The Shannon Medals Tournament, by Louise Heneghan
The very popular Shannon Medals tournament started in 1960 as a fundraiser for improvements to James Stephens’ Park. The tournament was fittingly named after the great Dick Shannon who hailed from Ballina. During his teenage years and as a young adult Dick lined out for Ballina Stephenites, a club he loved and in which he had great pride. When Dick eventually emigrated to New York he went on to play for New York GAA in the 1920s.
Many clubs participated in the Shannon Medals Tournament over the years, but some of the highlights included when Tuam Stars, Milltown GAA & Dunmore McHales visited James Stephens Park. During the 1960’s, Galway won three All Ireland Senior intercounty titles in a row so to have the likes of Noel Tierney, John Keenan & the legendary Donnellan brothers come to Ballina was absolutely fantastic. Crowds from all corners of Ballina and the North Mayo area gathered to witness iconic footballing legends go head to head with former club and county players Barnes Murphy, Jim and John Kent, Tommy Carroll and Mick Laffey of St. Mary’s Sligo, Mickey Kerins of St. Pat’s, Dromard, Joe Langan, Mick Ruane and the famous Bohola man Mixie Clarke.
READ: In this week’s Western People, Paul O’Malley speaks to several former players who remember when the Shannon Medal Tournaments was one of the most popular club football tournaments in the West of Ireland.
Ballina Stephenites in particular had a plethora of icons who took to the field from the 1960s to 1980s – players who are now household names throughout Ballina and further afield. Footballers such as Willie Casey, John Nealon, Willie ‘Sally Loftus’, Seamus O’Dowd, Tommy Knight and Niall Heffernan, to name but a few.
Last but not least, the very best of luck to everyone taking part in the Shannon Medals Tournament this weekend and well done to all the organising team!
Louise is a member of Ballina Stephenites GAA Club and a Ballina 2023 volunteer. Thanks to Louise for this informative article.