Nace O'Dowd (1931–1987) was a legendary Gaelic footballer who played for the Sligo team in the 1950s and was a member of a number of successful Railway Cup teams. He is regarded by many GAA experts, historians and former players as one of the outstanding players of his generation and one of the greatest in Sligo's GAA history. He made his senior Inter-county debut for Sligo while still a teenager, underlining his prodigious talent and powerful physique. For the next eleven years he was a regular and consistent player for the black and white county.

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  • Nace O'Dowd (1931–1987) was a legendary Gaelic footballer who played for the Sligo team in the 1950s and was a member of a number of successful Railway Cup teams. He is regarded by many GAA experts, historians and former players as one of the outstanding players of his generation and one of the greatest in Sligo's GAA history. O'Dowd was noted for his towering physique and high fielding ability as well as his gift at winning and retaining possession. He was also renowned for his leadership abilities on the field and performances which inspired his team-mates. During his Inter-county and Railway Cup career, he marked many of the prominent players of the era, and more than held his own against them. Amongst his many achievements included playing on a number of Connacht Railway Cup teams who won the competition. Representing his province was a significant accomplishment given the quality of players available for selection in Connacht at the time (three members of the 1950s team were subsequently named on the GAA Team of the Millennium) and the fact that Galway and Mayo were leading inter-county teams. The fact that O’Dowd was able to command a regular place on the Connacht team was testament to his remarkable skills as a player. His first major success was at minor level where he captained a Sligo team to a Connacht Championship in 1949. A Connacht Championship at minor level would be considered an outstanding achievement for a Sligo team in any era, that it was achieved on the eve of a decade which saw Mayo and Galway rise to the fore in Senior football made it all the more remarkable. He made his senior Inter-county debut for Sligo while still a teenager, underlining his prodigious talent and powerful physique. For the next eleven years he was a regular and consistent player for the black and white county. When the famous Galway team of the 1950s, led by "The Terrible Twins" Seán Purcell and Frank Stockwell, played Sligo, it was O’Dowd who was often given the unenviable task of marking Purcell, widely considered the best forward of his era, and by many the best of any era. Yet despite their on-field tussles, the friendship and respect between Purcell and O’Dowd remained off the field for many years to come, with Purcell often citing O’Dowd as one of the players he admired most in GAA. O’Dowd played for Sligo in the Connacht Final of 1954 and helped them in a memorable second half rally that almost saw them draw level with the Galway team at full-time. A controversial disallowed goal towards the end of the match cost the Sligo men the draw and replay they deserved. He lined out nine times for Connacht in the Railway Cup, helping the province to two victories. The Railway Cup offered an opportunity to the most talented players from lesser counties to demonstrate their talents and win silverware at a national level, and was considered equal in prestige to the League and All-Ireland series of the time. For many players from both stronger and weaker counties, winning a Railway Cup medal represented the pinnacle of achievement, and the competition was given far more attention than it is today. O’Dowd was a key player on the Connacht Railway Cup winning teams of 1957 and 1958. Following his emigration to America the following year, Connacht would wait another nine years before recapturing the Title. It might be considered unlucky that O’Dowd played on a Sligo team at a time when Mayo and Galway were enjoying such a period of success, Mayo winning back-to-back All-Irelands in 1950 and 1951, while Galway also winning in 1956. The Mayo and Galway teams of the era featured players of exceptional talent such as Seán Purcell, Frank Stockwell, Mattie McDonagh, Jack Mahon, Tom Langan and Sean Flanagan. It is incredible to think that three of the players O'Dowd played alongside on those Railway Cup teams, Purcell, Langan and Flanagan were named on the GAA Team of the Millennium, while McDonagh, Stockwell and Mahon remain legends in their own right. It is no surprise then that Connacht enjoyed a golden era in terms of Railway Cup success, with O’Dowd playing a prominent role in these victories. As a reward for his exceptional performances at both Inter-county and Inter-provincial level, he was selected two years in a row for the All-Ireland team to play against the Combined Universities in a number of exhibition games at Croke Park. It was an accolade which further emphasised his reputation within the game and in an era before All Star Awards, there could be no greater endorsement of a player’s ability than selection for the All-Ireland team. While Inter-county success for Sligo largely by-passed O’Dowd, at club level he enjoyed considerable achievements, which included four Sligo Club Championships and one Mayo title. Perhaps his crowning glory however was captaining his native Mullinabreena to a Sligo Senior Title in 1958, a title which still remains their only one at Senior level. He worked in several different counties as part of his job, and played for a local club Castlebar Mitchels in Mayo. Many officials and players tried to persuade him to line out for their team including for county teams. Had he played for a stronger county, it is probable he would have enjoyed far greater Inter-county success. But he remained loyal to his native Sligo throughout his career. O’Dowd emigrated to America towards the end of the 1950s, cutting short his footballing career in Ireland, but he was a popular and much sought after player in New York where he played many times in Gaelic Park. To commemorate the contribution of their most famous son, Mullinabreena named their local GAA pitch in his honour. (en)
dbo:activeYearsEndYear
  • 1953-01-01 (xsd:date)
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  • 1949-01-01 (xsd:date)
dbo:birthDate
  • 1931-1-1
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dbo:deathDate
  • 1987-1-1
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  • 721516310 (xsd:integer)
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  • 1931 (xsd:integer)
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  • 4 (xsd:integer)
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  • Midfield
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  • Football
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  • Sligo
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  • 1987 (xsd:integer)
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  • Midfield
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  • 1949 (xsd:integer)
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  • Connacht
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  • Irish footballer (en)
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rdfs:comment
  • Nace O'Dowd (1931–1987) was a legendary Gaelic footballer who played for the Sligo team in the 1950s and was a member of a number of successful Railway Cup teams. He is regarded by many GAA experts, historians and former players as one of the outstanding players of his generation and one of the greatest in Sligo's GAA history. He made his senior Inter-county debut for Sligo while still a teenager, underlining his prodigious talent and powerful physique. For the next eleven years he was a regular and consistent player for the black and white county. (en)
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  • Nace O'Dowd (en)
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  • male (en)
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  • Nace (en)
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  • Nace O'Dowd (en)
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  • O'Dowd (en)
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