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All Ireland Football Championship: Hayes helped write Down's special success story

By Micheal McGeary

When the history of Down GAA is written the game Maurice Hayes will loom large.

His contribution to the sport cannot be overstated.

And it’s no exaggeration to suggest that without him Down wouldn’t be the power they are.

Speak to the men who first brought Sam Maguire to the county for the first time in 1960 and they will speak with great warmth and sincerity of Hayes’s contribution.

Hayes, a native of Kilkeel, first became involved in the late 50s with the aim of bringing some organisation.

“There were some people who actually thought we were mad, but the one good thing was that those who thought we were mad left us alone,” he said.

“There was a younger generation coming through — men of the calibre of TP Murphy, Paddy O’Donoghue, Barney Carr and Arthur Doran. Initially progress was slow but winning the annual Wembley Tournament was a huge step forward. In 1959 we beat Dublin who were the All-Ireland champions and things began to take off from there.”

1960 All-Ireland winning captain Kevin Mussen and Leo Murphy full-back on that side maintain that Hayes made it all happen.

“Whatever needed to be done Maurice was the man,” he said. “If a decision had to be made he didn’t hang about.”

Hayes hasn’t missed an All-Ireland football final since the 1946 replay. The 1960 final victory stand out more than any other, but he also enjoyed the great Kerry sides of the 70s and 80s.

What pleases him more than anything else though is seeing Down play the game with style and panache. And for that he gives credit to the team trainer in those heady days of 1960 and 1961 a certain Barney Carr.

“We set a certain standard back then and Barney Carr has to take the credit for telling the players to go out and enjoy themselves,” he added.

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