In this week’s Kildare Nationalist we remember the events of Bloody Sunday with the support in content and memory photos supplied by the Mick Sammon Commemoration Committee and in particular we remember Clane man, Mick Sammon.
In all the accounts of what happened on Bloody Sunday, the centenary of which will be celebrated on this Saturday, 21 November, little or no mention is made of the man who was the referee on that fateful day. Who was he and why was he appointed to such a significant role?
The wedding photograph of Mick Sammon shows him proudly wearing his All Ireland medal
Mick Sammon was a 1919 All-Ireland medal winner with Kildare who was a member of Sinn Féin and he served time in three prisons for reading the Sinn Féin manifesto at an illegal after-Mass meeting in Kilcullen on 15 August 1918. This caused him to miss playing for the ‘Short Grass’ against Westmeath in the Leinster championship.
Having played with Hibernian Knights and Kickhams in Dublin, and now working in the bar trade in Kilcullen, Mick Sammon transferred to to the local club, popularly known as ‘The Rags’. He captained the Kilcullen team which defeated Clane by 0-4 to 0-3 in the first round of the 1917 county senior championship. Having lost to Roseberry in the semi-final (2-2 to 1-2), they won on objection, but lost to Kilcock by 5-0 to 2-1 in the final on 18 January 1918.
In 1918, Clane defeated Kilcullen in the first round of the county championship. Mick was recorded in Eoghan Corry’s Kildare GAA, A Centenary History as playing with Clane against Caragh in the county semi-final. It appears that he made a big impression on the county selectors: he made his debut for the Short Grass against Laois on 30 June winning by 2-2 to 0-3 at Maryborough, as it was known then, now Portlaoise.
He is not listed in the team which beat Westmeath by 4-2 to 0-3 in Croke Park on 12 October as he was in prison following his arrest on 15 August and subsequent one-month sentence. Mick was on the losing side in the Leinster semi-final (0-7 to 0-1) against Louth on 27 October.
The county had better luck in 1919. Wins over Laois (3-5 to 2-5 at Newbridge on 1 June), Dublin in the Leinster final (1-3 to 1-2 at Croke Park on 7 September), Cavan in the All- Ireland semi-final (3-2 to 1-2 at Navan on 14 September), and Galway in the All-Ireland final (2-5 to 0-1) in Croke Park on 28 September completed a very successful year for Kildare.
In 1920, Kildare lost their Leinster and All-Ireland titles. Victories over Wexford (2-6 to 1-2 at Croke Park on 13 June) and Westmeath (1-5 to 0-1 at Croke Park on 15 August) were followed by defeat to Dublin (0-3 to 1-3 at Croke Park on 29 August) in the Leinster final.
Dublin again provided the opposition in the 1921 Leinster final. A first round win (2-3 to 1-3 against Laois in Athy on 8 May) preceded a huge 9-8 to 1-1 quarter-final win over Carlow at Athy on 5 June. Wexford succumbed to Kildare in the semi-final by 2-7 to 0-3 at Croke Park on 31 July. A 1-3 to 0-6 draw against Dublin at Croke Park on 21 August led to a 1-3 to 1-4 defeat for Kildare on 26 December at Croke Park.
Mick Sammon lined out at midfield in the number 8 jersey in every one of the six championship matches in 1918 and 1919. He was at right corner-forward, centre half- forward and midfield in the 1920 games. He was at midfield twice in 1921, twice at left half- back and his final appearance for the Lilywhites was at centre half-back in the Leinster final.
REFEREE AWARD SCHEME IN HONOUR OF MICK SAMMON
Kildare County Board has accepted a proposal from the Mick Sammon Commemoration Committee (MSCC) to develop a Referee Award Scheme in the name of Michael Sammon, who refereed the tragic game that was ended by the Bloody Sunday shootings, 21 November 1920, when 14 people lost their lives and hundreds more were injured.
The Sammon family will donate The Mick Sammon Shield to honour the role of referees who volunteer to serve the GAA and their communities across County Kildare. It will be presented annually to a referee on a suitable occasion, possibly on County Final day.
Currently, there are 59 active referees at county level. Retirements and other commitments mean that new referees are needed every year to ensure that the very extensive games programme is carried out.
Criteria under which the shield will be awarded will be decided by the Referees’ Assessors and the Referee Coordinator for recommendation to the County Board.
The Co Board will administer the project and the award scheme will be reviewed after a three- or five-year period, or as decided by the County Board in conjunction with a representative/s of the Mick Sammon Commemoration Committee.