Last Saturday morning, prior to the All-Ireland SFC Super 8s match between Roscommon and Tyrone at Dr. Hyde Park, St. Dominic’s GAA hosted a memorial Mass in honour of the late Liam Gilmartin and his All-Ireland winning teammates of 1943 and 1944.
Canon Liam Devine celebrated the Mass at St. Patrick’s Church in Knockcroghery and spoke glowingly about the players on that great team.
Canon Devine told the congregation how Owensie Hoare had become the first player in the history of the GAA to win All-Ireland medals both outfield and as a goalkeeper. He also shared an anecdote about how the legendary Kerry journalist, Con Houlihan, had written off Frankie Kinlough having seen him play a club match in Kerry. Kinlough would go on to score two goals against Kerry later on.
“I had a letter recently from a man from Tyrone who said one of the greatest he ever saw was Bill Carlos. ‘The Lion with the velvet paw’ he called him.
“Today we gather to thank God for them and to celebrate their memories and to ensure them and to ensure their families that they will never be forgotten,” Canon Devine said.
Last Saturday’s Mass was attended by the family of the late Liam Gilmartin, formerly of Ballymurray, Knockcroghery, who passed away in March of this year.
The Mass ended with a rousing rendition of ‘Land of the O’Conor’ by Johnny Johnson and was followed by refreshments in Murray’s Pub in what Canon Devine referred to as “the spiritual home of Roscommon football”, Knockcroghery.
Liam Gilmartin’s son, John, said it was a wonderful occasion and a “great tribute” and the family were delighted to attend.
John and his three sisters Ann, Pauline and Edel are based in Dublin but John visits Roscommon regularly to play golf as an honorary member of St. Dominic’s Golf Society. He said the family are always very well received in the county.
“Brian Carroll and the board are great. Family members were given a great welcome at the Roscommon v Dublin match earlier in the year and Brian and Kevin McStay brought the Connacht trophy and Division Two title up to dad in Raheny a couple of years ago.
“One of the most emotional parts of dad’s funeral this year was seeing the amount of Roscommon people on each side of the church. It was absolutely incredible.
“The Mass on Saturday was a great tribute and it was lovely to go back to Murray’s too – it was really top class,” he said.
John said that Roscommon GAA had brought them close to a number of wonderful people both near and far, and that generations on from the All-Ireland wins of 1943 and 1944, descendants of the famous Gilmartin/Boland midfield partnership met on the other side of the world.
“Liam’s grandson Joe was at a concert in Sydney and he heard a country accent behind him at the bar. It turned out it was Eamon Boland’s grandson and the two talked for a while!”
John added that local GAA historian Tony Conboy had become a family friend and that family members of other former Roscommon players had been very kind to the Gilmartins over the years. He added that former Roscommon County Board Secretaries Brian Carroll and Michael Fahy were always there for his father and the rest of the family and thanked St. Dominic’s GAA and Murray’s for hosting Saturday’s memorial.