Flood, Sean Og
January 01, 2001
Sean Og Flood played a big part in Louths 1957 All-Ireland success. The Young Irelands keeper will be remembered as a master of his craft.
The country's oldest GAA club is in steady decline. In the year 2000, there were no signs of any corners being turned and the die-hard Young Irelands faithful once more had to content themselves with reminiscing over great teams and players of the past rather than salivating over anything current or imminent.
But, boy, what a treasure trove of memories Young Ireland's have filled. The list of superb players who have represented the green and blacks is almost exhaustive. Taking a place near the top of the list is Sean Og Flood, the young man who was in goal for the Wee County when they won the All-Ireland in 1957.
While Sean Og was, of course, the last Louth goalie to collect an All-Ireland medal, he won't necessarily thank you for reminding him of this. It's not a distinction that sits comfortably with the Dundalk native whose policy of living in the present rather than the past is both wise and practical.
When people applaud him or rush up to meet him, Sean Og feels every bit as embarrassed as he does privileged. Such attention only emphasises the decline of Louth football. Forty-three years is a bloody long time and Flood would prefer to see Louth unleash some new stars than continue to celebrate the feats of a team from over two generations ago.
"To be honest", he says, "I'm fed up being the last Louth goalie to have won an All-Ireland. I'm living in this year, not in 1957, and the sooner somebody else does it the better."
Sean Og hails from Patrick Street, in the north side of the town. He played football in the local CBS and started to play with Young Irelands at minor level in 1950 (his father having played with Clan Na Gael). That very year, at the age of 15, he won his first honour - a north Louth minor championship medal.
Jim McArdle was also on that under 18 team and, all in all, it was a tremendous year for the club as the junior and senior championship trophies also made their ways into the clubhouse (and many of the local watering holes too, no doubt!).
It was in 1953 that Sean Og Flood became regular netminder with the Young Irelands first team and he held his position until he moved to Cavan in 1960. During this time, Young Irelands retained their status as one of the Wee County's top clubs and Sean Og featured on two Cardinal O'Donnell Cup winning teams.
Lining out in the esteemed company as such quality acts as Stephen White, Tom Mulligan, Jim Tuft, the McCartan brothers, Tommy Larkin, Seamie O'Donnell, Mickey Flood, Tommy Carroll and Sean Cunningham, Sean Og has fond but fading memories of epic battles on the field of play - particularly against Stabannon Parnells and St Mary's.
As a county minor in 1953, he was on the Louth team which defeated Kildare by 1-6 to 0-6 in the Leinster final. Incidentally, that is also the last time the Wee County won the provincial minor crown! The last time the county reached a Leinster senior final was in 1960 and Sean Og played on that team too. They lost to Offaly by the narrowest of margins, 0-10 to 1-6.
Sean Og Flood was drafted on to the county senior panel in 1955, made his debut in the league in '56 and made his championship bow in '57. He was an ever-present as Louth stormed to All-Ireland success. Dublin were defeated 2-9 to 1-7 in the Leinster final, Tyrone were whipped 0-13 to 0-7 in the All-Ireland semi-final on August 18th and Cork were shocked in the decider on September 22nd, 1-9 to 1-7.
"I was only 21 when we won the All-Ireland final," he reflects. "That Louth team probably could have won a few more All-Irelands. We had a good blend of old and new players. Neither Tom Conlon nor Johnny McDonnell were on the team at the start of the campaign but they were enticed back to give experience in two key positions, full back and full forward respectively."
Soon after the 1960 Leinster final, Sean Og's Louth career ended as he transferred to Cavan. On taking up a permanent position with the ESB, he joined the Ballinagh club. He played for club and county during 1961-64, winning an Ulster JFC, a McKenna Cup and, most notably, an Ulster SFC in '62. In the 1962 Ulster final, Cavan defeated the defending All-Ireland champions of the previous two years, Down, by 3-6 to 0-5. But Roscommon beat them in the All-Ireland semi-final.
Sean Og played for Leinster for three years, 1958-60, winning a Railway Cup in 1959. He was the only Louth man on the team which defeated Munster in the final.
After relocating to Dundalk in 1969, Sean Og got involved with the Young Irelands club again. He was Chairman 1969-79 and was also involved at backroom level. The Joe Ward Cup was scooped in '79.
"The emphasis at the time was on youth development," he recalls. "Young Irelands always played traditionally at the Athletic Grounds but that was sold to Clarkes in 1960, which left the club with no pitch. They actually ended up going out of existence for a couple of years and, when I returned in 1969, there was no club. They hadn't affiliated for two years.
"They were then given the use of the Marist fathers' grounds and we started with the youth programme, drawing on players from the Seatown area and sons of older players from scattered around the town. Eventually that burned out and the club purchased its present pitch at the other end of the town. They are now trying to develop a new catchment area and I think that has been a big part of the problem."
Not surprisingly, Sean Og is still a big Louth supporter and he attends most intercounty matches involving the Wee County. "I couldn't have hoped for any better from them in 2000," he says. "Paddy Clarke is doing a good job, they're playing a nice style of football and there are some very good prospects in there.
"Playing in Division One will do them the world of good. They have piles of enthusiasm and great scoring skills. If Paddy can get a settled team together for the league, he can build on the progress made in 2000. He knows where the weaknesses are . . . he will be keeping an eye out for the right personnel to slot in. I wouldn't guarantee it, but I think there's a good chance of Louth winning a Leinster championship soon."
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