That Seventies show

With those long, dark nights back with us once again, there’s no better time than now for perusing old results and, with this in mind, I can reveal that the results archive on this site has taken another decade-long leap back in the mists of time.  It now stretches back to 1969, which means that there’s a complete online record of 40 years of the county’s NFL and championship results at senior level available to meander through.

It wasn’t just sartorially speaking that the Seventies was such an odd decade.  Results-wise, it was all over the shop for us too: the decade started with us appearing in three league finals in a row (them’s the lads in the picture that won the NFL in 1970) but in both 1970 and 1971 our championship involved just a single match, with the Rossies dumping us out in 1970 and Galway doing the same the year after.  That established what was to be an unhappy championship pattern for us, as the decade passed without us winning a single Connacht title at senior level, even though we did in this period win All-Irelands at minor (twice), U21 and Vocational schools level.

We also fairly spread our defeats around in Connacht throughout the Seventies.  As well as losing to Roscommon (five times) and Galway (on three occasions), we also lost to Sligo after a replay in the 1975 final (which I’ve written about at length previously) and then capped this the following year by getting beaten, also after a replay, by Leitrim up in Carrick.  And yet, just three years previously, we’d whipped the same opposition at the same venue in that year’s semi-final by a massive 24-point margin.  Before losing that year’s final to Galway.

Anyway, it’s all ancient history at this stage and the results are as they’re set out in the archive.  I’m still using the Irish Times digital archive to source the results and, somewhat surprisingly, the data for the Seventies are a bit more comprehensive than what I was able to collect from the same source for the Eighties. Most of the line-ups for the league games were included in the paper’s 1970s’ match reports, which wasn’t the case for the decade that came after and there aren’t, to my knowledge, any matches missing from the records I’ve compiled for the Seventies (whereas there are two league results from the early Eighties that I’m still trying to hunt down).

I’ve now started to tackle the Sixties but I already know that the Irish Times isn’t going to get me much further back and, having peeped back to the start of that decade, I can see that the coverage of Gaelic games was, at best, fairly cursory that far back.  This isn’t an enormous surprise: it was, after all, only after Douglas Gageby became editor of the Irish Times in 1963 that the paper began to shed its West Brit skin and started instead to accept that it had an authentic Irish voice.  While, too often, this voice can come across in an insufferable Southside holier-than-thou way, once Gageby got his hand on the tiller, the paper was willing to provide its punters with half-decent coverage of Gaelic games.

It’s obvious, then, that I’m reaching the end of Phase II of this project (Phase I being the collation of all available online records, which goes back to 1997). I’m already thinking about how best to tackle Phase III, which should, I think, include those All-Ireland winning years.  It’s going to involve a bit more effort (and time) to track down the results and teams from these older years but I’m still determined to keep at it.  We won our first Connacht title as far back as 1901 so I suppose there wouldn’t be any point stopping before then.  Seen in this light, there’s a bit of a ways to go yet before I can call time on this particular project.

13 thoughts on “That Seventies show

  1. That’s a fantastic archive your building up WJ, it should be a template for many other counties to follow. Hard work but I suspect you might be enjoying the fruits of the labour too – I hope so as others certainly will.

    The early-mid 70’s were certainly an amazing era of contradiction for Mayo football with so much success at minor, u21 etc but a real barren spell at senior level. And maybe it’s me being a bit nostalgic (and showing my age) but the county had some fantastic players in those years.
    Just glancing through some of the team line outs names like the prolific scorer Joe Corcoran jump out – every match – I even see one match v Derry in 1972/73 league Mayo he scored all of Mayo’s 8 points on the day !
    And there was E Rooney, R Prendergast, J Carey, J Morley, W McGee, J Langan, T OMalley and so on… in the infamous words from a George Best story “where did it all go wrong?”

    Keep up the good work.

  2. Just want to add my congrats to your sterling work. What was it about the 1970s. The seniors reached three in a row league finals plus another in 1978, two minor titles plus an under 21 with finals also lost by the minors and u21s. We certainly did not lack class players or a conveyor belt. Now somewhere in that pile there is a thesis screaming to be worked on.

  3. Thanks Ma-Yoman – it’s a bit of work alright but it’s satisfying to see the records build up. It’ll be a while, though, before I have the full set together.

    It is amazing that we didn’t achieve more in the Seventies and, as you say, we had some big names playing for us then, though maybe that’s because we weren’t so big then – Conor Mortimor probably looks big to today’s small lads …

  4. It’s hard to believe, ontheroad, how we managed not to win Connacht in the 70s given that record. Roscommon really had our measure towards the end of the decade – they beat us in ’77, ’78 and ’79 (as well as 1980 when they beat us out the gate) – and that was a good Roscommon team too, as Galway were no match for them then either.

    At least the ’78 minors came through in the 1980s but the failures earlier in the decade are harder to fathom – you would have thought that a team which could get to three NFL finals in a row would have been able to get out of Connacht but somehow it never happened for us.

  5. Mighty work on this WJ, is it just my imagination or were a lot more goals scored in football in the 70s, Willie McGee seems to have been good for a goal every second game at least and the team in general fairly racked them up. 7-6 in a championship game is some score and the number of points suggests they weren’t exactly walking all over Leitrim. Maybe a reader was there that day?

  6. I don’t remember being at that one, WC, but the results do show we had no problem banging in the goals. Willie McGee was a regular goal getter over a number of seasons and a number of the other forwards were able to bag the goals as well.

    One of the most puzzling things I’ve seen comes from 1969 where we beat Leitrim by 6-13 to 1-8 in the Connacht semi-final, with J Nealon scoring three goals. After that performance, he only came on as sub in the final – we had high standards back then!

  7. Did we have a manager back in those days or was selection by committee and do you know when we switched from one to the other, I’m sure that accounted for a lot of inconsistency. My father always used to rant about this fellow or that fellow who’d never get picked cause someone didn’t like him (eg Billy Fitz for years!)

  8. I think the manager thing only began to take off after Micko and Heffo got going in the mid-Seventies but, with the manager not being allowed to pick his own selectors till the Nineties, I think that problem of selection by committee was one we were saddled with for some time.

  9. One year Mayo had 14, yes 14 selectors!! one more and they could have played instead of the team. Now we know why we hibernated between 1955 and 1967, it was the selectors who were playing the other counties, not the actual team!

  10. That’s brilliant! Were they all outfield men or was there a goalkeeper-selector amongst them?

  11. Can anyone in Mayo GAA help me out with information on Kevin Melia, the Wicklow man who, I believe, played Senior Football with Mayo in the early Seventies? Kevin worked for Gaeltarra Eireann in Tourmakeady and then Digital in Galway before going to the States in 1976, where he became an outstandingly successful businessman. Sadly, Kevin, who retained strong links to his home club of Rathnew in Wicklow, passed away at his Boston, Mass., home last month.
    Any information would be much appreciated, I am writing an article about Kevin for The Irish Times, for publication either this Saturday, July 5th or Saturday week next, July12th. Best Wishes, and thanks in advance, Peter Thompson, Arklow.

  12. If anyone has any info on the late Kevin Melia that they’d like to share with Peter for the planned article, I’m happy to put you in touch directly via email.

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