History of Cootehill Celtic GAA Club
The 1920s opened with the island of Ireland in a state of warfare with the War of Independence being fought against England until the Anglo Irish Treaty which was signed on 6th December 1921. That treaty didn't end the fighting as the country was soon gripped in a Civil War which lasted until May of 1923. So given all the chaos and turmoil caused by those wars, it is hardly surprising that there was very little club activity during those early years of the 1920s.
One item of interest which came up during 1923 was the fact that Celtic Park was coming up for sale. Dances were duly organised and run in St. Michael's Hall to raise funds for its purchase but plans didn't come to fruition and the club continued to pay rent for using Celtic Park to the Parish Priest - an arrangement which would cause trouble later on before the decade finished.
Then in 1925, some 31 years after the club was founded, Cootehill Celtic reached its first final! Unfortunately Gowna proved too strong in the Intermediate Final played in December of that year. The Anglo Celt reported that "the score of 3-1 to 0-1 did not do justice to the good play of the Cootehill team who lacked combination". One Cootehill man in particular was singled out, Mick McCoy who was nicknamed Hookum because of his ability to kick points from any angle. The Cootehill team which took the field that day was: Patrick Smith (Captain), Thomas Reilly (Goals), James Duffy, H. Dunne, F. Boyle, Joe Masterson, James Sheridan, Larry Carolan, Mick McCoy, Patrick Foy, James McKiernan, Herbie Clegg, P. Carragher.
Around the same time, Cootehill started off a series of underage successes capturing the Minor League in either 1925/26 or 1926/27 and winning a unique Schools' League double in 1926 in football and hurling. The following names played during that two year period: Eddie Brady, (Corner House); Jamsie Sherlock, Church Street; Paddy Bradley, Church Street; Hugh and Andy Smith, Lislea; Louis Blessing, Market Street; Willie Connolly, Market Street; Francie Rice, Market Street; Eugene (Geeser) Magee, Chapel Lane; Mark and Tony McBreen, Cavan Street; Tommy McCourt, Cavan Road; Michael (Seller) Lynch, Market Street; Johnny Smith, Church Street; Jack Middleton, Bridge Street; Tom McCabe, Church Street; Tommy Clegg, Errigal; Jack O'Hagan, Bridge Street; Paddy Callaghan, Bridge Street; John (Tut) Hannigan, Bridge Street; Paddy Cosgrove, Church Street; Pakey (Bud) Fisher, Bridge Street.
Two of these minors Louis Blessing and Willie Connolly went on to represent the club at Senior County level helping Cavan to win its first two Senior All Ireland in 1933 and 1935 but the first medals which they won, and which the Cootehill club won, were always prized by them.
That first minor title is also remembered for another reason, the famous ban on foreign games. The club decided that Eddie Brady had broken the ban by playing rugby in Castleknock College where he was a student in 1925 and 1926 and so he was the only player not to get a medal.
For the final two years of the decade the club fell on more hard times. There were no teams in either 1928 or 1929 as the renting of Celtic Park came back to haunt the club. It is thought that a row with Fr. Brady P.P. over non-payment of rent, deprived the club of its playing grounds.
The future was not all doom and gloom however, with the prospect of the winning minors maturing as one report from the Anglo Celt from 1926 from a minor game certainly held out the possibility of a bright future. Cootehill had beaten Virginia 7-3 to 0-1 and the reporter from the Celt relates that "Nice, clean football was served out by the winners and when the boy becomes a man, Cootehill should have a startling thirteen."
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