History - Longford Slashers GAA
Longford Slashers were formed in 1954 when Longford wanderers and Whiterock Slashers amalgamated .
Here is a piece written by the late Tommy o Brien, one of the clubs founder members for a brochure published on the opening of the clubs grounds at Farneyhoogan in 1980.
“Whiterock Slashers were enjoying great success on the football field and were Junior Champions of the county. Later they took the Junior League title and were therefore now bound to take their place in Senior ranks.
Longford Wanderers, after many years, were at stage struggling to keep the club in existence. The club was now playing in the Junior grade and for the first time in many years did not have a team in the Senior Championship. This situation was due to the fact that the better known players coming to work in town were assisting whiterock Slashers.
It seems some of the Whiterock Slashers officials realised the big step up from Junior to Senior status (no intermediate grade then) and hence the eagerness of some of their members to join forces with Wanderers who had seven or eight really good footballers.
Therefore, after lengthy discussion at the Whiterock Slashers A.G.M., it was agreed that both clubs pool their resources. Arriving at a name for the new club also presented a problem and finally the meeting decided to take Slashers from Whiterock and Longford from Wanderers and hence Longford Slashers came into existence. New officers and captains were appointed at another meeting of the new club arranged for the following week.
In the meantime rumours were doing the rounds that some whiterock Slashers members were anxious to keep a club alive in their area. These rumours were not without foundation and it was learned at the next meeting that Jim Ward did not intend to continue as secretary and as a result Noel Caslin and Tommy O’Brien (the author of this article) were appointed joint secretaries. There were also co-options to the committee and Ted Ward (brother of Jim) was elected to fill a vacancy on the selection committee.
In fact Ted Ward was now at the veteran stage in his football career but he did turn out for the Senior team in some of their Leader cup games and well I remember the part he played in the defeat of Ardagh.
At this second meeting it was also decided to have a house-to-house collection to raise much needed funds for the club. The following collectors were appointed: Dublin street – T. Donlon and M. McManus; Main street – A. Davis and M. Kelly; Ballymahon street – S. Greene and N. Caslin. Other officials collected in the outlying areas. It was also decided to hold a Whist drive and to purchase a set of jerseys.
The jerseys arrived in due course. The set was purchased at the right price – but it was soon discovered that the colours were not really suitable – red and blue with white collar and cuffs! However, we did win our first Senior Championship in said colours and the underage teams sported the Wanderers black and white for some time.
There was still much work to be done in getting the club off the ground. First of all the new club had to be affiliated and accepted by the County Board – and indeed overcame an objection by a delegate at the first board meeting.
Transfers also had to be put through and the first competitive match was eagerly awaited so that we could evaluate our full strength. Longford Wanderers players were at this stage free to assist whichever club they wished but, happily, all threw in their lot with the new Flipeadoiri Longfoirt.
A week or so after the formation of the new club, Whiterock Slashers decided to affiliate a team under the name Slashers and elected officers which included at least five of the newly elected Longford Slashers committee
At the first County Board meeting of the year the following transfers from Whiterock Slashers were declared optional – Noel Caslin, Sean Hannon, Sam Dennigan, Paddy McCarthy, Seamus Greene, Noel Murray, Christy Columb and Ted Ward. It is interesting to note that all of these players remained true to their word and most of them were rewarded with Senior Championship medals later in 1954. Seamus Kenny (Moydow) transferred from Kenagh and the Farrell brothers also from Moydow also joined the club.
More news from that first County Board meeting was that Longford Slashers were drawn against Colmcille in the first round of the Senior championship and against Cashel in the Junior Championship.
Longford Slashers played their first match in Drumlish on Sunday 24 January, when the then reigning Senior League and championship holders, Young Irelands, won this challenge game by two points 0-8 to 1-3. It was considered a very satisfactory outing. Our contact in arranging this match was the late Rev. Sean Manning, C.C. Drumlish, who visited Tommy Donlon’s residence in Dublin street most Monday nights for a chat (football, of course) and a game of cards.
At a meeting on the 25th January it was decided to affiliate Minor, Juvenile and Schoolboy teams in the various competitions. It was also reported that the collection was proving very successful and that each subscriber was issued with a membership card.
Success came quickly at under age level, and in our very first year the club won the Minor League and Juvenile championship and the Juveniles also won the Longford Carnival tournament. Of course it would take pages to give all the winning teams over the years and particularly at under-age level.
Young Grattans from the Ballymacormack end of the parish were competing in Junior, Minor and Schoolboy grades at this time too, and Longford Slashers first scheduled competitive match was against Grattans in the Junior League at Pearse Park.
The following Longford Slashers players were listed for the match :- J. Gannon, T. Dennigan, R. Drumm, Mickey Finn, J. Murray, N. Murray, J. Duke, U. Martin, W. Mimnagh, M. Hanlon, F. Gaffney, D. Connolly, B. Corcoran, P. Bunce, M. Carrigy, B. Donnelly, G. McManus, S. Clarke, M. Reynolds, S. Kenny, P. Collins, S. Dennigan, M. Kelly, S. Hannon, C. Sarsfield, P. McCarthy, A. Devlin, C. Columb, K. Wynne and T. O’Brien.
At the start of the year all Longford Wanderers players were eligible to play junior football. However, the match did not materialise, only a few Grattan’s players turned up, much to the disappointment of Joe Lyons. In the club’s first Senior competitive game the team beat Ballymahon in the Leader Cup by a decisive 2-6 to 1-1. Seamus Greene missed this match and the players to play an outstanding part in this first success were Bob and Pat Farrell, Kieran Wynne, Paddy Collins, Seamus Kenny, Christy Columb and Sean Hannon.
Scorers were : Paddy Bunce 1-0, Paddy McCarthy 1-0, Noel Caslin 0-2, Sean Hannon 0-2, Sam Dennigan and Seamus Kenny 0-1 each.
The team followed up this win with a hard earned 0-7 to 0-3 victory over Ardagh. Seamus Greene, back after illness, had an outstanding game at centre half back while scores were notched by S. Hannon 0-5, Noel Caslin and P McCarthy. The Junior League game between the same clubs resulted in a draw.
Club players selected to represent Longford in the National Football League against Meath at this time were Mickey Kelly, Seamus Greene, Noel Caslin, Tommy O’Brien and Padraic Gearty, who was also a member of the U.C.D. club.
Listed for the Junior trial match were Pat and Bob Farrell, Kieran Wynee, Paddy Collins, Sean Hannon, Christy Columb, Seamus Kenny and T. O’Brien, while on trial for a place on the county minor team were Des Connolly (brother of Padraic, currently one of the club’s best supporters), John Ward and Colm Sheeran, who formerly resided at Bridge street.
The Longford Slashers club were now making much progress and the Senior Team made many trips outside the county to play some of the best teams in the midlands and further a field. Officials believed in pitting the team against the best opposition and in this way the players were gaining experience and the team blended into a fine footballing side.
The team was well prepared for their first appearance in the Senior Championship and they turned in a great display to score a surprise 4-7 to 2-4 win over Colmcille to quality for the final at the first time of asking. In the opinion of many, Longford Slashers were now odds-on to win the title. Training was stepped up and the team was fighting fit for their most important encounter to date.
On county final day there was panic in the dressing room when Seamus Greene did not appear. I think it was Mick Donohoe who dispatched Pat Smith in search of the missing captain and when it came to match time a late change saw the youthful Michael Hanlon take over at corner back with Pat Farrell moving from there to centre half-back to fill Greene’s berth.
It was vice-captain Mickey Kelly who led the team onto the field to face the might of Sean Connolly’s. It certainly was the toughest game I ever played in, and we were all relieved to see Seamus Greene appearing at half-time. It was later learned a transport hitch delayed his arrival. Greene had an outstanding Second thirty minutes. He revelled in the tough going and was in full command in the No.6 berth to keep Slashers ahead by 3 points 1-6 to 1-3 at the final whistle.
An early injury to Noel Caslin would have forced many another man to retire but Noel played on gallantly and made a significant contribution to this great victory.
The celebrations were hectic after that first final victory which was achieved in such a short space of time. The majority of the team were pioneers and they enjoyed themselves too.
The presentation of medals took place on December 29, 1954 in the Temperance Hall, which was packed to capacity. The music for the Ceili was provided by the then famed Vincent Lowe Trio. One of the band members was Dermot O’Brien, who was later to become a household name both as a footballer and entertainer.
The Juvenile title was also landed in 1954. It was a local derby parish final with Young Grattans providing the opposition. Our youngsters were convincing 4-7 to 1-0 victors and outstanding displays were given by Gerry Eustace, Michael Savage, Michael Gilleran, Francis Hanlon and Jimmy McGoey (whom we were pleased to meet again at the unofficial opening of the complex early in August after spending more than twenty years away from Longford). those who showed up well for Young Grattans that day were Ned Duggan, Paddy Dennigan, Seamus Ward, Sean Orohoe, Bobby Kelly, Po-Po Hackett and the Baxter brothers. Later Young Grattans went out of existence and most of the players joined Longford Slashers.
The 1954 Minor League medals were presented at a Ceili in Church Street Hall on April 21, 1955 and in this year we were beaten in the Leader cup final (1954) by Colmcille 5-5 to 3-4. The match was played at Purth on May 1 when rain poured down on this part of Colmcille parish with no rain at all in the other end of the parish. From here on Slashers were taken out of Pearse Park at every opportunity and matches were nearly always played on small pitches, which certainly did not suit their free-flowing style of play.
Mostrim were our first opponents in the defence of the Senior Championship Title. One of the best teams ever to come out of Mostrim held us to a draw the first day, but in the replay Slashers came out well on top, winning by double scores 2-10 to 0-8. However, Mostrim lodged an objection to the award of the match the following week and Slashers were eventually removed from the championship.
It all hinged on the legality of Davey Sheeran, who was in London for a short spell at the end of 1954. He returned early in 1955 but the Slashers Club was not made aware of the fact that a transfer to London had been put through Central Council while Davey was back living and working in Longford. This made him ineligible to play football here even though he did not play in London. Therefore Slashers were put out of the Championship on a technicality.
However, Slashers came bouncing back to win the Senior Championship again in 1956 and 1957 and in fact their first defeat in the Longford Senior Championship did not come until 1958 when Colmcille beat them at the semi-final stage. they went on to win the title with a first class team.
Even though Slashers surrendered their Senior crown after been undefeated since 1954, they gained ample compensation when winning the Leader cup. Indeed it is believed to be the first time that a team from the town won the cup.
The Minor champion ship title was also won for the first time in 1958 and the Minors completed the double by capturing the League title also. The Juveniles won back the championship after a four year lapse and the club did something that day which would not be entertained now – they played the Minor and Juvenile Championship final on the same Sunday even though four or five players were doubly engaged.
The Minors beat Mostrim 2-7 to 3-3 with a late goal from Sean Donnelly, and the Juveniles also won the Carnival Tournament and to make it a great year to remember the senior team won the Newtowncashel Inter-provincial tournament for the first time.
At this time the club were donning their new colours – sky blue – and the decision to change was taken in 1957, the year the famed Tuam Stars came to Longford to play Slashers in a challenge game which attracted a record crowd for an evening game.
The Senior Championship crown returned to the club in 1959. Killoe foiled the team of two in a row in the 1960 final but Slashers were back as kingpins again in 1961 when they beat Drumlish in the final.
Over the next decade the Senior team came up against the great Clonguish and Granard teams, Clonguish in particular having a great side, many of whom formed the nucleus of the great county team of the late 60’s, and although they always extended these teams they never could master them, and it was not until 1971 that the Sean Connolly Cup finally arrived back to the town.”
Longford Slashers have won the Longford Senior Championship 16 times – 1954, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1961, 1971, 1975, 1979, 1980, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1994, 2010, 2011 & 2013.
Since the foundation of the Club in 1954, Longford Slashers were without a home of their own and depended on the goodwill of Longford County Board to play many of their games in Pearse Park. They also rented some fields locally at other times over the years. In 1978 they purchased an initial 12 acres (49,000 m2) at Farneyhoogan on the outskirts of Longford town. Following extensive development work, the first two pitches were opened on 8th. June 1980 – the first competitive game was a Leader Cup match V Ardagh. The Club grounds, Clubhouse and other facilities were officially opened by the then President of Cumann Luthchleas Gael, Padraic McFlynn, on the 12th. October 1980.
On April 25 2005 another milestone was reached when a new floodlit all-weather playing pitch was opened on an additional 6 acres (24,000 m2) of land that the club purchased. On October 6, 2013, Slashers won their 16th county title, defeating Dromard by 1-11 to 1-9, and are now the most successful Gaelic football team in County Longford.
LONGFORD SLASHERS HURLING CLUB HISTORY
Success and Slashers hurling were always synonymous. The roll of honour in every age group bears ample testimony to that fact. Success was always expected and inevitably it followed. Great pride can be taken from the list of trophies won over the years but this success would not have been possible if it were not for the unstinting efforts of many men who were devoted to the promotion of the ancient game.
Before the organisation of regular inter-club underage competitions hurling in the parish was spearheaded by Anthony Casey in St. Michael’s B.N.S. and then in Stonepark for many years. Then in the late 1970’s men like Paddy Prendergast, Donal Sheehan, Christy Delaney and Tommy Dolan helped establish hurling not only in the club but also in the county at large. Thereafter it grew to such an extent that it enjoyed parity with any sport in the county for a while, particularly during the 1980’s. The club scene was enormously competitive and the winning of a championship was a noteworthy achievement. Probably the best overall specific benefit to come from our club success was when the late Jimmy Kelly captained a county underage team to All-Ireland success during this period.
The Feile na nGael competition for U14s was specifically earmarked by the club and it is no coincidence that the Sky Blues have enjoyed more success at this level than any other club in the county. Men such as Harry Ryan, Martin Jennings, Sean Stakelum and more recently Niall Ward, were recruited to take our young hurlers to almost every corner of the country. Many young Longford men have great memories of the wonderful Feile weekends.
Senior hurling for the club did not commence until 1981 and Mick Wall and Sean Stakelum were instrumental in setting it up. From that beginning Slashers grew to become the undoubted kingpins of Longford for the decade that followed.