Phenomenal crowd at James McCartan book launch

November 29, 2010
All records for a GAA football launch were broken when a massive attendance of over 1,000 people thronged the Canal Court Hotel in Newry on Monday night November 22nd.

To accommodate the huge crowd who had come to pay homage to their hero the proceedings could not begin until one hour after the official starting time. In what has been universally hailed as one of the largest crowds ever to attend such a gathering, in the history of Irish sport, it can truly be said that the launch of James McCartan Senior's autobiography was a most memorable night of celebration, reminiscing and nostalgia.

In his book which is entitled "James McCartan - The King of Down Football" the twice Footballer of the Year vividly recalls the halcyon days of those momentous victories of 1960 and 1961 as well as remembering the highs, the lows and controversies of an extremely colourful, playing and managerial career. The inside accounts and ground-breaking innovations, behind those historic victories, are revealed for the first time by that wonderful team's most influential centre half forward.

The book also highlights the devastating impact, which the Troubles in Northern Ireland had on his family and business lives. His successful greyhound career and the footballing exploits of his other family members, especially 2010 All Ireland Down manager James Junior, are explored in detail. This is an in-depth study of one of Gaelic football's most important figures, presented in an honest and forthright manner.

The main speakers on the night were: the architect of those brilliant All Ireland successes, Dr. Maurice Hayes, Ulster Council GAA secretary, Danny Murphy and co-author and Derry native Seamus McRory. All spoke very eloquently of James McCartan's outstanding contribution to what was, essentially, a fantastic all-round Down team effort. Down GAA County Committee officer John Devaney was an extremely competent MC on the night of the launch.

Gaelic games followers and greyhound enthusiasts from every county in Ulster and from places like Galway, Cork, Offaly, Dublin, Sligo, Carlow, Wexford and Longford were there. Amongst a host of GAA dignitaries present were ex GAA President 92 year-old Paddy MacFlynn and former Down managers Peter McGrath, Paddy O'Rourke and D. J. Kane. Over 200 former star inter county footballers from across Ireland were in attendance. The Offaly players who played against Down in both 1960 and 1961 took pride of place. Paddy McCormack, Charlie Wrenn, Phil O'Reilly and Greg Hughes really enjoyed themselves as they once again met up with former opponents like the McCartan brothers, Kevin Mussen, Leo Murphy, Kevin O'Neill and Paddy Doherty. Mick Burke (Cork), Jody O'Neill (Tyrone), Paddy Holden (Dublin), Jim McKeever (Derry), Colm Mc Alarney (Down), Greg Blaney (Down), Mickey Linden (Down), Paul McGrane, Jimmy Smyth Brian McAlinden (all Armagh) and the Cavan triumvirate of Gabriel Kelly, Jim McDonnell and Ray Carolan are but a short cameo of famous footballers that joined James McCartan on the night.

Former Cavan Railway cup star Ray Carolan aptly summed up the sheer joy of all who had attended this wonderful occasion:" It is a night to remember. This was the most fabulous GAA night in my life. What other organisation could produce a man who can still draw crowds of such epic proportions fifty years after he won his first All Ireland medal?"

The greatest manager in the history of the GAA, Mick O'Dwyer, who played against those magnificent Down teams of the 60's, had the honour of launching the book. Published by Blackwater Press the autobiography is available in all good bookshops nationwide.

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