creane. Mr. J. Codd was elected captain of the first team and Wat Murphy captain of the seconds.

1926 - Objections and Fiasco

The 2nd division hurlers opened their championship campaign in May with an unexpected victory over Rosslare. Taghmon: J. Codd,(Capt.), E. Maddock, Charlie Fitzhenry, L. Butler, Paddy Culleton, Jim Boggan, Billy Martin, Bill Parle, Phil Parle, J. O'Brien, D. O'Brien, J. Colfer, J. Fehan, N. Cleary and W. Devereux.

The 2nd division footballers emulated the hurlers in June when they had a narrow win over St. Anne's in a very poor game at Murrintown. St. Anne's led by 1-1 to 0-2 at half time and ten minutes into the second half, after Taghmon had launched a fierce attack, a three minute scuffle broke out in the Anne's square, during which the ball 'went through amidst great excitement'. When the umpires disallowed the goal on the 'inside the square rule', a dispute arose which involved the referee who was inclined to allow the score but refused to overrule his umpires.

Wat Murphy of Harristown

When play resumed Taghmon again attacked and in a further scuffle drove 'ball man and all' through the sticks. This score put Taghmon one point ahead. Both sides managed to score two more points each leaving Taghmon winners by 1- 4 to 1- 3. Taghmon: Wat Murphy, (Capt.), D. O'Brien, Mick Lynam, P. Deegan, A. Barron, J. Kelly, T. Codd, P. Crowley, J. Hillis, Rob Brereton, M. O'Shea, P. Byrne, R. Tobin, M. Kelly, J. Moran.

Sally Beachers of Castlebridge provided opposition for the hurlers in their 2nd round march at Wexford Park in August. Play was even in the first half and the Beachers led by 2-2 to 2-1 at the interval. In the 2nd half however Taghmon gained the advantage and won easily on a score of 5-2 to 2-2. Charlie Fitzhenry was captain of this team and J. Kelly, J. Creane, Paddy Culleton and W. Hornick replaced Maddock, Boggan, Fehan and Devereux from the team that beat Rosslare.

At the September meeting of the district committee however, Sally Beachers claimed the match on the grounds that Taghmon were a quarter of an hour late in fielding. When the Chairman ruled in Castlebridge's favour, Mr. Ed. Rochford, Taghmon pleaded 'When did you ever hear of a hurling team in Taghmon?' Mr. Shortle replied to laughter 'never in my life'.

The first division footballers launched their campaign when they took on Cathal Brugha's at Murrintown in October. Both sides produced great football before the largest attendance ever seen at a county venue and the Brugha's were described as being extremely fortunate to win by 3-3 to 1-4. Taghmon: J. Codd, (Capt.), P. Codd (Goal), Charlie Fitzhenry, J. Colfer, N. Cleary, J. Hillis, P. Deegan, Mick Lynam, J. Kelly, Matty Parle, Bill Parle, Paddy Culleton, Jim Boggan and J. Hillis.

On the following week, Taghmon lodged an objection, claiming that the Cathal Brugha's team included a Joe Codd who had played rugby and hadn't been reinstated. The Brugha's maintained that it was a Joseph Codd who had played rugby and the headlines 'Joe or Joseph' dominated GAA affairs in the local papers for several weeks. Indeed, in one particular issue three whole columns were devoted to the conundrum. The objection was lost.

The next football outing was a complete fiasco. The 2nd junior footballers met the Volunteers at Bridgetown in December. Because of a mix up, they had to start the match six players short and only managed to muster thirteen players in the first half. This number was reduced even further when Moran, their best player got injured and had to retire. In spite of these mainly self-inflicted wounds they held the Vols to two goals in the half. On resuming, Taghmon forced matters and looked like making a break through when their captain, Wat Murphy, got knocked out and had to go off. This dampened Taghmon's ardour and the Volunteers ran out fairly comfortable winners.

The following lined out for Taghmon: Wat Murphy, (Capt.), Richard Tobin, Philip Tobin, Patrick Byrne, Michael Byrne, Jas. Roche, Thos. Codd, Jas Moran, Michael Hayes, Andrew Barron, John Condon, Michael Hayes, Patrick Joseph Cullen, Patrick Crowley and Jas. Cullen.

The District Committee appeared to have reconsidered their September decision to award Sally Beachers the match when Taghmon had been considered late, and ordered it to be replayed. The match was all but over at half-time after two goals from O'Brien and one each from Parle and Fitzhenry. They added two more in the 2nd half to emerge comfortable winners on a score of 6-0 to 0-2. On duty for Taghmon were: Charlie Fitzhenry (Capt), Billy Martin goal, J. Boggan, P. Codd, P. Culleton, W. Devereux, J. Colfer, J. Codd, L. Butler, W. Hornick, Bill Parle, Phil Parle, J. O'Brien, D. O'Brien and W. Cleary.

1927 - District Final

At the end of the month, Taghmon travelled to Mayglass to play Murrintown in the district final. The game aroused a good deal of local interest and though Taghmon gave a good account of themselves they were no match for their more experienced opponents. Murrintown won the toss and elected to play with the advantage of ground and sun and led by 6 -0 to nil at halftime. Although Taghmon managed to score 2-2 in the 2nd half, they couldn't match Murrintown who ran out 7-1 to 2-2 winners. Taghmon: Charlie Fitzhenry (Capt.), Billy Martin (goal), D. O'Brien, Phil Parle, L. Butler, J. O'Brien, J. Codd, N. Cleary, Jim Boggan, E. Maddock, P. Codd, Bill Parle, J. Murphy, J. Colfer and Paddy Culleton.

Parish League

In March, a meeting was held to organise a parish league in hurling and football, comprising teams of twelve players and the following officers and committee were elected to administer it. Chairman: Ed. Rochford, Hon. Sec.: Charlie Fitzhenry, Committee: Messrs Michael Crowley, Growtown, Tommy Murphy, Camross, J. Creane, Taghmon, Richard Cleary, Duncormick, J. Colfer, Carrig, J. Codd, Dirr, Wat Murphy, Tomcoole and W. Neville, Wellingtonbridge. Taghmon, Tomcoole, The Dirr, Growtown, Camross, Wellingtonbridge and Duncormick entered football teams and Taghmon, Dirr, Tomcoole, Growtown and Duncormick, hurling teams.

The league began on St. Patrick's Day at the Dirr in P. Codd's field and continued Sunday after Sunday during April and May at various venues, with a break in June to facilitate championship games. Detailed accounts of each and every game were published week after week in The Free Press. These excellent accounts contained far too much material to be reproduced here and the author has confined himself to listing the players who assisted the various teams as well as points tables for July and December.

The Personnel who Played in the 1927 Parish Leagues

Camross: T. Murphy (Capt), P. Donovan (goal), P. Fox, A. Waters, S. Murphy, J. Cooney, F. Sheelan, M. Donovan, O. Kelly, T. Carroll, J. Fitzpatrick, J. Whelan, T. Kavanagh, T. Sheelan, W. Banville, R. Rochford, T. Roche and A. Doyle.

Coolcull: Bill Leigh (Capt), J. Moran (goal), M. Kelly, N. White, R. Tobin, P. Tobin, J. Cullen, W. Whitty, P. O'Hanlon, R. Reville, J. Carty, Jem Roche, P. Harper, P. Dunne.

The Dirr: C. Fitzhenry (Capt), R. Fitzhenry (goal), J. Codd, P. Codd, J. Quirke, P. Kehoe, L. Butler, P. Kehoe, P. Jones, P. Kehoe, J. Cullen, M. Hayes, P. Quirke, W. Sinnott, J. Brady and J. Waters.

Growtown: M. Crowley (Capt), P. Crowley (goal), L. Crowley, M. Crowley, C. Evoy, M. Leary, J. Boggan, P. Culleton, P. Furlong, P. Hogan, J. Donovan, J. Condon, Jem Doyle, Phil Furlong and Pat McElroy.

Taghmon: P. Jones (Capt), P. Fox (goal), E. Rochford, J. Kelly, B. Cosgrave, T. James, J. Maher, Wm. Martin, Murt Cooper, Tom Williams, J. Walsh, Phil Parle, Matty Parle, Rob Brereton, M. Walsh, Mick Lynam, T. O'Shea, Wm. Jones, Jem Brady and W. Waters.

Tomcoole: W. Murphy, (Capt.), A. O'Connor, L. Walsh, A. Cullen, W. Maddock, T. Doyle, J. Wadding, R. Donnelly, P. Hornick, N. Clancy, P. Doyle, J. Doyle, J. O'Brien, D. O'Brien and W. Hornick.

League Tables in December 1927

Football Hurling
Taghmon 12 The Dirr 6
Growtown 10 Tomcoole 6
Duncormick 8 Duncormick 4
Tomcoole 8 Ballymitty 4
Ballymitty 6
In Football, The Dirr, Camross and Wellingtonbridge were too low in points and were scratched and in hurling, Growtown and Taghmon withdrew.

Although the league resumed in October, it appeared to have run out of steam as the last account of a match appeared on December 17.

Third County Championship Win

In May a team of Guards visited the village and played the Stars in one of the fastest games of football ever seen there. The result was a draw. The following month the Stars, now finely tuned by intensive physical training and possessing improved skills through their participation in the parish league, took on Murrintown at Baldwinstown in the first round of the district championship. The key score proved to be Billy Martin's splendid goal in the second half, which left the Stars leading by 1-2 to 0-3 at the finish. The following week Murrintown objected to Taghmon on the grounds that Michael O'Shea, Irish teacher, was not eligible for inclusion in their team as he had not been resident in Taghmon for 28 days before the match.

At the hearing, Murrintown presented a statement from the Guards in Ramsgrange stating that O'Shea had been residing in Duncannon since April 27. Asked when he went to Duncannon, O'Shea replied that he took up duty in May but was not living there. The secretary asked if he was riding home to Taghmon every night. O'Shea stated that he 'came in an aeroplane sometimes' and maintained that he didn't go to live in Duncannon until May 30 or the June 1. A proposal by Charlie Fitzhenry, seconded by Ed. Rochford that on the evidence presented, O'Shea should be declared eligible to play with Taghmon was countered by one which suggested that the constitution of the Taghmon team be declared illegal. Taghmon were declared illegal by eleven votes to nine. Clearly annoyed by the outcome and in the act of leaving, Mr. Rochford called out 'Good night GAA' and Mr. Fitzhenry's parting shot was 'That signs the death warrant for Taghmon anyway'.

Taghmon appealed the committees decision to the County Committee because they felt that they hadn't got a fair hearing. At the hearing Mr. P. Cullen, Taghmon, Mr. O'Shea's former landlord, stated that while Mr. O'Shea took up duty at Duncannon on the May 2, he had kept his rooms in the village for the remaining three months. Fr. Wheeler said that as far as he knew Mr. O'Shea resided in Taghmon from the time he took up duty in Duncannon. When this evidence was not rebutted, the Chairman ruled that Mr. O'Shea was eligible to play with Taghmon. Accordingly, the district Committee's decision was reversed and a relieved Taghmon marched on to glory.

District Final.

After the trials and tribulations of the board room, the Stars set out for Ballymitty to take on Lady's Island in the district final in August. The Island combination had been fancied to advance due to the inclusion of Willie Doyle of county fame in their ranks and at half time looked set for victory. Taghmon however, played brilliant football in the second half and banged in two goals in quick succession. After this they took command and went on to take the District Championship on the score of 2-1 to 0-3. Taghmon: J. Codd (Capt.), P. Crowley (goal), P. Codd, Paddy Culleton, Jim Boggan, N. Cleary, R. Cleary, J. Colfer, J. Hillis, E. Quirke, Phil Parle, Bill Parle, Matty Parle, Mick Lynam and J. Kelly.

The Taghmon Fife and Drum band entertained spectators during the afternoon and having secured victory, the Taghmon players retired to the seaside to celebrate.

In September, the hurlers lost out to St. Anne's in the district championship on home soil. Taghmon led at halftime but were fighting an uphill battle after conceding a brace of goals early in the second half. Final score - Saint Anne's 3 -1 Taghmon 1 - 2.

Taghmon: C. Fitzhenry (Capt.), W. Martin (goal), J. Doyle, P. Culleton, J. Boggan, J. O'Brien, D. O'Brien, W. Parle, P. Parle, M. Cooper, P. Crowley, M. Hayes, J. Codd, P. Codd and J. Kelly.

County Final.

After the difficulties encountered in the district championship, Taghmon got a break when they went through to meet Enniscorthy Rovers in the county final without having to play a semi-final. The following is the Free Press's unabridged account of the match.

Sharp to time, Mr. M. Flusk (Chairman of the Wexford District Committee) set both teams, Taghmon and Enniscorthy Rovers, going and from the throw-in, Taghmon brought the ball to the Enniscorthy goal and on their first effort the ball went behind after striking an upright. A short spell of midfield play followed the goal delivery, till Taghmon again broke away and sent wide. A penalty against the Rovers enabled Taghmon again to make the pace and from a nice hooker the first blood - a minor - was drawn. Another penalty against the Rovers resulted in Taghmon annexing a second point. The Rovers now took the offensive and Smith got possession and scored a point. Another spirited advance by Taghmon was rewarded by another minor. From the kick out the Rovers attacked with Smith again sending over the bar. An Enniscorthy advance along the wing was checked for an infringement which enabled Taghmon to increase the lead by a point. At halftime the scores were Taghmon four points, Enniscorthy two points.

On resuming Taghmon got possession and sent behind twice. From a midfield engagement Enniscorthy brought down the leather to the Taghmon goal and after a stubborn resistance the attack resulted in a goal which gave the Rovers the lead for the first time. Taghmon dashed away immediately from the kick out and equalised the score. The game became very exciting and Skipper Codd was responsible for menacing moves by Taghmon. The Rovers saved at the expense of a '50'. Codd who was very prominent for Taghmon succeeded in raising the white flag. Following an injury, Codd regained possession on the hop of the ball and again sent over the bar. A subsequent Taghmon shot struck an upright. Enniscorthy managed to clear to the centre, but Taghmon returned to the offensive and were having the best of matters when a player from each side was ordered off. The referee's ruling was applauded. On resuming Codd narrowly missed another score. Full time came shortly afterwards leaving the scores Taghmon 0-7, Enniscorthy 1- 2.

Trinity Stars (Taghmon): J. Codd (Capt.), P. Crowley (goal), P. Codd, Jim Boggan, Matty Parle, Phil Parle, Bill Parle, Mick Lynam, J. Colfer, N. Cleary, Paddy Culleton, E. Quirke, J. Hillis, J. Kelly and J. Hillis.

Celebrations

News of the victory was hailed with delight and during the evening a crowd of about five or six hundred awaited the arrival of the team and gave them a rousing welcome. On Monday night the local Fife and Drum band turned out and half a dozen tar barrels blazed at different points in the village. On termination of the proceedings, Mr. P. J. Cullen addressed the enormous gathering and spoke in appreciative terms of the worthy efforts of the Stars which resulted in their victory. Skipper Codd, P. Codd, P. Crowley and Matty Parle were singled out for special mention as they had also contributed to the success of the Stars in 1917 (1916 Championship). P. J. Cullen also stated 'that the success of the Stars may be attributed in no small way to Mr. Ned Rochford whose untiring efforts in the work of organising, despite the many obstacles encountered during the progress of this year's championship, is worthy of the highest praise'. (Cheers)

Trinity Stars, Taghmon - County junior football champions 1927

Back Row (1 to r): Ned Rochford (Chairman), Charlie Fitzhenry (partly hidden), Bill Parle, Pat Codd, John Colfer, Jim Kehoe (in hat), Ned Quirke, Wat Murphy, Nick Cleary, Mick Lynam, Pat Crowley and selector P. J. Cullen, Middle Row: Matty Parle, Jim Boggan, Paddy Culleton, Willie Hillis, Jim ('Chissler') Kelly, John Hillis, Martin Cooper, Front: Phil Parle, Skipper Codd, Billy Martin.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The Free Press, Wexford

The People Newspapers, Wexford

Andreas Ryan, Taghmon

Kathleen & Michael Crowley, Growtown

Pete Crowley, Wexford

Jim Crowley, Wexford

Seamus Seery, Wexford

Mike Waters, Ballyweather

Wexford County Library

REFERENCES AND NOTES

  1. Part 1 of this article appeared in Taghmon Historical Society Journal No.2
  2. As told to author by Tom Williams
  3. The GAA in Taghmon by Seamus Keevans in Taghmon Parish Journal, produced for the opening of Taghmon Community Centre on Sept. 14 1980.
  4. A GAA reporter in The Free Press, Wexford.
  5. The Free Press 28th April 1917
  6. As told to author by Seamus Keevans
  7. Kathleen & Michael Crowley, Growtown
  8. Centenary Tribute to GAA in Wexford (The golden era of Wexford Football, 1913 - 1918 by Mervyn Moore) in a supplement to The People in 1984
  9. This was the Parish Priest of Taghmon Rev. Wm Murphy
  10. He was Wexford's most noted Republican of the period. A reporter on The Echo newspaper, he was the national director of elections for Sinn Fein in 1918. He played an active part in the founding of The Irish Press and was the first general manager. He was at one time minister in Washington and a Director of Radio Eireann. His autobiography 'Allegiance' was published in November 1950.
  11. Wexford's Civil War by Seamus Swan.
  12. In The Free Press, Wexford