Bal­ly­hooly GAA:

Irish Examiner - County - - Sport - Diarmuid Shee­han

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.

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