Updated: 23/10/17 : 05:26:39
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History made after six decades at ‘The Park’

Comment By: Eugene McGloin

MARKIEVICZ PARK
saw rare history happen just before 5.30pm yesterday evening, Sunday.

Tourlestrane had just beaten Eastern Harps to deservedly retain the Owen B Hunt cup trophy for senior club football in the County.

Their back-to-back annual championships title sequence had NEVER been done before at the Sligo Town ground.

You had to go back 28 years to find when any club last did the double in Sligo senior club football.

But St Patrick’s from Dromard won their 1988 and 1989 titles in Ballymote.

Three Venues

And when Sligo Town club St Marys did two treble a decade earlier they did it at three separate venues.

Those three venues were Ballymote, Markievicz Park, Tubbercurry.

Markievicz Park opened in the mid 1950s — more anon — and Tourlestrane have been, far and away, the most successful club in Sligo in those years.

Tourlestrane have won thirteen senior county titles at football since 1956.

Not all of them have been won at the Markievicz Park either.....but the venue has been good and kind to Tourlestrane.

Records in Gavin Cawley’s excellent programme yesterday suggest that the small parish near the Mayo border has won eleven titles in Markievicz Park since 1978.

Stem Siege

Yesterday Tourlestrane had four points to spare at the finish, 1-13 to Eastern Harps 1-9 in the competition sponsored by The Belfry.

Not even an inspirational point with three minutes left, from play and from near the right sideline, by 35 years old ‘County’ stalwart Ross Donovan could stem the siege.

Siege? It didn’t look much look like that or that history was beckoning, when Harps went in at half time four points up. It could/should have been more.

Then Tourlstrane hit five unanswered points at the start of the second half and that, as they say, was that.

Harps were outclassed in that second period, which they lost by a massive eight points.

Predictable Turn-Overs

A team not chasing  national honours is unlikely to keep analysis and  a stats breakdown on team turn-overs..... and of the damage done.

Harps did turn-overs too predictably and too often yesterday, especially in the second half.

It took Harps almost fifteen minutes to register their first score after the turnaround.

Turnaround? It certainly was that and the losers contributed to their downfall and destruction.

Textbook Response

Old-style Gaelic football saw the keeper belt kicks out to centre field and ‘may the best man win’ and all that.

But what happens when your own man doesn’t win your own kicks out?

Yesterday afternoon provided a textbook response to that simplest of questions.

The scoring skills of Shane O’Grady for Harps, especially in that (confident) first half maybe deserved something more.

But football never, ever, stops for sentiment. The hurlers of Western Gaels learned that an hour earlier. More anon.

Besides Tourlestrane were certainly fitter, showed more nous when the game was up for grabs. They showed more craft and graft throughout. 

John Kelly deservedly got Man of the Match moments after his insurance point sealed the day of Sligo GAA history at Markievicz Park.

He has hopefully another decade of senior football to add accolades.

It is less likely we will see either Ross Donovan of Harps or Pat Harte of Mayo and Tourlestrane — both aged 35 — back too often on ‘county final day.’ More’s the pity.

By the by, two pointers pissed me off about Tourlestrane yesterday afternoon.

1. They broke early from the official parade, which is appalling bad manners if you’re a paying punter.

2. Ditto if you bought the official programme and found Tourlestrane had made a string of team changes before the throw-in. Explain. 

Livestream Screening

Both Sligo GAA finals were shown Livestream on the YouTube channel throughout yesterday afternoon. 

It was a great innovation, for Gaels living abroad and especially for those living more locally who can no longer make it to ‘The Park.’ 

Well done to all involved for a superb package of crisp pictures and commentary linkage.

That livestream package included Western Gaels facing highly fancied opponents in the senior hurling final. 

Gumption Aplenty

Gerry O’Connor described those opponents perfectly in the match programme — “the aristocrats of hurling in Sligo,” Calry St Joseph’s.

Yet, the Gaels led by three points at half time, scored three goals, lost by only two points, yet never (really) looked like winning.

The Gaels all showed ‘gumption’ where they lacked enough skilled players to make a predictable result anything other than, eh, predictable.

But hopefully we will see them on county final day again and on a winners podium. 

Man of the Match was Sligo’s outstanding hurler of the past decade, Keith Raymond of Calry St Joseph’s.

Meanwhile, yesterday’s half time interval saw Sligo GAA honour volunteers from each club.

More accurately they honoured some volunteers and even more accurately they honoured current volunteers. 

‘Markievicz’ records no doubt show the volunteer work done on the ground itself in its early days and years.

Incidentally ‘The Park’ officially opened in 1955 with a senior inter-County hurling exhibition, not often seen nowadays in these parts.

More Ear

Speaking of volunteers, the teens and tots who travelled from Enniskillen to play with St Michael’s band surely deserved a bit more ear.

What was the (silly) point of three boring monthly GAA draws loudly blared in the main stand at half time while the band tried to play elsewhere.

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