Century of Sporting Fragments (1890-1990): written by Edward O'Loghlen

During the 1890’s the OBrien brothers of Feenagh were part of the first team to participate under the rules of Gaelic Athletic Association which was formed in November 1884 at Hayes's Hotel, Thurles. While club information is very sparse it is known that members of the local coastguard community were also members of the club from 1900 to 1910. A photograph held by Martin Carey shows some members of the coastguard along with the OBriens of Feenagh. During refurbishments at ODonoghue's restaurant a cricket ball was discovered in Garda Ned Cox's former vegetable garden, indicating that coastguard personnel played cricket as well as participating with the local club.

Towards the end of the second decade of the twentieth century, both Paddy ODonoghue and Micho OLoghlen were members of the Clare team who lost to Wexford in the All Ireland final of 1917. That decade also witnessed the keen rivalry which developed with neighbours Kilfenora. The club faced Miltown Malbay in the county senior football final of 1917, with Miltown Malbay being the victors.

The following decade other club members along with ODonoghue and OLoghlen matured to become a strong force indicated through various tussles with Kilfenora at the Blue Meadows field, Kilfenora. The 1924 team photograph taken at the Blue Meadows field shows two sets of brothers: Quinns (Batty, John, Mickey); OLoghlens (Martin, Micho, Peter). The practice fields' then used by the club were the Core field (Linnane's) and Georgie's field at the New Pier road, close to the present Rent an Irish Cottage settlement.

During the mid-section of the 1930's, Mickey Quinn recalled three famous games at the Core field between Doolin and Kilfenora. He noted how large number of coaches arrived to Ballyvaughan from both north Clare communities, each paying six pence to gain entry to the Core field.

Garda William 'Terry' MacMahon (Miltown Malbay) recalls his visits to Ballyvaughan to prepare for Clare's championship meeting with Kerry c 1935. The Clare team's 'collective' training consisted of physical workouts at the Boardroom of the Workhouse before football practise sessions at Georgie's field on the New Pier road, close to the Rent an Irish Cottage settlement. During the evening sessions the Clare panel walked from the local workhouse to ODonohoe's public house, Fanore and returned to the workhouse following a brief stop at ODonohoe's. Another member of that Clare senior team was Georgie Comerford, Miltown Malbay who was the team's ace forward. William 'Terry' and Georgie were also members of the Clare minor football team who met Longford in the All Ireland final of 1929. The 1929 final was the first ever minor football final, with Clare emerging victorious.

The 1930's system of physical preparation adopted the methods used by Kerry legend, Dick Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald had previously assisted the Clare football team during their preparations for the All Ireland football final of 1917, when they lost to Wexford by nine points to five points.

During 1937 the local club reached the Intermediate football final when they were victorious. A number of Keane's were part of that team; Jimmo, John and Martin. A Kerry native, John Lovett was also a member of that winning Intermediate team. During refurbishments at the community hall c 1993, John Hogan discovered one of those winners' Intermediate medals.

Following the 1937 Intermediate championship the club experienced a period of decline, although individuals such as Johnny Birmingham and MacNeil OLoghlen participated in North Clare combinations which won Clare county titles in the early 1940's. During the late 1940's Fanore entered a team in the junior championship which contained three members of An Garda Siochana together with Pappy MacCarthy, Gleninagh, Martin Carey and Billy Driscoll. The 1948 Fanore team was managed by Paddy ODonohoe, Fanore public house.

During the early years of the 1950's club members joined with Bellharbour for the junior championship. John Joe Fahy, Harry Irwin, Paddy Mullins were members of the Bellharbour team of 1953 team which also included two brothers; Chris and Pascal Droney. The 1960's witnessed a revival of the junior club, playing Lisdoonvarna at Mellotte's field, Kilfenora in 1962. Participants included, Johnny Burns, Mickey Burns, Martin Carey, Sarsfield Driscoll, the ODonoghue brothers; Johnny, Mickey and Tony.

The junior championship of 1966 heralded some famous tussles with Quilty for the junior title. Gerard Mahon, Tomas ODonoghue, Peter OLoghlen, Michael Quinn were members of the 1966 junior team. The 1960's teams practised at the Workhouse field as well as at the Turlough field close to Jimmo Keane's house.

The early 1970's witnessed the beginning of club participation in under age competitions. A combination of Cusack's, Kilfenora and Ballyvaughan advanced to the county minor final at Miltown Malbay, where they lost to Kilkee. That minor combination was managed by Johnny Keane, Kilfenora. Later in that decade Stevie Connolly and Neil OLoghlen won a county minor football title with the same north Clare combination. In 1976 minor club members were winners of a Cusack's / Ballyvaughan combination which was captained by John Kerin, Turlough. A combined selection of Michael Cusack's and Ballyvaughan won the under fourteen county football championship for 1971 when they met Kilrush in the final.

Following a gap of six years, a club junior football team was registered for the 1972 season. That team experienced the loss of a number of finals, eg a league final loss to Moy in 1980 and a junior championship final later that season, when losing to a Michael Cusack's and Tubber combination. The majority of those games during the decades of 1970 and 1980 were played at Lahinch sports field which opened in the 1960's, when a Tuam Stars selection including Sean Purcell played a Clare senior selection. The junior team eventually won a county title in 1983 on a rain-soaked Miltown Malbay field. Celebrations with the 1983 cup began at Paddy Hennessy's, continued at Tom Mort MacMahon's, Ennistymon as well as P J Donohoe's, Fanore. The referee for the 1983 final was Mickey Wilson, Miltown Malbay. Another rain-soaked occasion was the meeting of the junior club with a team from Clarecastle at Lahinch. That particular game witnessed the skills of Michael Greene who kicked some magnificent points from long distance. During the 1980's a community sports field was developed at the workhouse field which was completed in September 1990, following intensive preparations from Easter to September of that year. Keen team supporters of those decades, included; Mick Carrucan, Thomas Donoghue, Mary and Steven Doolin, Paddy Mullins, Kathleen and Charlie OLoughlin.

Hurling Competitions from the 1950's

While the club has primarily focused on football competitions, during the latter half of the 1950's Mort OLoughlin organised hurling tournaments which were held at Carnane, Lisdoonvarna and also at Ruan. Those tournaments consisted of seven-a-side competitions against opposing clubs such as Ruan. Christy Hayes and Tony ODonohoe were regular participants along with some players from Kinvarra such as the Huban family as well as Mickey Curtin from Aughinish. The hurling tournaments were later supplemented, through the arrival of Mattie Bermingham to the parish in 1958 as a primary teacher. He organised an under fourteen school hurling club which made some inroads into the hurling heartlands of the county, even beating his own native Kilrush. A particular game at Hawe's field, Lisdoonvarna was vividly recalled by Mickey Vaughan, Faunarooska when Ballyvaughan defeated the town side from Lisdoonvarna. Gussie Deely and the three Connolly brothers; John, Michael and PJ were pivotal to that unexpected victory in 1959. Two other Connolly brothers from Oughtmama; Michael John and Padraic were also members of that exciting team. Michael and John Coleman Quinn were two further members from Oughtmama. Cars were then in short supply to ferry players to their match locations. Sean Colley (Collins) of Newtown always provided the necessary transport. Mattie also supported school football participation through his sponsorship of a cup, Corn na Boirne from 1963 onwards. School teams from Carron, Fanore New Quay and Ballyvaughan participated for Corn na Boirne. The final was played at Sean Colley's lawn, Newtown and the team from Carron generally emerged victorious.

Brief Sketch of The Mummers through the 1970's

Finances were usually in short supply to meet the needs of the club. Raffles, periodic church gate collections were the regular route to help towards annual club registration and insurance costs. A further path was the use of the mummers tradition on Stephen's Day to supplement annual income. Gussie McGann and Mort OLoughlin provided transport support, while participants assembled at Thomas Donoghue's house to prepare for their journey towards Bellharbour, New Quay, Aughinish and Kinvarra. The musicians who supported those annual events included John MacCormack, Fanore; Ger Hanly, Claregalway and Feilim MacDonagh, Ahascragh, Ballinasloe cousin of Joe MacDonagh, later President of the Gaelic Athletic Association.

Acknowledgements:

Mattie Bermingham, Thomas Donoghue, Mort OLoughlin, Mickey Vaughan

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