HomeFootballFamous Portobello club still attracting players from all over the country

Famous Portobello club still attracting players from all over the country

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Up the street was O’Hagan’s. The busy, bustling shop that was run by the Ranelagh Gael, Liam O’Hagan.

Rathmines is a short stroll away. The city that never sleeps.

Terry Wogan was married in its cathedral-like church. The refurbished Stella shows classical afternoon films that would get the five stars from Barry Norman.

The Town Hall Clock can perform quite the trick – telling four different times at once.

The Leinster cricket ground is over the wall. Many internationals have trod its wicket.

One day, in a match that was live on RTÉ, somebody hit a six – right through the clubhouse window!

The ornate, red-bricked Library building is on the corner of the long, and not so winding, Leinster Road.

Narrow laneways lead to the home of the Portobello club. Parking a car on the approach to the entrance would test the skill of Max Verstappen.

The Dublin senior footballers trained here under Tommy Carr.

This homely haven has the welcome of the parish hall. It always had.

Back to the days when the ladies’ footballers were the best team in the county.

The All-Blacks of the capital. Winning Dublin Championships and marching all the way to the All-Ireland final.

They secured the Dublin five-in-a-row. They made remarkable progress from when they first kicked a ball in 1986.

They brought a modesty to their deeds. Under the baton of their inspirational manager, Jim Boyle. And Declan Kelly.

Elaine Gallery played for the Dublin camogie team. She could make the timber hum.

The Ports had some prosperous times under Michael Murphy and colleagues.

Then came a successful camogie merger with their friends at Kevin’s.

Hurling has also thrived. Back-to-back promotions were achieved.

There is no hurling team this year but, no doubt, it will soon make a return to this cosy theatre, tucked away amid the tall houses.

Voices carried over the roof-tops from the evening meeting of Portobello and Trinity Gaels in Division 9 of the Go-Ahead Dublin Adult Football League.

All at Trinity are delighted that Cathal Barrett got the call to the Dublin minor hurlers.

Tom Behan looks on. His uncle was the famous Manchester United scout, Billy Behan.

Kevin Moran was Tom’s favourite Dublin footballer. Billy would send him to Manchester United.

Trinity were at home at Fr Collins Park. Fortress Donaghmede. Where teams left with little more than a cup of tea and a club milk.

Nowadays, Drumnigh is the heart of the club. The finest of venues.

They have development plans. And this Sunday, April 28th, they are staging a fund-raising effort.

18 Trinity members will abseil down the 120 foot Smithfield Tower. That’s where Brother Kevin Crowley greeted, and blessed Sam, year after year.

The abseil fund-raiser will help greatly with their work for Drumnigh. To donate go to www.donate.ie/Trinity Gaels.

The goodwill messages for the abseil have been pouring in. Including ones from Roddy Collins, Eilish O’Carroll (Winnie McGoogan in Mrs Brown’s Boys), and from Jerry Grogan, direct from ringside at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Tom Behan manages Trinity’s AFL 3 side. They are doing well, but scaling the steps to Division 2 is as difficult as climbing to the top of the Smithfield Tower.

As Tom says himself, it’s probably the most difficult division of all. “Because everyone wants to play senior football.”

For several years, Tom, like many other leading footballers, helped nurture the Dublin Development squads.

And that’s the initiative that saw the growth of the modern-day Dubs.

They all stand on the shoulders of big Brian Mullins. Brian spent his childhood summers at the farm of his uncle, Bill Casey, in Lispole.

Bill won four All-Ireland medals with Kerry. The Portobello chairman, Adrian Barrett, is from Lispole.

He is happy with Portobello’s progress. His fellow Kerry-man, Con Houlihan, lived a Charlie Nelligan kick-out from the ground.

And he’d be the first to commend the Portobello club, and its people, in his Evening Press column.

“We are a vibrant club,” tells Adrian. “And we are pleased with the number of new players that have signed up for the next season.”

On the sideline, there’s a cluster of Portobello subs encouraging their team-mates.

There’s a biting wind. The new nets are billowing in the breeze.

There’s a few drops of rain, and, out on the pitch, there’s buckets of sweat.

Portobello got their second win of the campaign. They had to work for it against a solid Trinity side.

In the recent past, Portobello have come close to AFL Division 8.

“Things are going well,” notes Adrian. “Our ladies’ football section is going strong.”

But, around here, results are not the priority. It’s the open invitation that never grows stale.

“We always like to see new people joining, and we ensure that they settle in straight-away.

“We have many players from all over the country. The club gives them an opportunity to keep playing.

“Others might have put in roots in Dublin with their work and families, so it’s a chance for them to keep involved in the games.”

Several players from abroad are also part of the Portobello family.

At the back of the far goal is Cathal Brugha Barracks. “We are grateful to the Army for giving us this pitch. We have been playing here for years now.”

Well known broadcasters have worn the jersey. Including Sunday Game host, Jacqui Hurley, Evanne Ní Chuilinn and Eamon Horan.

The social aspect of the club is one of its most appealing features.

Many a memorable night was held with Jamesie O’Donnell as the genial host.

There will be many more occasions to celebrate in the years to come.

In a club where the hand of friendship stretches as long as the Grand Canal.

As Michael Murphy once remarked: “The best days of my life were spent with Portobello.

“I have met such lovely, genuine people. It was a home from home for me.”

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