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25/10/2021

Leitrim story selected for landmark GAA Grassroots book

Louth GAA clubs vote overwhelming in favour of re-structuring adult leagues

A story from County Leitrim has been selected to appear in a fascinating new book on the GAA – written by people at the heart of the association nationwide.

‘Grassroots: Stories From The Heart Of The GAA’, is a treasure trove of GAA memories, tales and incidents spanning over 150 years.

“The book generated an incredible response from every county in Ireland, as well as from the Irish abroad,” said author and journalist, PJ Cunningham, who collaborated with Croke Park on the publication.

“I have included stories not only since the GAA’s foundation in 1884, but from before, through to the Civil War and up to modern times.

“The collection is, in essence, the first time that this rich oral tradition of sideline and on-field stories have been put together and published in this form.

“It provides snapshots into the history of the GAA, recounted by the people at the heart of the action, whether those stories are happy or sad, dramatic or ordinary.”

Volume one has just been published and such was the response from the GAA community that work has already begun on a second collection.

The first edition includes stories from the rich history of Leitrim GAA. Dublin resident but proud Leitrim native Peter Gordon set the scene on a sweltering Sunday in 1964 when, after being overlooked as a player by his own manager, he was given the role of referee in a grudge game against neighbouring rivals. Early on he found it would be a difficult afternoon trying to maintain law and order, and only for the fact that there were breaks when the ball landed in the nearby river, the occasion could easily have boiled over into all out war.

However some three hours after he first threw the ball in to commence play, and with at least 15 more minutes of the game to go, Peter was left with no choice but to abandon the game when, at one of the net-less goals, one umpire waved for a point and the other for a goal when a high-ball could have gone under or over the crossbar.

With no ‘Hawkeye’ to judge on the outcome, the final whistle was blown and the game entered the annals of ‘GAA game that never finished,’ and is possibly worth a big mention in the Guinness Book of Records.

Not only that, but many years later at a funeral, the person giving the oration dramatised and rewrote events of the day where, it was claimed, some protagonists ended up in the river swimming for their lives.

Other contributors include former Irish soccer international Niall Quinn, Meath legends Sean Boylan and Bernard Flynn, Tony O’Hehir, son of the legendary Michael, former Galway hurling captain Joe Connolly, ex-Armagh player and manager Joe Kernan and RTÉ hurling analyst and former Offaly star, Michael Duignan.

“The folklore and stories that built up around our games are part of the reason that the organisation occupies such a special place in Irish society,” said GAA President, Larry McCarthy.

“The GAA has always been about more than just games, it is part of what we are.”

Grassroots: Stories From The Heart Of The GAA (Volume 1), priced at €19.99, is available now in all good bookshops.

*If you have a GAA anecdote or story you would like to share for Volume 2, contact PJ Cunningham at 086-8217631 or at: pj@gaastories.ie.

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