HistoryTHE EARLY YEARS OF CAHERLISTRANE G.A.A.


Text is taken from 'Caherlistrane G.A.A. and 150 Years of Parish Life' by Michael J.Hughes.

THE G.A.A. was founded in 1884, and Caherlistrane joined four years later. Since then Gaelic Football has been the top sport in the parish. Before joining, local footballers had been taking part in inter—parish competitions, and by 1888 Caherlistrane already had a strong team.

The earliest recorded account of our parish taking part in a football match comes from 1887, when the local team went to a tournament in Corrandulla. Each team that day marched onto the pitch behind a banner carried by its captain, and Caherlistrane walked out behind their captain John McHugh, who carried a banner reading “God save Ireland”. There were four parish teams taking part that day, and Caherlistrane were drawn against the home team, Annaghdown. The report on the game says that after one hour there was no score and “the ball was taken up”.

Before going on to Caherlistrane’s next outing on the field, let us see what happened at their first recorded club meeting.

“A large meeting of the football club took place on Sunday 18th March(1888) to choose club officers. The following were elected: President: William Burke (Hon. Sec. Irish National League); Vice-President: DJ Corcoran (Hon. Tr. I.N.L.); Hon. Treasurer: James Hession; Hon. Secretary: John McHugh; Committee: I . Kyne, J. Burke, M. Hessian, J. Mulroe, M. Corcoran, P. Glynn, T. McHugh, M. Burke, M. Walsh, Martin Burke, E. Comer and T. Kyne. Afterwards a practice match was started and lasted about one hour”.

It became usual in those early days to end football committee meetings with a practice match, the meetings being held in daytime – probably after last Mass on a Sunday.

Now back to the football field: this time in Tuam at the end of May 1888. It seems that Tuam had come to Caherlistrane some time before this, and Caherlistrane were now giving them a return match. The game lasted two hours and was a hard contest “in which every member of each team worked as if victory depended on him alone”. The result was a draw. There were hundreds of Tuam people at the game, and they must have been impressed, for we are told that as the Caherlistrane team were leaving town that evening they were loudly cheered.

The members seemed to have been pleased with the club’s performance in 1888. At a meeting in October of that year we find that all officials were re-elected “as their services and attention to their duty in the past was approved by all”. The members present said that they hoped to end that season as they had in past ones, undefeated and friendly with all the surrounding clubs. In January(yes, January( 1889 we find find Caherlistrane and Tuam playing each other again – this time in Caherlistrane. The Tuam Herald reporter hired a “teetotal jarvey” to take him by horse and car to the match. First, though , there was a call to Mortimer Queally’s pub.

Entering Mr. Qually’s, we had a couple of nips from Mortimer’s best, just to take the harm out of the weather, and then strolled down to the field. Early in the game the ball passed to Mulroe, who made a determined charge with it for the Tuam goal. However, Mooney (the Tuam goalie) was too fast for him and Just saved. Matters now became very exciting, the spectators being wholly unable to restrain their great enthusiasm, and cheer upon cheer of encouragement rang out again and again. If the home side lacked the speed of the Tuamites, they more than counterbalanced this disadvantage in strength, and the manner in which one of those hardy fellows swooped down on a poor Tuamite, lifted him in the air and left him to pull himself together on the grass, was a sight worth going a long way to see. It must, however, be said that no unfair jostling was resorted to. Best for Caherlistrane were McHugh (Capt.), Hession, Mulroe, Burke and Kyne.

After the match the reporter went back to Queally’ where “our teetotal jarvey for boozed”. Not to worry; the visitors for a rousing send-off as they left for Tuam. In the reporter’s words: “We left for home amid the admiring plaudits of the country folk.”

At the end of that year a meeting was called about changing the name of the club. We have the secretary’s report:

“On last Sunday (29 Dec. 1889) a crowded meeting of Caherlistrane G.A.A was held, the president, Mr. Patrick Glynn presiding. The minutes of the last meeting being read and signed, the vice-president, Mr. J. Kyne, rose and addressed the meeting in an able manner, and wanted them to change the name of the club, and to call it ‘St. Patrick’s’ instead of ‘O’Byrnes,’ having for his argument that the great saint build a church in the parish; that it is since called the parish of Donaghpatrick, which is its proper name and not Caherlistrane. The vice-captain, Mr. J. Mulroe, and others opposed him, and some vicious remarks passed between them. The chairman ordered a division, and the result was: 36 for ‘St. Patrick’s’ and 28 for the old name. After a practice match, which lasted one hour, all dispersed, wishing each other and all Gaels a Happy New Year.”

When the early rounds of the 1890 Co. Galway Football Championship has been played, four teams remained. Those teams were paired as follows in the county semi-finals: Caherlistrane v Dunmore and Ballinasloe v Mountbellew. Caherlistrane and Dunmore met near Tuam and after a hard game, Caherlistrane won by one point to nil. Mountbellew came through in the other game and all was set for the final. Following is the official notice of the match given by the county secretary of the time:

“The County Football Final is fixed for Tuam on April 13th. The competing teams should at least wear the jersey-and-cap athletic costumes. The teams of the adjoining clubs ought to attend and play some matches to increase the day’s sport. But the games shall be commenced before two ‘ o’clock pm. The ‘Tuam Stars’ club will provide the ground and mark it out”.

Caherlistrane went on to win and here is the official report:

The County Football Championship The final ties in the above event were played off at Tuam on last Sunday, between the teams of the Mountbellew and Caherlistrane clubs. The Caherlistrane team are returned as the winners by one goal to nil. They are, therefore, the champion football team of Galway for the present season, and are now qualified to compete in the inter—county ‘ championship matches”.

The following Sunday Caherlistrane had a big celebration meeting at which every Gael in the parish attending and all outstanding subscriptions were freely handed in, and those who could claim the privilege of being members seemed pleased that they were such”. The club president, Patrick Glynn then congratulated the team for pushing themselves so far to become County Champions. Before the meeting ended, there were calls for the captain, John McHugh, to say a few words. The captain rose amidst cheers and spoke:

“Brothers, I cannot express how happy I feel to have the opportunity of congratulating you on the greatest victory you have won since we first started a branch of the G.A.A in the parish. You know I was always proud to be your captain, but I feel prouder now than ever to see that you have won for me the title of captain of the County Football Champions.”

There was a further meeting in  November at which the captain announced that he had received the silver medals for Winning the county championship. The meeting was also told that the county secretary had written to say that the Central Council of the G.A.A. had awarded to Caherlistrane the championship of Connacht. The Central Council also told them to be in Dublin on the following Sunday to contest the All-Ireland Championshop with the Leinster champions. Caherlistrane, however, were unable to travel at such short notice.

Following in the Caherlistrane team of 1890 – Galway and Connacht Champions: James Hessian, Richard Staunton, Michael Walsh, John Higgins, John Murphy, T . Walsh, Ned Comer, Tom Coyne, J . Roche, P. Hughes, T. Moran, Martin Greaney, M. Curran, John McHugh (Capt), John Mulroe (Vice-capt.), P. Farrington, P. McHugh, Martin Burke, John Burke, James Burke and Michael Burke. Reserves: John Kyne, P. Monaghan and J. Mulryan.  (There were twenty—one on a team then.) Caherlistrane’s status as champions was acknowledged the following year, when five Caherlistrane men were chosen to play for Galway in a game against Kerry.

 
 

HistoryTHE 1890’s


Caherlistrane were strong contenders for the county championship in 1901. They gave notice of what opponents might expect, in a game against Corofin on May 4 of that year:

“The Caherlistrane men proved themselves superior in everything, kicking strongly and safely, defending surely and coolly, and acting on the offensive with great science and dash. Peter Burke,‘ the Caherlistrane full back is a wonderful player, his saving being the finest I ever saw. Monaghan and Moloney were very conspicuous in their play all through, and captain Mulroe was always the right man In the right place”.

They finished that game with a score of three goals and one point to Corofin‘s one point.

Caherlistrane had the advantage of home ground 1n their match against Tuam Krugers in the county semi-final that summer. The Tuam Herald reporter was highly impressed as the following account shows:

“What was without any manner of doubt the greatest football match played in the West of Ireland for years, was witnessed by an enormous crowd of spectators on Sunday last, 30th June, when Tuam Krugers met Caherlistrane St.Patrick’s on their own ground in the semi-final for the Galway county championship. The home men looked a firm lot, well set up hardy fellows, and much heavier than the Tuam men. All in all, the two teams were as fine a lot of Gaels as would be found on any football field. On play commencing, Monaghan got away for Caherlistrane, and followed closely by Casey and Glynn, invaded the Transvaal. Just in the nick of time Bruen caught the invaders, and passing well to Gallagher, opened the way for Tuam, who soon made the home team feel what invasion was. Dashing up to stop the attack came Mulroe and Pat Burke, as the Krugers pressed home. But Peter Burke saved magnificently, and down the field raced Moloney and Higgins in a fine attempt to get into Krugerland. There was some fine play now from Curry and Dooley, and with Thomas Burke ably assisting, the ‘Saints’ got through the Kruger line. For ten minutes round the Tuam goal line the battle raged, and right splendidly did the wonderful line of Kruger backs answer to the call”.

Although Caherlistrane lost by two points that day, their great display was recalled for many years afterwards. Tuam Krugers went on to become county champions in 1901, and the following year they represented Galway, but lost, in the All-Ireland Final. The Krugers picked one of the Caherlistrane team, Michael Moloney of Lisdonagh, to play with them in that final.

In 1903 Caherlistrane seemed to have difficulty in fielding a team, and the following year they decided to amalgamate with Belclare. The combined team was to be known as Caherlistrane St. Patrick’s in 1904, as Belclare Harpers in 1905, and so on. However, the new team was soon in some difficulty, as the following report shows:

“A meeting of the County Galway Board was held in Tuam on May 15th 1904 to hear a Caherlistrane objection to Athenry being awarded the football match played on May lst. The referee in his report said that the score was one point to nil in favour of Athenry when Caherlistrane left the field with eight minutes still to go.

Mr. E. Canavan, for Caherlistrane, said the referee was one—sided, that the disputed score should not be allowed because the Athenry man picked the ball from the ground and ran more than the legal distance. He went on to say that when Athenry got a ‘fifty’ the referee gave them the right distance, but when Caherlistrane got one he put them back to the seventy mark. Another time an Athenry man said to him: ‘Now that free 15 is for ye, but we’re getting it’.

Mr. Burke (Galway Gaels): Were you playing Mr. Canavan?
Mr. Canavan: No, but I was looking on, and the whole field saw it as well as I did.”

The objection was overruled but Mr Canavan went on speaking to shouts of “Order”, “Sit down”, Obey the Chair”, “Suspend him”. Etc. Finally a motion to suspend Mr. Canavan was passed by a vote of 12 to 9 against. Among the clubs to vote for suspension were Tuam Stars, Tuam St. Jarlath’s, Athenry, Galway Sarsfields, Dunmore, Turloughmore and Castlegar. The clubs voting against suspension included Corofin, Ahascragh, Rahoon and, old pals, the Tuam Krugers. Mr. Canavan was then suspended for nine months.

The golden years (1888—1902) of Caherlistrane football were now over. It was said of the team in those years that in over forty appearances they never lost a match-their worst result being a draw. A bit of exaggeration, maybe, but it gives us an idea of how highly they were regarded.

The following years were fairly quiet for parish football. Then 1913 brought a Junior county title, and we hear about Caherlistrane again in 1916 when their junior team “with their speed and training” overcame Abbey with a score of 1—2 to 0—2. The same year Caherlistrane drew with Dunmore.

The War of Independence was now drawing near, and soon the playing of football matches would be hazardous. The next chapter of Caherlistrane football begins after the Civil War (1922—23).

HistoryInto the 20th Century


Caherlistrane were strong contenders for the county championship in 1901. They gave notice of what opponents might expect, in a game against Corofin on May 4 of that year:

“The Caherlistrane men proved themselves superior in everything, kicking strongly and safely, defending surely and coolly, and acting on the offensive with great science and dash. Peter Burke, the Caherlistrane full back is a wonderful player, his saving being the finest I ever saw. Monaghan and Moloney were very conspicuous in their play all through, and captain Mulroe was always the right man in the right place . “

They finished that game with a score of three goals and one point, to Corofin‘s one point. 
Caherlistrane had the advantage of home ground 1n their match against
Tuam Krugers in the county semi-final that summer. The Tuam Herald reporter was highly impressed as the following accounts shows:
“What was without any manner of doubt the greatest football match played in the West of Ireland for years, was witnessed by an enormous crowd of spectators on Sunday last, 30th June, when Tuam Krugers met Caherlistrane St. Patrick’s on their own ground in the semi-final for the Galway county championship. The home men looked a firm lot, well set
up hardy fellows, and much heavier than the Tuam men. All in all, the two teams were as fine a lot of Gaels as would be found on any football field.

On play commencing, Monaghan got away for Caherlistrane, and followed closely by Casey and Glynn, invaded the Transvaal. Just in the nick of time Bruen caught the invaders, and passing well to Gallagher, Opened the way for Tuam, who soon made the home team feel what invasion was. Dashing up to stop the attack came Mulroe and Pat Burke, as the Krugers pressed home. But Peter Burke saved magnificently, and down the field raced Moloney and Higgins in a fine attempt to get into
Krugerland. There was some fine play now from Curry and Dooley, and
with Thomas Burke ably assisting, the ‘Saints’ got through the Kruger line. For ten minutes round the Tuam goal line the battle raged, and right splendidly did the wonderful line of Kruger backs answer to the call”.

Although Caherlistrane lost by two points that day, their great display was recalled for many years afterwards. Tuam Krugers went on to become county champions in 1901, and the following year they represented Galway, but lost, in the All-Ireland Final. The Krugers picked one of the Caherlistrane team, Michael Moloney of Lisdonagh, to play with them in that final.

In 1903 Caherlistrane seemed to have difficulty in fielding a team, and the following year they decided to amalgamate with Belclare. The combined team was to be known as Caherlistrane St. Patrick’s in 1904, as Belclare Harpers in 1905, and so on. However, the new team was soon in some difficulty, as the following report shows:

“A meeting of the County Galway Board was held in Tuam on May 15th 1904 to hear a Caherlistrane objection to Athenry being awarded the football match played on May 1st. The referee in his report said that the score was one point to nil in favour of Athenry when Caherlistrane left the field with eight minutes still to go.

Mr. E. Canavan, for Caherlistrane, said the referee was one-sided, that the disputed score should not be allowed because the Athenry man picked the ball from the ground and ran more than the legal distance. He went on to say that when Athenry got a ‘fifty’ the referee gave them the right distance, but when Caherlistrane got one he put them back to the seventy mark. Another time an Athenry man said to him: ‘Now that free is for ye, but we’re getting it’.

Mr. Burke (Galway Gaels): Were you playing Mr. Canavan?

Mr. Canavan: No, but I was looking on, and the whole field saw it as well as I did.

The objection was overruled, but Mr. Canavan went on speaking to shouts of “Order”, “Sit down”,  “Obey the Chair”, “Suspend him”, etc. Finally a motion to suspend Mr. Canavan was passed by a vote of 12 for to 9 against. Among the clubs to vote for suspension were Tuam Stars, Tuam St. Jarlath’s, Athenry, Galway Sarsfields, Dunmore, Turloghmore and Castlegar. The clubs voting against suspension included Corofin, Ahascragh, Rahoon and, old pals, the Tuam Krugers. Mr. Canava was then suspended for nine months.

The golden years (1888-1902) of Caherlistrane football were now over. It was said of the team In those years that in over forty appearances they never lost a match- their worst result being a draw. A bit of an exaggeration, maybe, but it gives us an idea of how highly they were regarded.

The following years were fairly quiet for parish football. Then 1913 brought a Junior county title, and we hear about Caherlistrane again in 1916 when their Junior team “with their speed and training” overcame Abbey with a score of 1-2 to 0-2.  The same year Caherlistrane drew with Dunmore.

The War of Independence was now drawing near, and soon the playing of football matches would be hazardous. The next chapter of Caherlistrane football begins after the Civil War (1922—23).

HistoryThe Middle years


The Twenties

A number of Caherlistrane footballers were among those from the parish interned at the Curragh after the Civil War. While there they had plenty of time for playing football, and when they were released in 1924, there was a surge of activity from some very fit and enthusiastic young men. Two teams were affiliated then, a senior and a junior one. Shortly after the Curragh release, the seniors went to Tuam for a match in the Fair Green against Tuam Stars.

Caherlistrane won that match in Tuam, but the day is remembered for two other incidents as well. Before the match started, the Caherlistrane captain was told that there was two Free State soldiers on the Tuam team. As republican feeling was strong in the parish at this time, he let it be known that there would be no match until the soldiers were taken off. Surprisingly, Tuam agreed. The other incident concerned a burst ball. Perhaps the ball was the worse for wear, but anyhow, when one of ‘the Caherlistrane players (John Greaney of New Village) drew on the ball, it burst, and the legend grew that it was John’s mighty kick that burst the ball in Tuam.

The senior team did not last more than a year or two, but the juniors, including many former seniors, went on to win the County Junior Final. This was for the 1924 title, but the game was not played until 1927. Following is the
victorious team: Tom Langan (Caherlistrane), Thomas Cradock (Ballycasey), Dick Burke (Bredagh/later Belclare), Stephen O’Brien (Ballinapark/Knockroone), Michael Joe McHugh, captain (Raheen/Tuam), Joe Hughes (Raheen), Jim Mulroe (Curlawn/Shrule), Mattie Glynn (Feeragh/Pollnahallia), Patie Reilly (Killamonagh/Bohercoill), Mick Lee (Mossfort), John Greaney (Lisdonagh), John Kyne (Killamonagh), Tim McHugh (Raheen), Patie Noone (Killamonagh/Kilbannon), Batty Canavan (Mossfort/ USA) and Tommy Greaney (Curlawn).

Following that victory, the team went to senior grade again, but for one year only. They had the benefit of home ground in the first round, played in Mangan’s field (now Langan’s), opposite the Community Centre. There was great local support that day but, alas, no joy, for the opposition (an Army/ Galway Gaels combination) was too strong for a parish team.

For most of the twenties Caherlistrane were in the North Board, and sometimes club delegates had to travel to Mountbellew for meetings. Two of them cycled there once for a daytime meeting, only to find that there was a Feis being held in the town that day. The G.A.A meeting was postponed till evening, giving the Caherlistrane men a late return home on their bikes.

G.A.A. activities in the nineteen twenties were not confined to playing football. Just as their counterparts in the seventies founded the present Community Centre, the men of the twenties built the first parish hall(known locally as “The Hall”). They bought the site from a local man for twenty pounds,  and voluntary labour did most of the rest. Funds were almost nonexistent, but costs were low for the one-storied building. Cement was cheap then, and the roof and floor were second-hand, coming from an ex British Army barracks in Renmore.

Dances and concerts were soon being held there, and it attracted, not just locals, but people from all the surrounding parishes as well. The hall was also used as a community centre (long before that term came into use). There was a small library there, where one could read or take books away; there was card playing, often by candle light, and for the hardy ones, boxing sessions. But the hall didn’t last very long; it went well for a year or two, and then went into decline for a number of reasons. Michael Joe McHugh, the main organizer, went to live in Tuam; there was some disagreement among the Hall Committee, and the local priest was not in favour of the venture. The parish wasn’t yet ready for a community centre, but its time was to come too.

The Thirties


The thirties were Caherlistrane’s West Board years. Then we played teams like Clifden, Carna and Spiddal, and during matches shouts of “Buail é,” “Maith a’ fear,” etc., often rang out.

Those were the days of the journeys to Oughterard, where most of the West Board fixtures were held. Travel was by lorry, with maybe thirty men—players and supporters – standing in the back. Those lorries left for matches from outside Gannon’s (the Post Office), and supporters would be waiting there from different parts of the parish. The problem was that only about a dozen could be brought with the team. So there was often disappointment, especially for the young hopefuls who heard “No room for grobbers today”.

Getting on a lorry didn’t mean a trouble free trip. Going to the match (or getting home) could be an event in itself. Once going through Galway, and taking the turn too quickly onto Newcastle Road, one side of the lorry was raised off the ground, and the team and supporters narrowly missed being thrown onto the road. On another occasion, this time coming home, they were stopped by guards, and the driver ended up with six summonses.

The thirties were recession years, money was scarce, and there were no G.A.A. funds to supply refreshments after away matches. But then a little pocket money went a long way, and a pint and a large bun could be bought for a shilling. Those who didn’t drink, or who had no money, waited outside or in the back of the lorry, and shared a large loaf of bread. Lack of money didn’t bother one Caherlistrane supporter when their lorry broke down in Galway as they were on the way home. He went over to O‘Flaherty’s garage and hired a bus. This was quickly cancelled, and a cattle lorry hired instead (for a pound) to take the footballers home. At the end of the journey the lorry man collected his pound in shillings and sixpences.

A feature of the game in the thirties, and onto the forties and fifties, was the amount of informal football played. Young men in their ordinary clothes, and with their jackets as “goalposts”, played on many a Sunday and on summer evenings in fields throughout the parish. All you had to do was jump over the the wall and join in. In Bawnmore (beside the Community Centre) play could be disrupted, for the owner sometimes came to clear the “pitch”. But the stoppage was only temporary. The players just sat on the long wall that was then outside Gannon‘s big shed (now gone), and waited till the owner was out of sight before resuming play.

The local team were to meet Carna in a West Board Final, and some time before the game a Caherlistrane “spy” had gone to see the opposition play, an concluded that it would be difficult to beat Carna. So outside players were brought in to help boost the team’s chances. But it was all in vain: the Caherlistrane goalie that day (a great player in his time) had previously retired and had come back to play this game; but his lack of practice showed: and he  let out two rather soft goals. So the team lost, .and then the recriminations started on the way home in the lorry. “Why were illegal players on the team?” “Why didn’t we play our own men?”, and so on. Eventually blows were struck.  Not one of Caherlistrane’s happier days.

The parish players were united again by the midrthirties, and in May 1936 Caherlistrane had their third win over the Galway City team, Eoghan Ruadhs. The game, played in Annaghdown, was “well contested”, with only one point between the teams at half time. In the second half “Caherlistrane s forwards combined well” and scored two goals in quick succession, while the backs held steadfast when Eoghan Ruadhs were “bombarding the Caherlistrane goal” in the closing minutes. The final score was 5-2 to 3—2.

The late thirties brought more victories, with Caherlistrane winning the 1938 West Board League title.

The Forties


Following the suspension in 1940, mentioned in the last section, a mostly new team was formed that was to carry the Caherlistrane colours with distinction for the rest of the forties. A measure of the support that the parish G.A.A. followers were willing to give this new team can be gauged from the huge crowd that turned up at the old Fair Green in 1941 for their first match with Headford. At a time when 15. was the admission price, a total of £34 was taken at the gate. Nor were the Caherlistrane supporters disappointed, for the home side went on to a good win, and they beat Headford again in the championship that same year.

In 1942 Caherlistrane changed from the West to the North Board, for the long journeys to Oughterard for matches, and to Galway for meetings, were too difficult in those wartime years of petrol shortage. However, before leaving they took the 1942 West Board League title with them. Encouraged by their early successes, the team went senior in 1943, and went on to beat Corofin at Abbeyknockmoy, all the players having cycled to the match.

We were back at junior level in 1944. In a win over Tuam that year, the team was descnbed as “a fine set of men; they played robust football which was far too strong for the lighter Tuam boys”. That robust football was to bring the team to the North Board League Final that year. Their opponents were Mountbellew, and the game, played in Abbey(knockmoy), ended in a draw.

The outcome was finally decided at Tuam in the spring of ’45, when Caherlistrane won by two points. There was another go at senior level in 1945, but a big defeat by Ballinasloe in Tuam dampened our spirits for a while.  So it was junior football again for 1946, but there was some consolation m a good win over Dunmore (who had no senior team that year). In that match, we find that “Fahy, Hoade, Glynn and Monaghan did great work in defence,  and with goals coming from Gannon, Flanagan and Keville, Caherlistrane finished ahead (3-5 to 1-7), At the time of that match, the team was described as “possibly the heaviest in the championship, and their height and weight have proved a decided advantage. They lack polish, but are a hard team to beat . The same teams met again in a league game early in 1947, and Dunmore were leading by two points when the ball burst. There were no reserve footballs in those days, and the referee had to go and have a repair job done. But then Caherlistrane refused to restart the game, and so Dunmore were awarded the match. Soon scuffles broke out, and players and spectators were struck. At the next Football Board meeting Caherlistrane got a six months’ suspension. However, this was lifted in time for the team to take part in the 1947 Championship F0ll0wing a win over Carrantryla in the Tuam area final, all was set for the big day of the North Board Final. Newbridge were the other finalists and the match was to be played in Kilkerrin. The Caherlistrane minors were playing at the same venue that Sunday, and the great enthusiasm that had built up was evident as two lorries packed with players and supporters set off from the paris with blue and white flags flying. And there was cause for celebration. Although the minors went down against Caltra (1-6 to l-l), there was to be no disappointment in the Junior Final. which Caherlistrane won with a score of 2-3 to nil. The celebrations after the match were so hectic that when the lorries set off for home, two supporters were left behind in Kilkerrin.

The next big event was the 1947 County Final, played at Menlough in early March 1948. The opponents were Kilgerrill, and Caherlistrane were lucky to come away with a draw (0—3 each) that day, for “they wasted golden opportunities time after time, and were lucky in the closing minutes to equalise with a point by Fahy from far out”. Others to play well included P. Hoade, M. Glynn, M. Monaghan and P. Gannon. The replay was fixed for Tuam on St. Patrick‘s Day, and arrangements were made to have the Caherlistrane (Feeragh) Pipe Band play at the Final But Kilgerrill did not turn up, and Caherlistrane were awarded the match to become 1947 Galway Junior Football Champions.

Whatever about Caherlistrane taking part in senior football earlier in the forties, now, in 1948, they were there on merit. They confirmed this in the early rounds of the senior championship, with a good win over Dunmore (3—5 to 2—5), and then going on to meet Father Griffin’s in the quarter-finals. That game was played at the Sports Ground in Galway on a day of heavy rain and wind. The scores were level when Paddy Hoade, standing just outside the square, went for an incoming ball. He connected and drove under the bar, but just then the rain was particularly heavy, and the umpire had run for shelter. So there was no one to verify the score, and in the circumstances of the day, the referee decided to call off the match amid protests from Caherlistrane.

In the replay in September of that year (1948) “Caherlistrane might have made it a closer game if they had played more direct football in the first half, when on several occasions they hand-passed so much that they almost lost track of the posts. They could have taken points galore, but were bent on goals, and one or two of their backs made the fatal mistake of playing the man rather than the ball, and this policy gave the city team a spate of frees, which they turned to good account”.

The disappointing result (3—8 to 1—5) did not reflect Caherlistrane’s standing in Galway football. Followers of the game who remember the forties can vouch for it that Caherlistrane were as good as the best of them that year. They could easily have beaten Father Griffin‘s, had the first game not been called off, and then gone on (as Griffin’s did) to take the county title. The team’s senior status was recognised when two of its members were chosen for the county team, Paddy Hoade playing in the National League against Kerry, and Mattie Monaghan with the Galway seniors in the Connacht Championship.

No account of the 1940s would be complete without mentioning Caherlistrane’s great achievements in the Shrule football tournaments. Those tournaments, in the years just after World War 2, attracted some of the best footballers from two counties. The great Tom Sullivan of Oughterard played there as did Sean Purcell and Frank Stockwell But great names held no fear for Caherlistrane in 1947, when they put in some memorable displays of football in beating, first Mayo Abbey, next Tuam Stars, and then Oughterard in the final.

Another feature that made Shrule special was the great support behind our team there, for the venue was so near the parish that supporters, from the schoolchild to the pensioner, found no difficulty in getting there. Then to add to the atmosphere, those were the days when the Caherlistrane Pipe Band was going strong, and after the 1947 win the band led the team in a victorious march down through Shrule. Nor was that the end, for Caherlistrane were back to win again in ’48. (The players at the Shrule seven-a-side tournament in 1947 were Paddy Flanagan (Goal), Mick Glynn, Paddy Fahy, Mattie Glynn, Paddy Hoade, Matie Monaghan and Tom Quinn.)

The end of the forties brought Caherlistrane and Annaghdown together in a combined team for the senior championship. They were known as St. Brendan’s, but the saint didn’t inspire them very much, if we are to judge from a report after their match with Father Griffin’s in October 1949: “The standard of football would not be seen in the worst junior game”. Still, they drew with Griffin’s that day, only to lose the replay.

The Fifties


Emigration and retirals had now brought that strong team of the forties to an end, and the early fifties bring us into a lean period in parish football. Indeed, it seems we were out of competitions for a couple of years. But even then there was something of interest happening, for it was in the early fifties that the Walsh lands of Bawnmore were being divided by the Land Commissron, and a few acres were set aside for a G.A.A. pitch. It would be another twenty years before that pitch would be developed, but from the start football was played
there, and on many a summer evening in ’52 and ’53. young men (many of whom would never make it to a parish team) played football there for the sheer fun of it—as they did in local fields throughout the parish.

We were back in championship football in 1954 with Martin Newell inspiring his teammates with some fine displays at midfield. The team reached the North Board Junior Final that year, having beaten Cortoon, Headford and Kilconly on the way. The other finalists were Newbridge, and we met them in Mountbellew on a wet Sunday in October. A rain soaked pitch ruled out stylish play, and although Caherlistrane led at half-time, Newbridge forged ahead in the second half to win by five points (1-6 to l-l).

We weren‘t confined to junior football in 1954, for juvenile competitions had now started, and Caherlistrane boys were enthusiastic. In their first game against Annaghdown we find Caherlistrane a bit slow at first, but “on the change over they made amends when their snipers went into action. Hanley burst through for a goal, Whelan boxed another, and a Heneghan ‘grasscutter’ carried them to a comfortable lead, with Lee’s point adding to Annaghdown’s tale of woe”. The backs too were sound that day for “though Whelan, Fahy and Hanley were Caherlistrane’s most conspicuous defenders, it must be admitted that the other trio – Higgins, Walsh and McHugh – kept their opposite numbers very quiet indeed. Francie Flaherty, too, was very sound in goal.”

In spite of the team’s best efforts, Annaghdown forced a draw that day with a last minute point, but Caherlistrane were back with “star back Costello” to beat them (0-3 to 0-1) in a replay, and went on to reach the final of their group in that year of ’54.

The years 1955-57 were again slack ones for junior football, and in an effort to build up a good team it was decided to start a parish league, with teams from Beaghmore. Killamonagh, Feeragh, etc. taking part. Things did improve in 1958, and in June of that year there was a good win over Dunmore in the North Board Championship. The ’58 team included Brendan Gannon, Jackie O’Brien, Michael McHugh, Sean Langan, John Joe Lee, Patrick Meenaghan, Vincent Roche and Francie Flaherty. Those players were on the combined Caherlistrane/Headford team the following year when they had victories over Tuam, Carrantryla and Glenamaddy.

A Caherlistrane man, forestry official Tom McHugh, was a regular on the Galway Senior football team from the early to the mid-fifties. In the 1954 All-Ireland semi-final in which Kerry beat Galway we find that “Tom McHugh was perhaps least affected by the general wave of nervousness”. The following year he was playing for Connacht in the Railway Cup and “gave a very sound performance, being the most accurate forward on the side.”. In 1956 he was unlucky to break a leg in the semi-final against Tyrone, and so missed the All-Ireland final against Cork. However, he got an All- Ireland medal for that year.

The Sixties


1961 FINDS us at senior level In league football. Our first league match, on the Sunday before Patrick’s Day, didn’t go so well, for we could only manage two points against Milltown/Kilconly (1-4 to 0-2). Later that March there was better news when Caherlistrane had a good win over Corofin (2-4 to 0-2) at Tuam Stadium where “in a solid defence Brendan Gannon, Paddy Meeneghan and Tommy O’Brien were always on top”. Our luck didn’t hold for the following month, for we were defeated by Milltown (1—8 to 1-3) in the final of the North Board Junior League (1960), played in April ’61. But the team started off well in the junior championship that summer with a runaway victory over Dunmore (2-11 to 0-3) when “the stronger and more experienced Caherlistrane side proved too good for the Dunmore lads”. This win brought us to the North Board semi-final and another match with Milltown. They won again (1-9 to 0-4).

Things were better in ’62. We beat Milltown for a start, and had victories also over Cortoon and Clonbeme. In the match against Clonbeme, the team “showed a big improvement on previous outings, and their forwards in particular gave a very good display”. But the big match of the year was yet to come. That was the North Board Final against Kilconly at Tuam Stadium. The report on the game mentions most of the Caherlistrane team:

“The Caherlistrane defence was the keystone of the team, and here they had a faultless half-back line in which Paddy Curran was the star, with P.J. Connell and Tom O’Brien also playing well. Brendan Gannon was on top form, and Patrick Meeneghan and Michael Monaghan also gave a good account of themselves. Frank Hoade and Padraic Lee struck up an effective partnership at midfield, while in attack Jimmy Corner, Kieran Hardiman, John Joe Lee and Patsy Comer made good use of their service”.

1963 wasn’t so good. On a rough day (and I don’t mean the weather) in Tuam, we lost to Corofin and finished the match with only thirteen men. But ’64 brought something to cheer about. In the opening round of the championship we won by 2-4 to 1-3, when “experience told against a young Cortoon side”. Things weren’t so easy in the next round, this time against Kilconly. The match was played in Tuam Stadium after the Galway v Mayo under-21 Connacht Final. Frank Canney was on the victorious Galway side, and then played against Kilconly. It was raining heavily during the game, and at the end Caherlistrane had just a point to spare.

The win over Kilconly brought us to the semi-final of the North Board Championship. Our opponents were Headford, and in the match “there was little between the sides at any stage, and it was not until late in the hour that Caherlistrane asserted superiority, scoring 1-2 in the last ten minutes”. The score at the end was Caherlistrane 2-6, Headford 0-7.

In October we met Killererin in the North Board Final, and it took two games to decide the issue, for Killererin got a last minute point in the first game, and so forced a draw. Caherlistrane took no chances 1n the replay, and were well on top in the first half, leading by 1-4 to nil at half-time. In the second half Killererin hit back and the big crowd at Tuam stadium saw some thrilling exchanges as hard knocks were given and taken in sporting spirit . Coming towards the end, the pressure was on Caherlistrane, but “their defence rose to the occasion in great style and thwarted the late challenge. Brendan Gannon played a captain’s part at full back, and defenders P.J. Connell, J . Collins, P. Cradock and P J . O’Neill were outstanding”. While the backs were the heroes of the hour, players in other positions were rising to the occasion as well, as “Michael Monaghan and Frank Hoade claimed most of the exchanges at midfield, and in attack F. Canney, the Lee brothers, Patrick Meeneghan and Sonny O’Brien missed few opportunities”. So a jubilant Caherlistrane team brought home the Fox Trophy, having won their game With four points to spare (2-6 to 1-5). We didn’t go on to take the county title, though, in 64. That honour, as in ’62, went to the West Board champ1ons.

The parish teams started off well in 1966. Our minors did particularly well in a match at Milltown. There they were playing Dunmore, who had been county champions for the previous two years. Surprisingly, they beat them easily (4-4 to Dunmore’s 1-1). The juniors, too, were doing well with wins over Cortoon and Menlough that qualified them to meet Headford in the North Board Final. The match, played in Tuam in September, gave Caherlistrane supporters little to cheer about:

“Headford, who set the pace all through, were never seriously threatened and had the issue well in hand at the halfway stage. Although the game never reached exciting heights, it was cleanly fought and there were some neat flashes of football. Caherlistrane never struck true form, and had to give way to the Headford men in most sectors. They tried hard to stem the tide in the second half, but their only reward was a penalty goal in the closing seconds”.

Later in the autumn of ’66 we find Caherlistrane and Headford in a combined team (St. Fursa’s) in the County Senior Football League. Early in November they were narrowly defeated by Tuam Stars (0-11 to 0-8), and with a disallowed goal, were unlucky not to have drawn.

Neighbourly rivalry was back for the next championship clash between Headford and Caherlistrane. This was in June ’68. and the venue, as in the ’66 Final, was Tuam Stadium. But there the similarity ends. This time it was all Caherlistrane as “Tom Cradock and Harry Lee dominated midfield”, and the forwards of which “Padraic Lee, E. Monaghan, P. Connelly and J. O’Dea were best,” ran up a total of fifteen points. In the backs “Paddy Cradock, Paddy Mulroe and Patsy Madden were the mainstay of a defence” that did its job so well that Headford scored only two points in the hour. After that great display another North Board (or county) title looked likely, but we weren‘t to achieve it for some more years.

Our last recorded match of the sixties (in Tuam in ’69) brought a good win over Mountbellew (2-9 to 3-1) in the junior championship. Caherlistrane were four points down at half-time, but “Paddy Mulroe moved to midfield for the winners on the resumption, and this was the switch that made all the difference. With strong support from Leo McHugh and Michael Flaherty, he laid on a steady service for the Caherlistrane forwards. Eamonn Monaghan, Redmond McHugh and Sean Langan were quick to avail of this service, scoring 1-7 in the second period without reply. Others to shine for the winners were Paddy Cradock, Padraic Lee and Kevin Connell”.

Before we leave the sixties, a few words on seven-a-side football at the time. Just as the forties produced our “Shrule Seven“, the early sixties brought another star seven-a-side team that dazzled spectators and opponents in tournaments at home and away. Here are the players: Brendan Gannon (goal), Paddy Curran, Patsy Comer, Jimmy Comer, Oliver Canney, Michael Mc Hugh and Jackie O’Brien.

The Seventies


With the nineteen seventies we move into a decade that through enthusiasm, dedication and hard work, was to bring Caherlistrane  to a forefront position in the G.A.A. The new spirit and determinaton was there at the Annual General Meeting in 1970, when it was decided to tackle the twenty year old problem of the undeveloped pitch. A special committee, known as the Field Committee, was set up to deal with this. Their scheme was to be a bold and ambitious one, calling for much input of time and effort, and we shall
return to appreciate what they did later. But involvement with building and pitch development was not to interfere with the playing of football. Quite the contrary, as the new enterprising spirit moved players to greater effort.

The under-21 team made most progress in the early 70s, when they reached the North Board Final, only to be beaten by Mountbellew, who were county champions at the time. Nor were the juniors far behind. They reached the North Board Final in ’72, and were unlucky to lose by just two points to Ballygar (1-8 to 0-9). The junior team came fighting back in ’73 With three great wins in the championship. There was a win oyer Glenamaddy (2-17 to 0-7) with “Caherlistrane’s hero of the hour, J.J. Higgins, who scored seven points in all”. Next came victory over Menlough (1-10 to 0-8) at Athenry, where the great asset that the winners possessed was the workmanship and combination of the three Judge brothers”. Then we beat Ballygar, whose forwards were “held back time and time by a stonewall defence.”

In the 1973 Junior League our team had a runaway victory (4-13 to 0-3) at Tuam Stadium, where “Corofin were never in the game, and totally lacked the drive and determination of their opponents, who fought for every ball, leaving the opposition completely helpless for long periods”. Caltra, though, beat Caherlistrane in the League Final that year, as they were to do again in ’74. But we were back yet again for the North Board Final in 1975, this time against Monivea, “who fought bravely all through, but Caherlistrane were out to make up for the previous years defeats, and took the League title in fine style with six points to spare”. That year, also, the under-21 team reversed an earlier result when “their experience and stamina” were evident in a win over Mountbellew.

Things were now looking bright, and to add a professional touch, Father Martin Newell and Michael McHugh (both ex-Caherlistrane players) travelled regularly from Claremorris to train the team. For all that effort, 1976 brought its reward. We went all the way to the County Final. And to add to the excitement, we were playing Headford.

There was a huge build-up to this match (played in Corofin), and perhaps never before or since was there such a following for either team. People never seen at a match before helped to pack the sidelines, and the tension mounted as the starting time drew near.

Hearts fell, though, in the first quarter, as the opposition ran up four points
without reply, and Caherlistrane supporters tried to come to terms with the possibility of a Headford victory. But the Caherlistrane players were having none of that, and after their first score, “a well-taken point”, a fierce do-or-die determination gripped the team. A measure of that determination is the fact that the backs held Headford scoreless for the rest of the match, while Caherlistrane went on to score a total of seven points (six of them from M. Judge).

“Every man in the Caherlistrane defence played as if the issue depended on him alone, but all responded to the leadership of Mick Judge, who was the dominant figure in a tough, uncompromising game. If this hard fought final lacked the stamp of class, it never fell short of courage and honest endeavour, with Caherlistrane’s determination the deciding factor”.

Following is that victorious team, the 1976 (Division 2) County Champions: Paddy Lee, Malachy Naughton, Paddy Cradock, Joe Cradock, Sean Moran, Michael J . Judge, Tom Conlisk, Peter Lee, Vinnie Judge, Paschal Murphy, Tom Cradock, Eamonn Monaghan, Ger Naughton, Paddy Mulroe, Larry Bane and M. Greally.

1977 was the year when all the time and effort expended over the previous seven years brought its reward, with the opening of the New Pitch and Community Centre. At the G.A.A. Annual General Meeting, held in the Parochial Hall (the old school) for the last time, in January of that year, the Field Commitee for the coming twelve months was elected. Vincent Judge was chosen as Chairman, in recognition of the great work he had done in the whole building and development scheme, and indeed all of the members elected that night were people who has put in much voluntary effort. The other members were: Secretary: Paddy Mc Hugh; Treasurer: Christy Roche; Committee: Padraic Lee, Oliver Curley, Sean Moran, J.J Higgins, Bunny Mangan, John Joe O’Neill, Patrick O’ Neill and Paddy Flanagan.

The pitch, dressing rooms and other facilities, were all ready on time for the official opening on Sunday 24 July. The Official Programme of that day gives an outline of the history of the project:

“At the Annual General Meeting in 1970 it was decided that something definite should be done about providing a proper pitch and facilities. The idea grew from here, plans were drawn up, and a special committee, known as the Field Committee, was formed. It has been a long road since, with many setbacks like the storm damage (1974), when the steel structure and part of the boundary wall were levelled to the ground. Having overcome these setbacks, everyone battled on to bring the development to its present stage. There is still a lot of work to be finished, like the community centre, a dugout press facility, covered accommodation for spectators and a handball alley”.

There was also a message on the programme from Padraic Lee, Chairman of Caherlistrane G.A.A. that year, and one of the driving forces in the development. He thanked the many club members for their dedicated effort (most of the building work was done by voluntary labour), the people of the parish, and outside, who gave subscriptions, materials and use of machinery, and all those who supported dances, sales of work and other fundraising activities.

The blessing of the new pitch (Pairc Naomh Padraig) was performed by Father Malachy King P.P., and it was then officially opened by Norman Farragher, Chairman of Galway County Board G.A.A., who said he felt honoured to come to Caherlistrane, a parish with such a long tradition in the G.A.A.

The Community Centre was opened the following December, and its many facilities brought a new dimension to the lives of Caherlistrane people. Now they could take part in such varied pursuits as indoor games, craft classes, dancing lessons, lectures and social gatherings of all kinds, from old folks’ parties to victory celebrations.

Talking of celebrations, the team had something to celebrate in June 1977 when, back in the senior ranks, they overcame U.C.G. in Tuam. On that day Caherlistrane “tackled hard enough to keep the faster College side from gaining any real advantage,” and “Michael Judge was the man of the match, and it was he who not only held the defence together, but played great attacking football from the centre-half berth”.

Our next match in the Championship was against Corofin, and the Tuam Herald report on the  game is worth quoting:

“If Corofin win the county football championship they are unlikely to have a harder match then they had at Tuam Stadium on Sunday evening when it took all their reserve of craft to overcome the spirited challenge of Caherlistrane. This was a game to raise the hearts of followers, for it abounded in fair but fiery exchanges, laced with spectacular high fielding and long kicking from two teams so evenly matched that there was never more then a couple of points between them. Caherlistrane lacked nothing in spirit or ability, and certainly the future looks bright for this team, who have made such a big impact.”

Corofin won by just two points (0-12 to 0-10) that day, and then went on to become county champions.

Caherlistrane supporters saw another good performance from their seniors the following year (1978) when they took on Father Griffin’s in the New Pitch, and the home team were leading when “Father Griffin’s came back for the equalizer almost on the stroke of time.”

The Eighties


The early 1980s brought a new surge of enthusiasm from G.A.A. members and supporters on both the Caherlistrane and Comer Chapel sides of the parish, as they took on a further major programme of building. In 1981 a commitment was made to provide a handball and squash court, games room, meeting rooms, improved dressing rooms and a catering area. A lounge bar was also to be included.

Having made the commitment, a huge outlay on wages and materials had now to be met. The wages problem was partly solved by the involvement of AnCO (the State training authority) in the building work. This involvement also gave work experience and training to local youth.’ But still huge bills remained to be met, for the estimated cost of the 1980s development was £93,000. A £20,000 bank loan was obtained, and a £10,000 Government grant (after much lobbying). Most of the balance was gathered through the usual fund raising activities (card games, discos, prize draws, etc.), and then there was a grand competition among prominent parishioners, with the honorary title of Mayor of Caherlistrane going to the person who raised the most funds. Brendan Gannon was the one to get the mayoral chain.

Brendan Gannon was also chairman of the first Caherlistrane Festival Committee, and the Festival, originally started to raise funds for the Community Centre, has become an annual feature of parish life since the inaugural one of 1980. It has included such varied events as football competitions, tug-of-war contests, tractor skills displays, sheaf tossing, treasure hunts, concerts, open air dancing, band displays and old-time waltz competitions. The Festival has a special attraction for emigrants from the parish home on their annual holidays (the two—week festival usually starts in early August), for it gives them an opportunity to meet old friends and see the parish in festive mood.

The handball court was finished in 1982, and it was officially opened in February of that year by Mr. C. Jones, President of the National Handball Council. 1984, the centenary year of the G.A.A., saw the completion of the much enlarged Community Centre – a monument to parish eo-operation, and standing proud for this and future generations.

On the playing fields in the early 1980s the emphasis was on youth, with Tom Cradock taking on the training of the young players. On his initiative a parish league was started for juveniles, and all the effort involved brought its reward ‘with a notable achievement in l983—the winning of under-14 and under—16 county titles.

The seniors were also doing well in the early eighties and reached the 1981 League Final (Section B). Their opponents were Ballygar, and the game, played in Corofin on Easter Sunday ’82, ended in a draw, with Caherlistrane going on to win the replay in Mountbellew. Following that victory the team were in the top league for 1982, and proved their worth there by going on to the Premier League Final, having won five of their seven matches on the way and getting a draw in another. This time they were playing Dunmore, who won in a replay, having survived in the drawn game which Caherlistrane should have won.

In the summer of ’82, Caherlistrane had a win over Monivea/Abbey in the championship only to go under to Mountbellew, who were beaten by Annaghdown in the County Final. A few weeks before the Final, Caherlistrane beat Annaghdown in the Madden cup.

The team had some consolation for their defeat in ’77 when they beat Corofin in the 1987 senior championship. Many people now fancied Caherlistrane’s chances of taking the county title, and they were favourites against Annaghdown in the next roung. Annaghdown, never an easy team to beat,  had their ex-county player, Tom Naughton, in fine form that day, and he played a big part in Caherlistrane’s surprise defeat, with his team going on to win the county championship again.

Following the disapointment 0f the previous year, hopes were on a better result for ’86. The big game that year was against Mountbellew, and after a drawn game that was there for the taking, they beat Caherlistrane in the replay, and also went on to become county champions.

1987 saw our up-and-coming young footballers win the Minor League, while in the previous year’s senior team were now at intermediate level. But not for long. They were back at senior level in ’88, and went on to take the County League (Division B) title. Then to add to a great year, the minor footballers won their first county championship title.

The parish was well represented on Galway teams during the nineteen seventies and eighties. In 1972 Eamon Monaghan of Prospect was on the county under-21 team. On the opening of our new pitch in 1977, the main feature was a Galway v Mayo senior football match, and there were the following four parish players on the winning home team on that July Sunday: Michael J . Judge (Carrowconlaun), Peter Lee (Ballyfruit), Paddy Joe Dooley (Mirehill) and Paschal Murphy (Wakefield).

Michael Judge, the Galway captain that day, was a regular on the county team by this time, and played in three consecutive Connacht Finals (’76, ’77 and ’78). He won three Connacht Senior Football medals (’76, ’82 and ’83), and played for the province in Railway Cup competition. Peter Lee was also a regular on the Galway senior team, winning Connacht medals in ’82 and ’83, and playing at centre half back position on the team beaten by Dublin in the 1983 All-Ireland Final.

In 1979 the first of the Glynn brothers from Feeragh made his entry into inter-county football when Seamus played in the under-21 Final against Down (the winners). The under-21 Galway team had another Caherlistrane man in ’81 when Denis McHugh from the Comer Chapel side of the parish played with them. Seamus Glynn was there again in ’85 when he played on the Galway junior team that won the All-Ireland that year.

Since the mid-eighties there has been a strong Caherlistrane representation on Galway minor teams. John Mitchell of Castlehackett won an All-Ireland medal in ’86, and the following year he gained a Connacht championship medal, as did Pat Costello of Pollnahallia. In 1988 Pat Costello was joined by John Dooley, while in 1989, as befits County Minor Champions, there were three from the parish on the county team. They were Joe Mitchell, Richie Lydon (captain) and Sean Costello.

At senior level we now have Sean Glynn (brother of Seamus), a regular on Galway teams in the late 1980s, playing in comer back position.