Ballintubbert House was the venue for the 50th anniversary celebration of the first senior championship win for St Joseph’s on a sunny May Bank Holiday Sunday evening and what a celebration it turned out to be.
Fittingly, the venue is only a stones throw from Tony Byrne Park Kellyville, where this historic team toiled to bring the first ever Jack Delaney cup over the gap and into a the parish of St. Joseph’s.
In his speech, captain Dessie Brennan referred to Kellyville as “the field of dreams” and recounted the wonderful experience it was to be part of this 1973 team.
And also indeed the subsequent gloriously successful teams of the seventies that followed, winning championships again in ’75, ’77 and ’78.
Words like determination, leadership, hard work and pure enjoyment were associated with this ’73 win, an accumulation of all the efforts since the club’s foundation in 1955.
Captain Dessie quoted a Chinese proverb “Those that drink the water should thank those that dug the well” and indeed that strength of leadership and spirit of volunteerism that underpins any great club was evident.
A team of club members organised the night and ensured the great men of ’73 and their families would have another night to remember fifty years on.
Chairperson Brendan Dunne, club stalwart Anne Dempsey and the hugely competent Eimear Cahill deserve special mention for their contribution along with Tony O’Brien, Sean Dempsey, Lorna Butler and Róisín Brennan on the organising committee.
In addition, a squad of volunteers on the night that ensured parking, catering, hospitality and much more was of the highest quality and ensured a memorable night.
The St Joseph’s club wish to acknowledge and thank Mick and Antoinette Kealy, Aoife Kealy, Elva Kelly, Breda and Aíne Cahill, Margaret and Sinéad Farrelly, PJ, Martin, Sarah and Trisha Dempsey, Callum Lang, Denis Kealy, Fergal Lacey, Kevin Farrelly and Joe Kilbride for their work on the night.
They would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge all their fantastic club coaches, mentors and committees for their continued dedication and ongoing work.
They feel that they really are unique and special as a club in terms of volunteerism and club loyalty, from Ballyadams to The Swan and all the townlands in between the great work continues.
Following a beautiful meal served in a magnificent marquee against the picturesque backdrop of the Ballintubbert House and Gardens, the celebrations continued.
A magnificent cake, baked by Niamh Johnson, grand daughter of Michael Knowles, corner back on the winning ’73 team was cut by two more of the ’73 greats, Billy Campion and Kevin O Brien, both celebrating birthdays as well as the anniversary of the inaugural win.
A special programme compiled for the night was distributed by Paddy Deering, club treasurer from ’73.
Kevin O’Brien, brother of players Tony and Pat, spoke with MC Seán Dempsey as did Denis Knowles, first ever St. Joseph’s captain, proudly displaying his U-12 medals from the 1950’s.
Martin O Donnell, nephew of club founder member and ’73 coach, Tony Byrne also spoke with Seán his presence was an addition to marking the historic night.
County Chairperson, PJ Kelly also spoke and congratulated the team on their historic win.
Fr. Dunne concluded early evening proceedings and night to remember unfolded with music, singing and dance.
Senior manager Michael Dempsey and many of the current senior panel were in attendance, this visible link between past and present added to the celebration.
They are hopeful the speeches on the night from players from the glorious era of the 70’s will provide inspiration in advance of the upcoming championship of 2023.
The minor wins of 1967 and ’68 paved the way for the senior successes that followed and St. Joseph’s followers will be hopeful of a similar pattern in the very near future given the wealth of talent apparent in the youth of the club.
Photographer Paul Dargan was there on the night and you can check out his pictures above and below: