(Denis Smyth & Paddy Cromwell )
Under Age Football in Skryne By DENIS SMYTH and PADDY CROMWELL
Its significant—and historically worth recording—that the first Juvenile team to represent Skryne on the football fields of Meath was in 1927 when an under-14 years selection travelled to Beauparc and defeated the combined powers of Beauparc and Kentstown at a time when the name of Seneshalstown was almost unknown. Naturally, it was no ordinary team, no juvenile team from the parish ever has been. It had such talented performers as Pat and Tony Donnelly, Matt Toole, Kevin Johnson and Mattie McBride, to name but a few, boys later to grow into footballers of immense stature. From then on Skryne National School became a veritable nursery of foot- balling power as many boys later to become all-time greats passed through the hands of principal, Brian Smyth. Amongst them were, of course, Paddy and Michael O’Brien. There was no organised juvenile football in those days but in 1947 a team was entered in a competition which catered for De La Salle, Kells etc. and Skryne were out of their depth.
On this team were many players who were later to star for Skryne, including Jackie Gerrard, Pat Connor, Dom O’Brien and Effie Swan. In the early fifties, not even the most spartan school arena, in which mere survival was an integral part of the game, could camouflage the emergence of yet another extradionary pool of talent. It was “blooded” by way of challenge matches in 1952 and 1953, and the following year Skryne launched its attack on the juvenile football cahmpionship, guided by the then principal, Brian Smyth. The result was nothing less than dynamic. In their first competitive year, they were crowned champions, defeating Enfield in a game the memory of which is still fresh in the minds of many. The following year, they repeated the performance, this time accounting for Kilskyre in the final and one year later they made a bid for a record-breaking three-in-a-row of juvenile titles.
They comfortably marched to the final where they were to meet Athboy.With almost half the team due to return to their respective colleges, the match was delayed repeatedly until Skryne were forced to withdraw from the competit- ion, undethroned champions of juvenile football. In the same year (1956) the under 16 Football Championship was captured. From those championship- winning teams and from those who had immediately preceded them sprung a panel of Skryne players destined to heap glory on their parish and county. Names such as Dom O’Brien, Jack Connor, Seamie Connor, Sean Smith, the incomparable David Carty, Paddy Mulvany, Paddy Cromwell, Michael Lynch, Frank Carty, Brian Smyth, Harry Dowling, Michael Staunton and Tom Mulvany —boys who, as men, were later to win the honour of representing their county in one grade or another. After 1957, there was something of a lull at juvenile level but in the late ‘sixties the senior club in their wisdom decided to revamp juvenile affairs and appointed a trio of trusty men—Michael Ryan, Jimmy Finnerty and Jim Hayes, men who themselves had distinguished themselves on the playing field—to take control.
The results were no less dynamic than in the middle fifties. In 1970, they were somewhat unlucky to be defeated by Duleek in the semi-final of the competition after a replay. The following year, a great Duleek team again barred the way, this time beating Skryne in the final before, in 1972, some measure of revenge was exacted when Skryne regained the Juvenile crown by beating their great and sporting rivals from Duleek. This Juvenile victory in 1972 has to be the forerunner of a quite out- standing under age record over the next four years. During this time 2 under 16, one under 17, two minor and two under 21 championships came to the club.
History yet again has repeated itself as these teams have given the following players the represent their County at all levels. Colm O’Rourke, Michael Ryan, Des and Padraig Finnerty, Liam Hayes, Willie and John Rogan, Sean White, Michael Maguire, Brian Bennett (R.I.P.) , Paddy Ryan. At the present time Juvenile football in the club is in the safe hands of men like Micky Lynch, Sean Smyth and Noel Daly and with Maurice Daly guiding the fortunes at minor level the supply of good young footballers to our adult teams is assured.
Want to know more about our rich history? Click on the following links to learn more.
Club History: 1900 to 1940
Club History: 1940 to 1950
Club History: 1965 to 1984
Club History: Article written in 1984, Skryne football – My Best Ever Fifteen