NORTH CORK has been steeped in the GAA since the organisation took its first tentative steps into the world in the 1880s.
The area has always done its bit to make sure that the GAA is as strong as it can be with Gaelic Games at the centre of all that is positive in the localities.
In fact, in some quarters Gaelic Games have been played well before the birth of the governing body with one of those places being Ballyhooley.
Way back before famine times, local historians talk of a famous U21 hurling match between Ballyhooly and near neighbours Glanworth.
As one would expect the game was a little different back then with the winners being crowned after getting the ball past a particular local landmark.
In this early clash the ball was thrown in at a point between Kilathy and Johnstown with Ballyhooley tasked with hurling the ball past Egans Cross while Glanworth had to hurl the ball past a point near Laught Cross to win the contest. Nobody can definitively say who won this local derby game. However, in the giant scheme of things it hardly matters.
What mattered was that the area was doing its bit right at the start of what morphed into the game we love today.
Ballyhooley GAA Club was officially founded in 1887. John Bermingham and Patrick Fitzgerald attended a Cork County Board meeting on December 28, 1887. as Club representatives.
A team was entered in the 1888 County Hurling Championship, but they were defeated by an East Cork team called Bartlemy on a score line of Bartlemy 0-1 to Ballyhooley 0-0.
The early decades could hardly be described as successful on the trophy front but, credit to all involved, they stuck at it, and by the 1940s the club had a team ready to challenge for honours.
The club built a strong hurling team over a 10-year period and made it to a series of North Cork Finals in the early 1940s.
Shanballymore saw them off in the showpiece game in 1941 and ’42 while Ballyhea took the spoils in 1943 by 5-2 to 4-2.
The club had some lean periods in the 1950s but bounced back to win the Junior B Football Championship in 1966 beating Kilshannig by 4-11 to 0-5.
The club is privileged to still have some members of that famous titlewinning side still involved in the club today, over 50 years since that great day in the club’s history.
After almost a century ploughing their own furrow, Ballyhooley GAA Club was forced to amalgamate with Castletownroche in the 1970s, which saw a host of silverware in both Hurling and Football Championships.
Independence came back to the club soon after as Ballyhooley decided to go it alone again in 1980 — and since that momentous decision was taken, the club has made remarkable progress.
In early 1980, the club made the decision to start raising funds for the eventual purchase of a field of their own.
Negotiations were quickly concluded to buy land in the townland of Conva — however, cash was always going to be the key.
The club had the grand total of IR£112 in the bank at the time, but a door-to- door collection over a few nights yielded IR£5,100 with a further IR£5,400 pledged in monthly instal-
Cork supporter Senan Ahern from Ballyhooly gets a bit of practice in before the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Final between Clare and Cork at Semple Stadium in Thurles.
Ballycastle Gaels U 16 hurlers.