A TRIBUTE TO THE PORTLAOISE SENIOR FOOTBALLERS
(LAOIS SENIOR CHAMPIONS, 1964)
A tribute to our football team, I penned in ‘fifty-eight’,
Who won the Senior Championship, despite what records state.
Six hard-luck years have since gone by of “knocking at the door’,
But now Portlaoise are champs, again in nineteen-sixty-four.
Oh! Jimmy Hughes, our Captain brave, had Laois more men like you,
In victory we’d often wave the county’s white and blue.
God bless you, Paddy Bracken, ’tis proud I am to-day,
To be a member of the Club for which you nobly play.
Staunch Alf Lewis and Phil O’Keeffe, you’ve soldiered with us long.
And now I’m proud to sing aloud your praises in my song.
Those others, too, as loyal and true, who ne’er have gained the crown,
My voice I’ll raise to sing their praise for service to the town.
Sound in defence in moments tense, Pat Dalton – right half-back,
With kicks well placed, how oft he has changed defence into attack!
And when the ball went o’er his head, and the foe were pressing hard,
Mick Murphy and Tom Byrne were there – alert and on their guard.
Well caught and held, Ted Fennelly, your game’s improving fast,
‘Tis men like you could soon renew the glory of the past,
Grand work there, Sydney Harkin, sure football you should know,
For your uncle Syd played with the “greats” nigh thirty years ago.
Stout-hearted Mick McDonald, it was pure joy to see,
Your great display on final day, that led to victory.
Well played there, Cyril O’Meara, you truly played your part,
Your football skill gave us a thrill, right from the very start.
I nearly cried with joy and pride — ’twas almost ecstacy!
To see John Fennell lining out, despite his injury.
Twice he had scored, while we just roared, ’twas such a grand display!
And then he scored that wonder point, that won for us the day.
For skill and speed ’tis hard exceed Jas Reilly in attack;
He went right through the Graigue defence and none could hold him back.
1 still can hear that joyous cheer as Jas was set to score,
But when he shook the net, the cheer, exploded in a roar.
No lack of pluck but sheer bad luck, that scores came not from you,
Mick Dalton and Mick ‘Reilly bold, and brave Syd Lewis, too.
But oft’ before you got your score, on the road to victory,
And so I say: “Hip, Hip Hurrah! for our full forwards three”!
A word I’d say of praise today, to our lads on the reserve,
Brian Delaney, Frank and Ollie Byrne and McCabe our thanks deserve,
To Mick and P.J. Houlihan and Tom ‘Reilly – everyone,
Fitzpatrick and young Phelan too – to all I say: “Well done!”
I would be wrong, if in my song, I mentioned not the name,
Of one of the famed Delaney clan, not in the final game.
With Paschal there, I do declare, we would have won by more,
For, ‘faith ’tis far from easy to keep the “Red Lad” from a score!
Now, if I may, I’d like to say, ‘ere my song complete,
Graiguecullen, you are Sportsmen! – glorious in defeat!
Good sports are they who know the way to win, and not abuse,
But they are greater sports by far, who know the way to lose!
Paddy was a member of the Laois minor hurling team of 1934 that won Leinster honours and was pipped by a point by Tipperary in a farcical finish to the All-Ireland final which was kept going for over ten minutes of extra time until the Munster men got the winning score.