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1984 From Mount Temple to Breffni Park

The following article is taken from the book "History of Caulry G.A.A Club", which was published in 1988. The article itself was written by David Hatton.

We left Mount Temple that warm July evening at 8 o’clock, and placed ourselves under the capable supervision of James Ganley. After innumerable wild goose chases, we eventually managed to find the “Lavey Inn”, although it is unlikely that the Cavan people (or their accent) did much to help us get there. On the tables waiting for us in the “Lavey Inn” were 20 meals big enough to satisfy even our hungry mouths.  After a welcome by the local club chairman, we were then divided into groups of two’s and three’s, and dispatched to various houses, where we would spend the next two nights.
Sunday morning we awoke early and after having breakfast in our respective houses, we made our way to our rendezvous at the “Lavey Inn”, where transport was waiting to bring us to the G.A.A. pitch. The “long kick” and the “free kick” competitions were held at 11 am and our representatives were James Shortall and Joe Nugent respectively. James Shortall was streets ahead of other competitors in this competition and qualified ease for the semi-final. As we lay in the strong Cavan sunshine watching the first match between the two other teams in our group, we began to feel confident that we would have their measure.
When we eventually did get on the field, we were more then eager to get started. It took us, despite almost total domination, nearly 5 minutes to register  our first score (from a free), but once we had broken our duck, the floodlights were opened, and by half time the match was, for all intent and purposes, over. In the second-half, the match had become such a non-event, that the whole Caulry team, were just moved around to any position as an experiment. We cleared our first hurdle with considerable ease – but we knew there were far sterner tests to follow.
Our next match against the second Cavan club – Laragh – proved to be slightly tougher test than our opening encounter. We took complete control and finished as easy winners. It was as well that Laragh didn’t pose much of a test, as our next match, against the Sligo club; Eastern Harps was immediately after the Laragh match. We barely had time to catch our breath before we lined out for our most important match to date. For the first time we began to worry about loosing – now that we had something to play for our complacency was gone and it was replaced with a determination to win.

Eastern Harps proved to be our toughest test yet. Right up to half time it was tit for tat, with neither side giving way. This time we had a problem on our hands, and we knew it. After a few tough words from our mentors, we went out with even more determination in the second half. Our lead was never more than two points until with 10 minutes remaining; we scored the crucial goal which came as a great relief to players an official alike.
So there we were, with 3 convincing winds under our belt, and in the semi-final of the 1984 Feile. One more good performance and the final in Breffni Park was waiting for us. It was a great feeling to know that every one wanted us to win and perhaps more importantly, everyone believed we would win. By this stage we knew our opponents would be the famed Derry club Ballnascreen.
We returned early to the pitch because James Shortall was taking part in the long kick semi-final at 6p.m. James failed narrowly to qualify for the final, but it was obvious that he, more than anyone, was more concerned with the ensuing match, than with his own competition. So now the stage was set for the match – we knew we had the crowd on our side – not only were the Lavey crowd behind us, but there were a fair few Caulry Intermediate players there cheering us on. From the start, it was obvious that the physically stronger Derry team had the edge on us. However, despite their superiority they never managed to kill us off and thanks to a number of scores got on the counter-attack, we remained in touch at half time. To win this match we would have to play out of our skins, everyone would have to give110% for any hopes of success – but then everyone was prepared to give that effort. Despite our best efforts we still could not make any impression on this superb Derry team who maintained their pressure right through the entire second half and consequently opened up a three point lead with two minutes left. We managed to score and reduce the deficit to two points. However from the kickout Derry surged forward and their corner forward found himself with only Derek Browne, our goalie, to beat. However a brilliant reflex save by Derek followed by a clearance to James Dolan began a move that will forever be remembered by anyone who saw it. James soloed from one end of the field to the other before lobbing it hopefully into the Derry square. James “Staples” Shortall rose to the ball, caught it and turned and blasted the ball into the corner, to give the goalkeeper no chance. The whole Caulry (and Lavey) contingent went wild with delight.

We had qualified for the final, and never did a Caulry team feel so proud of themselves. “Staples” was the hero, only he could have scored a goal like that. That night our hosts talked about the match as enthusiastically as if their own sons had been playing – and he treatment we got might well have been for visiting cousins – so hospitable was the treatment we got.
On Sunday we headed into Cavan town for the Feile festivities. I can remember well togging out in the ballroom of some hotel in our brand new kit, bought especially for the Feile. From there we went to the Cathedral when the special Feile Mass was celebrated, with 1300 players present. It was a very colourful scene, but one which was a little consequence to us waiting nervously for our final. We marched through the street of Cavan immediately after Mass and eventually reached the famous Breffni Park. We had heard a lot about our opponents – Patrick Sarsfield from Belfast – and it seemed they were invincible in everybody’s opinion.
We hoped to prove that opinion wrong, but as it turned out, we didn’t. On the day, the Belfast lads were way to strong and completely overwhelmed us and ran out easy winners. The 4 matches on Saturday were perhaps the greatest series wins put together by any team on which I have played. Despite the fact that I flopped in the final, the whole weekend was testament to the great work done at underage   level in the Caulry club, and with any luck the future of Caulry football should be a prosperous one. 
Of all the matches I’ve played, none comes close to equalling the recollections I have of that warm weekend in Cavan in 1984. Here’s hoping that the famous Caulry spirit that was present then will always be found in any team donning the red and white.

The panels of players who represented Caulry and Westmeath on that historic weekend were: 
Derek Browne, Michael Doyle, Enda Nugent, John Higgins, Niall Shortall, Sean Shortall, Dessie Nugent, James Dolan (capt.), David Hatton, Martin Mc Manus, Joe Nugent, Jimmy Dolan, Ciaran Cunningham, James “Staples” Shortall, Matt Conlon, Padraig Noone, Richard Higgins, Bernard Corcoran, Padraig Killane, Sean Hatton, Tommy Loddick, Niall Rourke, and Jody Malynn.
Mentors: T.J. Dunning, Tom Fizgerald, and George Hatton.