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When Down ruled the G.A.A. world


Down captain Kevin Mussen proudly leads the Mourne side for the 1960 All-Ireland final.
DOWN bestrode the GAA world like a Colossus, 45 years ago, having humiliated the legendary Kerry side in the All-Ireland Final at Croke Park, bringing the Sam Maguire Cup over the border for the first time, despatched all challenges to retain the National League title, and were en route to consolidate their claim to complete supremacy.

What a remarkable transformation for a team from the Mourne county, which had seldom got past the first round of the Ulster Championship; and captain Kevin Mussen recalled how, during a Railway Cup match, a famous Kerry forward whom he was marking said: "lt must be terrible playing for a county side which never has any hope of playing at Croke Park."

A dramatic moment as Down Manager Barney Carr signals that three minutes were left in the 1960 All-Ireland final.
Indeed, only one team in red and black had won a national title in the history of the GAA when in 1946, a talented squad had captured the All-Ireland Junior crown, amid scenes of tremendous excitement and jubilation, being carried shoulder-high through the streets of Newry in a triumphant homecoming.

James McCartan is borne aloft by jubilant fans following Down's first ever National League win, 1960.
Just over a decade later the first stirrings of a possible renaissance were noticed as a group of talented and experienced players, such as Paddy Doherty, James McCartan and Tony Hadden became available after suspension for playing soccer, joined such "aul hands'' as Kevin Mussen, Jarlath Carey, P.J. Elroy, Pat Rice, George Lavery and Brian Morgan, and were injected with new blood like Sean O'Neill and Leo Murphy.

The Down GAA was also fortunate in that period to have at its head some imaginative and progressive administrators, such as County Board Chairman George Tinnelly, Joint County Secretaries Maurlce Hayes and T.P. Murphy, manager Barney Carr and trainer Danny Flynn.

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Fabian Boyle 2001-2008