SIXTY years ago the GAA community in general and the Association in Lurgan in particular was a very different organisation.
The Freecrow area with its tightly knit community, which comprised parts of North Street, Mary Street, Grattan Street, Kilmaine Street and a section of Brownlow Terrace was soon to be thronged with the young families who would have as their focal point the ‘Peter’s Field’ which up until recently was utilised to provide a temporary church before the splenders of the re-vamped St Peter’s chapel were once again opened to worshippers.
Leafy suburbia has seen its fair share of former Freecrow families taking up residence on the outskirts of town but the Whites have maintained the status quo and can look forward to a genuine crack at the 2012 Intermediate Championship.
A period of 60 years has heard the echoes of Joe Monteith, Tom McCusker, Barney Patterson, Charlie Carberry, Caomhin Bradley who, along with a host of others, steered the Whites through a time when coaching officers were still years away.
St Peter’s continue to thrive however in a modern society where costs and onfield performances go hand in hand.
In 2011 the Whites underlined their intention to let youth have its day and a group of youngsters, galvanised by a few old hands, gained promotion to the second division.
This week the ‘MAIL’ talks to St Peter’s chairman Paul Lavery who describes the future he would like to see for his club and remembers a past and its occupants who have structured what now sits proudly at the top of the Distillery Hill.
Here are the views of the St Peter’s chairman.
Does the new sports hall have a separate committee?
Yes - Chair & Secretary - Jimmy Magee; Treasurer - Sean Muldoon; Booking Officer - Laurence O’Connor; Members - Rory Brady, Brian McCabrey, David McKerr, Anne Marie Moore, Gerald Moore and Lenny Moore.
What events are planned in the near future?
In addition to the regular activities, i.e. netball, five-a-side football, gaelic and soccer training, Jellybean Breakfast and After-School Nursery, the Community Sports Hall will host a plethora of events, including Phil Coulter on 16th December and Blast Teens CoolFM Disco on 28th December.
Which other members apart from John McStravick have recieved the hall of fame award over the years?
The plaque in the bar will have the names. From memory the following hold the Club’s prestigious badge of honour - Canon Joe O’Hagan, Benedict Lavery, Barry Derby, Jim Moore, Jimmy Toman, Noel Campbell, Charlie Lavery, Michael Starkey, Jimmy Magee, Gerald Moore and John McStravick.
How important was it to gain promotion this season?
I thought it was vital we gained promotion this year to compliment all the hard work and commitment shown by the senior players and management team.
Young players who have come through the youth ranks at St Peter’s have mostly stayed together why has this been the case?
There are a number of reasons for this. Over ten years ago we started a football academy and were one of the first clubs to have a youth officer who forged links with local schools. We also put a number of coaches through GAA courses ranging from foundation to level two.
A lot of the coaches remained year on year, with the underage set up like Brian McCabrey and lots of others so adding to a consistency which helped players to stay together.
Was the club disappointed when the minors failed to win a county title?
Yes the club was disappointed when we didn’t win a county minor title with the quality of player we had. But commitment to schools, county teams, development squads and of course the rub of the green all at some time didn’t go in our favour but I believe it’s one of the reasons the same young players helped win the third division this year.
You were involved with promoting youth structures at St Peter’s, how did alfie hannaway do in his job?
Alfie helped to develop the Club’s underage structures and in particular he strengthened the Club’s links with the local schools, notably Tannaghmore, The Model and St Teresa’s while also putting in place a Youth Committee.
How are the Whites ladies teams progressing?
Ladies football goes from strength to strength within St Peter’s.This year a ladies sub committee was set up to take on the work of ladies football and under their direction we competed at all levels throughout the county.
Collie Keegan and Gerard Doran have stepped down from senior management, what are your opinions on their time in charge and how do you think the new manager will do?
Unfortunately because of work commitments Gerard and Collie felt they couldn’t give the commitment they would like. I thank them for their hard work. The committee then moved to quickly fill the void and have a new manager already in place - Stevie McVeigh of Burren and Warrenpoint along with his management team of Bazza McQuade, Gary Creaney and a few others still to be confirmed.