A night with Down 1994 legends in Loughinisland

A night with Down 1994 legends in Loughinisland

9 October 2019

LOUGHINISLAND GAC is gearing up for one of the biggest nights in the club’s history later this month with a special event honouring the Down 1994 Jubilee All-Ireland winning side.

The celebration is to mark the 25th anniversary of the side’s historic win over Dublin in Croke Park during a poignant year for those in the village and surrounding areas.

The victory came just three months after the Loughinisland massacre which saw six men murdered in The Height Bar by UVF gunmen while they watched Ireland’s 1-0 victory over favourites Italy in World Cup on June 18.

During that turbulent period of the Troubles, the recently-crowned Ulster champions, complete with the Anglo-Celt Cup, came to Macartan Park on July 28 to play a charity match against a select team of players from Loughinisland, Teconnaught and Drumaness.

Over 2,000 people turned up and the event raised over £5,000 for the Loughinisland Appeal Fund, which was set up to help the families of the murdered men.

The local club is hosting the night to thank the squad and back room team for coming to the village during a time when the people in the area were reeling after the atrocity.

A large contingent of the 1994 Down squad will be in attendance, including captain DJ Kane, ‘Mayobridge Flyer’ Mickey Linden, James McCartan, Downpatrick pair Conor Deegan and Barry Breen, Castlewellan’s Gregory McCartan and Ciaran McCabe, Bryansford's Brian Burns, Carryduff goalkeeper Neil Collins, Ross Carr and, of course, Loughinisland’s Gary Mason and Gerard Colgan, plus many more.

Compere for the night will be TV and radio personality Frank Mitchell. The popular presenter has a close affinity to the Down side, having been brought up in Burren, and will bring plenty of fun and laughter to the proceedings.

Louise Kearney, part of the organising committee, said excitement is building in the area on the countdown to the historic night in the club on Saturday, October 26.

She added: “We are delighted the Down legends are coming to spend a special evening in our clubrooms. It will be a wonderful opportunity to reminisce with All-Ireland winners. We are very proud to have two Loughinisland men who gave so much to the county, and continue to give so much to our club and community.”

It’s a night not to be missed as this is a landmark year for the Down side who created history when they brought Sam Maguire across the border for the fifth time.

Louise said: “It may be one of the last times the squad will be together in a club in this capacity for a number of years and we are grateful they are spending that time with us. We will have a relaxed but enthralling evening as we look back at the glory days.”

While the spotlight will be on the Down legends, families from the Loughinisland Justice Group will be special guests at the event and their loved ones will be remembered during the night.

Louise added: “We will also take time to remember that 1994 was such a difficult year for Loughinisland. A quarter of a century on from the massacre, we will think back on the impact of the Down win on the community, the uplift that the team brought and the footballing spirit which helped people through the darkest days. We have a lot of stories to hear.”

The organisers have secured the Sam Maguire and Anglo-Celt cups for the event so there will be opportunities on the night to get photographs taken alongside the Down greats and the legendary silverware.

Former Down and Loughinisland player Alan Molloy, who is also one of the organisers, said it was a remarkable feat that a small rural club like Loughinisland had three medals from the great teams of the 1990s and their achievements had brought much joy and prestige to the club.

He added: “This will be a wonderful opportunity to reminisce with these All-Ireland winners, including Loughinisland men Gary Mason and Gerard Colgan, who gave so much to the county and continue to give so much to our club and community.

“Gary Mason is the proud owner of two medals, from the victories in 1991 and 1994. Whilst Gerard Colgan was playing for An Riocht in 1994, he spent the last of his playing days with Loughinisland. Both players are now passing on their valuable knowledge to the future generations through coaching our underage teams.

“The club is very grateful that so many legends of the 1994 team are returning to spend this evening with us. This will be a relaxed evening where we can sit back and listen to the enthralling stories from those glory days.”

The event will be sponsored by The Irish News and the organising committee would like to thank them for their support and backing.

Tickets can be purchased in O’Toole’s bar, Loughinisland GAC clubrooms, or by contacting the club’s Facebook page, email loughinislandgac@gmail.com, or calling 07761 754207.