Peter McParland, Pat’s great predecessor on the international soccer stage, has a park in the area (Barley Lane) named after him. Older folks will remember his incredible exploits in the greatest F.A. Cup final of them all! Captain of his international squad, Danny Blanchflower admired him greatly, considering him an outstanding ‘outside left’: of his team-mate and role model, Peter Doherty, an inside forward, Blanchflower said
‘Peter’s inspirational play helped to put us on the world map. He used his brains to save his legs. He had a wonderful flair of turning defence into attack with one simple pass. Peter was the finest ever inside forward of British football.’
McParland’s brilliance was on show on the supreme stage of the 1957 World Cup Finals in Sweden. It was largely due to the cheeky chap from Chapel Street, with a series of scintillating displays that the Northern Ireland side qualified for the final stages. Against the World Champions West Germany the men in green matched their powerful rivals. Peter McParland emerged from that tournament as the Pele of his era.’
But other great sportsmen too resided in the Chapel Street of old. There was John and Oliver Rooney, Bernie Hughes, Dessie McGennity, Tom Tumilty, Frankie O’Hanlon, Oliver McGauley, Mick McAteer, John Fox, Paddy Gribben, Eddie McDonald, Peter Feenan and Anthony Duffy who played for the great Newry Celtic side.
Dessie McGennity has been secretary of the Newry Pool League for many years: he was also, with the late Eugene Markey, a pioneer of Junior Soccer in the Newry area.
Bernie Hughes has produced champion boxers in his club at Derrybeg while his brother Jimmy played for the Belfast Celtic side. Pat Price became a champion boxer while Brian Burns was a notable athlete.
John Rooney and his late brother Oliver (who later moved to Dromalane Park) were deeply involved with Newry Shamrocks A.C. (your editor trained under them, as did Angela Rafferty’s brother, Liam). John Rooney was in the Newry United squad which won the Irish Junior Cup, along with Pat Jennings. They both too featured for Newry Town.
(Photo of St Mary’s side of old, competing in Newry Streets League, includes Peter McParland. But which one is he? Answers on Guestbook, please).