Remembering Mick Mulderrig

The county has lost another one of its legendary 1950/1 All-Ireland winning team, with the passing of Mick Mulderrig. John Cuffe pays tribute to this great servant of Mayo GAA.   

Seasons come and go but winter finally arrives for us all. This week in the glorious sunshine that we all remember from our youth, one of Mayo’s legends passed to his eternal reward. Genial Mick Mulderrig, boy wonder of the 1951 Mayo All-Ireland winning team, joined his team mates on the great plains of Heaven.

Mick Mulderrig

Photo: The Road to 51 (James Laffey)

Flowery words and tributes tend to be written about a great when they pass away. Mick merits them all but the words would mask a steel and fire that was visible from meeting the man. A fist that could crush you but instead warmly greeted you, an eye that was unerring and accurate, as Mick went back over his career, leaving nothing out.

Mick arrived onto the Mayo team in 1950 aged twenty. In his debut he nailed 1-3 against Roscommon in the Connacht final out of a scoreline of Mayo 1-7, Roscommon 0-4. He was the only forward to score that day. The remaining 0-4 was notched by Padraig Carney from midfield. The following year Mick was a regular all the way to the All-Ireland final again. After a tight two games against Kerry, Mick and the equally brilliant Peter Solan were dropped for the final against Meath.

In 1955 – again after a replayed All-Ireland semi-final, this time against Dublin, Mick, not yet 26, stepped down, never to tog for his beloved Mayo again. Three Connacht senior medals, two All-Irelands and a National League medal tell only part of the story. The Mulderrigs were steeped in all things Mayo and its football. The father, a school teacher and a player of note, inculcated a desire in the sons Sean and Mick that saw both attain top honours.

Last October a mutual friend set up a meeting for me with Mick and his wife Jo. I arrived nervous and wondering what I might say or how the visit would go. I wanted to meet a member of that team from that era. At the door a sprightly man met me. Dancing eyes, strong hands and a brain that was faster than a computer made the evening for me, one never to forget.

Mick was a proud Mayo man. He called a spade a spade and didn’t always agree with official history. His demotion along with Solan for the final weighed heavy on him especially as it was orchestrated by some of the backs. His stories about the 1951 final – where the referee never gave Mayo a single free within scoring range, how Tom Langan sorted out a “spot of bother” on the pitch – made me feel as if I was out on the pitch with Mick.

His wife Jo, a woman of noble Cork football linage, she being the aunt of the Cahillanes and Davis’, gently mocked Mick as we talked. She reminded him that it wasn’t only Mayo that produced football royalty. It was that kind of night, sitting on a sofa in the midst of legends. Jo passed away some months ago. Mick now joins his beloved sna Flaitheas Ard.

Before I left I got a photo of Mick’s medals. I held a winning All-Ireland medal in my hand and won by a Mayo man to boot. Time didn’t blunt the pain Mick felt when his All-Ireland medal was posted to him in 1951. His last game was the replayed All-Ireland semi-final of 1955 against Dublin. Mayo lost by a point, Jimmy Curran scored all Mayo’s 1-7. At 26 Mick Mulderrig got a lift to O’Connell Bridge on the Dublin bus after the game and walked into history across its bridge.

Mick Mulderrig's medals

Photo: John Cuffe

A Dheis Dé ar a ainm Dilís agus go mbeidh sna Flaitheas Ard anocht lena muintir agus a clan. By my reckoning Paddy Prendergast, Padraig Carney and Peter Quinn are now the surviving members of the 1951 team. Micky Loftus and Willie Casey were togged out subs that day and merit equal respect. Ní fheicimid a leithid aris.

14 thoughts on “Remembering Mick Mulderrig

  1. ” I held a winning All-Ireland medal in my hand and won by a Mayo man to boot.”

    What a great line…. It gets the blood up in me, to dream of what an All-Ireland win would do for our fine county. May he rest in peace, and may he and those who went before him not have to wait too long before they can look down an such a dream becoming reality.

  2. I neglected to mention that Mick at nineteen also won a Railway Cup medal with Connacht when gates of 50,000 plus was the norm. In answer to David, yes I have written the odd scrap for papers when they will have me.

  3. From the picture above he certainly doesnt look like he suffered too much from pre match nerves. RIP Mick

  4. Great tribute to a great man. Rip mick. You are up above with your old team again.
    Anyone else think he looks like andy?

  5. Thanks John for a beautifully written piece, Mick I imagine would be very proud if a little embarrassed reading about himself, but I have no doubt all well deserved – may he now rest in peace. The words ‘those were the days’ come to mind !

  6. Great article well written and fascinating to us members of a younger generation who don’t know a huge amount about the team on the 50s. Just wondering what club was Mick from?

  7. Just another tale from Mick. The 1951 final started with the traditional throw on from the bishop. The practice then was to throw the ball back to the referee for the “proper throw in” once the bishop left the pitch. The referee however waved play on and the Mayo lads stood back as Louth sailed through unmolested for the first score. Bear in mind the winning margin was two points.

    The referee was former Cavan opponent Duignan who played against Mayo two years earlier in the 48 final and lost four minute controversy. Mayo were the only team to win an All Ireland with out scoring a single free (1951). As Mick Flanagan bore down for the first goal the Louth defenders shouted at the ref that he was over carrying. Duignan wore the whistle around his neck on a lace and it had gone behind his collar. He couldn’t retrieve it quick enough to blow up Flangan and the umpire raised the green flag before he could over rule it.

    On such things hung our history and fate. Winning an All Ireland needs more than good footballers, it needs pain, good fortune and all your ducks quacking together.

  8. “all your ducks quacking together” now John there’s one for the memory bank, a real gem if I ever heard one…

  9. Only reading this now but a great piece. I interviewed Mick three weeks before he died and as you mentioned yourself John, it will never be forgotten. He was in great spirits and it was an absolute joy speaking to him, what a great man!

    Was Tom Acton involved in the ’50/’51 team also?

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