GAA

It is a fact that one of Madden’s longest serving playing members actually started off his football career stripped out against the Raparees. Peter Fegan from Ballyrath, Milford, who on his own admission had played that long with Madden that he almost had to be told to quit, was actually togged out for Craobh Rua on the day that Madden won a major trophy. Peter started playing football at Greenpark School, where he played with Art O’Hagan and Jack Bratton on Bro Lynch’s team.

When he left school he played for Craobh Rua, formerly Navan Street, and was togged out for them against Madden in the final of the Mid Division Championship in Blackwatertown in 1947.Not long after this Peter had become a Madden player. He had connections in Madden, as the four Wood’s brothers and four O’Hagan brothers, who made up most of the Madden team at the time, were all his cousins.

Craobh Rua placed an objection to his transfer but there was no protest and this seen the beginning of his career with Madden: which ultimately would last over 20 years.

One of Peter’s more memorable pastimes, regarding Madden football, was the fact that he only ever had the one pair of boots. He recalls everybody thinking his mother was mad paying nineteen and six for boots for him in Corney Mc Elroy’s shop in Ogle Street. Regardless of the price, he only needed one of them to play football. Peter was right footed and so shared his boots with a boy in his class who had none: and who luckily was left footed. Both could kick balls with their good foot wearing a boot.

Peter’s wait for success with Madden was not a long one. In 1949 they won the Trodden Cup and four years later arrived the pinnacle of Peter’s long and illustrious career: winning the Junior Championship. This final was one which Peter very nearly missed. Three weeks before the match Peter broke his arm swinging a tractor and had to have the cast taken off early to get to play. He recalls the sheer disbelief of the doctor when he told him he needed it off for a football match. In these days there was no such thing as football training. Everybody knew when matches were on and you just turned up, played and went home again. Hail, rain or snow, the game went on. Pitch inspections were totally unheard of and playing conditions were quite often unreal. Teams were often picked as people began to show up on the day.

For Peter, like for many in Madden even now, Sundays were about going to Chapel and then going to football. He recalls being driven mad waiting for boys to finish a game of bullets before they would be ready to go to football. He couldn’t wait to get there and couldn’t understand why these boys weren’t the same. Peter, on his own admission, now remembers that he thought of nothing other than football. He didn’t drink and treated every game like a championship match: giving 120 percent every time. Football was his life and he played well into the 60’s, playing that long that he had to be told not to come back. When reflecting on his own career Peter speaks of having no regrets. His only wish is that he was starting all over again. He was honoured to have played with some of the great players which Madden had during his era: namely Art O’Hagan, Frank ‘Whitey’ Feighan, Jimmy Whan and Frank Hughes. Peter also recalls having the great privilege of playing with the great that is Jim McCullagh.

Having left his football career, Peter always remained a loyal Madden supporter. When Armagh won the All-Ireland in 2002 it was a dream come true for Peter: he thought that it was beginning to look like he would never see it happen. An even bigger achievement for him was that a Madden man, in the form of Kevin McElvanna, was part of it and could proudly bring the Sam Maguire Cup not only to Madden, but also to Peter’s house fro him to be photographed with it. He also spoke highly of Joe Feeney winning an Ulster Minor Medal with the County Minors. Peter recalled, finally, that these things had never happened in his day and he believed that it all said well for the future of Madden football.