Navan O'Mahonys GAA
Founded in November 1948, Navan O’Mahonys GAA club maintained the tradition of Gaelic Games in the town that goes back to the Navan Pierce O’Mahonys, the team that represented Meath in the county’s first All-Ireland SFC final appearance over half-a-century earlier. In 1949, its first year of competitive activity, O’Mahonys won the junior football championship. Four years later, when the Keegan Cup was first presented, the club’s maiden SFC title was gained. The late Tony McCormack captained the side while another member of the team, Peter McDermott, went on to lead Meath to an All-Ireland SFC final win over Kerry the following September.
In 1957, McDermott manned the goals as the most successful era in the club’s history began with an SFC final win over Skryne. O’Mahonys went on to win five Keegan Cup titles on the spin. A feat that has yet to be matched.
As well as winning the SFC for the sixth year running, Navan O’Mahonys won its first adult hurling championship, the IHC, in 1961. The bid for a sixth Keegan title on the bounce came to a halt at the ‘semi’ stage the following year. However, O’Mahonys were back in the winners enclosure in 1963, when the SFC was won for the seventh time in 11 campaigns.
A decade was to pass before title wintered on Brews Hill again. Defeats were the club’s lot in the finals of 1967 and 1970. On the latter occasion Eamonn Giles – father of former Meath star Trevor – captained the side that succumbed to Kilbride in the decider.
A second IHC title was won in 1970. Three years later, the decade long barren spell ended with an SFC final win over Ballivor. A spin off from that success was Ronan Giles captained Meath to a memorable NFL final win over Dublin in May 1975.
Around this time a national audience got its first glimpse of legendary Navan O’Mahonys figure, Joe Cassells. In 1972, he lined out at midfield on the Meath team that won the Leinster MFC title before losing to Tyrone at the national ‘semi’ stage. When he made his Leinster SFC debut for Meath against Laois two years later, one commentator reckoned he sported the longest mane ever worn by any player on Croke Park. In the Evening Press, Con Houlihan offered the opinon that the NFL final of 1975 success was built on ‘Cassells in the air”.
In the same year, O’Mahonys lost the SFC final to Summerhill, who were winning the second of four titles in a row. The decade ended on a high note with the Keegan Cup being lifted for a ninth time with a 1-9 to 1-3 win over Summerhill. The late Ben Tansey picked up the inaugural P. J. Clusker ‘Man-of-the-match’ award.
The camogie section of the club was set up in 1979. The following year the county novice title was gained. In 1982, O’Mahonys claimed the senior title for the first time.
The Eighties proved to be a memorable decade for our club. In 1981, our tally of SFC titles went into double figures with victory over Skryne in a final replay for the team captained by Ben Tansey. Two years later, we succumbed in the final to Walterstown – who were completing the second leg of a three-in-a-row. Our record of never losing to Skryne in a final continued in 1985. A SHC-SFC double was completed on December 1 when Killyon were defeated at Trim in the hurling decider.
The following summer a 16-year barren spell ended when Meath unseated holders Dublin the in the Leinster SFC final with Joe Cassells as captain while Finian Murtagh also figured on the team. When a request for a postponement of an SFC clash with Nobber, due to an injury incurred by Cassells in the All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Kerry, wasn’t granted the club didn’t field and were subsequently disqualified from the championship. With Ben Tansey at the helm as player-coach, our hurlers retained the SHC.
Putting the disappointment of 1986 behind them, the footballers regained the Keegan Cup the following year under the stewardship of Tom Staunton. Skryne were defeated by the narrowest margin at Kells, when Pairc Tailteann was undergoing redevelopment. It was the first of four consecutive SFC titles for the club that brought our tally to 15 by the end of 1990.
In 1987, David Beggy became to the first member of club to win an All-Star. When Meath retained the All-Ireland SFC a year later, Joe Cassells became the second O’Mahonys player to captain a Sam Maguire Cup winning side. Apart from retaining the SFC title with another final win over Skryne, 1989 saw the merger of Navan O’Mahonys and the De La Salle underage club. The maroon jerseys of the latter are sometimes worn by our hurlers when colour clashes occur.
That year also marked the start of the Saturday-morning coaching sessions for underage players. Most of our current adult players’ involvment with Navan O’Mahonys began here.
Senior hurling status was regained in 1993 when the IHC title was won for the third time. In addition to coaching the side, Ben Tansey lined out in the half-forward line alongside his son Paul. Our footballers weren’t so fortunate as Skryne finally got the better of them in an SFC final with a late Trevor Giles goal proving decisive
The hurlers’ stint on the top flight didn’t last long, but another IHC final was reached in 1996. Ben Tansey lined out in goals while Paul figured in the attack but a defeat to Gaeil Colmcille was our lot. Twelve months later senior status hurling status was regained with victory over Kilmessan’s second string side after a replay. A memorable year was capped by a 16th SFC title success with Alan Reilly as captain in the final win over Trim. With a number of titles gained in addition at underage level, it proved to be the most successful in the club’s history.
While there was a subsequent dip in the fortunes of our adult teams, success at underage level inspired hopes of more good days for the club. The club’s female footballers gained their first title success, junior B, in 1996. They repeated the feat in 2004.
O’Mahonys footballers diced with relegation in 2000, preserving their SFC status with a minimum margin win over Blackhall Gaels at Dunsany. In the same year the MFC was won under the Navan O’Mahonys banner for the first time. Senior football status was cashed after half-a-century with a 1-2 to 0-6 loss to Summerhill in the relegation decider at Dunsany in October 2001. Hopes of an immediate return to senior level were dashed when Ballivor goalkeeper Raymond McKeown pointed a last gasp ’45′ in the 2002 IFC decider.
An emphatic IFC final win over Carnaross in 2003 paved the way for a return to senior ranks. Despite the presence of a growing number of graduates from our underage ranks, it took us until 2008 to become SFC champions again. The use of one too many substitutes in a semi-final win over Dunboyne led to our expulsion from the SFC in 2005. The following year a narrow defeat to Cian Ward (whose father Phillip won two SHC medals with O’Mahonys) inspired Wolfe Tones to their first senior title. A final replay defeat to Seneschalstown (managed by Damien Sheridan, captain of our 1985 SFC winning side) bolted the door on title dreams in 2007.
Perseverence paid dividends in 2008, with an decisive final win over Summerhill, which was screened ‘live’ on TG4. In his post-match speech Paddy Smyth’s displayed ‘a maturity beyond his 22 years’ according to one local journalist. Despite winning five minor hurling titles and seven under-21 hurling titles over a period spanning the late 1990s and the early years of the new century, O’Mahonys haven’t managed to reach a SHC final since 1986.
Semi-final defeats in 2001 (Dunboyne) and 2002 (Kilmessan, after a replay) have been the senior hurlers best showings since the last Jubilee Cup success. Wolfe Tones got the better of O’Mahonys in a SFC semi-final replay in 2009 and the following year we failed to make to the knockout stages for the first time since 2004.
Navan and District Historical Society has copied this article for genuine and bona fide information dissemination purposes and acknowledges that the source of the information is http://www.navanomahonys.com/history/