by ehistoryadmin on September 4, 2020

Stanley and Moran, two stars of Kildare’s 1919 victory

Two Kildare All-Ireland medallists survive – not from 1927 or 1928, as may be imagined, but from the 1919 win over Galway.

Two men who had the most important jobs of the day live in Rathmines and Edenderry respectively. Larry Stanley is now 88, and has decided not to give any more interviews to the flock of G.A.A. historians who want to talk to him about the game of that era.

But the full-back that day in 1919, James ‘Ginger’ Moran (his nickname is so commonly used that most people don’t know his first name) had the job of looking after the ‘Knacker’ Walsh.

Top scorer

The ‘Knacker’ was the top scorer on a Galway team that beat Mayo and Kerry to reach the final. Moran did his duty well – Kildare won by 2-5 to 0-1 in one of the most one-sided All-Irelands of all time.

The combination of Ginger at full-back and Larry ‘Hussey’ Cribben in goal looked after the Galway forwards after their very first attack had trickled narrowly wide. With Stanley in fine form at centre-field the ball rarely crossed the half way line thereafter.

One Kildare fan remembers ‘Hussey’ had the pitch completely ploughed up around the posts as his great hulking mass plodded over and back across the goalmouth

Won two S.F.C.s

‘Ginger’ Moran, like most of the Kilcock team that won two county championships in the 1910’s, was a product of the Tommy Kelly school of football.

Kelly had, as a youngster, played on the 1905 All-Ireland winning team. Then he was a member of Clane. His connections enabled him to bring great players from all over Kildare to play with Kilcock, Jack Dunne from Digby Bridge in Caragh parish, Joe Rafferty, the Naas-based former captain of both Clane and Roseberry, George Magan, Albert O’Neill, both from Celbridge, Joe Connor from Timahoe, the Bourkes of Carbury and various Naas players including ‘Lagger’ Higgins, all played with Kilcock.

Tommy went down to the school to promote football and as a boy, Ginger Moran played with the rest of the Bawnogues, Kilcock. He remembers one day the Bawnogues was waterlogged, the youngsters took off their shoes and played a cross between football and water-polo in their bare feet.

His dedication brought him back weekly from Kiltegan where he worked on the McHugh demesne. He got the job there because his first cousin had been a foreman on the estate.

The schedule was dinner at 1.30 on Saturday, then a 40-mile cycle to Kilcock, match on Sunday, tea on Sunday evening, and then cycle back via the dancehall at Poulaphouca falls.

Abiding memory

His abiding memory of club football at the time was the matches against Maynooth, the great local rivals. He recalls one 21-yard-free with a heavy wet ball that he sent skidding between the Maynooth backs for a late goal that won the match.

Ginger can’t place the match, but it was probably the 1914 Kildare semi-final when Kilcock beat Maynooth 2-0 to 1-2 with a late goal that caused the match to be unfinished.

Kilcock won the championship that year with Ginger at wing-forward, two of the old 1915 heroes, Joe Rafferty, Jack Dunne, and captain Tommy Kelly, and three local men who would figure on the 1919 team, Ginger, Joe Connor and Kit Flynn, like Ginger a revolutionary in troubled times.

From Two Mile House, Kildare found a fine forward in Jim O’Connor. O’Connor was a master of frees, a citeog, and a fine athlete, Ginger recalls.

Kilcock won another county final in 1917, and that year Ginger, moved to full-back after Jack Dunne had broken a hand playing handball, found himself on the county team.

The 1918 championship match against Laois is another he remembers – the ball burst, a replacement was found, it only lasted a few minutes, then when it exploded the original was tried again without success. The whole fiasco was abandoned and Kildare easily won the replay.

The Leinster final against Dublin was the highlight of the 1919 championship run. Dublin had beaten seven-in-a-row seeking Wexford in the semi-final, Paddy McDonald was the star of the match.

Larry Stanley played like a man possessed, beat McDonald on every occasion, and turned on the style – notably the one-handed catch that made his play even more spectacular.

Kildare won by 1-3 to 1-2, beat Cavan and Galway to regain the All-Ireland championship after a 14-year lapse. It restored valuable faith in Kildare football, and set the scene for further successes in 1927 and 1928. One of the discoveries of 1919, who made his debut in the All-Ireland final, was to play a great part in the twenties victories – he was Paul Doyle of Maddenstown.

On the run

Political, rather than sporting events, ended ‘Ginger’ Moran’s inter-county career. He went ‘on the run’ first from the Black and Tans, and later Free State forces. Since his playing days he has been based in Edenderry.

Soon after the Hall of Fame award was devised, Ginger Moran was a recipient in 1978. The following year, the second survivor of that 1919 team, Larry Stanley, received the award sixty years after the All-Ireland win.

‘Ginger’ has lived in Edenderry all his life since – and Seamus Darby and Richie Connor accorded him a special place in the town’s celebrations with the Sam Maguire Cup last year.

Maybe the Kildare captain will accord him the same honour in the near future.

The Nationalist Centenary, 1983

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