The All-Ireland Champions
Presentation and entertainment in Naas
On Tuesday last on behalf of the people of the County Kildare to the G.A.A. team which annexed All-Ireland honours recently was made to the members of the team in the Agricultural Buildings, Naas. The presentation took the form of silver hunter watches and chains with gold medals of antique Irish design attached. The watches and medals were inscribed, that on the inside back of the watch cases being:- ‘Presented to – as a member of the G.A.A. team in All-Ireland Football Championship 1919.’ The name of each member of the team was inscribed on the watch presented to him.
The presentation was made by Mr. Geo. Wolfe, J.P., Co. C., Vice-Chiarman of teh Co. Council and amongst those present were – Lord Frederick Fitzgerald, Messrs. Joseph O’Connor, James O’Connor, P. J. Doyle, J.P., M. Fitzsimmons, P. Phelan, Jas. Sunderland, J.P., W. Murray, Jos. Connolly, P. Coffey, John Quinn, A. O’Connor, T.D., J. Fitzgerald, T.C.; W. E. Coffey, and Myles Quinn, Hon. Secretaries of the Presentation Committee, etc.
Mr. Wolfe, in making the presentation said he was only voicing the feelings of his colleagues and himself and of the people of the county generally without distinction when he said it was a great honour to them to have the privilege of making such a presentation to a team of young Kildare men who had so valiantly upheld the prestige and asserted the supremacy of the county of the Short Grass in the arena of sport. To the members of the County Council from whom the proposal first emanated, it was a very pleasant means of bringing their run to an end, and in that tribute to the young men of the G.A.A. championship team they were expressing the feelings of pride and admiration which filled the breasts of the people of the county generally, irrespective of whatever they might agree or disagree of in other spheres (applause). They were proud, too, to be the first county in Ireland that thus united in an all-county movement to which the people subscribed in this marking their pride and admiration to the upholders of the honours of the county on the sports field. That was but fitting, as there was no county in Ireland in which sport and tall that stood for clean, honest, physical fitness was so highly prized nor in which it had been brought to such a high degree of efficiency, as the occasion proved, and in connection with that movement it was only fair that mention should be made of some of the members of the County Council who had been most energetic in bringing the movement to fruition. Mr. Joseph O’Connor had been a power in himself and a driving force that, notwithstanding the shortage of things generally, had overcome the difficulties which stood in the way of procuring watches that would not alone mark the people’s appreciation of the services of the young men of the county team, but would be of practical utility to them in the days to come. Mr. Phelan, Mr. Healy, Mr. Fitsimmons, and Mr. Coffey too, deserved tributes for their energy and enthusiasm in forwarding the movement (hear, hear). They all hoped the recipients would like the watches, and that they would be mementoes to them in the days to come of what they had achieved and an incentive to them to continue to uphold the honour of their Co. (applause). He wished the wearers of the watches good luck, and hoped that as time passed on, and when in the days that lay ahead – long and happy days he hoped for all of them – they looked at their watches, they would be to them remembrances of what they had done when they were young, and of how Kildare had joined as one man in doing honour to those who did honour and brought the laurels of a much coveted victory to Kildare (applause.)
Mr. Joseph O’Connor said as his name had been mentioned he would only say that to him it was a labour of love to help forward the movement. He took personal pride in the fact that one of his own relations was a member of the team. They were all united in paying that tribute of admiration to the team. He had always felt – and had said so at least once before – that politics should never enter into the realms of sport, and he was glad to see that feeling was shared by those who had joined so generally in showing the feelings they entertained for the team and stood and won honour for their county (applause).
The medals were then presented to the team as follows: Messrs. Joe McDonald (trainer), Larry Stanley (captain), James O’Connor, Paul Doyle, Thomas Goulding, Michael Buckley, J. Flynn, Joseph O’Connor, Geo. Magan, L. Cribben, Michael Sammon, Frank Conlan, B. McGlade, Jas. Moran, J. Conlan, A. O’Neill, Thos. Lawler, B. Garrett, G. Carey and Peter Grady.
Mr. Jack Fitzgerald said on behalf of the Gaels of Kildare he had to return thanks. Mr. Wolfe said it was a pleasure to them to make the presentation when about to leave. They had been warned that they must not touch politics but he would say if Mr. Wolfe was doing actions like that every day of the week they would never want him to leave office (laughter). He did not know whether the Selection Committee of the Co. Council had in their minds the future in choosing watches as their presents. Perhaps they had done a bad thing for the G.A.A., for if a referee chanced by any means to allow a game to run for a minute over the allotted span he would probably be lynched by the holders of the accurate timekeepers with which they had just been presented (laughter). But he believed the members of the Co. Council had rather in their mind’s eye a certain abuse which existed in the G.A.A. in the county in the past in not starting their matches punctually. He was voicing the feelings of every member of the Kildare team when he thanked them from the bottom of his heart for the demonstration of support and admiration for men who knew how to play the game and who played it. It was the first time a presentation of that sort had ever been made to a county team, and he was proud that the first county to take action was good old Kildare, the finest and the greatest sporting place in the whole world (hear, hear). The G.A.A. was non-political and non-sectarian. It was a national association which he believed had done any amount of good for Ireland by nourishing and developing the physical powers of the race. While thanking them most heartily he believed it was the duty of every Irishman to support the G.A.A. (applause),
The team and their entertainers then set down to a repast provided by the Committee, and the catering for which was in the capable hands of Mrs. Lawlor, Poplar Square.
Note: My thanks to Miriam O’Flaherty who brought in a copy of this article from an undated newspaper, probably from February 1920.