Joe Carroll looks back at his time in blue & White
1: First memory of the club -
Going to the Hut (our clubrooms at the time), wearing short trousers, to see one of my older brothers, Stephen, playing snooker- and cards, probably. Stephen and my other brothers, Peter and Paddy – who was club secretary for a number of years – played with the club. I’d have been at The Ramparts top field – where we now play – to see them in action.
2: Biggest GAA influence -
Although we lived just across the road from Oriel Park – and myself, my brothers and father would have gone there – Gaelic was our family’s game, and we all gravitated towards the Gaels. The Christian Brothers, who taught all of us – or tried, in my case – had a big influence, Gaelic being the school’s only game at the time.
3: Worst trainer -
I can’t really say if there was anyone who didn’t put it in on the training ground – there were just those who didn’t turn up on a regular basis. We all trained very hard coming up to finals, the 1962 Minor Championship, in particular. Seanie Coleman had charge of that team and we won, the only title I ever got my hands on.
4: Best trainer -
Same again, I suppose. There was no-one I can remember, either in underage or adult football, who would stay on and practice frees or anything like that when training was over. But, again, we made a huge effort for the 1979 Intermediate final, when Gerry Heeney was our trainer. This was the only adult final I was involved in as a player, and we lost to Geraldines.
5: Funniest team mate -
There’s been some talk in the papers recently of a player who headed a goal for Laois in a senior championship match with Dublin. We got one of those in a league game with Clan na Gael, and the headline in the Democrat the following week was “Header Finds The Net.” Terry Callan, a brother of well-known Dundalk and Doncaster player, Francie, was the scorer.
6: Favourite pitch -
I’d love to make PJ Loughran jealous with this one, but, unfortunately, can’t - he also played in Croke Park. It’s every player’s ambition to run out at headquarters, and I was lucky to that in my time it was the venue most years for Louth’s minor and under-21 championship matches. I also played senior there as a full-back, and while masquerading as a goalkeeper. At local level, St Brigid’s Park was great to play on, and I have good memories of schools’ and underage football in the Athletic Grounds.
7: Most memorable win -
I’d pick the minor final of 1962 if I hadn’t had such a stinker that day against the O’Rahilly’s. It was good to beat Dreadnots in the 1979 intermediate semi-final, qualifying the club for its first adult championship final in 27 years, and though I had long retired, the win in the same competition’s 1987 final, when we exacted revenge over Gers, was sweet. Again, looking on from the sideline, we had three great wins on the way to the 1992 senior final, and were unlucky not to have another. Danny Culligan looked after that team. We had a great win over Laois side, Arles-Killeen, in the final of the 2003 Leinster intermediate final, making us the first Louth team to win a provincial title. Paul Lynch was manager, assisted by Michael Matthews.
8: Favourite sportsperson -
I’m old enough to remember Ronnie Delany’s 1956 Melbourne Olympics 1,500 metres win, and Drogheda boxer, Tony ‘Socks’ Byrne, beating one of the greatest amateurs of all time, Scotland’s Dick McTaggart, in an International at, I think, the Albert Hall. Staying strictly Irish, if I can put it like that, I’d find it hard to beat any of John Treacy’s three great runs – winning the World Cross-Country title in Glasgow and again the following year, this time in Limerick, and then running a gallant second in the marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Boxer, Michael Carruth’s Olympic Gold was another to savour. I’m travelling back in time again, this time to find my GAA hero – Down full-forward, Sean O’Neill.
9: Your having a dinner party, Three people you'd invite -
Not three, but hundreds. I’d hire the biggest hall I can get and invite as many Gaels people that can be fitted into it. Present would be heroes, good footballers, poor footballers, rogues, vandals, reprobates, those who transferred to other clubs but saw the error of their ways and came back, tickets-sellers, sideline men, scoreboard operators, flag-wavers, flag-makers, flag-sellers, selectors, subs, managers, umpires, Fas workers and – from the weeks before we played in a county final – sandwich-makers, teas brewers and servers of delicious buns. We’d have loads of grub, no shortage of drink, a few songs, maybe a row or two, and – would a night be the same without it? - a Sean McCann parody. PJ Loughran would be asked to explain how he sat on the St Patrick’s Boys’ Choir for about ten years, but still can’t sing a note, Tom Quinn would give us The Dalin Men From Crossmaglen, San Francisco, or maybe that poem about Belfast linen, and if the drink was good, I’d have a go at The Music Man, insisting that everyone join in the chorus. The ball would be thrown in around 8 o’clock, and it wouldn’t be until we could hear the dawn chorus that we’d call a halt.