‘It was the first time to be in Dublin for most of the team’

Barry Molloy on memories of ‘51

I was very pleased to receive a lovely (and informative) note from Barry Molloy, one of the county town’s true gentlemen, in response to our recent publication of a photograph of Roscommon’s All-Ireland Minor Football title winners of 1951.

As readers will recall, the photo – one of a series we are publishing on this page and online – was from the Golden Jubilee celebrations of that team’s success. In 2011, 50 years on from their All-Ireland minor glory, the team was honoured at Dr. Hyde Park.

Barry Molloy, still hale and hearty, was captain of that team in 1951. I am grateful to Barry for dropping me a note recently with some fascinating reflections on that success 70 years ago. (I was also delighted to hear that twelve members of the panel of 1951 are, as Barry puts it, “still with us”).

Here’s some of what Barry wrote: “Hi Paul…thank you for the ‘memory of 1951’ in the Roscommon People. A lot has changed in those 70 years!

“It was the first time to be in Dublin for most of the team. We were in the shadow of World War II, and everything was rationed…including petrol, bread, butter, tea, sugar, etc.

“We have twelve members of the panel still with us. The All-Ireland final was played in Croke Park on December 16th, 1951. Unlike last week, we beat Armagh in bright sunshine, before about 1200 spectators.

“We had 5 student priests on our panel up to the Connacht final and 3 for the All-Ireland semi-final – 2 were not allowed out of College to play.

“Fr. Pat Muldoon (Donamon) has served all his ministry in South Korea. I spoke to him last month. Fr. Dominic Gillooly (Mount Cashel) is retired in Sligo. Ten of the panel attended CBS Roscommon, a successful nursery for footballers in that era. 5 or 6 of the locally-based players meet each December to reminisce and renew friendships.

“The game itself is so different now. In those days, it was ‘catch and kick’ and the approach was to stay in your position for most of the game. John Rafferty (from what became the Royal Hotel) kicked a point for Armagh, then scored a point for Roscommon!”

Thanks Barry for these very interesting reflections, which I know readers will find fascinating. This is social history speaking to us! Continued good health to Barry and the remaining heroes of 1951. We fondly remember those who have passed on. They brought glory to our county, they live on in the pages of history.