Dublin Airport Football Club
A Brief History of the Club
This year, Dublin Airport Football Club has been existence for 42 years. It has come a long way since the Founding Fathers, the inimitable Joe Kelly and the late, great Don Treacy, gathered a small group together in the upstairs lounge in Owen Maguire’s pub in Dorset Street with the idea of starting a works team for Aer Rianta staff. The pub is no longer there, but though the club has had a name change or two, it’s still going strong, with its first team currently competing in the Leinster Senior League, Premier Sunday, and the Over 35’s in the Division 1 Sunday of the Amateur Football League (AFL).
Over the years, the club has enjoyed a lot of success, both domestically and internationally, participating in friendly and competitive competitions at home and abroad. Indeed travelling was something that distinguished the newly formed Aer Rianta Football Club from many similar works teams that were starting up all over Ireland back in the 70’s. Visits to the four corners of the Ireland, as well as trips to France, Spain, the UK and an early visit to the Big Apple, started the travelling trend that continued on into the 80’s and 90’s. It was during this period when the club grew in size and membership, by opening up to associate members who didn’t need to work in the Airport in order to play. A second team was formed, and with the mix of the old great characters and the new blood, the club enjoyed its most successful few years during this time, with two runners up trophies followed by its first league title win, taking the Division 1A Saturday trophy in the Summer of 1988. More trophies were to follow for both first and second teams, as well as continued success in the bi-annual European Airports Cup.
However, what makes any club is not just the trophies or honours that it might be lucky enough to win. It’s the people that are involved in it, on and off the field, that are most important. Aer Rianta/DAA/Dublin Airport Football Club has always had its fair share of top people, characters that have created many great memories. We were lucky to have all round great footballers, like Con Farrell, Bobby Cash, Ray Barker, Joey Kane, Mick “Mammy” Houlihan, Colm Hopkins, Eamonn Donohue, former club chairman Mick Fox, between the sticks or outfield, and many more. They all did great credit to the club and to themselves every time they turned out for the club. Off the field, we were blessed to have the unparalleled organisation skills of the great chairmen like Don Treacy and the current chairman Anthony Carey; great leaders like Joey Malone, who managed the club for many years, and still has great influence through continued involvement. And then there those great people who have stayed involved with the club through the years, cheering on and helping out whenever they can. People like the late Kevin Wilson, Ollie Murray, Brian Seely, Barry “The Bodhran” Kirwan, Eamonn Delaney, with his unique guitar playing style, to name but a few.
But it’s always the players, who risk life and limb when they cross the white line, that will always live on in the memory most. Starting between the sticks, some of the great goalkeepers who served the club are goal-minders like Aiden Kavanagh, a great shot stopper; the athletic Mick Fox; Harry Vavasour and his son Phil, both cool and reliable, great qualities for any goalkeeper; Jimmy Kiernan, who always gave 110%, and once even gave a couple of his teeth, in the net-minding cause; Mick Taylor, with hands like shovels and a kick like a mule; Philip O’Donoghue, quietly spoken but let his hands do the talking.
The most important partnerships are at the centre of the defence, and we had great leaders there like Big John Quill, slow to rouse, but god help you if you did; Cormac O’Connell who never took a backward step; Gary Malone and Donal Mahon, (sometimes called Donald, but that’s a long story), one of the best centre-half partnerships the club has had; Jim “Jimbo” Eviston, who hardly anyone got by, one way or another; the Quiet Man Pat Cosgrove, peerless in the air, but not slow on the ground either; Tom Benson who was second to none at snuffing out danger before it happened and always led by example; Gerry Weir, winner of the inaugural second team Player of the Year back in 1985 and another one who hated anyone getting past him; Joey Kane, probably the fastest defender in the club; the Wilson Brothers, sons of the late great Kevin Wilson, who, while both being very skilful, were well able to look after themselves; Christy Roche, who suffered a bad leg break in the cause; Ray Peers and Fran Barker, ever –present full backs in the very early days; The O’Rourke brothers, Ken and Tom, skilful and committed; Sean Ward, now a very senior member of An Garda Siochana; Joe Robinson, who was equally adept playing up front; Ray Kennedy, another versatile and technically gifted player, and with a great temperament; Alan Browne, strong and fearless; young Stephen McDarby, a headcase, but in a good way; Aiden McGuinness, one of life’s true gentlemen; Ken McSweeney, whose Dad Tommy was manager, but he was always picked on merit, being ultra consistent; Vinnie Rooney, hard as nails; Tony Baker, with a sweet left foot; Dermot Hyland, another leftie. We had some great sweepers too such as Ronan Maher, Alan Davidson, and Sean Doyle, one of the best sweepers and readers of the game in junior football.
We had our fair share of tough competitive midfielders like the legend Christy Sheridan who has had more appearances than any player is likely to ever have, (and still going strong); as well Johner Brown, who made his mark, literally, in his first Quadrangular match against our old rivals from Shannon, with a tackle that lives on in the memory; the current club chairman Anthony Carey, one of the hardest players anyone is likely to play against and who, without checking the facts, still probably holds the record for the quickest sending off; the ageless Paddy Fagan, who always managed to accidentally stand on the sorest part of your foot; Martin Daly, who should have been cast in the advert for Duracell, such was his endless work-rate; Thomas Alan “TA” Morris, another Duracel candidate. All of these were the sort of men you need on a team, especially on wet November Saturdays. However in the middle you need a balance so we were also lucky to have the silky skilled players such as Robby Bruton, player of the tournament in the Rome European Airports Cup; John Keatley, a lovely winger who was capable of winning any match; Canice Kennedy, technically and tactically astute; the late Billy Murray who always played with a smile on his face, Barry Barker, always lovely to watch; Gary “Gaz” Donohue, a great passer of the ball who never wasted a pass, (and probably why he is the current club treasurer); Paul Poole, another great passer.
Up front, we had great goal scorers like the aforementioned Mick Houlihan, Colm Hopkins, and probably one of the best players to wear the DAA jersey is our junior international, Eamonn Donohue, who actually went on to play for Galway in a European Cup Winners Cup Match. Plus we had the likes of Noel Hutchinson, who always seemed to get at least one goal and never gave up sniffing out a chance; Colm’s brother Declan Hopkins, who scored a hat trick in the final of the inaugural European Airports Tournament; Philip Finglas, who made an impact from his first game; Dave Nimmo, who played winger, midfield and in the latter days, a defender; Brian Lennon, whose Aer Rianta career was cut short with a bad knee injury;
We also had a few players that we would have loved to have played more games for the club, such as the brilliant John Whelan, Dublin GAA legend Paul Clarke, UCD stalwart Darren O’Brien, and Bobby Cash.
All these were great team members, but we also had many great club members, and a few who made an impression in their own unique way. Some alas, are no longer with us, but all have left a mark in the club, and they will always live on in the memories of those who came along after them. They will always be missed, but the memories will live on, and the stories that have been told, may have grown slightly over the years and with the re-telling, are happily re-lived when the older club members get together, usually around Christmas time.
Let’s hope the current club members make their own set of memories to help the club grow and stay strong!