The Team of ‘89
Michael Collins wrote the following verses to honour Newport’s victory in the County Intermediate Hurling Final of 1989. P.J. Lees sang the ballad at the club’s dinner dance at the Lakeside Hotel on 13th January 1990.
As winter wind rages over mountain and valley,
The green hurling swath is deserted and bare.
And the pale smile of sunset is weak in its wailing,
As it sinks down to rest on the fair hills of Clare.
Beyond in the valley beneath Sliabh Ciamálta
From the Shannon’s broad sweep to the vales of Glenoe,
Along each twisty road in the homesteads of Newport,
The talk is of hurling wherever you go.
They speak of their heroes, those broad-shouldered hurlers
Who swept through the North like old hurricane Hugh,
Coaster rolling Kiladangan, Templederry and Burgess,
Knocking the wind from the sails of the Mines and Portroe.
They recall the long wait for the game against Fethard,
That bleak winter day when rain-lashed winds blew,
And they burst through the ranks of the Southern champions,
Like the Mulcaire in torrents sweeps down Glenculloo.
And so came the day for years we have waited,
November the twelfth, the year eighty-nine,
From the famed Rock of Cashel the cheers were resounding,
As the team was led out by the bold Martin Ryan.
Like hounds from the leash they sprang forward unbridled
So anxious and eager to enter the fray,
And the tide of the Sarsfields was dented and humbled,
And their hopes were left shattered in Cashel that day.
Now goalman Ger Floyd as cool as cucumber,
When the battle was fiercest stood steadfast and tall,
And Larry McGrath held command of his corner,
And dispatched each intruder as well as the ball.
Then there’s D.J. O’Brien, Knockane’s sturdy stalwart
Prince among backmen as solid as steel,
And Martin Ryan Lacken the team’s able captain,
Led by example with courage and zeal.
Big Con McGrath, Cully’s hurling colossus,
Strode through the field like Cúchullain of yore,
And young Joe O’Brien and the tall Dinny Collins,
Were elegant wing men and with hurling galore.
Ger Carey, the stylist, who danced around midfield,
Made all his opponents look sluggish and slow,
And Martin McCabe, his tough as teak partner,
The human tornado from Ballymackeogh.
On the wing Peter Coleman, they call him ‘Popeye,’
Like a hare at coursing careered down the line,
And many is the score that set the blood raising,
Came from All Ireland champion, the wee Dinny Ryan.
Burly Ger Bradley, who led from the forty,
Sent over the crossbar, with consummate ease,
On the edge of the square was Pat ‘The Mouse’ Shinnors,
A seasoned campaigner, as cool as a breeze.
Long-striding John Keating, lined out in the corner,
The man from Clare Glens, with the glint in his eye,
At top of the left Timmy Floyd operated,
A wholehearted clubman who’d never say die.
The injured Pat Keating, missed out on the final,
But his loss was offset by the strength of the side,
For on call was Ned Quigley, Sean Ryan, Dinny Kennedy,
Martin Moloney, John O’Brien and Anthony Floyd.
Remember the long dreary nights spent in training
Throughout the four seasons in sunshine and rain,
Spurred on by Tony Hassett, Denis Floyd and Len Gaynor,
They drove on unmindful of thorns and pains.
With their total commitment, discipline, deportment,
No chinks in their armour did ever appear,
They now face the future, fresh laurels await them,
And with confidence now they approach a new year.
So raise up your glasses and toast the brave heroes,
And the rafters will ring, as together we join,
In singing the praises of Newport’s great hurlers,
The stout-hearted champions of nineteen eighty nine.
P.J. Lees singing "The Champions of Eighty Nine"