Local Athletics in the early part of the last century generally revolved around the annual village sports which attracted huge crowds and was a major social and sporting occasion. It was not unusual for athletes to cycle up to 30 miles to a meeting, compete in as many events as they could and then cycle home again. Life was simple and pure.
These sports would feature local men like Pat Hand,Sean Kenny and Kevin Delany(Ronnie’s cousin) and also include cycle races which featured men such as Bertie Donnolly who would later cycle for Ireland in the Olympic Games. There were some runners in the area who would compete regularly and these men would simply run as unattached or with some adjacent club.
The first official club in the area was formed in 1943 and was called St Martin’s which was basically a combination of Dunshaughlin,Culmullen and Drumree.
The club singlet was black with an amber sash and they competed under the old NACA rules. The main men behind this club were Kit Gannon, Mattie Russell and Billy Byrne. This club was quite successful and had some fine sprinters in Tossy Lynam and Micky Kenny and also had the then reigning ½ mile champion of Ireland in P.J.Flanagan. The cross country squad included men like Kevin Lee, Patsy McLoughlin, Bren Murray, Leo Reaper, Tommy Clusker, Mannix Mangan, Larry O’Brien,Billy and Tony Rattigan, Larry Byrne and Kevin Johnson who also played football with Meath at the time.The two Darby brothers Fintan and Dermot as well as Christy and Benny Foley were many sets of brothers who ran in what was a close knit club. The two Foleys would go on to box for Ireland while Benny’s son Niall would go on to win a National cross country medal for the present club some forty years later.
One of the great characters of the time was Charlie Bruton from Culmullen who won the Dunboyne to Ratoath (approx 7 miles) road race in his bare feet in 1943 and in the process beat Tom Reilly from Treadagh, the National 10 mile road champion at the time. The Local Dr Conway had to be called to extract the stones from Bruton’s feet after the race, not to be put off Charlie won the Summerhill to Dunboyne (approx 11 miles) road race a few weeks later by a minute, again in his bare feet and took the liberty of having a bottle of Guinness in “The Hatchet” pub along the way – tough men indeed. The club competed with distinction until it gradually dissolved in the 1950’s.