Mattock Rangers Gaelic Athletic Administration is a Gaelic Football, camogie, hurling and ladies Gaelic Football club based in Collon, County Louth in Ireland.
The club was founded in 1952 and named after the Mattock River, a tributary of the Boyne.
They won a Louth Junior Football Championship county football title in 1961 and a Louth Intermediate Football Championship title in 1982. Mattock lost their first four Louth Senior Football Championship finals, in 1962, 1973, 1976 and 2001. Senior success finally came in 2002; in that year, Mattock Rangers reached the final of the Leinster Senior Club Football Championship, losing to Dunshaughlin. They have won three more senior titles since then.
The hurlers have never been county champions, but reached the final of the Louth Senior Hurling Championship in 2011.
Gaelic football, commonly referred to as Irish football, Football or Gaelic is a game played between 2 teams of 15 players on a rectangular grass pitch. The objective of the sport is to score by kicking or punching the ball into the other team’s goal (3 points) or between two upright posts above the goals and over a crossbar 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) above the ground (1 point).
When we heard that we had no choice but to go to the Louth county final on Sunday, we were thrilled. We had seen the game played on television, but, had never been to a live game.
This game was being played at Stabannon Green and the opposition team was the Kilkeley Emmets. All dressed in red and black, we headed away to Stabannon. Parking for the match was in an adjacent pasture and there were plenty of supporters for both sides in evidence when we arrived.
Both sides had their cheering sections and even the youngsters were involved in waving the team flags. We trudged around the pitch, with J stopping to take photos. His son and son-in-law are involved in the management of the team, so there was a lot of excitement within our group.
There was a small grandstand that might seat 200 and we headed that way to see if we could get a seat. Most fans line the wall to cheer on their teams.
The teams hit the pitch to their theme songs and with much ado, just like teams in sports everywhere. They soon were led around the pitch by a pipe band at the fore and with some younger players at their sides. The National anthem was played and it was Game On.
I must admit, that like rugby and Aussie Rules football, this was not a game for sissies. The game is played in straight time and the players wear little in the way of protective gear. The collisions and tackles are fierce and there was plenty of evidence of questionable play.
End to end they raced, scrambling, passing and kicking, with frequent visits to the field by trainers, aiding the wounded. Mattock got out front early and stayed that way throughout the entire match.
As the game ended, the Mattock fans spilled onto the field to join in the jubilant celebration. We were even lucky enough to get to pose with the cup.
Then it was time for speeches, player awards and more victory chants.
Speeches over, we headed back to the car and joined a long queue trying to get back on the road.
But, the celebrations were not yet over. Everyone was invited to return to the Mattock Rangers pavilion in Collon. After a delicious supper at J & F’s home, we drove downtown in the dark, looking for parking. You could hear the boisterous noise from blocks away. As we got closer, we saw the boys clambouring out of the back of an articulated lorry, trying not to fall (or spill their drinks), with mixed success.
Everyone squeezed into the pavilion where food and drink was available. Hundreds of photos were taken with the locals and the cup, more speeches and more cheers and the night was over, at least for us. I am sure there were a few hurting heads amongst the team members, next morning.
Side note: December 7/19. Since the game we attended, Mattock have won both the quarterfinal, semi-final and final in Leinster Club IFC to advance to the All Ireland semi-final In January 2020 . Best of luck, lads.
Side note: January 2020. Alas Mattock’s good fortune came to an end on January 8, 2020, when they lost in the All Ireland semi final. You gave it a good go, lads. Next Year!