History of the Ballydonoghue GAA Club

Ballydonoghue GAA Club takes in the entireparish of Ballydonoghue. But this wasn't always the case. In the early decades of the 20th century, various townlands had their own teams taking part in County competitions and North Kerry competitions (after the formation of the North Kerry Board in 1926).

Ballyconry, Dromlough, Lisselton, Ballydonoghue, Gunsborough, Glouria, Guhard and Tullamore all had teams, not always at the same time, up to the 1930's.
After that there was only one club, taking in the whole parish, and in the 1940's it became a major in North Kerry Football. The club won its first North Kerry Championship in 1945 and two more before the end of the decade (1946 and 1949). Apart from threeof its players being regulars on the county team (Gus Cremin, Eddie Dowling and Mick Finucane), the club also provided the backbone of the successful Shannon Rangers side of the 1940's.

In the 1950's the men of Ballydonoghue continued in their role as kingpins of North Kerry Football winning the championship in 1952. This was also the golden age of Clounmacon and Duagh, and so Ballydonoghue were beaten at various stages of the championship from 1953 to 1958.

In 1959 they recaptured the crown.
Through the sixties and seventies the GAA continued to play an important part in the life of the parish, though success and silverware eluded the club. However the tradition of Ballydonoghue players representing their County continued (Jer D. O Connor, who captained the team in the 1965 All Ireland final and Johnny Bunyan).
The eighties were no more successful, though by then under age teams were frequent winners of North Kerry and County competitions, at different levels.
In the late seventies and eighties came the purchaseand initial development of our new home in Coolard. This was a remarkable achievement in recessionary times.
Collecting the money physically laying out the pitch, and building the stand and dressing rooms, were all done by a relatively small group of volunteers.Local Volunteering is central to the ethos of the GAA. The original work in Coolard, in particular, typifies this spirit of volunteerism. Undertaking this voluntary work is a million miles away from the corporate boxes in Croke Park.

The nineties sat the emergence of a very talented, up and coming senior team and in 1992 came the long awaited breakthrough. The North Kerry championship title was lifted for the first time since 1959. Great things were expected in the following years but unfortunately the 1992 success could not be repeated at senior level through the rest of the decade. The U21's did have an historic championship win in 1993 and the Juniors had some successes through the nineties.

The club again had a representative on the county seniors (Liam Flaherty).
The late 1990's saw the transformation of Coolard with major developement of the terrace, the dugouts and the playing surface, making it playable in all weathers and putting it up there with the very best pitches in the county.
The noughties have been no more successful for the seniors and we still await the return to former glory.

We've had tremendous success, through the '90's and '00's at U12's, U14's, 16's and Minor level, none more than the U12's of 2009 who won the County Division 1 title as well as the North Kerry U12 League and Championhsip and the Tommy Madden Memorial Championship.

Foundation of the GAA in Ireland

When Michael Cusack moved to Dublin, in 1877, to open his academy preparing Irish students for the Civil Service examinations, sport throughout Ireland was the preserve of the middle and ascended classes.

Within Cusack's academy sport was central with students who were encouraged to participate in rugby, cricket, rowing and weight-throwing.

In the early 1880's Cusack turned his attentions to indigenous Irish sports. In 1882 he attended the first meeting of the Dublin Hurling Club, formed ‘for the purpose of taking steps to re-establish the national game of hurling'.

The weekly games of hurling, in the Phoenix Park, became so popular that, in 1883, Cusack had sufficient numbers to found ‘Cusack's Academy Hurling Club' which, in turn, led to the establishment of the Metropolitan Hurling Club.

On Easter Monday 1884 the Metropolitans played Killiomor, in Galway. The game had to be stopped on numerous occasions as the two teams were playing to different rules.

It was this clash of styles that convinced Cusack that not only did the rules of the games need to be standardised but that a body must be established to govern Irish sports.

Cusack was also a journalist and he used the nationalist press of the day to further his cause for the creation of a body to organise and govern athletics in Ireland.

On October 11 1884 an article, written by Cusack, called ‘A word about Irish Athletics' appeared in the United Ireland and The Irishman. These articles were supported a week later by a letter from Maurice Davin, one of three Tipperary brothers, who had dominated athletics for over a decade and who gave his full support to the October 11 articles.

A week later Cusack submitted a signed letter to both papers announcing that a meeting would take place in Hayes's Commercial Hotel, Thurles on November 1 1884.

On this historic date Cusack convened the first meeting of the ‘Gaelic Athletic Association for the Preservation and Cultivation of national Pastimes'. Maurice Davin was elected President, Cusack, Wyse-Power and McKay were elected Secretaries and it was agreed that Archbishop Croke, Charles Stewart Parnell and Michael Davitt would be asked to become Patrons.
From that initial, subdued first meeting grew the Association we know today.