Night of nostalgia for Clans

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CLAN na Gael’s 90th anniversary was celebrated last Friday night at the Ashburn Hotel.

A sell-out attendance were treated to a night of nostalgia. But while remembering with fondness the glory days of the past, members were urged to look to the future and to build on the youth structures at Davitt Park which are thriving at present both in football and camogie.

The chairman’s address, which was delivered by Noel O’Hagan, was followed by a reminiscing Jimmy Smyth who brought the guests through a myriad of memories which spanned many decades.

County Board official Peadar Murray spoke of his personal connections to the famous Francis Street club and the special guest on the evening, Eugene Grant, from the Bryansford club which had many great battles with the Blues in the Ulster club series, spoke of the strong links between his club and Clan na Gael.

For pure passion the emotional address given by the Clans camogie President Marion McStay stole the show.

Her description of being at Davitt Park in inclement weather and witnessing over 50 youngsters taking part in training was a joy to hear. She told the Mail: “Ladies football may be on the up but Camogie is still thriving and will continue to thrive.”

Clan na Gael’s glorious past, which saw three Ulster Club titles being won in the early seventies under the management of Brian Seeley, has been littered with outstanding memories at Davitt Park since the Clans were formed back in 1922.

At this particular event, however, the name of the late Harry McGarry was remembered with particular fondness with some guests on the night describing Harry as ‘Mr Clan na Gael’.

The Clans published a special commemorative booklet which was distributed at the event.

In the foreword, chairman Noel O’Hagan ssiad: “I will ask you to share in the proud past of our club and in the memories of those who have gone before us. We now look to the future and to the continued support and commitment of our young members and friends to ensure that the name of Clan na Gael continues to thrive in serving future generations.”

With a substantial contribution from former Clan na Gael player Gerry McKerr entitled “Quo Vadis?” (Latin for ‘where are you going?’) in which the Clans man conjures up memories of football in the sixties and journeys to never-before visited destinations, the anniversary booklet honours the memories of some of Clan na Gael’s best known personalities of both the past and present like Michael ‘Fiddler’ May, Seamus Lavery, Brian Seeley, John Green, Gerry “Hovey” Tipping, Joe McCaughley, Eddie McLaughlin, Tommy McKerr and Davy Lavery.

Clan na Gael also handed out the various awards on the night for the past season. The Senior Player of the Year went to Laurence McGuinness with the Young Player of the Year award going to Eoin McCabrey who is the grandson of former Clan na Gael great Gerry McStay.

The senior camogie award went to Laura Haughey and Clan na Gael President Marion McStay said that Camogie at Davitt Park was going through a revival.

“There is currently a new dawn at Davitt Park as far as Camogie is concerned,” she said. “It’s great to see so many young girls taking up the game and the coaches at the club work very hard to ensure that the young players are given a good start in the game of Camogie. We can look forward to the future with confidence.”

With Clan na Gael looking forward to their centenary in ten years’ time, they can utilise the memories of the past and encourage a new generation to wear the blue jersey with pride.