Liam Horan has been in contact to let me know about the official launch of Dan O’Neill’s book Divided Loyalties, which took place in the TF last night, presided over by Mayo doyen and former GAA President, Dr Mick Loftus.
Dan’s story, which was written in association with Liam Horan, about how he switched allegiance in the 1950s from Mayo to Louth is quite an amazing one and I’m sure it’s a tale that very few Mayo supporters nowadays know anything about (I certainly wasn’t aware of it). Dan, who hails from Castlebar and played with distinction for the Mitchels for many years, won an NFL medal with Mayo in 1954 and was on the Connacht championship winning team the following year. A Garda, he was then based in Louth and a disagreement with the county board over expenses led him to switch allegiance to the Wee County. His timing was fairly good in this respect as he played at midfield on the team that Dermot O’Brien captained in 1957 to capture the Sam Maguire with a victory over Cork in that year’s final. By a strange quirk of fate, another member of that 1954 NFL-winning Mayo side – Ballaghaderreen’s Seamie O’Donnell – also featured at midfield for Louth in the 1957 final. In doing so, the two became the last Mayomen to win All-Ireland senior championship medals.
Speaking at last night’s launch, Dan reflected on the sad fact that such a long period of time has passed since Mayo or Louth have won the Sam Maguire:
It is amazing to think that neither Louth or Mayo have won an All-Ireland senior title in the last 50 years, particularly when you consider that between them they claimed three titles in the 1950s. As a Mayo man with such a strong connection to Louth, I hope this omission is put right soon.
I haven’t yet got the book and although Liam kindly offered to send me a free copy, I feel strongly that one should always be prepared (nay, be happy) to pay the cover price of any book that takes your fancy. This one certainly does and I understand that it’s on sale in Eason’s so I should be able to pick up a copy there at some point in the next few days. Once I’ve had a read of it, I’ll post a review here but, by the looks of it, I already think that the book has the makings of a nice Christmas present for the Mayo GAA nut that’s close to you.
If anyone is looking for a copy and can’t locate it in your local bookshop, you can send a cheque for €20 to the publishers Low Ball Against The Wind, Cloongowla, Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo and they’ll be happy to oblige. Alternatively, you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (087) 918 5867. Best of luck with the book, lads.