(This article, "Ghost Written " by Charlie Derry
for Fergus O'Kennedy appeared in the
Evening Herald on August 1st 1961)
In Clontarf every boy who can stand up plays football and hurling, and inter-class legues are in full swing all the school year round. "Mighty Atoms" in first and second standards have their own games in "Clos na Scoile" where this year twelve teams battled it out for a set of trophies.
Middle grades have their own Leagues up in St. Annes, while the seniors play in the Streets Leagues. Co-operation from all teachers is readily forthcoming and parents oft times lend a hand.
It was when the school was much smaller than now that principal, Michael O'Ceilleachair first entered a team for Primary School league competitions. That was in 1948. The first success came a year later when Clontarf athletes battled it out with Malahide to win the Clanna Gael Cup for Relay Under 14 at the Annual sports. The Under 12 team were also in the picture that day when taking second place behind St. Andrews, the best school in section B that year.
When in 1950 a former Schools league Chairman, Fergus O'Kennedy, a Dubliner himself, went to Clontarf, efforts were redoubled. The senior football team competing in the Miller Shield succeeded in reaching the decider to make their Croke park debut against Malahide. Success did not attend their efforts, however, for the North County side won narrowly after a terrific struggle.
The following week Clontarf's junior footballers had better fortune and reached the Clanna Gael Club final by defeating Dun Laoghaire at Herbert park. In the decider they met Drimnagh who, contrary to expectations, took the trophy with a handsome
7-1 to 3-0 victory over the Seasiders.
But Clontarf kept on trying and when in 1953 a third junior football competition was inaugurated the boys of St. John the Baptist school became first holders of the Clonmore Cup which was presented by Colonel Tom McGrath and Captain Michael Minogue.
In 1954 with most of their successful junior side to aid them Clontarf reached their second Miller Shield final. On this occasion consistent past efforts were amply rewarded when after a thrilling encounter with Howth they won their first senior trophy by the odd point in thirteen.
But Clontarf's most talked of victory was won in 1955 when, at Croke Park, their senior hurlers defeated a much fancied Brunswick St. side in the final of the Marino Cup. That match has often been replayed out Clontarf way by the Barrys, Griffins, O'Donnells and O'Sullivans, who tell of the "blinder" played by Patsy Fagan at full-back and the wonder scores of full-forward Brian Murphy.
The numbers in the school were now growing fast and "Belgrove House" was unable to hold them. A new building was erected by Very Rev. Father Cartan, and to the new school came a new teacher, Mr. Frank O'Dea, a native of Ennis, who concentrated on running the inter-class leagues and on training athletes. In 1957 Clontarf won out in section B of the Primary School Sports, the hero in this victory being Denis O'Hora, who won the Lord Mayor's Gold Medal for best athlete in this section.
Clanna Gael Cup
Attention was new focused on the winning of the Clanna Gael Cup for Junior football. bur for three successive years fortune frowned on Clontarf's efforts. In 1957, '58 and '59 they reached the second last hurdle only to be beaten by eventual winners, O'Toole's, James's St. and Drimnagh castle.
In 1959 Mr. Sean Kelly, a former football star with St. Jarlath's, Tuam, came on the staff. From then on no effort was spared in building and training a Clontarf team worthy of Clanna Gael Cup honours. In March of this year Clontarf's burning ambition was realised at last. On the green sward of Croke park the boys in Red and White fought an epic battle against Cabra and the Clanna Gael trophy was taken to the seaside bedecked with the favours of Clontarf.
As a result of the praiseworthy efforts being made for Gaelic games in the school some parents in the district came together this year and decided not to allow those efforts to end at the school leaving age. A new club was formed and an Under 13 hurling team entered in the North-East League. Under the able mentorship of Fran Maguire success was attained at the first attempt when the Under 13 hurling title was won against Raheny on July 1.
It is worthy of note that among the prominent members of the Clontarf Club are some outstanding Eoghan Rua hurlers of former years. They include Chairman, Michael Gleeson, Secretary, Joe Hickey and Gerry O'Connor. So the spirit of Fr. Flanagan lives on in Clontarf
First Chairman was an All Ireland Medal Holder
Michael Gleeson (R.I.P.) holds the honour of being elected the first chairman of Clontarf G.A.A. Club at that inaugural meeting on April 11th 1961. A year later he was re-elected at our club's first A.G.M. on March 27th 1962. Michael's family, from Cabra Road were very G.A.A. orientated - his father Tim played hurling with the famed Faga-Bealach (Faughs) Club, Michael's own club was Eoghan Ruadh for whom he played hurling (his first love) since his schoolboy days. Michael played for Dublin in the first all Ireland minor hurling final in 1928, (The match against Cork, was a draw and the replay, won by Cork, did not take place until October 27th 1929) Michael won a junior all Ireland hurling medal playing for Dublin in 1932.
Fr. Tom Menton, First President
Fr. Tom Menton (R.I.P.), the beloved Clontarf curate of twelve years (1960-1972) was a member of the famous Menton "soccer" family of Home Farm Road, He was himself a gifted soccer player, as a youth, but had to prematurely hand up his boots on entering Clonliffe College. A man who genuinely didin't have "meas madra" for worldly possessions, Fr. Tom Menton was happiest when working for and with the poor and the youth. In Clontarf he is remembered with great affection by so many for his work with the scouts and especially for the great guidance he gave in establishing the still flourishing St. John's youth Club. When the new G. A. A. club was founded in 1961, Fr. Tom became its first President and, although naturally more familar with the soccer "scene" he worked steadfastly to get the club in full operation for the benefit of the youth of Clontarf. Fr. Tom was moved in 1972 from Clontarf to Beechwood Avenue, on the southside of the city. There he died of heartfailure a short time later - on February 17th 1973 at 55 years of age. Slan leat aris, a athair, agus guigh orainn.
Incidentally the Menton hamily have other strong Clontarf connections. Fr. Tom's well known brother, Brendan Menton, lived literally across Seafield Road from Belgrove Schools for many years. Brendan (to whom I say thanks for conversing with me) is the honourary secretary of Home Farm F.C. and was President of the F.A.I. between 1980 and 1982. Brendan's son, kevin, (who played Davis Cup tennis for Ireland) lives at Seafield Grove.