The Late Gene McArdle RIP
Gene McArdle began his football career with his club, Donaghmoyne, in the late 1940s and was still a stalwart defender with them in the early 1960s. This was quite a productive period for his club and he won a number of trophies including a junior championship medal in 1948 and three Owen Ward Cup medals, in 1951 defeating Ballybay in a replay, 1956 when they beat Clontibret in a delayed final that wasn’t played until June 1957 and 1959 beating Ballybay by 1-9 to 1-3 in an again delayed final that wasn’t played until June 19th 1960. In that time he would have played with such giants of the game as McGown Finnegan, the McCooeys Eamonn and Mervyn, Frank and Brendan O’Duffy as well the Tavey brothers, John And Peter.
Winning those medals was rewarding but unfortunately he did not win the coveted senior championship medal as his club lost out in the semi-final in both 1953 and 1958. The loss in 1953 was most disappointing for him in that he had to retire with concussion and it was only after he went off that Ballybay scored their goal that sent them on their way.
During his club playing days he played at full-back and was for a number of years accompanied by one of his brother’s in the full back line but it was not unusual for sets of brothers to have played for the Fontenoys in that era. The stories of games and players from that time are legion and are part of GAA folklore but one story in particular concerns the junior championship series of 1948 when the car that was taking the team to Corduff for one of their matches ran out of petrol, petrol of course being scarce at that time. However the driver being a fairly resourceful chap put TVO in the Austin 12 car and transported 13 of the players the remainder of the journey to Corduff with the other two traveling by bicycle. We will try and find out later if our award winner tonight was one of those in the car. He represented Monaghan in both junior and senior, he played against Derry in the 1952 Ulster SFC and was a sub against Cavan in the 1952 final.
In assessing his playing career however pride of place in all that he achieved goes to 1956 when he was a member of the Monaghan team that won the Ulster and All Ireland junior football championships where he played in every match at right full-back and gained for himself a reputation of being a very resolute defender. 1956 was also a red letter year in his life in that shortly before the All Ireland final proper against London in Carrickmacross he got married to his wife Letitia. In the times in which Gene was playing, they were difficult times both economically and in many other ways, and given the nature of the game at that time it was remarkable that his career at club and county level spanned three decades and he is still regarded as one of the greats of the game in his club and for Monaghan.