IT had been 16 long years since O’Donovan Rossa had won an Antrim Senior Football Championship, but in 1989 they managed to bridge that gap and then add a second title in 1991.
To mark the anniversary of those Championship victories, a reunion of players from those teams will be held at the Balmoral Hotel this Friday evening from 7.30pm, with all welcome to attend.
The night will include video clips of the two championship victories plus a discussion with players from the time who will look back and recall their memories of those years.
It was a huge year for Rossa in 1989 having just contested the All-Ireland Club hurling final at Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day where they came up short against Wexford’s Buffers Alley, but later in the year it would be success with the big ball that would bring further glory.
Having accounted for Éire Óg, Lámh Dhearg and then McDermott’s after a replay in the semi-final, Rossa were seen as underdogs going into the final against Cargin.
Coached by Ray McDonnell Snr, Matt Bradley and Eddie Quinn, Rossa produced an outstanding display to get the better of the Erin’s Own men. Leading by 0-7 to 0-2 at the half, Rossa pushed on and when Jim Close found the net after his initial penalty had been saved, it was effectively game over with Rossa winning 1-10 to 0-5.
It was a similar story in 1991 with Rossa again entering the final as outsiders in many opinions with next door neighbours St Paul’s viewed as the up-and-coming force in Antrim football at the time.
A penalty save in the first half from Dominic McEnhill and scores from Noel Murray (two) and Jim Close ensured led at the end of a low-key first half by 0-3 to 0-2.
The second half was much livelier with Murray adding another two after Gerard Armstrong had opened the scoring in the second period and while St Paul’s rallied, the Rossa midfield of Brian White and Stephen Faulkner were exerting control and a Donal Armstrong point left the Jeremiahs three clear before Close rattled the net to seal the win with Tony Austin having the final say in a 1-8 to 0-7 win.
Captain on that day and again in 1991, Gerard ‘Yash’ Armstrong, says it promises to be a great night with club members gathering to look back on those successes, the last time the Padraig McNamee Cup has resided in the club.
“It’s great to have everyone back to see old friends after 30 years,” he said.
“We actually have a couple home from America for it, so it should be a great night for everyone to look back on a great couple of years for the club.
“There will be entertainment and a bit of a discussion with the players who will recount their memories of those Championship wins.”