GAA Football

Off The Fence: What's in a name? Plenty if you're from The Moy

The Moy celebrate after their Ulster Club Intermediate Football Championship final win over Rostrevor. Picture by Philip Walsh
Neil Loughran

WHAT’S in a name, eh? Quite a lot it seems if you’re from a certain village in the east of county Tyrone, a place that two famous All-Ireland winning brothers call home.

Moy or The Moy? It’s a bit like the old Creme Egg ‘how do you eat yours’ debate (whole - thanks for asking). Unless of course, you happen to be from there, in which case there is no debate at all.

The matter has been brought into sharper focus by the GAA club’s exploits through the winter months, embarking upon an excellent run that saw them crowned Tyrone and Ulster intermediate champions.

‘Gearóid Ó Machail’ has clearly been paying close attention to the huge amount of publicity surrounding those successes, and wrote to take us and others to task before explaining why, in his opinion, it is very definitely The Moy.

“I feel obliged to point out that The Irish News may have unwittingly landed itself in hot water as a result of its recent coverage of The Moy GAC's trail-blazing campaign,” said ‘Gearóid’ in an email whose subject matter ‘It’s The Moy’ left little double about the content.

“While basking in the media spotlight since collecting their first ever Ulster Club title in November, many inhabitants of the picturesque east Tyrone village are displeased that reporters have adopted the deeply unpopular, but nonetheless 'official' moniker of the village in recent articles about the senior footballers’ quest for All-Ireland glory.

“With nerves in The Moy already on edge in anticipation of an early season visit to GAA HQ, the inhabitants are extra vigilant and protective of the village's historic and proud identity; a sense of place doubtless sharpened by our location on the banks of the River Blackwater (Abhainn Mhór) which serves as the county boundary with arch-rivals Ard Mhacha.

“I relate all this to demonstrate why the residents of The Moy take exception to the recent trend of referring to our village as 'Moy'. The topographical place name derives from 'An Mhaigh' ('The Plain') and locals have always proudly retained the article, even after the name was officially anglicised in the aftermath of the demise of the gaelic order.

“The name of our football club, renowned throughout Ireland due to the outstanding achievements of players such as the Cavanaghs, Donaghys, Jordans, Mellon, Loughran et al, is 'An Mhaigh Tír na nÓgs GAC'.

“Flags and banners at the recent Ulster Final in the Athletic Grounds' bore the inscription 'An Mhaigh Abú' or 'Up The Moy'. Twitterati have also adopted '#UTM' to accompany excited tweets throughout the championship campaign.

“I admit that The Irish News is not alone in denuding the place name of its definite article, many outsiders and media pundits make the same common error.

“As fame and glory once again descend on our proud village, all we ask is that our historic identity is protected and that our proper and full place name is respected henceforth.”

As one of those reporters who has blithely blethered on about ‘Moy this, Moy that’, it’s always good to be enlightened by a bit of historical context. The same debate has also arisen about Loup/The Loup in Derry on many occasions, and your comments have been duly noted.

Oh, and good luck on Saturday #UTM


MOVING on, an anonymous caller left a message on the Off The Fence hotline praising Kieran McGeeney’s suggestion that, rather than stage pre-season competitions, the National League should be started in early January and played on a home and away basis.

“Like he says, people want to go to football matches, young fellas want to play football matches, not train day and night. If they did that, maybe less players would leave the panel.

“Take Armagh for instance - six or seven players have walked from the panel. Maybe it’s because they got tired training with no matches...” hold on, is that you ‘Geezer’?

“Soccer players can go and play a match every Saturday and they love what they’re doing, whereas Gaelic players spend most of their time training.

“Fourteen League matches, seven away and seven at home, that’s what the supporters want.”

I’d say you can count the players in there too.


AND finally, a lovely contribution from ‘Sue McCormack’ who got in touch to sing the praises of the hardest working man in showbusinessn… sorry, GAA – Seamus McAleenan, who covers camogie and schools’ football/hurling in these very pages.

The floor’s yours ‘Sue’.

“Hello Seamus, thanks for your contribution to the Irish News camogie column on Saturday last. It gave me a great lift to see St Louis’, Ballymena in print in an Ulster Colleges’ Senior Final.

“Unfortunately I am not able to go down and support them, I’m in my 80s now, the weather was too cold, but I was with them in spirit.

“I remember my years on the team and trainer Sr du Saint Esprit for four of those years, the nun from county Cork who used the blackboard in training tactics, and the team-mates and the times we shared. Some have gone to their eternal reward, God rest them.

“I phoned Marie Doherty of Portglenone, my old club, re the result of the match.

Ballymena beaten by two points; a good match she said they could have won.

She is hopeful camogie being played in Ballymena will raise standard in Portglenone.

“Many thanks again for your contribution in the newspaper and for including players’ names - some of the surnames were familiar. Those reports help greatly to keep the game alive. Contributors seldom get credit for this.”

Very true ‘Sue’. The Trojan-like work of Seamus, and others like him, is invaluable to the GAA.

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