My earliest footballing memories go back to the late 30’s. There was no football team in Ballintubber then so all my early football was played with Ballyburke.
Some of the Ballintubber players had won a West Mayo Junior title with Aughaagower in 1934.- Players like John Kelly, John Tuohy, Dick Feeney, Jim Kelly, Pake Mc Greevey, John Walsh, and Tom Prendergast.
The Ballyburke club was reformed in 1935 and we played all our home matches in O Malley’s field,on the banks of the Camog river. There were some great players playing for Ballybourke at that time.
I particularly remember Paddy O Malley from Lufferton. He was one of the best footballers ever to come out of Ballintubber. He won matches almost single - handedly. He won an Ireland minor medalwith Mayo in 1935, and he should have been on the Mayo senior team that won the All - Ireland in 1936.
Willie Cawley and Broddie Kirby were two great players and were really instrumental in setting up that Ballyburke team. Other stars at that time were Pakie Gibbons (The Mill ), Mike and Ned Kelly (Lufferton) and Johnny Walshe from Mace who was very good under a high ball. William Joyce (Hazelbrook) was a great administrator. Jimmie Reilly from Moorehall was our regular goalkeeper. Tom Prendergast, Cortoon was also a very good footballer,but probably the greatest of all was his brother Paddy.
I remember playing with Paddy when he was only about 15.We played Partry in a challenge game in Fr O Malleys fieldin PortroyaL. Even then he was a great fielder of the ball.
Fr. Joe Moran and Maurice Galvin were two great fotballers and like Jim Reilly, John Tuohy and Mike Cawley had previously won Connaught medals with St. Garlaths. Fr. Richie Horan from Cushen was a small man but he had a great spring.
We formed our own club in Ballintubber in 1944 and played our home games in Matthew Tom’s field. We were then playing our football with South Mayo whereas with Ballyburke we played in West Mayo.
We played in the Castlebar town league in the late 40’s. There were teams from the Bacon Factory, the Hat Factory, St. Mary’s Hospital, Belcarra, Partry, Ballyburke, Islandeady, Ballintubber, and I think Balla had a team. This Winter league was a great help to us in selecting a good B.Tubber team. Jimmie Mc Nally brought in many new players from Ballyglass and Carnacon - Players like Micky Conroy, Michael Joe Sheridan, Seamus Langan, Paddy Mellotte, Christy Finnerty, and Jeff O Malley (Cloneen).
We cycled to all our local matches in the early days. Pat Jennings used to transport us in the back of his lorry. Peter Keane from Cloonee also had a lorry,and often brought us,as did John Heneghan from Coguala. We later progressed to hiring a hackney car. I remember Willie Glynn from Ballinaglee used to transport the Ballyglass and Carnacon lads. We had a drama group to keep the club going. We used to put on plays, and stage them in Riverside, Clogher, Frenchill, Ballyburke and indeed all over West Mayo.
We also used to hold raffles. I remember one time we held a raffle for a raleigh bicycle in Riverside dance hall and at the end of the night, when all the takings were counted we discovered that we had just covered the cost of the bicycle.
I was secretary of the club from about the mid forties to the mid fifties. We used to hold our meetings in Mc Hugh’s Post Office. Mike Mc Hugh was the treasurer of the club at the time with a sweet can being used as the bank.
Jimmie Mc Nally and I used to cycle to Westport to the West Board Meetings but we later progressed to travelling in Jimmy’s new tractor.