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The first Poc Fada in 1960

The First Poc Fada on Annaverna Mountain 1960

"He must have been very conscious that not only was he the winner of the competition but more important, he was the first-ever, man or boy, to perform this feat."

On the 8th of August 1960 the first Poc Fada competition took place on Annaverna Mountain, 6 boys under the age of sixteen contested the event, all hailing from the recently formed (1959) Cumann Ógra Naomh Moninne which later became known as Naomh Moninne Hurling Club.

The results of the first Poc Fada

  1. Damian Callan 115
  2. Jerome McDonagh 117
  3. Peter Myles 125
  4. Peter Crilly 127
  5. Seán Mc Aneaney 134
  6. Mal Begley 153

The photo opposite appeared in the "Argus" Newspaper the week after the event. The lads were superstars that week after their history making achievement but it wasn't for their epic endeavours but for getting their picture in the paper!

Poc Fada1960

Below “An tAthair" writes about the beginnings of An Poc Fada....
Extract from "Football Feats of Faughart 1884 - 1997, Roche Emmets G.F.C. Fifty Golden Years" & Review from the Dundalk Democrat 13th August 1960

LÁ DEN SAOL (Once upon a Time) by An tAthair Pól Mac Seáin. P.E.
How An Poc Fada Started

SUMMER 1960: Some days after our bike trek to and climb of Sliabh gCuilinn in Sth. Armagh (and our special coiste meeting on the summit) Danny O’Brien; Oliver Hodgers; Sam McGuinness (Senior) - nach maireann – and myself, enjoying a sunny evening on the bank above The Báinseach: Liam O’Reilly (later the “Bagatelle” supremo) and Bredan McCoy, 2 mini-Setantas, passing a sliotar around: looking across to the 10 miles long Cooley Mountain range – L. “How many pocs would it take you from there to there?” (Cáman indicating the full 10 miles). B. “Ah, about 5 maybe!” L. “Well I’ld [sic] do it in 4!”. So that was the way the seed of the “madness” of An Poc Fada was sown.

Soon, after a positive coiste decision, Oliver and I walked and “measured” a course (3 miles 320 yds) stretching from the flat-topped Céide (Áth Na Bearna) to where the mountain gave way to the fields of the Mills Family in Achadh Min. Later, in the snow, with Danny, we measured this same course with a long rope, to be exact! Late July: A “special notice” was pinned to the famous “notice wall” in the Seomraí – officially., of course; WILL 6 UNDER – 16 HURLERS LIKE TO TRY IT? Yes, 6 would – Peter Crilly, Damian Callan, Seán Mc Aneaney, Mal Begley, Peter Myles and Jerome McDonagh. Sticks from a hedge for score flags (pieces of worn sheets, etc.); and all on bikes and Frank Myles per moped, out on Áth Na Bearna, 8.8.60 forenoon.
I had bought (2/6 each – now 12.5p) basic brown juvenile sliotars in Woolworth’s (now Clanbrassil Centre). Refreshments include, “Perkins (Tommy) Tea” on the climb for the first poc! Willie O’Hare (Jenkinstown) brought all the bikes to Achadh Min by lorry. Meantime, rain came down, wind blew, and all the sliotars took the shape of miniature rugby balls, with a spongy softness here and a rigid hardness there and there! Damian came first with 115 pocs and so ended the first APF. (An Poc Fada).


“Three Boys on the Cooley Mountain at the start of the Poc Fada circa 1962”

Cooley Mountains

Three Boys on the Cooley Mountain © GAA Museum Link

The review from the Dundalk Democrat 13th August 1960...

Fatima Youth Club - Mountain Golf

St. Moninne’s Youth Club, Fatima, has advanced another step with the acquisition of a railway carriage as a meeting place and sports pavilion which was installed at Fatima on Thursday. The energetic local committee, headed by Fr. Johnson, C.C. transported it in two sections to the site. All being well the premises will be opened on Sunday afternoon when prizes for the “mountain golfers” will be presented.
Setanta of Dundealgan drove the hurling ball to shorten his journey to Eamhain Macha – true or false? Anyhow it happened so long ago – over two thousand years or so – that there’s not much hope of proving or disproving it now.
Six Dundealgan boys drove the ball before them with camans, travelling over the mountain peaks of Annaverna to Achadhmin – a distance of four or five miles – true or false? False, on or before Sunday, 7th Aug. 1960; but true as from the evening of Monday, Aug. 8.
On that morning a party from Cumann Ogra Naomh Moninne (organisation which caters for outdoor pastimes of youth in the lower end of Castletown district, with headquarters in Fatima) set out on their bicycles aiming to climb to the top of Annaverna mountain. This being successfully accomplished (with the aid of a few mugs of “cha” on the way) they commenced a competition, the equivalent of which has never been seen hereabouts before.
Each of the six boys had a caman and a sliothar and as the party moved off over the mountain peak, the boys in turn drove the sliothar before them (as they would in a “poc-out” in a hurling match). The contest was who would drive the sliothar right across all the mountain peaks from Annaverna to Achadhmin, a distance of four or five miles, in the lesser number of pocs. Away ahead of each competitor was an umpire who placed a flag on the spot where the sliothar had landed, and two “seconds” whose duty it was to watch the sliothar closely, lest it be lost. As competitors, spectators and officials progressed over the grassy slopes and crests amid shouts of encouragement and cheers of praise, they could enjoy an unrivalled view of the nine or ten counties of Down, Antrim, Armagh, Monaghan, Louth, Cavan, Tir Eoghan, Meath, Dublin and Wicklow. To the left, Carlingford Lough, the majestic Mournes and the open sea; to the right, Sliabh Guillion (looking not so big now); further on, their own brown tiled homes in Castletown; the spires, chimneys and Bay of Dundealgan; the smoking-chimney stack of “Drogheda Cement”; the plains of Royal Meath; Ireland’s Eye and the cone-shaped Sugar loaf in Wicklow.
It took about three hours to complete the course. As the first boy took the last poc to make a total of 115, he must have been very conscious that not only was he the winner of the competition, but more important, he was the first-ever, man or boy, to perform this feat. Following close were the other five (all six are under 16) finishing in great style, not a whit the worse for their long trek.
The final result was Damian O’Cathalain, 115; Jerome Mac Donncha, 117; Peadar O Miles, 125; Peadar Mac Raghallaí, 127; Sean Mc Aneanaí, 134; Malachí O Beagloich, 153.
They all look forward to a victory celebration when trophies will be presented and the “first-ever poc fada from Annaverna to Achadhmin” will be celebrated in song, verse and story.

Having descended from the blue hills of Cooley to the Plain of Muirtheimhne, the boys of Cumann Ogra Naomh Moninne are preparing for their return challenge match with Castleblayney in Bainseach Fatima next Sunday at 3 o’c. A month or six weeks ago, these under 16 hurlers travelled to ‘Blayney and beat the selection of five ‘Blayney teams in a rousing match. The boys from County Monaghan have since greatly improved, so we may expect a close finish.

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