GAA Presidential Visit
Wednesday 26th April 2017 is another date that will go down in the history of Madden Raparees G.F.C. On that day we proudly welcomed the President of the GAA or Uachtaráin Chumann Lúthchleas Gael, Mr Aogán Ó Fearghail into our Club. Aogán arrived to the club at 9pm where he was escorted through a Guard of Honour consisting of a selection of our playing members, their respective coaches and members of the clubs Executive Committee. We were delighted to also have the President of Ulster GAA Mr. Michael Hassan along with the Chairman of Armagh GAA Paul McArdle and his Middletown club member and Ulster GAA official Michael Geoghegan. Master of Ceremonies Brendan Vallely opened the evening by thanking everyone for coming to the event before handing over to the famed McCusker family and Catherine Grimley Hughes for a display of Madden's cultural talent in the form of solo singing, instrumental traditional music and some Irish Dancing. Everyone who performed excelled themselves and many in attendance were in awe of the talent we have within our community. The President was very impressed himself as he alluded to in his address later on in the evening.
The primary reason for the Presidential visit was to carry out a series of presentations to members of the club who the Executive Committee felt had made an impact on the club be it from a playing or administrative capacity. The first person honoured was our 2009 All-Ireland Minor winning goalkeeper Stephen O'Reilly. Unfortunately Stephen could not be there on the evening to collect his award due to work commitments, however thankfully his Father Dessie was on hand and he accepted the award on Stephen's behalf. The second presentation of the night went to a man who needs no introduction around these parts, Kevin McElvanna. Like Stephen, Kevin was honoured due to his achievements in an orange and white jersey when he brought the Sam Maguire cup back to Madden as a member of the historic 2002 Armagh Senior All-Ireland winning side. Our third recipient was none other than Benedict McCusker who was presented with a token of appreciation from the club for his many years’ service but not least for the impact he has had on the cultural wing of the club with regards to all aspects of the Scór. Finally there was a special presentation made from the President of the GAA to the President of Madden Raparees G.F.C. Charlie McGuinness to mark the occasion.
Next up was a question and answer session with members of the club and the president of the GAA, he was quizzed on all things GAA including his views on access to county players from a clubs perspective, the structure of the GAA Championship, his personal highlights throughout his tenure, how to promote the game of hurling in Ulster and on the future integration of Camogie into the wider GAA family. The president was composed and answered all of the questions superbly providing the audience with astute answers that were straight to the point.
It was then the turn of our distinguished guests to address the audience and first to the podium was Mr. Michael Hassan the President of Ulster GAA. Michael spoke of the great similarities between his own club and that of our own, he admired everything we were striving to achieve both on and off the field having previously visited the playing facilities earlier in the evening which was buzzing with underage training sessions and a camogie match. He will continue to watch Maddens progress from afar over the coming years. It was then the turn of Chairman of Armagh GAA, Paul McArdle to say a few words about our club. Paul remarked that the last day he stood on the stage in Madden he was elected as County Chairman and for that reason alone Madden will always hold a special place in his heart. He spoke of his playing days and how that regardless of how rough it could be on the field there was a lot of mutual respect and friendship drawn between the Madden and Middletown players down throughout the years something he hopes will continue. Paul then heaped praise on the McCuskers and Catherine Grimley Hughes for their entertainment on the night before stepping aside to let the main attraction of the evening make his speech. Aogán Ó Fearghail began by thanking everyone who had come out, he was delighted to see so many there on a Wednesday evening and even more impressed at how well turned out we were as a club with many wearing their red and black. Through his many visits around Ulster and beyond he has driven past Raparee Park on many an occasion and had always admired the name, Aogán then gave people a small history lesson on the term ‘Raparee’ and was delighted to see that we had extended this into our club crest in the form of the two pikes, the weapons of the Raparees that appear crossing one another over the glen at the heart of the Madden crest. Someone had once informed Aogán that we Madden was a small rural friendly club, he disagreed with this agreeing that we were a rural club and by all accounts from the hospitality he received upon entering the hall we certainly were friendly but he stopped short of calling us small. The president remarked that we are part of a GAA community that boasts over 2000 clubs worldwide and all are equally as important as one another. Aogán then turned his attention to the people who were honoured by the club. He commended the club on the work they were doing churning out consistent country representatives at all levels including Stephen, Kevin the All-Ireland winners and current player Niall Grimley. As mentioned previously the President was extremely impressed with the solo singing and traditional music that was on display and paid particular tribute to Benedict McCusker for being the driving force behind it all. He remarked that one of the songs Catherine and Patrick had chosen to perform was particularly relevant to the Club as it was an old Irish song that the Raparees would lament to when they were on the roads of Ireland many years ago. There was a small presentation made to the President from Madden Raparees G.F.C. as a token of our appreciation for him taking the time out of his schedule to come visit us. There were also two presentations made to both Aogán and Michael’s wives for acompaniing them on the night. The evening was brought to a close with a rendition of Amhrain na bhFiann before the President posed for some photographs with members of Madden Raparees G.F.C.
We would like to thank all our members for coming out on the night in support of it, thanks also to the organising committee to their credit the night was planned excellently and everything went as planned.

On Wednesday night our U-8's travelled to Keady Michael Dwyers for a final challenge game ahead of the U-8 Go Games starting up this weekend. We played two highly competitive matches with our neighbours over the course of the evening. We would like to thank Keady for their hospitality after the game where all the players were treated to a bag of crisps and a drink.

Our U-14 team travelled to Beleek on Tuesday past to face Loughgilly Gaels in a league match. They had a brilliant first half against a strong breeze scoring 3-09. It was great to see Lee Doran making his debut for the side with Oisin O'Hara, Fionn Hughes, Tiarnan McGoldrick and Donal Meehan all excelling in the night. Full Time Score Madden Raparees 3-15 to Loughgilly Gaels 1-03.The lads now have two weeks off now after recovering a bye in the Championship and also a bye in the league the following week.

Our Minor team travelled to Lurgan tonight in a Division Three league encounter following a week off owing to Easter Monday. There was just two points between the sides at the interval with the scores 2-02 to 1-03 to the Raparees. Madden put in a superb second half performance playing with a strong wind and restricted the hosts to just three points in the process. Full Time Score Madden Raparees 7-10 to High Moss Sarsfields GFC 1-06. Best on the night for Madden were Shane McIlveen, Ronan Grimley, Conor Mone and Joe Sheridan. Next up for the lads is the derby against neighbours Middletown on Monday week at 7.15pm in Raparee Park.

The Reserve team made the short journey into Armagh to face Pearse Og’s in the second round of the reserve league. Madden for one reason or another took the field with a bare 15 players and it did not deter them. They gave their all for large periods of the game and unfortunately came up against a much stronger Ogs side who had the benefit of introducing fresh legs at crucial periods of the game. Madden will rue their wasted chances as this game could have been a lot closer only for them. Nevertheless credit is due to the lads who put on the red and black jersey and gave their all as it was certainly not an easy challenge given the circumstances. Best on the night for Madden were Pearse O’Hagan, Shane McIlveen, Aaron Wright and Conor Morgan.

Our senior team welcomed Ballymacnab to Raparee Park for the first Division 1B League match of the season. There was a great crowd in attendance for this hugely anticipated derby encounter between the two sides and the game did not disappoint the supporters of both teams. It was the home side who got off to the brighter start with a perfectly taken Aron McKenna goal raising the green flag. The visitors responded with two points, one from play and a free-kick to reduce the deficit to a single point. Aron McKenna struck once more with his second goal of the afternoon, this one he had to do a bit more work for. A shot from the wing dropped short and fell to Aron on the edge of the square at the far post he rounded the goalkeeper and slotted the ball home through a narrow gap between the post and a ‘Nab defender. Ballymacnab raced up the field and sliced through the Madden defence and struck the back of the net themselves to leave the scores at 2-0 to 1-02 to the Raprees mid-way through the first half. Madden then moved through the gears winning a lot of possession in the middle of the field and kicked four points on the bounce through the Mallon brothers Barry and Colin (2) and an early contender for score of the season from the in-form Aron McKenna. Ballymacnab themselves had their own purple patch and scored three in a row themselves with two of them from play. This spurred Madden on and in particular Conor Grimley who kicked 0-05 in succession including three expertly struck long range free kicks against a strong breeze cutting across the field of play. This gave Madden a handsome seven point lead at the interval. Half Time Score; Madden Raparees 2-09 to Ballymacnab Round Towers 1-05.
Madden emerged for the second half and began immediately where they left off with Conor Grimley kicking two points from play wither side of a Ballymacnab point. Madden suddenly stopped and for all their gallant efforts nothing was falling for them. The visitors were capitalising on these errors and managed to claw themselves back into the game over a fifteen minute period scoring six points in a row including 0-05 from play. There was now only a single kick of the ball between the two teams and for all Ballymacnab’s efforts on the Madden goal the defence stood strong with Paddy Woods making a crucial point blank save at his near post along the way. Conor Grimley kicked a final point from play to bring his individual tally to 0-08 for the day but more importantly to leave three points between the sides. A nervy final five minutes ensured however thankfully the Raparees prevailed and managed to get the first two points of the season on the board. Full Time Score; Madden Raparees 2-12 to Ballymacnab Round Towers 1-12.
Brendan, Conor, Michael and the lads now travel to Whitecross next weekend hoping to make it two from two in what will be another tough encounter against last year’s Intermediate Champions. We hope to see you all out in support of the lads once again next weekend. Well done to all involved in this great victory!

Armagh U-15 Academy
Congratulations to Shea Vallely who will be Madden’s sole representative on the Armagh All-County development squad for the 2017 season. Shea will hopefully play if he is selected in the challenge game against Meath this Saturday before the Ulster Blitz the following weekend.

Weekly Fixtures
Monday: Minors v Middletown (H), 7.15pm
Tuesday: U-14’s BYE
Wednesday: Reserves v Grange (A), 7.30pm
Thursday: U-16’s v Dromintee (A), 7.00pm
Saturday: U-12.5’s v Armagh Harps (A), 4.00pm
Sunday: Seniors v Whitecross (A), 2.00pm

Wedding Bells
Congratulations to our former player and current Committee Member, Ciaran Morgan and his new wife Donna on getting married on Friday in St Patrick's Chapel, Keady. Everyone at Madden Raparees G.F.C. would like to wish the new Mr. And Mrs. Morgan a lifetime of happiness together.

Weekly Lotto
This week’s winning numbers were 10, 19, 22 and 23. Unfortunately there was no winner of the jackpot, there was however one winner of £10 in the form of Ryan McIlveen. Next week’s jackpot is £7,300.00.

The monthly meeting will take place this Thursday at 9pm in the Community Centre, Madden.