GAC Club Profile: Newry Mitchel’s, by Seán Ó Sirideán
Founded in 1956 and Senior Football Champions four years later, Newry Mitchel’s epitomized the charisma of Down football that was evident in the glorious Sixties. With a great supply of talent emanating from that great nursery Abbey C.B.S., they captured four more championships in the Sixties, but into the Seventies progress was handicapped by the lack of a base. By the middle of that decade the club had plummeted to Division Four of the All County League. But the phoenix did rise again and with the emphasis put firmly on youth, much success was achieved with underage teams.
Senior Football responded well and the Mitchel’s seemed on the way to regaining Division One status, but unfortunately the progress was not sustained. The Club can boast of players like the record-breaking Sean O’Neill, winner of two All-Stars and a Texaco Award and being selected on the GAA Team of The Millennium with his brother Kevin, both on Down’s All-Ireland teams of 1960 and 1961, Val Kane won an All-Ireland medal in 1968. Gerry Brown was trainer and player on Down’s 1946 All-Ireland Junior team and Manager of the 1968 All-Ireland Senior winners.
In recent years John Mitchel GAC has gone from strength to strength. In 2005 the club was awarded the Irish News Award for the best club in Ulster for Underage Development. There has been successes on the field too, with the under-16s winning both the South Down and All-County B championships in 2005 and the U14s reaching league and championship finals in 2009. There are many challenges facing modern clubs in urban areas. Volunteers are harder to come by, and young people have many more choices.
With special thanks to Seán Ó Sirideán
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