If we were told that a club team, with only one County player in its ranks, had challenged its own County Senior team we would naturally be surprised. But if we were told that the County team in question had won the All-Ireland Championship that same year, then our interest would really be aroused.
Well that is precisely what happened in Mayo in 1936. In that year Mayo won its first All-Ireland Senior Championship and later was challenged by the Ballycastle Club.
One, no doubt, will wonder why any individual club had the temerity to issue a challenge to such a brilliant team. Well, the reason is more than a little interesting and brings us back to the year 1917. In this year a precedent was set when nine Ballycastle players, aided by six players from neighbouring Lacken Club, challenged, met and defeated a Mayo County team that included such outstanding players as D. Crean, B. Durkin, M. Lydon, J. Lydon, Dr. Lavin, T. Forde, Dr. Mongey, G. Delaney and P. Byrne.
The Ballycastle/Lacken team was: D. Barrett, T. Kneafsey, M. Doherty, J. Corcoran, M. Doherty, A. McHugh, P. McLean, P. Kelly, B. Farrell, P. Robinson, P. Golden, M. McNulty and F. Forde. From 1918 to 1936 Ballycastle competed in the Championship without much success. They reached the Final against Crossmolina in 1931. They were defeated and were also unsuccessful in the Finals of '32, '33 and '34.
Feeling that fortune was not in their favour in Senior ranks they decided, much against the wishes of the County Board, to play in the Intermediate Championship of 1935. The result justified their judgement for they won the Intermediate Championship of that year.
The success forced them into Senior ranks in 1936, but this did not daunt them, for that year they brought the Mayo Senior Championship to Ballycastle. Their opponents in the Final were Castlebar, a team that included six of the all conquering Mayo All-Ireland team as well as several inter-county Junior players.
Full Back Line: Johnny Tighe, Martin McLean, Frank Doherty
Half Back Line: Dermot McNamara, Michael Langan, Mick Grier
Centrefield: Tom Grier (captain), Tom McNamara
Half Forward Line: Johnny Grier, James (Pilot) Tighe, Pat Tighe
Full Forward Line: Michael Winters, Michael Golden, James Browne
Subs: Joe Munnelly, Tommy Golden and Cornelius O'Callaghan.
The Castlebar team included T. Bourke, P. Quinn, T. McGowan, H. Kenny, J. Munnelly and P. Flannelly.
Naturally, after such a notable triumph, comparisons were made. The older generation claiming that no team could ever reach the standard of the 1917 team.
The 1936 champions felt that their victory was being made little of, and decided to prove by deed and not by word that they were the better side. Thus, the challenge to the Mayo All-Ireland team.
At that time the members of the Mayo County team were widely dispersed, and the County Board felt that proceeds from such an encounter would not cover the expenses involved. So the issue remained and will forever remain undecided.
Ballycastle won the Championship again in 1937. They were beaten by Ballina Stephenites in the 1938 final, but in 1939 they again brought the Championship crown to Ballycastle with a team that included Tom Langan of present day fame.
Extract from article in Bicentenary Magazine - Author and date unknown. Additional information supplied by Paddy Winters