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Date: 07/03/2015
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Coolaney / Mullinabreena GAA Club Legends
Nace O'Dowd

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By any standards Nace O’Dowd’s record in Gaelic Football is remarkable. The Carrowrile man played senior football for Sligo in 1947 when he was still eligible to play at Under-16 level and a full two years before he won a Connacht minor football championship medal with Sligo in 1949. His prodigious strength and power were first noted when he captained the Ballinacarrow team to the 1947 County minor football championship.

He was a regular at centre-field on the Sligo senior team by 1950 and throughout the following decade he gave many outstanding displays particularly against the powerful Mayo and Galway teams of that era. His tussles with Padraic Carney of Mayo and Sean Purcell of Galway are legendary. He just missed out on a Connacht senior medal in 1954 when Sligo were narrowly beaten by Galway in the Connacht Final at Tuam Stadium. A late disallowed Sligo goal is still recalled in Sligo GAA circles.

The only Sligo man to win three Railway Cup medals in the annual interprovincial series, Nace featured on the successful Connacht teams in 1951, 1957 and 1958. A brilliant fielder of the ball, he had few peers in the air, and played in a variety of positions-defence, midfield and attack- for club, county and province. His selection on the Ireland team in both 1954 and 1955 was a fitting recognition of his prowess.

Nace won Sligo senior championship medals with Tubbercurry in 1950, 1951 and 1955 and with Mullinabreena in 1958 when he proudly captained his native club to their only (so far) senior championship victory. He won a Mayo senior championship title with Castlebar Mitchels in 1953. He also played with Ballymote and with Fr. Griffin’s club in Galway City.


In 1959 Nace emigrated to the USA and became deeply involved in the GAA in New York, for whom he also played. He returned to Sligo in the 1970’s and joined the Coolera club in Strandhill where he and his wife Bridgie took over the Sancta Maria Hotel and ran a very successful business for many years. Nace was appointed manager of the Sligo Senior and Under-21 teams from 1978-1980 and represented Sligo on the Connacht Council in 1985.

Nace O’Dowd died on 16th May, 1987. In 1994 the Mullinabreena GAA Grounds were officially opened and named in his honour.
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