On my way into St Tiernan’s Park in Crossmolina on Sunday, I stopped for a chat with a group of fundraisers from Parke Keelogues Crimlin GAA club, who were selling tickets for their mega-draw, which is being held to raise funds for the development of the club’s facilities.
Having bought a ticket for the draw, the details about which are here, I was told that some of the funds the club are aiming to raise will be to develop a new pitch at Parke. It was then that I recalled being at a challenge match Mayo played against Cork back in the Eighties when the club’s pitch was first opened.
I did a search on the Irish Newspaper Archives this evening and soon I was reading the informative report on the match in question in the Western People written by the late, great Ivan Neill. The game took place in June 1985 and it’s safe to say that Ivan wasn’t impressed by what he saw from Mayo that day.
Under a heading stating “Eve of Championship Outing Leaves me Cold”, the writer tore strips off a Mayo team that, two weeks out from playing Leitrim in the Connacht SFC semi-final, had lost that challenge game to Cork in Parke by 4-4 to 2-6.
How’s this for an opening paragraph?
Forgive me for not being able to find a word in the dictionary to describe Mayo’s performance against Cork in a challenge game to mark the official opening of the Parke GAA Club’s new Community Sportsground on Sunday. Several people at the historic occasion had no trouble in coming up with a descriptive title for Mayo’s display but none of them are printable.Western People, 12th June 1985
Ivan went on to opine that Mayo’s defence was “as reliable as a bullet-riddled bucket” and that the team’s attack “was just a joke from start to finish”. At midfield, Willie Joe was spared the brickbats but TJ wasn’t, with Ivan stating that the Balla man “will have to improve if this area is to play any role in Mayo’s championship bid.”
Happily, this doom-laded report proved well wide of the mark that summer. Leitrim’s Connacht semi-final challenge was swatted aside without any difficulty and this was followed by an emphatic crushing of Roscommon in the Connacht final. A few weeks later, a stirring second half comeback saw Liam O’Neill’s battling side earn a shock draw with Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final, with the team’s fine run coming to an end with defeat in the replay.
Those green shoots may not have been all that obvious that June day in Parke but our 1985 Championship campaign – with the team featuring a number of players who’d tasted All-Ireland success at U21 level two years earlier – ended up hauling Mayo back to prominence. It was, arguably, the start of what might be regarded as the modern era for the county, when we began to compete seriously at national level on a regular enough basis.
Parke GAA Club have gone from strength to strength since then too and the ambitious draw they’re currently running shows that the club – which combines GAA and LGFA activities – is determined to continue its development into the future. More power to them.