The Blayney Faughs – A Short History By Joe Hanratty
Castleblayney always had a strong sporting reputation and Gaelic football had been part of the local sporting culture within a year of the founding of the Cumann Luthchleas Gael. There are a number of references to clubs in the area such as The Gladstonians, The Smith O’Brien’s and by the end of the 1880s there was the Castleblayney Faughs. But with the splits and power struggles that raged through the GAA in the mid 1880s the early version of the Faughs was a casualty. In spite of the early days enthusiasm it all petered out and Association Football or Soccer as it is better known, came to the fore in Castleblayney. In 1905 The Castleblayney Soccer Club had won the County Monaghan Championship and went on to make a name for itself further a field defeating the then very well known Belfast Celtic Football Club
A New Dawning
But 1905 was to be a turning point and new dawning for the GAA in Castleblayney.
Under the leadership of local curate Fr Clinton the Castleblayney Faughs got off the ground. Fr Mark Clinton CC, who had come as a curate to Castleblayney three years earlier was the man who turned things around He persuaded many players from the Castleblayney Soccer Club to switch to Gaelic Football and thus in November 1905 the Castleblayney Faughs GAA Club as we know it today was born or reborn, depending on how you look at it. But no matter which way you look at it, the club has continued ever since and over the last 99 years has achieved unrivalled success in Ireland winning 37 senior championships. Added to that are 3 Ulster club titles and numerous other accolades.
Fr. Clinton was the first chairman of the club and he held that post for those early embryonic years. He was also chairman of Monaghan county board from 1906 to 1909. He was eventually elevated to Canon . He died in the Parish of Dromore, County Tyrone where he is interred. As part of the Faugh’s centenary celebrations in 2005 the club with the cooperation of the Dromore GAA club held a special wreath laying ceremony at his grave in Dromore. Another name synonymous with the club in those early days as club player, club officer and county board officer was that of Castleblayney Town Clerk Willie McGrath. In recognition of his contribution tot the community a new road in the town McGrath Way was named in 2007.
Worn With Distinction
Those who have worn the famous colours of the Faughs Club with distinction over the years have been numerous, many of them household names. Some of them are still well remembered long after they have gone to their eternal reward. The club has had players play with their county, province and country. They have played in the once famous Tailteann Games, The International Rules Series and it has also numbered among its ranks a three times awarded All Star. The Faugh’s contribution to the GAA on the field of play has been immense also. In the area of administration their contribution has also been to the fore and in 2008 Paraic Duffy was appointed Árd Stiúrthóir (General Secretary) of the GAA.
The Breakthrough & First Ulster Club Title
Within two years of their formation the Faughs made the breakthrough. In 1907 the Faughs took their first senior championship defeating Monaghan Harps in the final. The 1907 final was actually played in 1908.
But it was a victory not without controversy. An objection was lodged regarding the eligibility of some players which was subsequently dismissed by the County Board.
Faughs Host Ulster Final
While things went quiet on the playing field the club was making it’s impact in other ways and in 1912 Castleblayney hosted it’s first Ulster Final in which Antrim defeated Cavan. The Faughs were back in the county final in 1915 but went under to Magherarney. But the following year it was a very different story.
In 1916 they won their second senior title defeating Clones in the final. The final was actually played in 1917. The Faughs then went on to play in the National Aid Tournament which was the forerunner to the Ulster Club championship going on to win it, defeating Derry Sarsfields in the Ulster final. That was an extraordinary season for the Faughs in other ways. They had played twenty three matches without defeat, winning twenty two and drawing one. That winning streak also included retaining their senior title in 1918 where they defeated Clontibret O’Neills in the final.
Return To The Top
Throughout the War of Independence period or “The Troubles” as it was called, the County Board was in disarray and no senior championships were played in 1920 or ’21. There had been lean years for the Faughs too. But by 1923 the Faughs’ star was beginning to rise again. Their main rival in the county was Monaghan Harps and in 1924 they met in the county final. (It was in the 1923 championship which ran into the following year). Castleblayney Faughs came out on top and took their fourth senior title. In that campaign there was to be a lot of talk about a young up and coming player and his name was Christy Fisher. The Tailteann Games of 1924 saw Faughsman Thomas Mason selected for the Ulster Selection
From Street Leagues to Provincial Championships
One of the nurturing homes of many a great Faughs player was the Street League and 1925 was the year in which the Street League was inaugurated. It was a relatively short competition as there were very few streets in Castleblayney at the time. This paid dividends with the introduction of Minor Football in the club.
The following year saw Castleblayney take their fifth senior title beating Clones in the final. That year the club also affiliated a junior team such was the developments within the club. They made the final in 1927 and it ended all square. They later lost out to the up and coming Killeevan team in the replay. 1927 also saw the inaugeration of the Railway Cup inter-provincial competition with four Blayney men, Jimmy Duffy, Joe Farrell, Christy Fisher and Billy Mason line out with Ulster. That same year, these four players and Benny Leavy also won Ulster championship medals with Monaghan. Fisher, Mason and Farrell went on to win Ulster championship medals again in 1929. But for the Faughs the cupboard was bare.
Concra Pitch and First Three In A Row
1929 saw the club develop a new playing ground at Concra. It was at the time one of the finest playing grounds in Ulster. The pitch was officially opened in 1932 with a match between Kerry and Dublin.
In the curtain raiser Blayney defeated a County Down selection. The omens had been good for Blayney with the coming of the new decade, having three players, Fisher, Mason and Farrell playing on the Monaghan team that retained the Ulster championship of 1930. Monaghan reached their one and only All Ireland final that year and again Blayney were well represented with Fisher, Mason and Jimmy Duffy lining out. Though Monaghan went down to Kerry in that All Ireland final, things were looking up for the Faughs.
The opening years of that decade saw the Faughs get off to a cracking start and make an indelible mark on the history of Monaghan football winning three senior championships in a row in 1931, ’32, and ’33 equalling the record set by Carrickmacross when they won senior titles in 1908, ‘09 and’10. Blayney now had eight senior titles under their belt. In ‘31and ‘32 they defeated Killeevan in the finals and in ’33 final, they defeated Inniskeen. That same year Fisher and Mason once again lined out with Ulster.
Faughs Take Senior and First Minor Title
While Blayney lost their title the following year the club did the have the distinction of having Joe McElroy selected to play with Ulster in the Railway Cup series. Then in 1936 they came storing back to take their 9th senior title. There was no actual county final that year, as the competition was played on a league basis. That year also saw them take their first minor title. For the town of Castleblayney things were looking up with the opening of the Castleblayney Shoe Factory. Emigration from Castleblayney slowed down and this was an important factor in ensuring the ongoing success of the Faughs club. This success manifested itself in the 1937 when Blayney retained the championship and notched up their 10th senior title at the expense of Donaghmoyne. That year also saw Blayney host the Ulster Final at their Concra pitch in which Cavan beat Armagh.
First Senior League Double
While they lost the senior championship in 1938 they did have the distinction of the being the first club to win the Senior League Double taking the Ward Cup and the Hackett Cup which was then also a senior League competition.
1938 also saw Monaghan regain the Ulster championship after a gap of eight years and no less than six Blayney men won Ulster championship medals, Pat Hughes, Frank Kelly, Jack Burns, and among the subs Christy Fisher, Jack Conlon and a youthful Eddie O’Connor.
Riot At Concra – Blayney’s last Ulster Final
On the 6th of August 1939 Castleblayney hosted their fifth Ulster final. It was between Armagh and Cavan and a lot of preparatory work had been done at the Concra pitch. The crowds had earlier on managed to breach the newly erected sideline barriers and were seated along the sideline. All was going well until late in the second half when Armagh’s Jim McCullough was struck along the sideline by a spectator. Within minutes the crowd invaded the pitch. Eventually the game was abandoned and was re-fixed for Croke Park a week later The replay was, incidentally, won by Cavan. Castleblayney was never again considered for an Ulster final.
Another Three in a Row
1939 is of course more fondly remembered in Castleblayney as the beginning of another three in a row. After relinquishing the title in the previous year the club hit back with vengeance and recaptured their 11th senior title defeating Donaghmoyne in the final. Two new names emerged from this era who were to go on and star with Monaghan and Ulster, Pat Hughes and Charlie McGrath. Another notable feature was to see Christy Fisher line out as a defender and not in his usual forward slot. Donaghmoyne also fell victim to them in the League final when they took the coveted “Double”.
The following year 1940, saw them take their 12th senior title this time defeating Inniskeen in the final. Added to this was another minor championship for the club, which strictly speaking was also two in a row, as the competition had not been played since Blayney last won it in 1937. The senior title hat trick came in ’41 when they defeated arch rivals Donaghmoyne in the final. This year also saw another “Double” with the Faughs winning the League title as well. Donaghmoyne got revenge the following year when they relieved Blayney of their senior title and Blayney were not to regain it for another five years.
Briefly at the Top Then Plummeted
Between 1941 and 1946 Blayney won no competition in spite of the fact that they had a very good team with many senior county players in their ranks. Senior football was dominated by Killeevan, Donaghmoyne and Inniskeen. Blayney reached the senior final in ’44 but went down to Killeevan. Though Blayney didn’t make the county final in ’45 there was some consolation for the club in having Charlie McGrath line out with Ulster and three young players, Eugene Marray, Brian Finn and Brian Sharkey win Ulster Minor Championship medals with Monaghan.
But the following year 1946 Blayney were back at the top when they took their 13th senior title defeating Killanny in the final. Amazingly Blayney were to wait seventeen long years before they were to win another senior title. They sat at Unlucky 13 for so long, many began to doubt if they would ever regain the title. They did reach the final the following year but went down to Ballybay. Over that seventeen year period, the only senior title Blayney won, was the Senior League (Owen Ward Cup) in 1948.
For consolation the club once again looked to county affairs with five Blayney men, Charlie McGrath, Brian Finn, Macartan McCormack, Sean Mulligan and Eddie O’Connor, playing the famous “Home All Ireland” where Monaghan met Cork in Croke Park. Unfortunately Cork won.
A New Home – St Mary’s Park
Although the club wasn’t winning titles they still continued to make their mark and the development of their new Grounds at St Mary’s Park was indicative of the dedication and commitment that still continued in the club. In 1946 the Club acquired a 15 acre holding for £1,130 (Sterling). A field development committee was put in place and on the 31st of May 1953 before a crowd of over 4,000 people, St Mary’s Park was officially opened. The opening game saw Monaghan defeat Armagh. The following year St Mary’s Park hosted its first county final in which Ballybay defeated Clontibret. Though the 1950s was dominated by Ballybay and Clontibret, there was glimmer of hope for Blayney in 1951 when they reached their only senior county final of the decade. There they went down to a very good Clontibret side who took their third senior title in a row.
Though there were no senior titles coming there was still a lot of hope in the club especially with the minors winning the minor double (Championship and League) in 1955. The most remarkable event of this period for Blayney was the Appointment of Blayney man Mick Duffy as chairman of Monaghan County Board, a position he was to hold until 1973. In 1956 the senior team found themselves and Scotstown disqualified from the senior championship after the first round. Once again it was to the county that Blayney looked for consolation and that came when two Blayneymen Ritchie Moore and Peter McGinn won medals with the Monaghan Junior team that won the 1956 All Ireland Junior Football Championship.
On Their Way Back
The return journey to the top began in 1958 with Blayney, under the management of Liam McGrath, winning the minor championship. They retained the Minor title the following year and in 1960 they made it three minor titles in a row. It was from these teams that the nucleus of the very successful teams of the 1960s was to come. There were other good omens too. A new junior competition, the Brennan Cup was inaugurated that year and Blayney were to be the first winners of this competition. A sense of success was returning to the club.
The impact of these successes was immediate. McGrath moved into senior management and Blayney reached the final of 1960 but went down to Scotstown. The same fate awaited them in ’61 and ’62. Their consolation in those three years was the winning of the Senior League and it was clear that they were on their way to greater things. Then it all came really good.
Five In A Row
1963 is indeed a milestone year in the history of the Faughs Club. After seventeen years of senior championship disappointment the Faughs finally shook off the tag of unlucky 13 and took their 14th title when they defeated Ballybay in the final. This was to be first of five famous victories in-a-row setting a new championship record. Their 15th title followed in ’64 defeating Scotstown in the final. Their seventeenth came in ’65 defeating Clontibret in the final. Then came their 18th in ’66 matching the four-in-a-row record set by Clontibret from 1949 to ’52. In 1967 the Faughs set a new record themselves when they ironically met Clontibret in the final.
Clontibret fought hard to prevent their record from being beaten, but beaten it was when Blayney defeated them by two points to set a new famous five-in-a-row record and take their 19th senior championship title. This feat has never been repeated by the club. It was eventually matched by Scotstown between 1977 and 1981. During this five-in-a-row era the club also took two minor titles in 1962 and 1965 thus ensuring that the supply of young players would continue. This was also the decade when Blayney took up an invitation to go to Scotland. The man behind the project was Tommy Toal and in 1966 the Faughs went Clydeside.
The Sweet Seventies
The Faughs run was to come to an end in 1968 when old rivals Clontibret forced their exit at the semi finals stage. But this was more of a break than the end of an era. By 1969 they were back in the senior final but went down to Ballybay. With the turn of the decade came another turn in their fortunes. In 1970 they recapture the senior championship reversing the outcome of the previous year, defeating Clontibret in the final. They now had 20 titles and the following year they came of age and made it 21 and once again it was at Clontibret’s expense. In 1972 for the fourth time in the club’s history they took another three-in-a-row, and title 22, this time beating Ballybay in the final. The following year 1973, they took their second “four-in-a-row” and their 23rd senior championship title, when they once again defeated Ballybay. Two of their key players during this period were Gerry Fitzpatrick and Eamon Tavey who in 1972 were selected to play for Ulster. Eamon was to also play for Ulster for the following three years setting a new record for the club. Not since 1945 was Castleblayney represented on the provincial side. Gerry Fitzpatrick also won the County Monaghan “Top Scorer” Award on five occasions between 1965 and 1974.
In 1973 The Faughs decided to go to the home of the senior championship cup, America. Tony Loughman and Pat McDonald were the driving force behind the trip and in August they were airborne heading for New York. They had won the American Cup 22 times and they were determined to celebrate it in style. While there they played in the famous Gaelic Park as part of the Cardinal Cushing games. They also played in Philadelphia. They were wined and dined by many Monaghan folk who were domiciled there and were guests of honour at a special reception hosted by the Monaghan Association in New York. During their time there they of course also saw what had to be seen in New York.
With the New York trip behind them and the championship of ’73 secured, the Faughs were still the toast of the county. But they hit a hard landing the following year when they relinquished their title to Scotstown. It was back to the drawing board for the Faughs and with some redraughting of the side they bounced back in 1975 to take their 24th senior title beating Scotstown in the final. On that team winning his first senior championship was a young man who was destined to make his own piece of history four years later and he was Eugene “Nudie” Hughes. The Faughs retained the championship and took title 25 in 1976 this time beating Ballybay. 1976 also saw the introduction of the Mason Cup for Under 14 competition. This cup perpetuates the memory of Sean Mason who had died tragically and had been very active in juvenile affairs. Appropriately it was won by Castleblayney in its inaugural year.
But there were to be difficult years ahead for the Faughs. They lost their title in 1977 to Scotstown and this was the beginning of Scotstown’s glorious era winning five senior championships in a row to equal the record set by Blayney a decade earlier. In ’78 and ’79 Blayney tried to put a halt to their gallop but in both finals they failed. These were to be Scotstown’s years.
If the senior championship had eluded the club there were other achievements worthy of note among them the winning of the Ulster Championship by Monaghan after a lapse of forty one years and central to that victory were Blayney players Nudie Hughes, Des Mulligan, Anthony McArdle and Eamon Tavey. Added to that, the club had the distinction of seeing Des Mulligan winning the prestigious B & I Player Of The Month for August of that year and then came the greatest accolade of them all, Eugene ‘Nudie’ Hughes won an All Star Award for the corner back position. This was to be the first of three All Star Awards for Nudie.
Faughs Score in Scór
1970 also saw the launch of Scór the Irish Cultural competitions and within a year Castleblayney took their first award when Paraic Duffy won the section on Motion Speaking. He repeated the feat the following year 1972 winning an All Ireland title. In 1973 the Castleblayney set dancing team won the county final. In ’74 the Faughs collected the Ceile Dancing award as well as the set dancing award. In ’76 they won the solo singing award represented by PJ McArdle. Over the rest of the decade they continued to pick up awards in set dancing, instrumental music, and motion speaking .
Nearly Did It
Though Blayney went out early in the Championship of 1980 there was an all out effort made the following year to stop Scotstown winning five in a row and the Faughs came close to preserving their record. They met Scotstown in the final and the game ended in a draw. But in the replay Scotstown came through for their fifth senior title in a row. There was again some consolation for the club in having two players, Nudie Hughes and Des Mulligan selected to play with Ulster and win Railway Cup medals. Nudie was to go on and play with Ulster for four more years. Eamon McEneaney was the top scorer in the county and Blayney made an impact on the management front with Tony Loughman taking over as senior county team manager. In 1981 Monaghan won the Ulster Under 21 championship with two Blayneymen collecting medals, Eamon McEneaney and Declan Flanagan.
Record Unbeaten and Title Briefly Returns as The Mick Duffy Cup Comes to Town
If they couldn’t stop them equalling their record then they made an extreme effort to stop them breaking it. In 1982 Blayney met Scotstown at the semi final stage and they did the business. They defeated Scotstown and so prevented their five in a row record from being broken.
It was testing times for the club and they were not found wanting. They regained the senior championship winning their 26th senior title. Indeed had Blayney not broken that great Scotstown run Scotstown would have gone on to nine senior titles in a row with Scotstown having regained the senior title in 1983 and held it until 1985.
That year also saw The Mick Duffy Cup replace the American Cup as the senior championship trophy. The trophy was named after former County Board Chairman and Blayney club member Mick Duffy. Blayney also had the distinction of winning, what affectionately became known as “The Wee Mick”, in its inaugural year.
If these years saw the club play second fiddle in the championship stakes they still had a lot to celebrate and in 1984 the centenary of the founding of the GAA, they did it in style. Special events were organised and a club history was produced. That year they also won the Club Of The Year award. 1984 also saw the election of Paraic Duffy as Chairman of Monaghan County Board a position which his father had previously held for twenty one years. Paraic was to hold the chairmanship for five years.
National League & Ulster Champs, Eamon’s Point & Another All Star for Nudie
In 1985 the domestic scene took second place to what was happening at national level. Monaghan took their first ever National League title. This was their finest hour and on that Monaghan team were three Blayney Faughs, Nudie Hughes, Eamon McEneaney and Declan Flanagan. This was to be the prelude to another Ulster championship title where those three players once again lined out.
One of the memorable moments of that year was when Eamon McEneaney sent over that memorable last minute free in the All Ireland semi final against Kerry to force the game to a draw. Monaghan unfortunately went down in the replay.
Though Blayney had now gone three years without a senior title there was great celebration in the club when it was announced that Nudie Hughes had achieved his second All Star Award
Ulster Club Title
I986 was a special year in the Club’s affairs. Once again it was up to Blayney to stop Scotstown’s run and they did so at the semi finals stage going on to comprehensively defeat Emyvale who were contesting their first senior championship final and taking their 27th senior title. Blayney went on to a successful run in the Ulster Club championship winning the Ulster Club title on the way beating Kingscourt, Bellaghy and then defeating the reigning All Ireland champions Burren in the Ulster Club final.. Team manager that year was Liam McGrath.
Senior Title Returns, Ulster Championship Medals and Nudie’s 3rd All Star
1988 saw Blayney regain the senior championship and take their 28th title beating Clontibret in the final. Things were also looking good for the future as they also won the coveted minor ‘Double’ of championship and league. On the provincial side Monaghan also regained the Ulster championship. Four Blayney Faughs played that day and collected Ulster championship medals, Nudie Hughes, Eamon McEneaney, Declan Loughman and Stefan White.
This was another momentous year for the club with Nudie Hughes being awarded his third All-Star
Blayneyman County Board Chairman
The see-saw battle between Blayney and Scotstown continued in 1989 as Scotstown took the senior championship beating Blayney in the final. The consolation that year was Declan Loughman winning a Railway Cup medal with Ulster. The youth sides continued to carry the flag with the minors taking the Double for the second year in succession and the under 21s winning their final.
That year also saw Blayney man Michael Burns, who had been county secretary for the previous five years, elected to succeed fellow Blayney man Paraic Duffy as Chairman of Monaghan County Board. Michael was to hold this position for five years, stepping down in 1992.
Two All Ireland Titles for Blayney Ballad Group
1989 was an historic year for the club on the cultural front when their Scor nOg Ballad group under the direction of Colette Gallen won the first of two in a row All Ireland titles. In ’89 the Ballad group members Margaret Gallen, Martin Gallen, Michelle McQuillan, Denise Murphy and Helena Carragher carried the day. They won their second All Ireland title two years later. There was one change in the make up of the group when Andrea Gallen replaced her sister Margaret. That same year they achieved another record when the Castleblayney Ballad group won five Scór na nÓg titles in a row.
Another great achievement for the club in Scór na nÓg was Catherine English winning the Ulster final in the solo singing.
New Decade, New Horizon and Another Ulster Club Title
1990 was also a remarkable year for the footballers. They once again regained the senior championship defeating Inniskeen in a most memorable final. It was the one that nearly got away. With just minutes to go Inniskeen were winning by two points and seemed set for a famous victory. Then Stefan White delivered that famous goal to snatch victory from that jaws of defeat and gave Blayney their 29th senior title.
Blayney’s successful run continued through their Ulster campaign of 1990/91defeating Antrim’s O’Donovan Rossas in the first round, then they defeated Kingscourt in the semi final and in the final they defeated Donegal champions Killybegs. Managing Blayney on that occasion was former Blayney, Monaghan and Ulster star Gerry Fitzpatrick.
1991 saw the Faughs clock up their 30th senior title. They went into this campaign as Ulster Club Champions and then “hiccupped” in the first round when Inniskeen forced them to a relay but after they got over that they eased their way through the rest of the competition and comprehensively defeated Monaghan Harps in a one sided final.
1992 The Year of the Marathon Final
It took replays and extra time to prize away the senior title from Blayney in 1992. This was the only time a county final ever went to two replays. Blayney and Scotstown finished all square in the final. The replay threw up the same outcome and it remained tied at the end of extra time. Then it went to another replay and in the end Scotstown dislodged Blayney by two points.
It was to take Blayney three years to regain the senior title. Their consolation for not making it to the county final in 1994 was the winning of the senior League title after a gap of twenty years. They held it for three years, doing the coveted Double in the 1995 when they took their 31st senior championship title, defeating Clontibret in the final, and their 13th senior league title. They did the Double act in’96 for the 7th time with Championship and League titles. This was three in-a-row of League titles, a feat they had done only once before back in the 1960s. That year they defeated Latton in the championship final to take their 32nd senior championship title. Things came unstuck the following year loosing both titles. They made it to the final but it was to be Clontibret’s year.
Eamon McEneaney Takes Over As County Team Manager
1997 saw Eamon McEneaney, who had managed Blayney to senior titles in ’95 and ’96, take over as joint manager of the County senior and under 21 teams with Sean McCague. Then the following year Eamon was himself appointed as manager for the three year term. He had a good first year leading Monaghan to victory over Fermanagh in the final of the All Ireland B Football Championship. He also led the county Under 21 side to an Ulster Championship title in 1999 with Kieran Tavey being the hero of the hour scoring the winning point in added on time. There were two other Blayney men on that team Paul O’Connor and goalkeeper Joe Sullivan.
Faughs Appoint Outsider and Nudie Gets His All Ireland Medal
The Faughs broke with tradition in 1998 when they appointed a manager from outside the club. That year Cavanman PJ Carroll and Tony Dunne took over the management of the Faughs senior team. Success returned to the senior side dethroning Clontibret in the final and adding title 33 to their total.
Nudie Hughes at last won that elusive All Ireland. This time it was as a member of the over 40s Master team when they defeated Galway in the All Ireland final. The club also had the honour of having Peter Duffy selected to play with Ulster
Also remarkable was the fact that, that year five Blayney men, David Connolly, Ciaran Connolly, Tom Gillanders, Dessie O’Reilly and Paul Cunningham won All Ireland medals with the victorious Monaghan hurling team which won the All Ireland Shield Competition.
Pete McMahon took over as senior team manager for 1999 and led Blayney in their Ulster Club campaign. Their first clash was against Derry champions Bellaghy and it took three games to get a result and that third game had to go to extra time. While Bellaghy came through, Blayney had to put the bruising encounters behind them and prepare for their championship. They found success again defeating Carrickmacross in the final to take their 34th senior championship title.
It was during this period that the club began to really focus on its youth policy and put in place a very energetic Juvenile committee who oversaw the coaching and development of the under age teams culminating in the setting up of the Mini Faughs Annual Summer Camp which has proven to be a great success.
New Millennium off To A Winning Start
Blayney got the new Millennium off to a good start when they clocked up their 35th senior championship title. Then in 2001 the club appointed former Down All Ireland winning captain Paddy O’Rourke as their new team manager and under Paddy’s guidance the club took their 36th senior championship title and their 4th senior championship in a row. In 2002 the club under Paddy’s leadership was going for a second five in a row to equal the club record that had been set back in the 1960s. But it was not to be. They met an in-form Clontibret who put a halt to that ambitious gallop. At the end of that year Paddy O’Rourke stepped down to take over as team manager of his native County Down. He was succeeded by Armagh man John Rafferty. Rafferty got things together again and in 2003 he led Blayney to their 37th senior championship title regained after a one year absence at the expense of Latton.
The Year of The Three Managers
2004 was a topsy-turvy year for Blayney at managerial level. It started with John Rafferty managing the team through the early stages of the newly inaugurated South Ulster League. Blayney didn’t have a great run. He unexpectedly resigned. Before the start of the senior championship another Armagh man, Jim McCorry, was appointed as new senior team manager. His tenure was very short. After Blayney won their first round senior championship game against Inniskeen he, shortly afterwards, dramatically stepped down. He was replaced by clubman Pete McMahon who had previously managed the team to a senior title three years earlier. Blayney made it to the semi finals stages but there they met an in-form Latton side who ended their hopes of taking their 38th title this year. 2004 also saw the club set up a special Centenary Committee to put in place a year long programme of events to suitably celebrate the achievements of one of Ireland’s most notable and successful GAA clubs.
In 2005 the Faughs celebrated their centenary and what a year it was. A street party, Ceile, tours, talks, a photographic exhibitions, a tour down memory lane with 37 special plaques giving the line out of the 37 championship winning teams. These plaques were erected at homes and premises closely associated with the club over those many decades. They now make an interesting and nostalgic walking tour a they bring people on a tour through some magic moments of Faugh’s history. The centenary celebrations culminated with a special centenary function which saw over 600 people attended with many former Faughs people traveling from various parts of the world to be there.
The Faughs Go Marching On
While the last number of years have been lean years in terms of senior championship success the Faughs battle on and are still up there in the upper echelons of the game making the final in 2007 under management of local man Gerry Smith. They went out at the semi stages in 2008 and under the present management of former Faughs Great Declan Loughman they are leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to bring the “Mick Duffy” back to Castleblayney.
Up the Faughs!