Mick Haughney, the former Graiguecullen, Laois and Leinster
footballer celebrated his 90th birthday on December 15 and on the
following Saturday a special dinner attended by some 30 family and
friends was held in Carlow’s Seven Oaks Hotel to mark this milestone in
Mick has been a resident of Bethany House in Carlow Town for the
past two years, having previously been a resident of St. Fiac’s House,
Mick Haughney was an outstanding footballer, winning nine Laois
SFC medals with Graiguecullen during the 1930s and 40s when the Carlow
border club, along with Stradbally, dominated Laois football. He also
holds four Leinster SFC medals won with Laois.
He was partnered in mid-field for club and county by none other
than Tommy Murphy, the ‘Boy Wonder’ of Gaelic football and, by all
accounts, they formed a magnificent midfield pairing. At county level he
was a colleague of the great Bill Delaney of Stradbally.
Mick first wore the blue and white of Laois as a minor in 1933,
playing a senior league match the following year before graduating to
the championship team in 1935.
He was a substitute on the Laois team which reached the
All-Ireland football final of 1936, only to lose to Mayo.
The most memorable aspect of Mick’s football life was the trip by
Laois to New York in 1938. Laois were beaten All-Ireland finalists of
1937, losing 2-2 to 1-4 to Kerry in Dan Fraher’s Field in Dungarvan.
Kerry defeated Cavan in that 1937 final and both All-Ireland
finalists were invited to play exhibition games in the United States in
early 1938. When Kerry were unable to fulfil the invitation, The Kingdom
readily nominated Laois to take their place.
Mick Haughney was among 20 Laois players to make the trip to the
States on board the S.S. Manhatten.
Of that group eight were Graiguecullen players and nine from
Laois limbered up with games in Boston and the Polo Ground, New
York against American sides before lining out against Cavan in the big
game of the tour. The game ended level --Laois 1-4, Cavan 0-7. Laois won
the replay by a handsome 3-6 to 0-4 to win the coveted Tom Heeney Cup
which subsequently became the property of Graiguecullen GAA Club, at the
direction of Laois County Board.
Seven Graiguecullen players who played on that team were: Mick
Haughney, Tommy Murphy, John McDarby, Martin ‘Buxie’ Farrell, Ned
Begley, Jim Slater and Jim ‘Rexie’ McDonald.
The Tom Heeney Cup was brought to Saturday’s dinner and seeing the
trophy no doubt brought back many cherished memories to Mick Haughney.
The trophy was ‘housed’ for many years at Graiguecullen National
School where it was under the care of school principal, the late Mr.
Sean O’Leary. In latter years the cup has been ‘in residence’ at the
Graiguecullen GAA Clubhouse.
Mick, who had first played with his county as an 18 year-old, was
part of the Laois team which went on to win a third Leinster SFC
on-the-trot (1936-’38) with a 2-8 to 1-3 victory over the ‘ould’ enemy,
Kildare, losing out by 2-6 to 2-4 to Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final
He was also a member of the 1946 Laois team which won out in
Leinster and captained Leinster the following year when Munster beat
Leinster in the Railway Cup final by 3-5 to 1-9.
After the curtain came down on his inter-county career Mick
emigrated, in 1949, to the United States. He had been a regular visitor
back to Ireland over the years and some years ago came back to live
permanently in his native area.
He was joined for Saturday’s special dinner by wife Chrissie - the
former Chrissie Dowling from Castle View, Graiguecullen and his son
Edward, who lives in Florida. The dinner was also attended by friends of
Mick from Graiguecullen GAA Club, by Fr. John Fingleton, Graiguecullen
and Mrs. Veronica O’Boyle, Matron at Bethany House.
Special mention should be made of Paul Hurley, Graiguecullen club
member and good friend to Mick and Peter Reynolds, emergency medical
technican, who described himself as a ‘friend through football’ of Mick
Haughney. Both Paul and Peter were present at Saturday’s dinner.
Dinny Byrne, former Graigue and Laois footballer and a member of
the last Graiguecullen team to win a Laois SFC in 1965, is another good
friend to Mick and visits him at Bethany House.
Joe Brennan, Graiguecullen GAA Club PRO told me that Sean Kelly,
President of the GAA, had on Friday night presented the medals to the
club’s winning Under-14 ‘A’ and Under-16 ‘A’ (Slater Cup) football
competition in Laois this year, at a function in the GAA clubhouse.
On learning of Mick Haughney’s 90th. birthday the President
ordered a birthday card which he signed and was presented to Mick at
Saturday’s dinner. It was a very nice gesture from the GAA President.
Mick Haughney is the last surviving member of a family of 17 which
lived at No. 9, The Numbers. Mick worked in Governey’s Boot Factory in
Carlow before emigrating to the United States where he spent many years
before returning to live in his native area.
Mick Haughney died in September 2006, aged 91 years of age.
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