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Here’s a wee tongue-in-cheek match report I did 24 years ago. It was about a match featuring Warrenpoint oldies versus Newry has-beens.
It went something like this.

Warrenpoint 4 Newry 2

They came, they saw ... and they returned to Newry with their tails between their legs.

In 1996 the slick city soccer stars of yesteryear travelled to Warrenpoint on a wave of hope - and a prayer from their loved ones (or in a few cases - their wives).

But the team, coaxed from retirement by joint selectors Tony Cunningham and Joey Larkin, saw their dreams shattered at Clonallan Park by John Boyle’s Warrenpoint warriors.

Though if the truth be told their 4-2 victory somewhat flatters the Point men. I have to say - in a totally unbiased manner - all their goals were offside.

The referee, the home-grown Warrenpoint whistler Mickey Cummins, was somewhat intimidated by the fierce partisan crowd.

The Seasiders also played a team of ringers, composed of outsiders or underage teenagers.

And the bumpy pitch didn’t suit the delicate skills of the Newry squad.

John Boyle’s side was gathered from all parts of the country and he even went across the shuck to entice Brian Fearon to play. On the Point team was Dubliner Johnny Bird and many Newry turncoats who showed themselves in poor light by doing what no self respecting Newryman (or John Fearon) would do … wear a Warrenpoint jersey.

By contrast the visitors were all Newry born and bred, apart from the old Shamrock’s warhorse Paddy Crossan, a man who jetted in especially for the occasion.

But to the game. In the first half the slick-moving Newry men created a bundle of chances and if former Youth International Dick Taylor had availed of a fraction of the opportunities that came his way the Newry team might have been home in a boat at the break.
As it happened Taylor did hit the net in the first half, rolling back the years to knock home a super right wing cross from old chrome-dome himself Aidan Carroll.

Shortly after the goal Taylor and Paddy McCamley had words, both men complaining the other hadn’t passed the ball. But it’s doubtful if either man ever passed the ball intentionally in their whole careers. Golden boy Taylor was notorious for failing to pass the ball in the 18-yard area. Whereas McCamley invariably failed to pass the ball no matter where he was on the park!

Anyway boss Larkin settled their argument by hauling off the feuding pair.

In the second half Tony Cunningham entered the fray and right away the substitution appeared to have worked. The player/manager flashed through an advancing (and advanced) Warrenpoint rearguard before burying a daisy-cutter into the corner, with keeper Johnny Bird a spectator. It was truly surprising that Cunningham could even see the target as the net-minder’s goal was shrouded in a cloud of Johnny’s famous Cheroot smoke.

That was Cunningham’s first kick and, apart from a clout from the boot of John Mallon, his last. Where he went to after scoring no one knows. People said he went down to the shore to paddle his feet. Who knows?

But with the grey-haired teenager Kieran Moore urging his team on, the Point hit back. A Stanley Weir corner kick on the right was punched into his own net, by the Newry net-minding legend Marty McCabe, via the head of Nicky McCaul. McCabe later said he felt sorry for the Seasiders and he only wanted to make a game of it.

That error of judgement though was the beginning of the end. Minutes later Collie Moore, from a blatantly offside position, slipped home the leveller. And when Weir put the Point in front the normally shy and retiring Paddy McCamley forcibly voiced his displeasure by questioning the official, roaring out:
“Mickey did you ever referee before?
“Do you know whether the ball is blew up or stuffed?
“It’s not glasses you need … it’s binoculars!”

And near the end turncoat John Fearon put the tin hat on a bad night for the Newry side, again scoring from an offside position.

And the less said about the Newry missed opportunities the better.

Isaac Burns kicked over from right under the bar. An impossibility. But somehow the wee man managed it.

Mick Sands then fell down exhausted after a lung-bursting four-yard run.

While Tony Bagnall shot over when scoring would have been easier. (In truth to this very day I can remember missing that sitter from 10 yards. I also actually remember not sleeping too well after that miss. Good job I was never talented enough to play in front of a big crowd or television cameras!)

Anyway best for the Point team were the elegant Paddy Dinsmore, the hobbling Johnny Bird, the deep-thinking Brian Fearon and the mooching Stanley Weir.

For Newry the pair of ex-Newry Town full backs Maurice McAnulty and Nicky McCaul reformed their sixties partnership as if they had been never separated. While Eddie Curtis, the babe of the team, matched the Point flying machine Mickey Courtney for pace. And Tommy Rafferty showed defender Jonsie Mallon some of his ancient skills.

And afterwards as the wine - and Grecian 2,000 in the showers - flowed, many memories from pre-war football days were relived.

Newry were intent on getting revenge at home but the second leg never took place. Indeed, it took all of six months before tortured legs and lungs got back to something resembling normality.

On a serious note; Newry Hospice benefited enormously from the fund-raising of the players but especially from the efforts of Tony Cunningham, Joey Larkin and John Boyle.

In closing I’d like to apologise for anyone I didn’t offend. I can assure you it wasn’t intentional.

Warrenpoint: Johnny Bird, Derek Smith, Paddy Dinsmore, Kieran Moore, John Mallon, Gerry Boyle, Frankie Heatley, John Fearon, Stanley Weir, Collie Moore, Mickey Courtney and Brian Fearon.

Newry: Marty McCabe, Nicky McCaul, Paddy Crossan, Hugh Carroll, Maurice McAnulty, Paddy McCamley, Dommie Trainor, Eddie Curtis, Aidan Carroll, Ronnie Taylor, Joey McAleavey, Isaac Burns, Mick Sands, Tony Bagnall, Tony Cunningham, Peter Cunningham and Tommy Rafferty.

If you like this wee story, you can find a lot more like it in Tony Bagnall’s book on the Carnbane League, entitled ‘Junior Football in the Newry Area.’

It’s the only book ever written about the Newry league. It tells the story, sometimes amusingly, about the heyday of the Carnbane League, from 1968 to 1996.

All the top teams are featured and indeed some of the less glamorous sides, sides that graced Jennings Park, Clonallan Park, The Pond Field, Carnbane Park, etc.

There are some unusually stories, such as the team that scored eight goals ... and still lost.

The team that won the AOH Cup on a corner kick, the day the referee got sent off, and the player who played legitimately in both semi-finals of the same cup competition.

‘Junior Football in the Newry Area’ is an enjoyable trip down memory lane. It’s about the great teams, the great players and the great matches from a bygone era.

The book too is full of pictures. And it’s sure to become a collectors’ item as there aren’t too many left.

The book was originally priced at £4.50 but is now on sale at just £3.

A nice wee stocking filler for that football-mad Newry soccerite.

If you would like a copy of the the book just contact Tony Bagnall on 07815787874 or send him an email on tonybagnall@mac.com

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