The late Christo Hand
February 20, 2006
The late Christo Hand
The death has taken place of former Meath great Christo Hand, who was a vital player on the famous Royal County 1949-54 team.
Christo, from a well known Ardcath family, will be forever associated with the great Meath team of the late 40s and early 50s. He was left half back on the mould breaking 1949 cominbation when the Sam Maguire made his first visit to the plains of Meath. Along with centre half Paddy Dixon and number 5 Seamus Heery, the Ardcath man formed a stout outer line of defence, one which Cavan were not able to penetrate with Meath finishing 1-10 to 1-6 ahead of their great Breffni rivals.
At this time Christo, like a number of Meath players, lined out for for the famous Dublin team Sean McDermotts, and won a Dublin SF medal in 1947. Later he would return to his native Ardcath and proved one of the key players as 'the men from the hill' gained Meath senior championship honours in 1955. Christo Hand was a Meath minor in 1941 and made his senior inter county debut two years later.
Following on from that '49 final Christo, who had already gained a Leinster SFC medal during 1947, added like awards in '51 and '52. He played a vital part as Meath triumphed in the NFL decider of 1951 which was played in New York.
Mayo beat Meath just prior to that NFL decider in the Al-Ireland Final of 1951. The Royal County were warm favourites but never really got going. Many associated with the team blamed the vaccinations, necessary for the American trip as the cause of a very lethargic display. Nevertheless, it was the gallant Ardcath man pushing up the field who opened the scoring with a marvellous point.
Meath and Christo were back in 1952. Again Hand wore the number 7 jersey. But he was the last remaining link of the famed '49 half back line. In '51 Connie Kelly took over from Paddy Dixon in the middle, while in '52 Tom O'Brien had replaced Rathkenny star Heery. Again Meath enjoyed no luck on the big day. They were much the better team in the opening game, when a strong wind prevailed. A late and fortuitous Cavan point levelled matters at the end. It was the turn of our near neighbours to reverse the '49 result in the replay. Christo Hand was 81 years of age. Ar Dheis De go raibh a anam.
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