John Murray proudly displays the American Cup. He was Clontibret team captain throughout his playing years from 1945-'56.

John Murray proudly displays the American Cup. He was Clontibret team captain throughout his playing years from 1945-’56.

John Murray must go down as one of Clontibret’s greatest players ever. He was over six feet in height and he played a vital role in midfield in so many of Clontibret’s stirring victories. One of his greatest disappointments was when injury prevented him from captaining the team in the 1949 County Final but he certainly made up for that in later years and he was always a great rallying force. He was honoured on a number of occasions by the county selectors.

Tommy McSkeane, along with his three brothers, Pat, Mickey and Peter, formed the backbone of the Clontibret team that played numerous matches against Castleshane, Drumgoast and Midley Rovers. Tommy had played outfield but was reluctantly forced to try his hand as the Clontibret goalkeeper in 1947. That was the year in which he won a Junior Championship medal with Clontibret. Although he was rather small as a goalkeeper, he was selected as goalkeeper on the Monaghan team which played Cavan in an Ulster Championship game in Ballybay in 1949, a team which also included John Rice and John Murray. Tommy continued as Clontibret goalkeeper until 1956.

Bill McElvaney was a regular on the great Clontibret team at right fullback. A memory from his early days was getting his left wrist sprained trying to stop a penalty from Patsy Duffy. Bill remembered playing football in at least four different fields in Derrynoose. When he went to work in McGuinness’s Mill he used to play football on a Sunday evening with Packie McQuaid. Along with two other Clontibret lads, Bill got a trial for the Monaghan minor team in Clones but they failed to get selected.

Back row: John Treanor, Peter Renaghan, -----, Mickey McSkeane, John McKenna, Packie McCully. Front row: Joe Smyth, Tommy McSkeane, Pete Gormley, Pat Clarke, Francie McNally

Back row: John Treanor, Peter Renaghan, —–, Mickey McSkeane, John McKenna, Packie McCully. Front row: Joe Smyth, Tommy McSkeane, Pete Gormley, Pat Clarke, Francie McNally

Packie McQuaid played most of his early club football at midfield although he was later to figure as one of the outstanding defenders in the county. He was noted as a high fielder who could hold the ball in a vicelike grip. He was a tough, hard hitting, fearless defender. It was a great occasion for Packie when he was a member of the Monaghan team that defeated Donegal in Irvinestown to win the Dr. Lagan Cup in 1950. He continued to play with Clontibret until 1958.

Jim Woods started his early football career as a minor with Cremartin and played on the same Cremartin team as the legendary Hughie McKearney. He also assisted Cremartin in Junior ranks. Jim’s father, Peter, was a prominent Clontibret player in the 1920’s and it was his wish that Jim would follow in his footsteps and play with Clontibret. That came to pass in 1949 when Jim transferred to Clontibret. He went on to win eight Senior Football Championship medals with the O’Neills, seven as a player and the eighth as a substitute in 1968.

Mickey McSkeane was first introduced to competitive football as a goalkeeper but by 1949 he was at right-half-back when Clontibret defeated Carrickmacross in the Senior Championship Final. He made this position his own down through the years. He was another great fielder, had a lovely dashing style and was more than a match for some of the best left-half-forwards in the game. He remembered Fr. Pat McCormick teaching him how to properly kick a ball from the hand and how to kick a ball from the ground.

John Rice starred with the local O’Neills, the Monaghan Senior County Team, the Ulster Railway Cup football team and also with the Ireland team against the Combined Universities. He played with the senior county team for ten years, playing in several defensive positions, at midfield with Joe Smyth against Antrim and even on the ’40’. He played for Ulster on a number of occasions, being on the winning team against Munster in 1956 when he played on Neilly Duggan of Cork. 1957 was a great year when he was centre-half on the Ireland team which defeated the Combined Universities in Croke Park. He gave a magnificent display on Sean Purcell from Galway. John was always loud in his praise of the role played by Fr. Larry Marron in the successes of the Clontibret team.

Francie McQuaid was born in Listinny in the heart of the famous Midley Rovers where the early Clontibret team started. He played his early football with the Midley Rovers along with his cousin, Packie. He holds the distinction of playing on the Monaghan county team in 1951 before he got his place on he Clontibret team as competition for places on the Clontibret team was so strong at the time. He played on the Monaghan county team for ten years. He won his sixth and last Senior Football Championship medal with Clontibret in 1968 against Scotstown in Ballybay. He was selected to play on the Ulster Railway Cup football team but didn’t play due to injury. His brother, Mickey, was goalkeeper on the Clontibret team in the 1958 Senior Football Championship Final when the O’Neills defeated Donaghmoyne. Francie’s first county final was in 1952 when Clontibret defeated Inniskeen.

Hughie McKearney, like so many other great Monaghan footballers, started his football career in St. Macartan’s College. Early in his second year in 1943, he was delighted to be selected for the senior team and played in all the McRory Cup matches for the next four years, usually at centre-half back. In 1945 he was picked as captain of the Monaghan minor team which defeated Down in the Ulster final but unexpectedly lost to Leitrim in the All-Ireland semi-final. In the first round of the 1947 S.F.C. Hughie played on Cavan’s great John Joe O’Reilly. He continued to play with Monaghan until 1957. In 1950 he won a Railway Cup medal and a Sigerson Cup medal with U.C.D. While with Clontibret he cycled seven or eight miles round trip from his home to training. During his eleven years playing with the O’Neills, Hughie can only recall being on four losing teams, three against Ballybay – in the championship in 1948 and the replay of the 1957 championship and the Gold Watch tournament in Irvinestown against Scotstown in Clontibret.

Peter McSkeane, along with his three brothers, wore the O’Neills’ jersey with distinction. He was a prolific marksman and must have scored more points than any other Clontibret footballer. He had a powerful left foot which was known as ‘the golden boot’ and some of his long points were absolute gems. Peter scored some remarkable points in the 1949 Senior Final against Inniskeen. Around 1955 he emigrated to England and later to Glasgow where he was tragically killed in an accident.

Francie McNally was born in Rackwallace and played his early football with Monaghan Harps but opted to play for Clontibret when the club was reformed. He played mostly at left-three-quarter and sometimes at midfield. He played on the county senior team on a number of occasions. One of the most memorable games was against Antrim in Ballybay when he had a star game on the great Frankie Dunlop. He holds seven S.F.C. medals.

Pat Clarke assisted the O’Neills for twenty three years right up to 1967 and was on the panel that year against the Castleblayney team which defeated Clontibret by a single point in a great county final. He attended Lappin N.S. and started his football career playing with Tyholland minors in 1944. Pat’s first game for Clontibret was against Tullycorbet on Easter Sunday 1946 when he didn’t even have a pair of togs! He remembered with pride captaining the Monaghan team which defeated London in the 1956 All-Ireland Junior Championship Final.

Joe Smyth was a natural forward and played on the ’40’ during the ‘four in a row’ era. He is the proud owner of 8 S.F.C. medals. Joe was on the Monaghan team which lost narrowly to Cavan in the 1952 S.F.C. Joe could fist the ball almost as far as he could kick it and indeed fisted many good points for the O’Neills. He was also a great hurler winning Senior County Hurling Championship medals with Clontibret and also being on the county hurling team.

Mick Prunty first played with Cremartin but later with Clontibret. Mick played somewhat in the shadow of his younger brother, Tony, but had very considerable ability and was an automatic choice for the four-in-a-row team. He played normally at right corner-forward and was an accurate place-kicker. While mostly remembered for the number of points he scored from frees, he could be more accurately thought of as a goal scorer or the instigator of goal scoring. Mick sadly died in 1989.

Pete Gormley generally lined out at left corner forward and was probably the smallest man on the team. Pete was a very fit and speedy corner forward and was honoured by the county selectors. He played on the county junior team in 1952 against Donegal. He started playing with Clontibret in 1946 and never missed a game until 1954. It was thrilling for the legion of Clontibret supporters to see the red-haired Pete flying in from the wing, avoiding a defender nearly twice his size and then either sticking the ball over the bar or making a free for Mick Prunty to convert.

Other members of the Clontibret panel during the glorious years were Pat McSkeane (Lisglasson), Pat Keenan (Pullans), Kevin Hughes (Listrahegney), Packie Hughes (Lisaginny) and Eddie Duffy (Clare Oghill).