Tinahely GAA in the Early Years to Re-establishment in 1961



1886:   Earliest archival material record a GAA presence in Tinahely in 1886 with James Kavanagh of Ballinamanogue as Tinahely GAA Secretary 1886-1887


The first County Convention in Wicklow was held in the Town Hall, Wicklow on the 26th December 1886.  Tinahely was represented by M Healy and J O’Toole.


1887: Tinahely played their first ever game of football on the 18th September 1887 when the beat Aughavannagh in a friendly in a field near the old An Oige Hostel in Aughavannagh.  The game aroused such interest and excitement that it encouraged the formation of a number of clubs in West Wicklow including Rathangan, Baltinglass, Barraderry, Kyle, Imaal, Hollywood, Ballyknockan and Kilbride.


1911:  The Tinahely GAA Club was revived as St. Patricks at a meeting on the 11th January 1911, with new officers, WJ Doyle, John Cowman, J Needham and Tom Hanly.  New management would play an instrumental role in victories by the end of the decade.


1917:  Tinahely won the Senior Football Championship in 1917 when they beat Blessington in Baltinglass on the 14th April 1918.


1918:  Tinahely beat Annacurra in the Wicklow Co. Football final, but following an objection, both teams were disqualified and the championship was deemed null and void.


1919:  Tinahely reach the County Football Final of 1919 and defeated Baltinglass at Hacketstown in the 14th March 1920.  The score was Tinahely 1-3, Baltinglass 1-0.


1924:  Tinahely GAA Club lapsed around 1924.


1957:  The Tinahely GAA Juvenile Section was established in 1957.  Founder members were Des Morris, Jim Whelan, Jim Robinson, Martin Morris and Michael Hassett.  Meetings were initially held in Morris’ Shop, Lugduff and then the Billard Hall, Tinahely.


1958:  The Ballinglen Football Team of 1958 played Avoca in the first round of the Football Championship.  Most of these players would then join the re-established Tinahely GAA Club in 1961


1959:  Within two years the Tinahely U14 team were in the Wicklow County Football Final but were beaten by a strong Ashford team in Aughrim on 6th September 1959.


1961:  On the 8th December 1961 at an historic meeting in the Billard Hall, Tinahely GAA Club was officially re-established after a lapse of almost 40 years.  Its first elected officers were Gerry McGrath, Des Morris and Frank Murphy.


Most of the early membership included Tinahely and Ballinglen players who had played for Ballinglen in the early 1950’s.  When the Ballinglen Club ceased to exist in 1959, players had transferred to neighbouring GAA clubs including Knockananna, Ballymanus, Annacura and Coolboy.  With the formation of the club in 1961, these players has be transferred again to the re-established Tinahely GAA Club


TINAHELY GAA CLUB from Re-Establishment to 2007


1969Tinahely: Wicklow County Junior Football Champions 1969.  Tinahely defeated Laragh 3-3 to 0-6 on the 3rd November 1969.


1972:  Tinahely defeated St Kevins, Bray 0-3 to 0-2 on the 3rd September 1972 earning them the title of Wicklow County Under 12 Football Champions 1972.

Following the Under 12 inspiring victory in 1972, the ‘Sports Field’ was officially handed over to Tinahely GAA Club by Fr. William Stafford PP and the Parish Trustees on behalf of Killaveny Parish.  Development of the grounds began in 1973 and cost £7000.   During the development of the land, the club trained on D’Arcy’s land at Coolruss.  The design of entrance name to St. Kevin’s Park was prepared by Pat Hedderman.


1973:  Visit of the SAM MAGUIRE TO TINAHELY – Willie Bryan, All Ireland Senior Football Winner (Offaly 1972) brought the Sam Maguire to Tinahely in February 1973 and presented medals to the successful Under 12 Tinahely Champions of 1972.


1974:  Tinahely become the Under 14 Wicklow County Football Champions 1974 when they defeated St. Kevins, Bray 2-7 to 1-4.  The Cup was presented afterwards to Seamus Morris, as Captain by Chairman of the Juvenile Board, Mr Ned Coughlan.



  • Opening of the New Tinahely Grounds May 1978.
  • Tinahely beat Baltinglass 2-8 to 2-2 on Sunday 17th September 1978 at Aughrim to become the Wicklow County Minor Champions 1978.
  • Tinahely: Senior Football Team are the Kavanagh Cup Winners 1978


1980Tinahely: Wicklow County Under 21 Champions of 1980 beating Blessington in the final 2-11 to 2-1 on the 5th October 1980 in Aughrim.


1981:  Tinahely won the Junior B Championship in 1981 defeating Bray 3-09 to



1982:  Tinahely defeated St. Kevins 2-7 to 1-4 to become the Wicklow Under 21 Football Champions 1982


1984:  Tinahely GAA Centenary Year Wicklow Senior Football Champions 1984: Tinahely defeated Valleymount 1-15 to 2-2 on Sunday 16th September 1984.  This was the first Senior Victory since 1919.


2001:  Commemoration of the Centenary (1901-2001) of Luke O Tooles election as first full time Secretary of GAA.


2003:  Tinahely: Wicklow County Junior C Finalists 2003.


2005: Tinahely defeated Ballymanus on the 13th November 2005 by 2-7 to 1-7 to win the title of Wicklow County Intermediate Football Champions 2005.



  • Luke O Tooles Wicklow County Minor Shield Football Winners 2007.  Luke O’Tooles defeated Ballinacor on the 17th November 2007 at Wicklow.  The score line was O’Tooles 2-11, Ballinacor 0-6.  Stephen Dillon was player of the match.


  • Luke O Tooles Wicklow County Under 16A Shield Football Winners 2007.  O’Tooles defeated Eire Og/Greystones on the 8th October 2007 at Newtown Mount Kennedy.  The score line was 1-08 to 0-8.  Jason Cush was player of the match.  This was the second year that Luke O Tooles won this title


  • Tinahely: Wicklow Under 14C Champions 2007.  Tinahely defeated Coolkenno on Saturday the 20th October 2007 at Annacurra.  Score line was 3-09 to 1-12.  Jason Cush was player of the match.


  • Tinahely: Wicklow County Under 12B Champions 2007.  Tinahely defeated Newtown Mount Kennedy on Monday 22nd October 2007 at Pearse Park.  Score line was Tinahely 4-07 to Newtown 4-06.  Philip Coogan was player of match.


  • Tinahely Senior GAA Team – winners of the Keating Trophy 2007.  Tinahely defeated Hollywood on the 2nd November 2007 at Annacurra.  Score line was 1-12 to 0-10.  Colm Kenny was player of the match.



Tinahely Juvenile GAA Club – A Brief History


A GAA presence was once established in Tinahely in the late 1950’s almost four decades after the original club has lapsed around 1924.  Founder members responsible for the establishment of a Juvenile GAA Club in 1957 were Jim Whelan, Martin Morris, Des Morris, the late Michael Hassett and the late Jim Robinson.


The first meetings were held in Morris’ shop, Lugduff.  Meetings were later held in the Billard Hall (which adjoined the Courthouse), Tinahely.  Because the field was leased, players how were training also had to compete with cattle and sheep from Mangan’s during those early years!


Within only two years of its existence, the budding Tinahely Juvenile Team reached with Wicklow County U-14 Football Final in 1959.  Having defeated Carnew in the South District Final, Tinahely beat Baltinglass comfortably in at Aughrim in the County Semi Final on the 13th August 1959.  The score was 8-8 to 3-4.  Tinahely took on the challenge of Ashford in the County Final, which was again played in Aughrim on the 6th September 1959.  A huge attendance was recorded and even though Tinahely lost 4-4 to 1-3 the match report stated ‘it was a keenly fought game where a high standard of football was reached’.






I want to compliment the Club and especially Anthony Murphy for designing and setting up our Club website. Its another way the Club has gone from strength to strength.

Anthony asked me about my memories of the Club. These thoughts are from last year’s Anniversary Dinner when we commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Juvenile Club. GAA legend Mick O’Dwyer was our guest of honor.


”I came from Knockananna to Tinahely in 1956 to work in the Mount. Tinahely in the 1950s/60s had a lot of activities. Johnny McFadden’s fairground was always packed for his week’s booking near John Neill’s forge at the mill – our great Sonny Behan who played on the 1958 Ballinglen team loved the bumper cars.  Hunt’s of Aughrim organised cinema twice a week in the courthouse and Fred Byrne used to keep order with his flashlight. We had card games during the winter in the billiard hall. Martin Morris invited the then Taoiseach Sean Lemass to the Lacey Brothers Commemoration in 1961. It was a very active rural community long before television and ipods.


But there was one major gap – lack of organised team sports. There was no GAA in Tinahely since the 1920s and we felt we had to so something.  There were other local teams in the area. In Crossbridge, Gerry McGrath, Jimmy Hedderman and Frank Murphy played. I played myself for Ballinglen GAA along with Des Morris at that time and we soon found other like-minded people.  We needed young players to develop a good team and so we decided to form the Tinahely Juveniles. It was all very informal at that time- the meetings were in Morris’ shop. The sports field was leased by the parish to various farmers like the Kinsellas of Mangans (I even leased it one year myself). Training was running along the roads up to Killaveney, down the Long Hill to the town and up Kelly’s Hill with a car in front and a car behind flashing lights. (This would be impossible now with all the road congestion). The team also trained by running up and down a hill near Baskervilles.


Carnew had a good team then and it was hard to get out of the south district. The new club caused a lot of interest especially when we started to do well. I used to drive a Prefect full of players going to matches A high point was when we reached the 1959 U-14 final. The meetings were later held in the billiard hall where Kevin Brennan was caretaker (and his father Bill Brennan before that). It was over card games in the billiard hall that it was decided to re-establish the senior club and Gerry McGrath, Des Morris and Frank Murphy were elected the first officers.


We had juvenile hurling success in the 1960s when Tinahely won U-14 Championship in 1964. Mick Lawlor (Kilkenny) and Cathal Reilly (Meath) from Curragh Lawn lived in Tinahely then and trained the team before they went back to their home counties.


The real success in juvenile football began in 1972 when we won the U-12 Championship. Seamus Morris was Captain and he had clear sporting and leadership qualities even at that early stage. Many members of that team went on to win the senior championship in 1984. I was delighted that Seamus went on to win an All-Ireland club medal (a rare thing in south Wicklow district) with Kilmacud Crokes when he moved to Dublin as a primary teacher. Fr Stafford PP and the parishioners donated the sports field to the GAA in 1973 to encourage sport after the 1972 win. That field was chosen from the parish lands because it was opposite the school. We went house-to-house collecting ten pounds to pay for the field development, which opened in 1978. Other fundraising was card games in the billiard hall and Friday night social and dance in the courthouse in Canon Darcy’s time. Pongo (a form of bingo) was played in Fr Keogh’s time. Fr Stafford organised large colourful carnivals in early 1970s and the Tinahely GAA float was part of that. (I used to be in the Togher Gun Club float).


Through the GAA, I met a lot of remarkable people – players, supporters and fellow officers – and I want to thank them. I would especially like to pay tribute to the late Paddy Murphy who was one of the finest people in Tinahely GAA. I was proud to organise a memorial for him in Whitefield Cemetery.


In conclusion, I appreciate the great honor the Club is giving me on this 50th anniversary of the Juvenile Club.

[Taken from Tinahely GAA, 50 Years of the Juvenile Club, 1957-2007, Commemorative Program, March 2007]




I am delighted that our Club has a new website – we have advanced a long way over the past 50 years. I was asked to write something about myself. These recollections are from the March 2007 50th anniversary commemorative event when Mick O’Dwyer made presentations to the founders of the Juvenile Club. They were Jim Whelan, Martin Morris, the late Michael Hassett, the late Jim Robinson and myself.


”My family were from Knockbrandon/Motabower near Carnew. During the 1930s, my father was invited by James Ryan, TD for Wexford and Minister for Agriculture, to manage Gibbstown estate, in Co Meath. My brother Martin and I grew up in the Gaeltacht area there and attended Scoil Ultan, Ballygibb where everything was taught through Irish. During the 1949 GAA season, the Meath senior football team was winning matches and, against the odds, reached the All Ireland Final. They trained on a pitch near our school and many of us were in awe to see these great players prepare for big matches in Croke Park. During the final weeks of All-Ireland training that September, the whole Meath team stayed in Bru na Mhi, a boarding house normally used for Irish students during the summer and other times. Fr Tully, CC, a larger-than-life figure was team trainer and County chairman and led the Meath team to All-Ireland triumph for the first time. Those inspiring days never left me and encouraged me to ‘put on the jersey’ myself and later train teams even when we were considered ‘underdogs’  like Meath that year.


We often returned to my home area for holidays. During 1948, my family were keen  supporters and contributors of the memorials for the 150th commemorations of  1798 and I developed an ongoing interest in our Gaelic heritage. We returned to our home area in 1955 and we opened a general store on Lugduff and leased the adjoining sportsfield from the parish. I joined the Ballinglen football team and there was a tremendous enthusiasm for GAA development then. A group of us decided to form a local juvenile club to foster promising young players. Times were often hard for families with mass emigration. At one meeting in my father’s shop, Michael Hassett wanted to buy a new football. Money was short, and there was a near constitutional crisis after he bought it because one absent member was not consulted.


The 1969 Junior Victory for Tinahely was very influential and many new people wanted to play and bring home more silverware. Jim Whelan, Gerry Moran and I thought we should encourage young players in new ways as well. When the schools opened that September, we formed our own Internal Football League involving local schools. The idea was to give the players more practice and playing experience. Jim Whelan presented an impressive cup for the event. The National Schools were Tinahely/Moyne (Michael Hassett, NT), Crossbridge/Coolafancy (Eneas McNulty, NT), Shillelagh/Kilquiggan (Tom Wheeler, NT) and Parkbridge/Clonmore (John Fleming, NT).


The plan worked! Tinahely Under 12 won the Wicklow Co championship in 1972 for the first time. The celebrations were unforgettable and Pat Doyle had blazing bonfires on the square. Considering that this was the first ever victory for a Tinahely Under 12 team, it was decided, in February 1973, to organise a presentation of medals “with a guest appearance” at a function in the Courthouse, Tinahely.

The ‘special guest’ was none other than the Sam Maguire Cup, the All Ireland Co. Senior Football Championship trophy. Offaly had won the All Ireland football title in 1971 and again in 1972. A member of that winning team was Willie Bryan who willingly accepted the invitation to bring the Sam Maguire to Tinahely for the first time and to present the medals to the Tinahely Under 12s. The young Tinahely players were spellbound not only to see but to actually ‘lift up’ the Sam Maguire cup and to meet an All Ireland Football star such as Willie Bryan. During the presentation of medals, I remember the great reaction when the Offaly star urged the young players to continually practice and train and that more success would surely follow and indeed, it did! We had under-14 (1974), minor (1978) and under-21 successes (1980, 1981) with the same essential players. This all culminated in Tinahely’s outstanding senior victory in 1984. To achieve all of this, hundreds of committed people over the years did a lot of selfless, voluntary work for which the GAA club is forever grateful. Many are now deceased.


Apart from the field, the GAA organised other social events during the late 1960s. One of these was Scor (Scor na nOg for young people) and there were competitions in Irish dancing, singing, music, recitation and question time. In fact, the Wicklow County Finals were held in the Tinahely Courthouse in one of the early years (if not the first). Michael Hassett, Cathal O’Reilly and I formed a ‘Question Time’ team for Scor in 1969. (There was huge interest in quiz contests  at that time – like the Who wants to be a Millionaire Show now). Cathal came from Meath and bought a farm at Curraghlawn –  he trained the juvenile hurling teams along with Mick Lawlor from Kilkenny. Michael Hassett often came to our house trying to anticipate questions like capitals of different countries, sport and current events. All this work paid off and, in 1971, we won the Wicklow Co Final and we surprised ourselves by reaching the Leinster Final held on Parnell Square, Dublin May Tinahely GAA go from strength to strength and win many more titles in the future from Juvenile to Senior.


I wish to thank many other marvelous players and supporters over the years who have loyally contributed in any way to the success of this great Club.

Finally, I owe a great debt of gratitude to my wife Mary – I would like to thank her for everything!

Ni dheanfaidh me dearmad ar an ocaid mor seo.

Beatha agus sláinte chugaibh.

[Taken from Tinahely GAA, 50 Years of the Juvenile Club, 1957-2007, Commemorative Program, March 2007]


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