St. Kevin's GAA Philipstown Crest

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While 2017 holds the fifty year anniversary for the Kevin’s McArdle Cup three-in-a-row, it also marks the 60th anniversary for the Louth All-Ireland win in 1957. I paid a visit to Patsy Coleman in his home in Ardee, where he graciously acquiesced to some questions about his recollections of the weeks leading up to the big day and the match itself!

How much preparation did you take to become match ready?

We always kept ourselves very fit, we did very hard training for three weeks before the final, Soccer Quigley kept us in tune; he really looked after us. I used to train a lot on my own, I was well noted for having a school bag full of sand, and I would run up the hills of Hacklims near Garrett’s mound. I wouldn’t stop until I got to the top, and I’d run back down them. However, it was harder to control my pace running down the steep hills! I kept myself very fit. An extra step I took to keep my muscles supple was that I would run through a drain with a sandy bottom that was 100 yards long. 

On a winter’s morning, fully clothed with boots and water waist high, I’d run up and down it for half an hour. To coincide with the training, I kept to a special diet; I used to have cream, raw eggs and grapes. I’d chop them all up together. We had 300 hens so coming or going to training, I’d grab an egg and take it like a shot.

What do you remember from the day of the final?

I remember that morning very clearly, I was one of the fella’s that my mother got me up at five o’clock in the morning and made my dinner for me, so I had the proper nutrition to keep going. I went for a walk by Hacklim, walked nice and gentle, and kept the mind nice and quiet. At about half ten, the taxi came to take us to Dublin, and the driver was Pat Boyle (brother to Sean Boyle). Sean as in the 1950 All-Ireland final against Mayo. We went along Skerries, taking in the fresh air and went to mass in Whitehall Church. After we left mass, we headed for the hotel, where we had a light cup of tea and chatted about the final. Then the time came for us to go to Croke Park.

We all had our own place in the dressing room, my place naturally enough was in the corner. As we got ready we were given a cup of tea, (which we also got at halftime). Before we marched out, Tom Conlon gave us the best lecture anyone could get walking out to that pitch. He got us all together and said “Listen lads, I was here against Mayo in the All-Ireland final, and I was reading great press reports in the weeks before hand and I thought I was the main man. After that match, I was a very despondent man. All I want today are 15 triers, we’re not going to need a lot of stars today, all we need is 15 triers, that’s all I’m asking of you today.” He came down with his fist on the table, and every cup went up in the air and landed on the ground,and that was the end of that! We went out and done what Tom told us to do and it worked well for us. 

It took a good while for us to realise that we had won the Sam Maguire. We did spend a bit of time in the dressing room and then  there was the usual signing some autographs for the supporters. We went back to the reception dinner in the Hollybrook Hotel and it was a wild night that night!

The next morning we woke up and we headed home around dinner time. Everyone was out on the street, we were stopping at places we weren’t expecting to because people were out cheering us on! Everyone was delighted Louth had won the All-Ireland. We arrived in Drogheda and in the White Horse Hotel. I know it was three in the morning when we arrived in Ardee, and people still had bonfires blazing below at the fair green. 

When we won the All-Ireland, it was a very young team at the time. Frank Lynch was only past his eighteenth year, I was just gone twenty, Ollie Reilly was twenty also. Jim Roe was also in a similar situation. We thought we’d win it every second year, so we really didn’t get so excited with all the expectations we had as a team. In our 60th years it’s only now that we really appreciated what we achieved.. That’s just the way it goes. We’ve built up a really strong comradeship amongst the remaining players. As people would know, I have the ball that we played with. It’s sobering to see the names of the players that wrote their names on the evening of the final in the dressing room, the likes of Tom Conlon, Stephen White, Sean Cunningham, Jim McDonnell, who have all gone to their resting place.

Hopefully we’ll be alive to see Louth win another All-Ireland title. 

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