A Short History ( written circa 1983 )
Magheracloone Mitchells, like most clubs, has had its fair share of ups and downs over the years. Up until twenty-five years ago, football in Magheracloone was a game for Sunday pastime only, and if a trophy or set of medals was won in the process then fair enough.
The Junior Championship trophy, The Mc Caldin Shield, was the first trophy for a county competition to come to the parish in 1936 and this success was repeated in 1946. In between times, football in the parish suffered the indignity of being represented by two clubs in one particular year and by none the next year.
As the fifties made way for the sixties, things began to change. Our curate of the time, Fr. Markey, after years of trying finally got together a team which brought the under-14 championship, the Fr. Mc Hugh Cup, to Magheracloone in 1960. In hindsight, this was one of the key factors in the upsurge of football interest in the parish. Another important factor was the election to the position of Club Chairman of Mr. Football himself, Gerry Boyle. Finally there was the decision to change the club colours from blue and gold to the now familiar and very distinctive black and white.
Success came in 1966 and it came with a bang. The coveted Junior Double was won by the wearers of the Black and White and Magheracloone became a senior team. Our first year back in senior football 1967 saw the club reach the Hackett Cup final where we lost to Ballybay but gained promotion to the Owen Ward Cup.
The club consolidated its position over the next few years and reached a new high in April 1972 when they won their way to the 1971 Owen Ward Cup final with a great win over Scotstown. The final against Castleblayney at Carrick was a football classic with the Mitchels extremely unlucky to lose on a scoreline of 3-11 to 2-12.
The senior team’s fortunes started to decline after this, but the other grades took over to keep football ticking in the parish. Our under-14 team won the championship for rural teams in 1973 and our under-15 and under-16 teams reached no fewer than 6 county finals in League and Championship in 1973 and 1974. That they did not win a final was due to the above-average teams which Monaghan Harps were fielding in those years. One consolation for this young team was the selection of Brian Busby as under-16 Player of the year in 1974.
Our junior team also came good around this time, and a junior ‘B’ Championship win in 1973 was followed by the Brennan Cup in 1974.
During this period our senior team were in relegation trouble in 1972 and 1973 and finally went down to Intermediate ranks at the end of the 1974 season. Our first year in the lower division ended with us reaching the Hackett Cup semi-final where we were beaten by Inniskeen. 1976 was another lean year as was 1977 despite reaching the Intermediate final for the first time where we were beaten by Cremartin. Our only joy in these years was the selection of our club secretary Francis Caldwell as Monaghan club official of the year in 1976, and also the ordination to the priesthood of one of our brightest young stars Larry Duffy, now curate in Castleblayney.
Club fortunes began to improve again in 1978 when our under-21 team reached the final of the Kerley Cup only to be beaten by Cremartin. The under-16 teams of 1973 and 1974 were now coming of age and were to form the basis of the successes of the following year. The number 13 may be considered unlucky to some, but thirteen years after the great double of 1966 came another double, the Kerley Cup for the under-21 League and the Intermediate Championship for the first time in 1979. The icing on the cake in 1979 was the selection of our captain Thomas Mc Dermott as Intermediate Player of the Year. However, our stay in senior ranks was to be a short one, dropping down after one year to the Hackett Cup, where we seem to be holding our own without showing any signs of setting the county football scene on fire.
On the non-playing side of the club, we began to use our new playing field in 1971 and last year we moved into our new dressing rooms which are connected to the Community Centre complex. The club has entered the Scor competition at senior level in every year since its inception and Scor na nOg on several occasions. In 1979 our quiz team reached the Ulster final as did our Scor na nOg instrumental group this year.
In foreign parts Magheracloone men play an important part in Gaelic affairs, especially in New York where Peter Jones is chairman, while Tommy Farrelly plays his part in Chicago. Meanwhile former Secretary Frank Bellew works tirelessly in Gloucestershire.
In 1981 the club broke new ground when a party of players and officials travelled to Hayes in Middlesex to be guests of the local club for the week-end. This is an aspect of club affairs which is likely to be built upon in future years.
To conclude, we in Magheracloone feel that we have a club which we can be proud of, and whilst the Senior Championship cup has never rested on our sideboard, we like to think that there are other yardsticks by which a club’s success can be measured.
by Jim Mc Mahon.