Frank Henry

Frank Henry of Whitehill, Riverstown is the only Gaels player to hold a Connacht Senior Championship medal, won with Sligo in 1975. Frank Henry started his footballing career with Knockalassa where he played up until U-16. He was still U-16 when Shamrock Gaels was formed, with the merging of Knockalassa and Sooey in 1972.

One of a family of eight boys and three girls, Frank first played for the Gaels in the 1972 Minor team, where he usually lined out at centre half forward, but during a tough campaign, his adaptability was invaluable to the team and he filled many positions with distinction even moving to full back when needed. His usual position on the 1973 Minor team was at centre field where he partnered Donie Quinn. Frank's ability with the Gaels and with Sligo Minors was quickly noticed by the Senior Selectors and he lined out at corner forward for Sligo in the team that played Roscommon in the 1974 League final. His position on the 1975 team was left half forward. Together with Donie Quinn, Frank established a great Gaels tradition when taking on the training of the juvenile players while still an underage player himself. One of the many talented players to contribute to the Gaels success story, Frank Henry, probably more than most, typifies the ideal club player - an elusive forward, a soaring centre field player, or a staunch defender as occasion demanded and always a sportsman. Frank was one of the sturdy pillars on which the club was founded. He played with Shamrock Gaels until the mid 1980s before joining St Mary's in Leixlip where he played alongside Kerry's Jack O'shea.

We caught up with Frank recently and asked him a few questions.....

Lives: Leixlip, Co Kildare. He is married to Anne and has four children - Noel, Emer, Colm and Maeve.

Club achievements: Two minor county titles, one U-21 title and an intermediate title

Claim to Fame: Frank is the only Shamrock Gaels player with a Connaught medal

Frank Henry on….

The foundation of Shamrock Gaels….

It was a time of real hope. It was the start of a real chance of doing something. There was a real sense of what we could achieve. The catchment area was so much bigger, taking in Ballintogher, Sooey and Geevagh at that time. The vocational school in Coola also had a great footballing structure so we had players from there as well. (Although they were great rivals) the members of both clubs really got behind the new club in a big way.

Playing with Sligo……

How many years did I play with Sligo? Too long, some would say! It was from 1974 until 1981. I left for a few years and came back for one more year in 1986. I had some great times with Sligo the highlight, of course was winning the Connaught title in 1975.

His biggest achievements with Shamrock Gaels…..

Soon after Shamrock Gaels was formed we won a couple of minors (1972 and 1973) and then an U-21. The county board forced us to play in the intermediates one year because there were not enough teams to play in the division. We had a strong team and we shouldn't have been put down. But we won it that year and went straight back up.

His disappointments……

The year after we won the U-21 county title, the county board decided not to hold the U-21 championship that year. It was a real disappointment as we had 14 of the 15 from the winning team playing that year and had a real chance of winning it again. One year we almost made it into the senior semifinals. We were playing St Pat's in Tubbercurry. They beat us by one point, we really should have won it. They had the famous Mickey Kearins and his cuteness and ability swung it for them. I never will forget that day. St Pat's walked the final - they only had to tog out. We really could have won that year.

On Shamrock Gaels …..

There was some great people involved in the club when I was playing. It was very well ran and everyone played their part. It was very enjoyable time. It was lovely when I moved to Dublin to come home and play at the weekends - I loved that. I played in midfield but played most positions with the club over the years.

On other club members…..

I really remember Joe Taaffe. He used to bring half of a team to the games in the back of his work van and it was great craic. I thought he had a very good attitude towards playing and had a great team spirit. Leo Kearns was a mighty influence in the club. I had great time and respect for him - he was the backbone of the club in his own quiet way.

On his influences….

I was the youngest in a large family and we were all involved in football. My father brought me to all the games from a very young age. I can remember great tussles between Knockalassa and Sooey in Riverstown and in Mullaney's field. Those games really left a major impression on me.

On leaving Shamrock Gaels….

When I got married and had children, it became too difficult to be travelling every weekend to play. So I joined St Mary's in Leixlip in 1984. I got to know lots of other people- there were people from down the country, Kildare and Dublin in the team. It was also handy as the club was only five minutes from the house. I was very involved with St Mary's for years as a player and as a member of the executive. This (2008) is the first year that I have not been involved.