The team of 1962 and featured players like Phil Mulholland, John McNally, John Nolan, the Grant brothers and Vincent McCaffrey who had served the club for some time already and others who were to play right throughout the sixties. The team contained some very talented footballers and some great characters. The outstanding character was Mike Folan captain and midfielder but this team was to be demoralised by the untimely death of Mike in a tragic drowning accident in May 1963. It was to the great credit of the club that they immediately undertook the responsibility of getting his remains home to his grieveing family in Cashel, Connemara. Mike was a fine footballer, a great character and friend and a tragic loss to all who knew him. May he rest in peace.
At New Eltham in Oct/Nov 1965 we faced our near neighbours St.Finbarr’s on a bitterly cold day in the League final. We won a very hard fought final and it was to be our only title win in my eleven years with the Emmett’s. Bearing in mind the lack of proper training and tactics this was easily the most talented and well balanced outfit that ever represented the Emmett’s in my time. Some went on to represent their various home counties and there is little doubt that many of the others could have had they been domiciled at home. Coincidentally, tragedy was to strike again with a member of this photo. Brendan Dolan was a student in Manchester at this time and ‘guested’ for us that day starting off at right corner back and moving to full back where he played superbly. He was a brother of another very solid footballer, Tom, who played for the Emmett’s between 1963-67. Brendan returned to his native Tyrone and by the early seventies he had established himself at midfield on the Tyrone team. He was highly regarded as an excellent prospect but was tragically killed in a road accident in January 1973. Again, he was a tragic loss to all who knew him. May he rest in peace.
Joe Winstone played for Donegal for a few years and played in the team that beat Tyrone in the 1972 Ulster Final. Michael Mooney went on to represent Wicklow at corner back for a few years. John Kelly, although a Derryman, played some county minor for Meath, represented Meath at senior level for three matches and played once for Derry before emigrating to London.
Our major problem as a team was the difficulty in maintaining some kind of team stability as players moved in search of more lucrative employment. These three played for the Emmett’s right throughout the sixties - Jimmy McNamee (Belfast), Jimmy Cunningham (Donegal) and myself. A few others who gave terrific service in the latter part of the sixties include Michael Mooney, John Farrelly, Paddy Gilmartin, Sean Murphy, Tommy Corry and Tommy McFarlane. Mick Kelly (Drogheda) played for a short time with the Emmett’s and had a great final. Also Colm Grant and Patsy Doherty gave great service.
Tom Dolan (Roscommon) transferred from St.Finbarr’s for the 1966 season and played for a few years as well as Sean Campbell and Noel McKernan whom I recruited from my former college, St.Mary’s of Strawberry Hill.
The latter part of the sixties was pretty uneventful in terms of winning titles with many players passing through the ranks of the Emmett’s. Possibly the one player who impressed me most in my time with the Emmett’s was centre half back Oliver Courtney of Fermanagh who played around the 1964 season. He was a spectacular fielder of the ball, a tenacious tackler and a good reader of the game. To me he was the most complete footballer and he went on to represent Fermanagh.
In conclusion, I apologise to the many whose names I could not recall owing to my poor memory and, in particular, to those in the two photographs whose play I remember but names I forget. My time with the Emmett’s was certainly enriched by the many fine individuals… …and characters I made contact with and, certainly, by the number of people in both photographs whom I can still count as close friends. Here’s to the next fifty years ! “
Thanks to Jim’s input there is little more to add except to point out that the early 1960s were characterised by Championship setbacks - against eventual winners Geraldines in 1960 and Thomas McCurtains in 1961- and to reiterate the fact that the aforementioned team were the first Emmett’s representatives to capture silverware with their Intermediate Football League victory in 1965.
Incidentally, 1965 must have been quite a busy year for Joe McNamara as he became the first Emmett’s player to pick up dual medals when Emmet’s hurlers “completed the double” by winning the intermediate hurling league.
The early 1970s proved to be the lowest point on the football front. So many players - Jim Kelly and Joe Winstone included - had returned to Ireland, the Club was unable to field and subsequently broke up for 3-4 years.
Fortunately better times were just around the corner, thanks largely to the arrival in 1976 of Mick Sheahan, and the efforts of 1977-9 were directed into re-establishing the Club rather than attaining immediate success.
Nevertheless by 1980 we were back competing for the League and Championship and our involvement in the McArdle Cup - where we reached the quarter-final stage - the Mullarkey Cup - where we finally lost out to Thomas McCurtains in a replayed semi-final - and our victory in the County Board Seven-a-side tournament signalled that we were back with a vengance. Furthermore the emergence of our very own ‘quality street gang’ - including a 20 year old PJ McGinley, Charlie O’Donoghue and Peter Scales - highlighted in our 1981 achievement in reaching the League semi-final on the back of 5 successive victories over St.Malachy’s, St.Brendan’s, South & O’Hanlon’s, Acton Gaels and St.Gabriel’s - was added proof that good fortune was near at hand.
1982 saw continued improvement with the arrival of Willie O’Dea, Declan Masterson and Jimmy Ward and, although we were relatively unsuccessful on the park, the team understanding illustrated in many of our performances signalled that a breakthrough was imminent.
It came in 1983 as the cobwebs were dusted from the trophy cabinet at long last. After years of fruitless endeavour we captured the Junior Football Championship, defeating St.Brendan’s by the bare minimum - 1-10 to 2-6 - in a nailbiter at Ruislip.
As was the case in each of the previous matches on the road to the final, Emmett’s turned a half-time deficit around to bring home the gold. Whilst centre-fielders Sean Duggan and Pat Murphy were commanding the middle of the park, and the rock like half-back line of Seamus Clancy, Pat Shyrne and captain Gerry Walsh were providing a stern barrier to ‘the Brendans’, teenager Tony Griffin was making a sizable mark on the scoreboard with a 5 point contribution. They were ably supported by, amongst others, Mick Joyce, Joe Birney, Padraic Garvey, Seamus Barry, Oliver McDonnell, Gerald Farrell, Declan Masterson and Jimmy Ward.
Despite overall domination Emmetts’ failure to put their opponents away kept our followers in the Ruislip attendance on tenderhooks until the end. Their worries were ended by the shrill of the referee‘s final whistle, to signal the beginning of the mother of all celebrations.
Those were heady days as our Championship form was carried over into our League and Cup perfomances. The footballers established a new club record by recording eleven wins from thirteen games - remaining unbeaten in the League throughout 1983 and reaching the last four before succumbing to an unexpected defeat at the hands of St.Theresa’s in a semi-final encounter played early the following year.
1984 proved a disappointing time after the highs of the previous year. Rather than the move up to intermediate status proving too hot to handle, a complete fall off in attendance at training played the biggest part in our not building on the success of the previous year.
In the Championship, League and Murphy Cup we took our leave at the semi-final stage - losing out to Acton Gaels in the former and to St. Anne’s twice in the other two.
“Misfortune” was the byword of 1985. Yet again Acton Gaels proved our downfall in the championship - the eventual winners beating us by the narrowest of margins at the quarter-final stage.
Moreover, repeating our fate of a year earlier, our quest for League and Cup honours was ended at the semi-final juncture - the Geraldines defeating us by a bare point in the League and repeating the fate in the Shiels Cup. Similarly, our old rivals St. Anne’s were again our bane in the Murphy Cup.
On the sideline Dennis Sullivan and Chris Keane assured that Mick Sheahan remained his usual relaxed self !!
John Joyce’s training methods nearly paid off in 1986 until our, by now, perennial semi-final bogey struck yet again as we departed the Championship and Shiels Cup at the hands of Brian Boru’s and St.Joseph’s respectively. The following year, 1987 - though trophyless - was most notable for the selection of Peter Lyons and Leonard McEnery for the London minors.
1988 was nostalgia time with our 40th Anniversary celebrations taking precedence. Over 200 gathered at St.Patrick’s hall in Walthamstow “...to look back on days gone by and relive events and memories..” in the words of one of our founding members and then Club Chairman, the late Bill Horgan R.I.P. Highlight of the evening was the selection of the best footballers to have ever represented the Emmett’s.
See how many bells these ring :
Full-back line –
Jimmy Cunningham, Jimmy Murphy, Peter Lyons;
Jimmy McStay, Mick Folan, PJ McGinley;
Pakie Kiernan, Pat Murphy;
Seamus Barry, Jimmy Kelly, Pascal O’Brien;
Full-forward line –
Vincent McCafferty, Sean Murphy, Jimmy McNamee.
As part of our Anniversary celebrations we also played host to Erins Own and Douglas from Cork at Easter time. On the park we were able to field both a first and a reserve team - such was the influx of players at the time - although neither met with success in their respective competitions.
1989 is best remembered for our tour of Ireland, visiting Ballyhea in Cork and Athea and Doon in Limerick. The party included such well known Club servants as Pat Hunt, Mick Keogh, Vincent McKenna, Peter Lyons, Liam O’Brien and John McConnell.
On the field disappointing performances led to early exits in all competions, a phenomenom that carried over into 1990 when we again lost any chances of silverware thanks to first-round exits. However, the responsibilty for this could certainly not be laid at the door of any long-standing servants like Micky Fallon, John McGee and Noel Walsh.
1991 saw the birth of a squad that threatened to win all and sundry over the next couple of years - but who ultimately didn’t realise their potential. Nevertheless the arrival of players of the calibre of Der Cronin, Larry Quigley, John Murrey, ‘the Bomber’ Jim O’Shea, Willie Fox, Billy Byrne, Pascal Mahon and Colm Murphy - an ever-present until this day - gave the Club a momentum that is still felt.
The winning of the Club’s first trophy in a decade, the Sean Shiels Cup in December 1992, illustrated this potential. Earlier in the year our final opponents, Western Exiles, had pulled off the intermediate League and Championship double and in October we were more than a touch unfortunate to fail against Shannon Rovers in the final of the Murphy Cup. However everything came right on a wintry Sunday at Ruislip when our top showing of the season - illustrated by the sterling performances of Mick Kelly, Pat McNamee, Johnny Harvey and Tom Mullan - saw us home on a 1-11 to 0-10 scoreline.
1993 was a year of great expectations that looked destined for silverware but ultimately ended in a heartbreaking intermediate final defeat on the first Sunday of October. There were many highlights on the way, however - none more so than our 2-8 to 1-7 semi-final win over Championship favourites, John Mitchel’s.
After victories over Harlesden Harps, Geraldines and Thomas McCurtain’s, a realisation that “this could be the year” grew amongst one of the most talented football panels to wear the Blue and Gold. In their way stood ‘the Mitchells’ who had effectively ended our hopes of League success with a controversial victory and who were themselves looking for ‘the Double’ after going on to win the League…
..When the horses were let loose, Pascal Mahon galloped away to race us into an early lead of three points. When Mitchels responded with four scores of their own, ‘the Bomber’ O’Shea took the bull by the horns and his sublimely finished goal gave us a 1-3 to 0-4 lead.
Another ‘Pascal special’ strengthened our hand after the break and with Captain Larry Quigley continually prising open our opponents, Johnny Harvey’s scoring giving Pascal a well deserved rest, and Kieron Mostyn letting neither friend nor foe within shouting distance of Dean O’Brien’s goal, there was to be no way back for John Mitchel’s - although a late goal allowed Mick Sheahan enjoy a customary sideline sweat.
The final against Heston Alts was to be a desperately disappointing anti-climax, however. Early on the signs were good as ‘the two Pats’ Jordan and Ryan placed a stranglehold on centre-field, with the likes of Joe Sweeney, Willie Fox, Sean Dunne and Colm Murphy tidying up behind them. Upfield Fintan Shortall’s freetaking and Tom Mullan’s punching power - interjected by a seemingly never ending solo and 35 yard finish from corner-back Dunne - meant that we enjoyed an 0-9 to 0-6 advantage five minutes into the second-half.
Unfortunately, as Michael O’Hehir was apt to comment, “That my friends was that”. We totally lost our way thereafter, remaining scoreless for the remainder and collapsing in defence, handing the Holy Grail to an Alts team who were to go on and enjoy further success in the Senior ranks.
More positively, though, recognition of the quality of the team of ‘93 came in the selection of chief marksman, Fintan Shortall, for the County Seniors and Fintan did himself and our club proud - and made London GAA history - with his last-minute clinching point against Waterford in London’s debut fixture in the National League.
The deeds of the previous year meant that we looked to 1994 with optimism. Certainly the arrival on the panel of such figures as Hugh Hegarty and Derek Heffernan gave us added momentum in our search for honours - especially Hugh’s ‘punishment sessions’ in training. Ultimately, however, it was to prove a case of so near but yet so far again in the Championship - although our Murphy Cup success in November ensured we ended the year on a high…
…Wins over John Mitchel’s, Brian Boru’s and the highly fancied South & O’Hanlon’s set us up for a penultimate Championship decider against Shannon Rovers. Unfortunately, semi-finalitis struck in the same way it had Emmetts’ teams of yore and our worst perfomance of the year saw us go down by a flattering scoreline of 1-10 to 0-9. Similarly unsatisfactory was our failure to secure Senior League football - a result mainly of us drawing 3 of our 6 games and a factor that could be attributed to the USA’94 lessons learnt in the Mini World Cup Tournament we staged earlier that May at the Fairways, Walthamstow !!
Happily, we were somewhat able to exorcise our Championship fate at the hands of Shannon Rovers by romping home with a 1-10 to 0-3 victory in the final of the Murphy Cup thanks to a blend of old and new - another new face, Jim Gogarty, playing a major part in the success alongside ‘old-stagers’ like that man Shortall and ‘the Bomber’.
An early and unexpected Championship exit at the hands of Sean Treacy’s summarises our bad fortune in 1995. The return to Derry of Hugh Hegarty after only a year with ‘the Emmett’s put a dampener on our season before it had begun and this malaise was carried over into the League where we missed out on promotion to Division 1 through defeat to St.Claret’s and Neasden Gaels. More positively Pat McNamee and Colm Murphy - and trainer Mick Sheahan - brought distinction to the Club with their performances for the London juniors on the road to the All-Ireland Junior final where they were unlucky to lose to Mayo.
1996-7 saw a period of rebuilding as the team of the early 1990s gradually broke up. Interestingly, in the same way that many of the 1960s team of Jim Kelly and Co. attended St.Mary’s of Strawberry Hill 1996-7 saw the renewal of our ‘academic’ connections with that part of suburban south-west London, thanks to the influx of the ‘Kingston University brigade’ in the form of Shay Galvin, Ivor Clune, Niall Coyne and co.
1998 was disappointing from the point of view that we had hoped to celebrate our 50th year with some silverware. A relatively inexperienced team found the going tough – as first round Championship, Shiels Cup and Murphy Cup exits are testimony to… …However a disappointing league campaign was interspersed with victories over St.Michael’s and St.Anne’s/Eire Og giving us a degree of optimism for the year ahead. Off the field the clear highlight of the year was our 50th Anniversary Dinner Dance in April at the Harringay Irish Centre. It was a momentous night when past and present club members were able to come together and reminisce on former glories – and funny stories – concerning those who have borne the Blue & Gold down through the years.
1999 was an equally frustrating year on the field as we suffered first round Championship and Shiels Cup losses and lost out to St.Anthony’s in the quarter-final after a first round bye. In a stronger and enlarged league we recorded wins over the Geraldine’s and St.Joseph’s (alongside 3 walkovers) but lost out 9 times to teams of the strength of Moindearg, St.Claret’s, St.Kiernan’s, etc. However playing regular fixtures against the likes of Moindearg gave us a continuity that prolonged breaks between matches had undermined in preceeding years; allowing us to build up a momentum for 2000 that was strengthened by the arrival of Colum Buckley, Dominic Hurley and Niall Fitzgerald (amongst others) to the Blue & Gold ranks.
We can look back on 2000 with a great deal of satisfaction as the coming together of the hurling and football panels for training and playing purposes strengthened both our respective hands - at a time when other London Clubs continue to weaken and even fold – and made for a thoroughly enjoyable year both on and off the field as 1 unified Club. Indeed this collective spirit and, equally as importantly, a real commitment to training from March to November, saw us through to the semi-finals of the League, Shiels & Murphy Cups – with our victory in the Murphy Cup semi putting us through to our –as yet unplayed – first final since 1993. The only blot on a successful year on the park was our loss of all four Championship matches (London having a league format for C’ship for the first time) which was attributable to what can only be described as a mass disappearance around July.
Off the park our collectiveness was further illustrated when the hurlers travelled to play Jersey Irish and ten plus footballers went along in support – although they (I) may have had an ulterior motive to avail of the chance of a Club trip to St.Helier !!!
We face into the new century with great optimism that we’ll continue to grow as a Club for the forseeable future. The recruitment policy and new players that it has attracted to our football panel over the last two-three years has left us with a side that should achieve senior status as the League and Championship approach.
Hopefully any potential players reading this on our Club website will see what a long-standing and progressive Club we are and get in touch with us (Contact us link on the right).
Anyone wishing to see the Emmett’s in action “off the field” click on our community page. Equally on the employment front there are few trades/professions not represented amongst our ranks at present so if you’re viewing our site and are heading to London get in touch with us and you’ll have a ready made network waiting for you. View our Player Profiles to see if there’s any of our current panel from your neck of the woods or working in your chosen field.
ROBERT EMMETT’S Hurling 1948-2003
When our Hurlers won through to the County Senior Final last October – unfortunately losing out on a 1-11 to 0-5 scoreline in conditions far from ideal for hurling – Club PRO Paul Healy compiled a brief history of the Hurling Club using our 50th Anniversary Publication from 1998 as his guide. This is his compilation as it appeared in the Co Final Programme on that bitterly cold and rainy Sunday, October 13th 2002.
“ As our Hurlers attempt to lift the County Senior title for the first time in our History – our only previous senior final apperance coming in ’96 – it seems a fitting time to recall the history of our Club and the many great names who have borne the Blue & Gold over the last 54 years.
The Robert Emmett’s Hurling Club was founded on March 20th 1948 at the Bow Palais in East London. Indeed within six months of that date a Football Club had been added. M Casey was confirmed as Emmett’s First Chairman at the inaugural AGM on 13th February 1949. In 1951 Bill Horgan (RIP) of Cork joined the Club – a figure who became synonymous with the name Emmett’s and who was held in deep affection by all who knew him until his passing in 1992. Similarly in ’51 another stalwart joined our ranks, Fintan Lawlor (RIP), and perhaps unsurprisingly both Fintan and Bill were instrumental in helping the Club to it’s first silverware, the Junior Championship, that same year with a 2 point win over Colmcille’s of Watford.
The remainder of the 50’s were most notable for John Conneeley’s Chairmanship. John – who remains hale & hearty in the position of Life President – was elected in 1952 and held the Chairmanship with distinction continously until he stepped down in 1967. His debating skills will be best remembered by our more senior Gaels here in London which he brought to the Co Board meetings in his role as Emmett’s delegate. On the field the highlight was reaching the Intermediate Championship for the first time in 1957 where we went down on a 4-9 to 4-3 scoreline to Sean McDermotts.
1965 saw us fall one step short of an Intermediate double as we captured the League by recording a convincing 5-12 to 1-7 win over Fr Murphy’s but lost out to An Riocht in the Championship final by 3-5 to 2-4. In ’67 “The Bard of Forest Gate”, Bill Treacy, – the present London President – took over as Chairman of the Emmett’s and the same year we reached the final of the Collins Cup.
Mattie Maher was elected to the hotseat in 1972 – a position he was to hold for the next six years. Under his Chairmanship we again reached the Intermediate C’ship Final in ’75 but again we lost out, this time going down on a 7 point margin to Thomas McCurtain’s. While ’74 saw the arrival of another Club stalwart, Johnny Hughes, to our ranks ’76 was a lowpoint as so many players had returned to Ireland we were forced to apply to drop down to junior. ’77 saw an upsurge in our fortunes as men of the quality of Rodgie Maher, John Hanley, Colm Leech and Pat Ryan joined our ranks and we again reached both League and C’ship finals – this time in junior – but our bogey struck again in both finals. However we made up for it in ’78 by securing the Junior C’ship with a 2-10 to 1-6 win and the following year we finally laid our Intermediate C’ship ghost to rest when by capturing the title at the fourth attempt, beating Cuchullain’s narrowly by 2-8 to 2-6 in the final.
The ‘80s saw Mick Sheahan take the Chair in ’81 and under his Chairmanship our Hurlers reached final upon final from ’82 to 85. Unfortunately our sole piece of silverware was the Irish Independant Cup which Willie O’Dea lifted in ’84, a success we repeated in ’86 when Rodgie Maher was at the helm.
Under Bill Horgan’s Chairmanship (87-91) we qualified for three finals in ’88 – Senior B League and Championship and the Independent Cup stood – but fell at the last hurdle in all three. However two years later we nearly ran out of silver polish as the County Junior Championship, the Independent Cup and the Miller Cup were won by a team captained by Jim Hodgins.
Whilst ’92 will always be sadly recalled because of the loss of Bill Horgan in May, Bill himself would have been heartened by having seen the influx of players of the quality of Pat Jordan, Ray Connolly, Tom Ryan, Donie O’Dwyer and John Ward that year, which when added to the earlier arrival of players such as Martin Rafferty, John McCarthy, Noel Hanley and – present day Manager – Mick O’Dea, made Emmett’s serious contenders for honours over the next 5 years, winning Cups and reaching finals repeatedly.
By ’95/96 we were at our strongest with Seamus Tooher, Nicky Fitzgerald, Joe Sweeney, Declan O’Connor and Declan Spelman having joined our ranks and it was in ’96 that we almost reached the peak by finally reaching the Senior decider but we were defeated by St Gabriel’s. Off the field the whole Club was greatly saddened by the loss of long-time member Tom Walsh (RIP).
The intervening six years have brought both highs and lows – having been beaten in two successive County semis in 2000 and ’01 – but all who have worn the Blue & Gold and all those who have been involved in the Club over 54 years – characterised by long-term servants Tom Redmond, Flor, Pat Ryan and Noreen and John Hanley – wish the very best of luck to the present panel as they attempt to make history on Sunday. “