A Flashback to 1952

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Flashback to 1952

By ‘The Man on the Bus’


I’m sitting here on Scraggs bus travelling to Arklow for the Senior Hurling Final between Bray and Avondale. The date is 8th November 1952 – a good hardy day with a few clouds hanging overhead. I’m hoping that Bray Emmets will win their first hurling championship today. We have won an All-Ireland and a couple of Wicklow championships in football but I’m a hurling man and I think there’s no game like it. This bus is packed to the door and Dick O’Leary is playing the accordion. Paddy Delaney, the tall Kilkenny postman is singing the ‘Rose of Mooncoin’ and Jim Jordan and Pat O’Brien are having a go at the ‘Wicklow Hills. Jimmy Jordan is facing his own Avondale lads today – he played for Avondale for years. But he will be playing his heart out for Emmets today and there’s no better man in the county when it comes to sticking the ball in the net. Someone wants to stop for a drink at the ‘Rat Hole’ but no way will Joe Butler allow it. Joe is a chemist in Bray and he’s dead keen on winning the game. He has played a big part in hurling in the county since he cam here. John Evans agrees that we’ll stop coming back if we have the cup. No cup – no beer! The matter is settled and off we go for Arklow. The craic is good but lads like Brian Glynn from Galway and Frank Darcy from Waterford are wondering about the outcome. Sean Keegan, a new recruit from Roscommon, encourages everyone by forecasting an easy Bray victory. Mick O’Brien, the hero of a hundred battles, who starred for Wicklow in ’36 warns that Avondale will be no pushover. We’re in Rathnew now and Bob Minogue talks about the fame of the thatched city. Eventually, we make Arklow and head for the old Pearse Park on the Wexford Road. Time goes by and out come Bray Emmets dressed in horizontal green and white jerseys. I notice Eric Finnucane, Mick Mangan and Jim Wolohan extending some last words of encouragement. The ball is thrown in and Avondale attack but Bray repulse them and after five minutes they give the impression that they can win this one. Seamus Quigley and Joe Butler are playing great stuff and Jimmy Jordan is causing havoc at full forward. Frank Darcy in goal has stopped a few rockets and Gerry Barry is a tower of strength at corner back. Pat Delaney is picking off the scores and Bray are ahead at half-time.

Seamus Quigley scores a powerful point from the half back line and then John Evans scores two goals and we’re coasting home. Jack Hamilton is a busy man in the Avondale goal. But the ‘Dale rally with Ned Ryan, Mick Lynam, Ned Walsh and Jim ‘Grinder’ Kennedy doing their stuff but the lead is too much for them and Bray survive on a clear 4-5 to 2-3 scoreline. Who played best? I think one could include Joe Butler, Jimmy Jordan, Paddy Delaney, Pat O’Brien, Frank Darcy and Brian Glynn.

I jot down the names of the team as they leave the field – Frank Darcy, Dave Howick, Gerry Barry, Ned Lawlor, Tom Gavin, Joe Butler, Seamus Quigley, Mick Dwyer, Pat Burke, Brian Glynn, Paddy Delaney, Pat O’Brien, Ned Maher, Jimmy Jordan and John Evans. And among the subs I see Harry Kealy, Sean Keegan, Pater Larkin, Bob Minogue, ‘Ginger’ Jim Jordan, Dick O’Leary and P.J. Carew.

We’re on our way back and the first stop is Ashford – the singing starts and the celebrations are on. I don’t think there’s any cup or if there is we have lost it already! At last we’re going home – that’s what I’m thinking! The bus stops again at the ‘Rat Hole’ and another hour of celebration. It’s two o’clock and we are going this time. I wake up as the bus stops at the Town Hall. It suddenly dawns on me that we have won a Wicklow Senior Hurling title!