Pat’s cherished memories of League win

By 1979 Roscommon were one of the top football teams in the country. They had won two Connacht senior titles in a row and had also won the 1978 U-21 All-Ireland title. The big question then was: could the team deliver a national title? On the 13th May, 1979 Roscommon footballers turned in one of their greatest-ever displays and many would argue that it was the best that this team played during its five-year domination of Connacht football as they totally brushed aside a very strong Cork team in the National League Final at Croke Park. On that memorable day for Roscommon GAA, the lion-hearted full-back Pat Lindsay captained the team to their first national senior football title in 35 years. He remembers that day and his team’s display with great pride. 1979 National Football League Final   Roscommon …………………………………………………….. 0-15 Cork  ……………………………………………………………….. 1-3 Tom Heneghan had taken over the management of the Roscommon team in late 1978 and Roscommon made rapid progress through the league games throughout the winter and after beating Cavan in a play-off in Carrick-on-Shannon the team played Kerry in Croke Park  in the quarter-final. After a breath-taking game Roscommon won by a point, 1-12 to 1-11.   Roscommon then played Offaly in the semi-final, also in Croke Park, and helped by a brilliant John McDermott penalty save Roscommon qualified for the league final on a score of Roscommon 1-14 Offaly 0-13.   The final was played on a sweltering day in Croke Park and the match drew a crowd of almost 31,000 people, with at least 20,000 of that crowd being Roscommon supporters.   I recall sitting in the upper deck of the Cusack Stand that day and as the teams marched around behind the Artane boys band, we felt it was going to be our day. This was a special Roscommon team and this was to be a special day for Roscommon footballers and supporters.    From the first whistle the team were simply magnificent and some of the best-known footballers in the country who were on the Cork team just couldn’t cope with Roscommon that day. Dermot Earley was his usual brilliant self at midfield but there were plenty of other players who were at the peak of their powers. Earley’s new midfield partner Seamus Hayden was also excellent.   Danny Murray broke the hearts of the Cork men with his tireless running and brilliant play. Tom Donnellan was fantastic at centre half-back and the highly-rated Jimmy Barry Murphy hardly got a kick.   Tony McManus was in deadly form up front and the Cork defence just couldn’t cope with the young Clann na nGael attacker. Michael Finneran was also in brilliant form as was  Mickey Freyne.   All-Star corner-back Harry Keegan was ruled out with an injury but his replacement, Seamus Tighe, played extremely well all through. Cork got the first point of the game through Dinny Allen in the 2nd minute but they were not to score again for 24 minutes as Roscommon went on a scoring spree.   Points from Dermot Earley, Tony McManus (2), Sean Kilbride and  Mickey Freyne (2) saw Roscommon stretch into a four-point lead and by half-time Roscommon were in front by 0-8 to 0-2.   The second half saw Roscommon play even better and the Roscommon fans lapped it up as the primrose and blue jersies swept towards the Cork goal time after time. By the 17th minute of the second half it was 0-13 to 0-2 and the game was effectively over.   There was one downside to the game though as player/manager Tom Heneghan was knocked unconscious after he fell when going for a ball. He was replaced by Richie O’Beirne.   Cork were well beaten although they did score a late goal from Jimmy Barry Murphy and they could have got another one late in the game but Dinny Allen’s penalty hit the post and was cleared. But there was only one winner of the title on the day.   I remember the final whistle going and thousands of Roscommon people swarming on to the field to acclaim their heroes and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house as Pat Lindsay lifted the New Ireland Assurance Cup high above his head. Roscommon had won their first national title in 35 years. It had been champagne football on a beautiful day in Croke Park.   I remember travelling in convoy out to the Lucan Spa where the Roscommon team were staying that night. There was absolute chaos as thousands of Roscommon people tried to get into the banquet that night. I was very thankful I had bought a ticket earlier in the week!   The following morning there were scores of Roscommon people asleep on chairs, on the hotel stairs and in cars, as the celebrations began in earnest. But they didn’t care. The Rossies were the champions!!   The team began its journey home at lunchtime on the Monday and I remember stopping at a favourite Roscommon haunt, McCauley’s in Moyvore, where there was a big sing-song. The atmosphere and the craic was brilliant.   The team reached Ballyleague at about 9 pm where there were thousands of people present to welcome them across the Shannon and of course to welcome Pat Lindsay and Danny Murray to their home club St. Faithleachs with the cup.   Hours later the cavalcade made its way into Roscommon Town. There were bonfires all along the road between Roscommon Town and Ballyleague. When the team got to the bottom of Lanesboro Street there was an open-top lorry to bring them up the town and when they reached The Square (at about 11.30 pm) there was at least 5,000 people there to greet them.    MC on the night was the late Paddy Walshe and there were several speeches before the team and supporters adjourned to the Royal Hotel where the celebrations went on into the early hours. It was one of the best days that Roscommon supporters had following their team in almost four decades and it’s a day that captain Pat Lindsay remembers well.   ‘It was fantastic to play so well in a final and we did it that day. There were so many of the players who did so well that day. I remember that our half-back line of Gerry Fitzmaurice, Tom Donnellan and Danny Murray were all excellent. Dermot (Earley) was also very good that day and he scored a few very good points’ recalls Pat.   ‘But it was an all-round effort. We had great forwards too and Tony Mac, Mick Finneran and Mickey Freyne were on fire that day too’ he says.    ‘It was a good league campaign for us. We beat Kerry in the quarter-final by a point and then we beat Offaly in the semi-final by four points. There were very tight games and we were expecting a very tight game in the final but I suppose we played so well that Cork were not able for us on the day’ he said.   ‘It was a great honour to be the captain of the team. It could have been any one of those lads and I was just lucky that it was me that day. I was delighted that we could win it for the supporters. There was a massive crowd from Roscommon there that day’ Pat comments.   ‘One thing I would say is that Roscommon have great supporters and they always have had. We got great support wherever we went with that team and that continues to this day’ he said.   “It was definitely one of the best displays from that particular team – who were all great footballers – and it was a great honour to be the captain on the day” he concluded. Roscommon: John McDermott; Seamus Tighe, Pat Lindsay, Tom Heneghan; Gerry Fitzmaurice, Tom Donnellan, Danny Murray (0-1); Dermot Earley (0-7), Seamus Hayden; Tony McManus (0-2), John O’Gara (0-1), Sean Kilbride (0-1); Michael Finneran (0-1), Mickey Freyne (0-2), Eamonn McManus. Sub: Richie O’Beirne for Heneghan. Cork: Billy Morgan; Sean O’Sullivan, Kevin Kehilly, Brian Murphy; John Crowley, Christy Ryan, Jimmy Kerrigan; John Courtney, Vincent Coakley; Dennis McCarthy, Jimmy Barry Murphy (1-0), Dinny Allen (0-2); P Cavanagh, Declan Barron, Christy Kearney (0-1).