The Men of Eighty Five
Michael Collins wrote the following poem in tribute to the Newport team which won the county Intermediate Football Championship in 1985.
‘Twas a cold and bitter afternoon on a grey November day;
To Leahy Park in Cashel we went to join the fray.
On a bare and rock-like surface as a wintry sun shone down,
We faced the Swans of Carrick for the Intermediate crown.
God bless the men of Carrick, they showed bravery and skill;
They played the game both hard and fair and battled with a will.
My poor old heart was thumping and I thought that we were bet,
When midway through the second half, they shook the Newport net.
Yet ‘twas this goal sent up the spark that set the game alight,
And Newport warmed to their task now conscious of their plight.
They powered it down the centre and flashed along the wings
And the cheers reverberated ‘round famed Cashel of the Kings.
They breached the Walls of Carrick and shattered that vain claim
That only South Tipperary can boast of football fame.
They laid the ghosts of latter years that haunted our proud past,
And brought the Barrett Cup to rest in Newport Town at last.
So Carrick for a horse or dog – now this we’ll not dispute
But if you’re looking for a man to lace a football boot,
A man who’ll clutch a greasy ball, whose hands will not let slip,
Go seek him in the high terrain on the hilly slopes of Tipp.
Where flows the Mulcaire River and where ageless Keeper Hill
Stands guardian o’er the countryside from Knockfune to Birdhill.
Where Cully’s barren mountain towers high o’er Lackamore
And the winding road through Newport sweeps down to Shannon’s shore.
I’ll call out the Roll of Honour and give credit where ‘tis due
No team in North Tipperary could stick the pace with you.
Moycarkey thought they had it won, but then they let it slip,
Before the final onslaught of the champions from North Tipp.
There’s our captain bold Pat Shinnors, the man they call “The Mouse”
He has a pair of powerful hands, as safe as any house.
Murt Moloney and Ned Quigley who played on either side
You’ll not find a finer trio to front brave Gerard Floyd.
Big Lar McGrath, at number six, his motto – none shall pass
He’ll tackle everything that moves above a blade of grass;
Flanked by cool D.J. O’Brien and that other sturdy lad
I’ve never seen him beaten, the eager, fearless Brad.
Midfield is manned by two O’Briens, a fast, elusive pair,
Both Sean and John are noted for their energy and flair.
They roamed around the centre and the soaring balls pulled down
Set up the moves that made the scores that won for us the crown.
The wingers, tall John Keating who so often found the net
And speedy Seanie Shinnors, like a super-sonic jet
Zoomed along the touch-line and careered from side to side
As he drew the central marker to make room for Timmy Floyd.
There’s power-packed Connie Keating who has rattled many bones
And the bearer of a famous name is Cully’s Timmy Jones.
The maker of so many scores was veteran Dinny Floyd
He kept the ball in motion and he seldom let it wide.
Let’s not forget the great reserves – they made the winning side
And we’d not be celebrating were it not for Tony Floyd.
It was his scores – no doubting that – that brought us to the fore,
His name shall be for e’er enshrined in Newport’s football lore.
And the others too who played their parts in league and championship
They well deserve the honour – be their names on every lip.
John Hogan and John Coffey and young Pat Keating, too,
Peter Coleman, Terry O’Brien, all trusted, tried and true.
Now what lies in the future, well I’ve got no crystal ball,
But I’ll wager they’ll be heard of, those heroes one and all.
They will keep the flag a-flying, keep our Gaelic games alive,
So let’s toast the brave Mike Larkin and his men of eighty five.