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Eugene 'Nudie' Hughes: Monaghan Star Never Played In All Ireland Senior
Final But Renowned All Over Ireland
In gaelic football language around Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan, the name Nudie Hughes is synonymous with all who converse on Ireland's national sport. Eugene was bestowed with the ever popular nickname of ‘Nudie' and for many decades he is simply known as Monaghan's ‘Nudie' Hughes. The ultimate holy grail of an All Ireland Celtic Cross eluded Nudie, and similar to a select group of legendary footballers from other counties, his legendary status was attained against the odds.
Born into a large Irish family, consisting of seven boys and seven girls in Castleblayney, the Hughes family needed the financial support of the elder off-spring to keep the household in motion. Nudie took up work at fifteen, after attending the local Boy's National School. His football education progressed from street leagues and playing in the local ‘Commons', to the ultimate honour of wearing the Monaghan county jersey with great distinction.
Nudie's club was Castleblayney Faughs, and at eighteen in 1975, he made his senior club football championship debut. The elevation to senior county championship status came in 1976, when he played at right half back against Tyrone in Dungannon. His direct marker was Brendan Donnelly, and Nudie was at the wrong end of the scoreboard on that historic and momentous day for the entire Hughes family.
His early career featured mopping up in the backs division. 1979 was destined to become a landmark year, as the legendary Seán McCabe had taken the Monaghan reins in 1978. Monaghan and Nudie celebrated the end of an Ulster title football famine, that lasted a nasty forty years until 1979, and Nudie played at right full back on that glorious day .The ghost of inter county failure was now obliterated, but the real challenges were gathering great speed around the county for further progress.
For a player with an unbroken senior club career from 1975 to 1993, Nudie won seven county senior football championships and two Ulster senior club football titles. His lengthy career demanded total dedication. To fine tune his natural skills, the Faughs clubman followed closely the skills exhibited by Seán O'Neill of Down fame, and the all time great hurler from Cork, Christy Ring.
Nudie read intimate details of how each legend perfected their shooting skills to reach unparalleled levels of skill on the ball. A motto was adopted of converting the vast majority of close in scoring chances in training, and then in games. The more obscure shots would also find the target for Nudie, as the confidence levels matured.
He matured to become a rare footballer with the distinction of winning All Star Awards at corner back and as a corner forward. Thousands of gaelic football fans will fondly remember Nudie's audacious capacity to sprint at full speed, and spring the ball upwards to his hands in full flight, which was a joy to behold. This skill was totally reserved for the most gifted of footballers, with the utmost confidence in their natural talents.
At provincial level Nudie won a glorious three Ulster title medals in 1979; 1985 and 1988. He was crowned ‘Man of the Match' in the 1988 final as Monaghan scored a fabulous 1 - 13 from play. The Faughs player scored 1 - 3. A historic National Football League was also won in 1985.
The Railway Cup also was a major incentive in Ulster and Nudie captained the 1986 team. He won Railway Cup medals playing at right corner back; right half back and right full forward. Eugene ‘Nude; Hughes spread his fame in the decades of the 70's and 80's, yet his football memories will linger for many more decades throughout the world of gaelic games.
As a Club & County footballer, we are pleased to incorporate Nudie Hughes into our All Ireland Hall Of Fame Online Gallery Collection.
Derry JF Doody