In 1902 the school inspectors William Cassie and T.M. Edwards noted in their report after visiting the premises and school grounds:
“Outdoor recreational facilities include a cycle track, two large grass playing fields, two ballcourts and a gravel-surfaced playground in the square…”
Prior to this inspectors report, it is said that cricket was the only field game played in the Seminary.
Association (Soccer) Football can trace its roots back to the 1890’s in the College. It was however Cannon Mulhern who initiated an annual match between St.Macartan’s and St.Patrick’s College, Armagh in 1902. The first match was played in 1903 after permission had been sought and granted from the Bishop of Clogher, Most Rev Dr. Owens and from his Eminence, Cardinal Logue. St.Macartan’s won the match, played in Armagh 2 goals to nil.
The fixture alternated between the Colleges until 1921. The most memorable of which from a St.Macartan’s perspective was played on April 12, 1916 in the week preceeding the Easter Rising which St.Macartan’s won 6 goals to nil.
“On the 12th. the longed-for day arrived. The day was fine, the sod dry, with plenty of sun and a strong wind blowing right down the field. In due time, the teams took the field. armagh won the toss and it was with heavy hearts and sinking courage we watched our men kick against the hill, sun and wind. from the first moment we could hardly breath with excitement. Time after time our men raced up the field, pierced the Armagh defenceand bombarded the goal. A blinding sun and a strong gale made accurate shooting almost impossible. However at half time, the score was 2-0, Joe O’ Halloran and Jack O’ Neill each scoring a goal. Five minutes after the resumption, Phil Marron increased our lead with a beautiful centre. soon after, George dunne banged home another goal: ; later P. Daly sent a long pass to Deery who feigned a pass to his wing, side stepped and banged the ball past the goalie.”
The team sheet that day read, Nick Hardy, Tom Maguire, Jimmy Keenan, Peter Daly (Capt), Patrick Daly, Peter Conlon, Joe O’Halloran, Jack O’Neill, George Dunne, Peter Deery and Phil Marron.
St.Macartan’s adopted the Gaelic code in 1917, as did St. Patrick’s Armagh and the annual match continued this time as Gaelic football.
In 1924 Dr. MacRory the then Bishop of Down and Connor, presented the MacRory Cup for Senior Gaelic Football among the secondary schools of Ulster.
St.Macartan’s made the breakthrough in 1925 winning the Cup for the first time.
It was Father L. Marron who was largely the catalyst behind the success of the 1930’s winning in 1930,1932,1933,and 1934.
St. Macartan’s performance in the 1933 victory over St.Patrick’s Armagh was regarded by many as the finest display of college football ever witnessed in Ulster.
MacRory Cup Winning Team of 1940
The college went on to win the MacRory Cup in 1940, 1942, 1952 and 1956, the latter success’s coming under the legendary management of Fr. Enda Mc Cormack.
Fr. Enda McCormack
The team of 1956 have not been equalled in the years leading up to the end of the second millennium and have not won the Mc Rory Cup so far this century (2008), a scenario most probably unimaginable at that time. They have come close on occasions but surely it can not be long until the Mc Rory Cup sits prominently in the display cabinet at the front door of the school.
Defeats in three semi finals in the 70’s and a heartbreaking semi final injury time defeat in1996 have been little little tangible reward for all the efforts in the modern era.
The Colleges participation in junior competitions was established in the 1960’s. The Rannafast Cup was won in 1977 for the second time, having previously been won in 1947. The McLarnon Cup and Senior B All Ireland was achieved in 1987 and the following year 1988 the Dalton Cup was won at the third attempt. Brian McSkane can be seen below accepting the cup as captain of the team.
Dalton Cup 1988
In 2003/04 Paul McGuigan (Clontibret) became the first ‘SEM’ Captain of a Senior team to lift a trophy since 1956. Ironically the inaugural MacRory league Cup was named after the legendary St.Macartan’s MacRory manager of the 40’s and 50’s Fr. Enda McCormack.(R.I.P) The team went all the way to the MacRory Cup final and were defeated by 2 points on the day by St.Patrick’s Academy Dungannon.
Reference: St.Macartan’s College 1840-1990 A History.
Corn na Og
The Tradition of Handball in ‘The Sem’ goes back a long way. Open courts built in the early part of the last century served the needs of the boarding Students.
In the 1960’s four new ‘Box’ alleys were erected and boosted the fortunes of Handball in the College which was predominantly a boarding school at the time. ‘Running for the alleys’ after meals from the dining room was a feature of College life at the time.
The ‘Long Throw’ was perfected with the first ball landing in the open alley claiming the court for the game. In the early 70’s the courts were roofed
allowing the game to be played all year round.
The phasing out of the Boarding school saw the game decline, indeed one often found the courts closed at lunchtime. It was not until 1998 under the direction of Mr. Michael Todd that the game was revived in the school again. The interest has been phenomenal with as many as fifty students to be found playing in the courts during recreation.
Leagues are run annually and the standard is gradually improving. Several Students have represented County Monaghan recently. Names like Sherrin, Gibbons, Friel, Todd and Donnelly to name but a few. The ‘Buzz’ of yesteryear has returned to the alleys. If the local Clubs can capitalise on this renewed interest the future of Handball in North Monaghan could be very bright indeed.
Athletics has a long tradition in St.Macartan’s. In the modern era Mr.Vincent Lee has primarily been responsible for the development of athletics in the college.
While athletes from the college compete for Ulster and All- Ireland honours each season no one has yet to surpass the achievements of Enda Johnson who won virtually every honour in cross country running during his college days.
Hurling in the SEM is played at lunchtime in both the first and final terms of each year. The game is aimed at junior cycle students and first years in particular. The game is played for enjoyment in a relaxed atmosphere unique in the College. Students from St.Macartan’s are well represented at Club and County level. Ten Senior Students represented Monaghan at Minor level last summer. They were Adrian Dalton, Darren McGill, James Greenan, Shane Treanor, Paul Crotty, Jack Lee, Ross Murray, Alan McKenna, Maurice McKenna and Keith Monaghan. Monaghan County Board also play an important role in our hurling development.
They provide full time coach: Mr Gerry Murphy who works with Transition year students, and they also provide new equipment which is essential to maintain the sport.