21 October 1994
Old Monaghan Star
Once Played For Four Different Clubs At The Same Time
A ghabog native Brendan Brady enjoyed a productive inter-county career in the Monaghan colours between 1971 and 1985 - an era during which the border county men established themselves as one of the top footballing powers in Ulster. In 1979 Brady captained his county to its first provincial crown in 41 years. Monaghan had arrived! For the next decade or so they would be one of the most feared teams in the country as the likes if Nudie Hughes, Gerry McCarville, Eamonn McEneaney and Gene Sherry became household names from Malin to Mizen - and beyond! A first ever national title was secured in '85 when Monaghan won the League and that very same year they came within a whisker of causing a sensation when mighty Kerry were taken to a replay in the All-Ireland semi-final. For Monaghan's large contingent of loyal followers Croke Park suddenly became a home from home. A brilliant team, unforgettable times. Brady was proud to be involved.
Still going strong after all these years the former Monaghan attacker is a key member of the Parnells club in Dublin and this year represented the Metropolitans in the All-Ireland Masters final. He rates the Monaghan team of the mid-seventies - just before the breakthrough game - as the best one he played on.
"The Monaghan team of the 1975/76 was certainly one of our best. We had great players such as Eamonn Tavey, Kevin Treanor, Paddy Kerr, Gerry McDermott and Sean Hughes but unfortunately lost two Ulster semi-finals to Derry."
One of those Ulster semi-finals in particular is still etched firmly in Brendan Brady's memory. "There was a very dubious penalty decision in the drawn game when Derry forward fell in front of our goalposts. It simply couldn't have been a penalty though. He caught the ball and fell on the spot - if he was inside the square it should have been a square ball, if he was outside then it was only a free. They scored a goal as a result and drew the game. In the replay 'Jap' Finlay missed a penalty and they came back to win by a point after us being seven points ahead." Indeed that Derry team with it's reputation for late comebacks, was something of a thorn in Brendan Brady's side. In a famous Dr McKenna Cup final in 1977 Monaghan led the Oak Leaf by eight points with three minutes remaining, when big Derry full forward Sean O'Connell scored two goals and then proceeded to set up the winner!
As a young man growing up in the small rural parish of Aghabog, Brendan Brady found that there was no underage club structure to cater for his budding talents. Soon he was in the extremely unusual position of representing four clubs at the same time! An Under 14 with Sean McDermott, an Under 16 with Monaghan Harps, a Smithboro Minor and a Junior with Rockcorry - as well as Monaghan CBS player - Brendan was getting plenty of football at an early age and it wasn't long before his skills were finally tuned. Aghabog began to field a Junior team in 1967, Brady move to Dublin in'69 and commenced playing club football in the Dublin Championship with Parnells.
"We only had about ten players in the parish of Aghabog and had to take in 'rejects' from other counties. Between these ten lads and their families they have all produced sons who now make up the current team. The bulk of the players on the team have already won Minor and Under 21 Championships and they play Inniskeen in the Intermediate League final on Sunday. Inniskeen have already won the Championship so Aghabog will be playing Senior football for the first time ever next year - even if they lose the League final," explains Brendan who, despite the fact that he now lives in the capital, loves to keep up to date with the progress of his native club in Monaghan.
On finishing his Leaving Certificate in 1969, Brendan Brady decided that in order to enhance his professional prospects he should pack his bags and move to the city. The move has paid dividends - the Monaghan man is now employed at the Strand Bowling Centre. Brady first represented Parnells at Minor level in 1970 and went on to win two county medals and a Leinster Club Championship. A county Minor in 1969, Brendan pulled on the white jersey of Monaghan at Under 21 level in '72' - and again in '73. At this stage the Aghabog man was also beginning to pin down a regular spot for himself at corner forward on the Monaghan Senior team. "Strangely enough, my first organised game was for Monaghan CBS in Omeath when I was twelve and I played right corner forward," he reflects.
Brendan Brady broke into the Monaghan County Senior team as a nineteen year old in 1971 and remained there for fourteen years. He was on the panel in 1985 when the Monaghanmen won both Ulster and League titles. Brendan played the extra time period against Tyrone in the League semi-final of that year but was then surprisingly left out for the final in which the Sean McCague trained XV defeated neighbours Armagh by 1-11 to
0-9. In the ensuring Championship Brady played right through Monaghan's glorious Ulster campaign as Donegal, Armagh and Derry were defeated. The Aghabog man had an impressive outing against Derry in the provincial decider and was again unfortunate to be omitted for the All-Ireland semi-final showdown. A winner of six Dr McKenna Cup medals with his county, Monaghan's captain of 1979 is of the opinion that, with more luck, that side could have won a bit more. "Luck was never on our side. If that team had got a break it could have been the start of a new era for Monaghan football."
Over the past five years Monaghan football has suffered a serious decline. Less than ten years since being crowned League champions the south Ulster men are now marooned in Division 4. "The current Monaghan team still has about four or five exceptional players but they don't have strength in reserve.
It's nice to see young players like Declan Smyth coming along, and Aghabog midfielder Brendan O'Brien is another I expect to get a run this season. Monaghan have always had a good will to win, and the less fancied they were, the greater their chances of winning. It's usually when they're expected to win that they don't play well. We wouldn't be up there with the likes of Donegal, Derry or Down but I wouldn't write us off from causing a few shocks. Strength in depth is the key - we have ten good players and will soon be losing Ray McCarron. Monaghan's problems have usually been in attack - in recent years we've been scoring but the defence isn't as tight as it used to be," Brendan observes.
Married to Threemilehouse lady Patricia, Brendan Brady is proud father of three daughters and one son. His son Ian (17) has played underage with Parnells and currently represents Naomh Barrog. He is an international ten-pin bowler while Donna (15) is Irish Under 15 champion. Pointing out that Monaghan always had few real stars, a few reasonable players but too many passengers, Brady believes that players of the calibre of Nudie Hughes, Gerry McCarville, Kevin Treanor, and Gene Sherry are almost irreplaceable. "In a county with a small pick depth in strength is a genuine problem. To win a All-Ireland you need five fellas who are justifiably aggrieved about not getting a game. In '79' for example, PJ Finlay wasn't getting a game but was good enough. We had a blow in the eighties when we lost Ciaran Murray - he was one of the best Monaghan players ever to pull on a pair of boots and, for a small county, it was a severe blow to loose a player of his stature."
Former Monaghan inter-county star Brendan Brady is still enjoying his club football with Parnells and was on the team which lost out in the AIB Cup final last weekend. He has lined out for Dublin's Over-40's for the past three years - in 1992 the Metropolitans were beaten in the quarter-final by Louth in '93 they were defeated in the semi-final by Louth and this year they lost to Mayo in the All-Ireland decider. The Dubliners are getting a step closer each year! "Tyrone have a cracking team and them, Kildare, Mayo and ourselves would be the top four teams in the country. We played Tyrone in this year's demi-final the week before the final and played glorious football but then played exceptionally bad against Mayo in the final."
A member also of the Parnells side which was narrowly beaten by 1-2 to 0-4 by Nemo Rangers in a low-scoring All-Ireland club semi-final of season 1988/89, Brendan Brady is still seeking that elusive All-Ireland medal. I, for one, wouldn't bet against the former Sean McDermotts, Aghabog, Smithboro, Monaghan Harps, Rockcorry and Monaghan and current Parnells and Dublin Over-40 star getting it at some stage!
It's still well within his capabilities.
Taken from Hogan Stand magazine
21st October, 1994