Cups of cheer

November 20, 2002
When Mattock Rangers became the Senior Champions by overcoming St. Brides challenge in September they became the 15th club to be presented with the most coveted trophy in Louth football, the Joe Ward cup. A trophy that since its introduction in 1949 has captured the imagination of clubs at all levels in their efforts to become kingpins in the county. While clubs have always strived to become County champions, the coming of the Joe Ward has instilled greater effort to gain a trophy, named in honour of a great Louth gael. Joe Ward died in 1948, after a lifetime of service to the G.A.A. He attended the 1898 county convention as a delegate for Dundalk Young Irelands. He would later be secretary of the club in 1907 and '08. He was elected County Secretary in 1903 although he resigned the position before the close of the meeting because he felt some of the business of the meeting was not carried out in a proper manner. However he was again elected Co. Secretary in 1904. He became Co. Chairman in 1910, and was one of the three selectors when Louth won their first All Ireland senior title in 1910. He was Co. Chairman again from 1917 to 1919, and vice chairman in 1924 and 1925; Joe served in Central council from 1905 to 1919 and Leinster council from 1906 to 1908. In recognition of his services to the Association he was elected the first Honorary President of the Louth County Board in 1926. In the 54 years history of the Joe Ward cup there have been many outstanding achievements. Newtown Blues head the honours list with 14 victories, including the only 4 in a row achieved in 1961,62,63, and 64, coming back from defeat by O'Raghallaighs in 1965, to win out again in 1966 and 67, finishing off the decade with success again in 1969 and 70. Stabannon Parnells were the inaugural winners in 1949 repeating this success in 1954, a lull in their fortunes did not see the club recapture the trophy until 1991, a decade in which they achieved further successes in 1994, 97 and 99. Cooley Kickhams were the team of the 70's with victory coming in 1971, followed by success in 1973. A famous three in a row in 1976,77, and 78 saw the end of a great era in the club's history but they returned to gain successes in 1989 and 1990. Clan na Gael gained their first glimpse of the Joe Ward in 1959 when winning their third senior title, but first for this trophy, they would have to wait until 1985 until success returned and again in 1987, they would remain in contention for this trophy from here all the way through the nineties with victories in 1992, '93 and 1998. Ardee St. Mary's, winners of the 1948 championship, the last before the introduction of the Joe Ward cup had not to wait too many seasons before taking Joe back to the Deeside. 1951 began their first capture to be followed with victories in 1955 and'56. 1960 and 1968 gave the Ardee men two successes in that decade with two further successes in the 70's, 1972 and 75, missing out the 1980's, and the Mary's once again tasted success in 1995. A notable double for St. Fechins in 1983 and 1984 brought great joy to the Termonfeckin area and it's surrounds, while Roche Emmetts recorded two fine successes in 1958 and 1980. One of the county's legendary clubs, Dundalk Young Irelands with four senior titles in the 1940's were very proud winners in 1950 but would not see the return of the cup until 1979. Other great clubs to achieve success have been Dundalk Gaels in 1952. The now sadly out of existence Naomh Mhuire in 1953. Oliver Plunketts gained the honour in 1957. O'Raghallaighs interrupted the Blues attempt at five in a row when they took the 1965 title. The long-established Geraldines were winners in 1982 having waited 62 years since the last of their three championship successes was gained in 1920. St. Josephs made the breakthrough in 1996 with a fine victory and the latest name to be inscribed on the Joe Ward Cup will be champions for 2002 - Mattock Rangers. Although the county has had Intermediate championships from 1907 to 1912 and again for two seasons in 1944 and 1945, it was not until the restructuring of football in 1978 that the championship in it's present format came into being. The cup awarded to the title winners form 1978 also commemorates a great Louth gael, named the Flood Cup, it is in memory of Seamus Flood, a man who served the county for decades and who reached the second highest office in the G.A.A, Chairman of the provincial Council of Leinster from 1939 to 1942, the first Louthman to hold the post, Seamus served as County Board chairman in 1925, although due to his transfer to Thurles on Post Office duties he had to step down, he was again elected to the post in 1932, a position he held until 1938. He was Central Council delegate from 1954 until 1963. Seamus was also first treasurer of the primary schools committee and also played a vital role in ensuring the success of Louth minor teams between 1935 and 1941, a period which saw the country win All Ireland titles in 1936 and 1940. An accomplished goalkeeper in his playing days, winning a senior championship medal in 1924 with Clan na Gael, a club he also served well, until his death in 1970. Seamus also played in the goal for Louth seniors in 1924 and 1925, his son Sean Og was goalkeeper for Louth's Senior All Ireland success in 1957. In the 24 years in which the Flood Cup has been of offer it has been the gateway to senior football with many of it's winners going on to capture the Joe Ward cup in future years. The first winners in 1978 were Kilkerley Emmetts who went on to hold their new position in the senior grade until 2001. Seventeen clubs have held the trophy with Geraldines 1979 and 1995, St. Patricks 1980 and 1984; St. Joesphs 1983 and 1990; Clogherhead Dreadnots 1986 and 2000. Dundalk Gaels 1987 and 1991; Sean O'Mahony's 1992 and 1998; Hunterstown Rovers 1993 and 1999, all claiming the title on two occasions. Kilkerley Emmetts 1978; St. Mochtas 1981; Mattock Rangers 1982; Oliver Plunketts 1985; Naomh Martin 1988; Stabannon Parnells 1989; Lannleire 1994; Dundalk Young Irelands 1996; Roche Emmetts 1997; Naomh Fionnbarra 2001 Geraldines, St. Josephs and Mattock Rangers have achieved senior success on one occasion each with Stabannon Parnells the most notable of all the clubs who have won the Flood Cup; they have achieved senior title wins on four occasions. The Christy Bellew Cup which is the reward for the winners of the junior one championship. The junior one prefix came into being for the 1978 season, in line with the restructuring of the championship and leagues. However the junior championship had been in existence since 1904, Drogheda Tredaghs being the first junior champions. The Christy Bellew Cup came into existence the same year, 1949 and the Joe Ward Cup. It's first winners were St. Brides who defeated Kilkerley Emmetts. The provision of the Bellew cup for junior champions was passed at County Convention in January 1949. Christy F Bellew served as county chairman from August 1925, when elected at a county board meeting to replace Seamus Flood whose work commitments forced his retirement from the post. Christy then served as chairman in 1926 and 1927. He stepped down at 1928 convention and was elected vice-chairman until 1931. He was a member of the Larks club, Drogheda. The cup, during it's long existence was the county's second most prestigious trophy, because up until 1977 success meant promotion to senior ranks, from 1978 victory assuring the winners of intermediate status. Glyde Rangers head the honours list in this grade with two victories with promotion to senior in 1962 and 1969, and two gaining entry to intermediate in 1990 and 1996. O'Raghallaighs coming next with one win in 1963 which was the basis for their Senior title success of 1965. The real foundation coming from minor championship successes in 1959, 1960 and 1961. The club also tested junior one success in 1991 and 2000. Among the unique features of championship winners, a number of clubs have claimed all three adult titles, Dundalk Young Irelands, Dundalk Gaels, Clan na Gael, Roche Emmetts, Oliver Plunketts, Mattock Rangers; Geraldines, Stabannon Parnells and St. Josephs. Not all of these clubs have won all three cups, also won old second division title as Dundalk Gaels senior success was 1942, Clan na Gaels intermediate was 1945 and Stabannon Parnells junior success was 1943. However a total of 36 clubs have achieved junior or junior one championship success. The second division title as it was known from 1917 until 1977 had for a number of years had as its cup a commemoration of Dan (Warren) McEvoy, who was a member of Louth successful 1912 All Ireland senior football championship winning side. It is now presented to the winners of division one A championship; a division which senior clubs second teams compete. The old second division honours list is headed by Stabannon Parnells with four victories followed by Glyde Rangers, Clan na Gael and Lannleire with three successes each. There are many other cups on offer in the county too numerous to detail in this article, I have confined it to the four main adult football championships. All of these trophies are named for individuals who have given the G.A.A. in Co. Louth, at juvenile and adult level; their unstinting commitment and I would like to honour their input into the wellbeing of games in this county. The most significant trophy at underage level is the Fr. Larry Murray Cup, a beautiful replica of the Ardagh Chalice, awarded to the winners of the minor (u.18) championship. Parish pries in Dunleer, Fr. Murray became involved with the establishing of the Dundalk schools league whilst a curate in the town in 1928, catering for boys between 13 and 18 years of age. Shortly after it's foundation he became its chairman, a position he held until his death in 1941. Fr. Murray was also chairman of the selection committee of the Louth minor team, a side to which he also acted as trainer, from 1934 until 1941, the greatest period in Louth minor football history when two All Ireland titles were captured along with three Leinster titles. Fr. Murray also helped Dundalk Gaels in 1928. He was made an Honorary President of Louth Co. Committee in 1933. First on offer in 1944, the Fr. Larry Murray cup holders were the Marist College, and they would retain the trophy in 1945, 47 and 48 (there appeared to be no championship in 1946), the 1949 competition was declared null and void and in 1950 Ardee minors took their first Murray Cup, they have won the trophy more times than any other club being successful on ten occasions including a four in a row in 1964, 65, 66 and 1967. Clan na Gael come second, winning the trophy on seven occasions, Cooley Kickhams and Newtown Blues have five successes each, whilst O'Raghallaighs and Roche Emmetts have won four each including three in a row for both clubs. Dundalk Gaels have also succeeded in four finals. Tallanstown (Baile Talun) Naomh Buithe (Collon; Tullyallen and Monasterboice) Sean Traceys/Baile Philip and Valley Rangers are on the roll of honour on two occasions each while St. Dominics; Naomh Mhuire; Kilkerley/Roche/Malachi; St. Furseys; Oliver Plunketts; and St. Vincents/St.Josephs/Annaghminnon and St. Mochtas combination complete the honours list.

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