INSIDE TRACK

INSIDE TRACK | Dundalk's Caolan Rafferty follows a Greenore legend into the history books

INSIDE TRACK

Joe Carroll

Reporter:

Joe Carroll

Email:

joebellurgan2014@yahoo.ie

INSIDE TRACK | Dundalk's Caolan Rafferty follows a Greenore legend into the history books

The lads find themselves on a hallowed honours list. Included are Rory McIlroy, Padraig Harrington, and Ireland’s greatest amateur, Joe Carr.

It’s only those who have long been making weekly visits to the Post Office to collect their reward for seeing beyond a significant landmark who could recall a stellar season which sport in this area experienced, over 60 years ago.

The 1950s were drawing to a close when Louth won the All-Ireland and golfer, Clogherhead’s Philomena Garvey, captured the British Open for amateurs. Two Dundalk sides were also on the mark, the rugby men winning the Provincial Towns Cup and Shay Noonan’s team lifting the FAI Cup.

Three decades on and there was another cluster of wins, though a little wider apart. Dundalk soccerites did the double in 1988, and the following year the Provincial Towns Cup paid its first visit to the Mill Road (home games were played at the Athletic Grounds in ’57).

Louth followers, no longer dining at the top table, were grateful for their team’s O’Byrne Cup win. On the day the Stephen Melia-captained side beat Kildare in the final at Drogheda, Robert Sheckleton was leading the rugby team to victory in Longford, Dundalk squeezing home against a Kilkenny XV that included former Internationals, Willie Duggan and Ned Byrne.

Around the same time, golf enthusiasts gathered on the country’s West coast to witness a wonderful County Louth success.

From an early age, Greenore’s Noel McGrane had the look of a winner about him, possessing all the natural attributes. Living on the edge of the course wasn’t a hindrance to him. He wasn’t long out of his teenage years when he fulfilled much of his potential. The field for the 1987 West of Ireland at Sligo’s Rosses Point was as strong as ever, overseas players joining the very best of this country’s stock.

McGrane qualified for the matchplay with two solid rounds. But it was in the head-to-heads that he was seen at his very best. Enda McMenamin, back in the amateur ranks having experienced a few seasons as a pro, was his opponent in the final, and though lacking in the Ballybofey player’s experience, the Greenore lad was quality all the way, winning by one hole.

There’s nothing happening right now at local soccer, Gaelic or rugby levels to prompt a backward glance; but Caolan Rafferty winning the 2019 West the weekend before last was a nice reminder of the McGrane success of 32 years ago.

The lads find themselves on a hallowed honours list. Included are Rory McIlroy, Padraig Harrington, and Ireland’s greatest amateur, Joe Carr.