Sligo GAA 125 History
Official Launch by GAA Uachtarán Christy Cooney at Sligo Park Hotel
on Wednesday, 31 March, 2010, at 8.30pm.
Sligo County Board
published its Centenary History in 1984. It was edited by John C. McTernan and
published to mark the centenary of the founding of the GAA in Thurles in 1884.
Last year the County Board decided to republish the Centenary publication and
also add the history of the following twenty five years to mark the 125
milestone of the GAA. Modern scanning techniques allowed the original history
to be proof read and the opportunity was taken to make amendments and add any
new relevant information and photographs which had come to light in the
The History is the
product of thousands of hours of voluntary endeavour, compiling, editing and
proof reading. The vast amount of information available about the last twenty
five years has resulted in the account of this period running to the same
length as the account of the previous one hundred years. The book has eight
hundred pages and the highest possible standards of accuracy have been adhered
to. It was these standards that dictated the time of publication rather than
any arbitrary date. The book will retail at €20.00 and will be available
through all GAA clubs in Co. Sligo once the launch has taken place.
Every aspect of the GAA
in Co. Sligo has been recorded in writing, by photograph and through a comprehensive
statistics section. Each club in the county is represented by at least two full
page team photographs. There are more than thirty county images with many
individual photographs of players and officials. The book also contains a full listing of all
clubs that took part in competition over the one hundred and twenty five years.
Sligo was one of the first counties in Connacht to
form a County Board and organise a county championship. The enthusiasm
displayed in the early years could scarcely be surpassed anywhere. However once
the initial zeal had subsided the GAA in Co. Sligo entered a time of changing
fortunes with alternate periods of progress and decline. It experienced
recurring teething problems in the first forty years or so arising, for the
most part, from the unsettled political situation then prevailing but it always
managed to resurrect itself from the brink of near collapse to become more
active and vibrant than hitherto. The idealism and parochial pride of
enthusiasts in every corner of the county ensured the continuation of a
tradition that with the passage of time has become part and parcel of the
folklore of the county.
The sporting careers of the many outstanding players
the county has produced in football, hurling and handball are well
documented. There are accounts of
Sligo’s three Connacht Senior Football Championship victories in 1928, 1975 and
2007 as well as an account of Sligo’s All-Ireland Junior Football Championship
success in 1935 and the Nicky Rackard Cup Senior Hurling victory in 2008. There
are photographs of these teams and the Ladies Football All-Ireland Junior
Championship winning team in 2006.
Many important developments in the GAA are recorded.
For example the introduction of the Qualifier system into the All-Ireland
senior football championship in 2001 gave Sligo teams the opportunity to return
to Croke Park after a long absence. Sligo played six senior football games
there between 2001 and 2007 while not having played any at the famous venue
between 1976 and 2000. Sligo hurlers also won the Nicky Rackard Cup final there
in 2007. All these games are well documented in the book.
Great attention is paid to club competition in the
various grades with the achievements of all the championship and league winning
clubs being recognised. The last twenty five years has seen increased
competition with a number of extra competitions being added and a massive
increase in activity at juvenile and under-age levels. A number of clubs made
major breakthroughs in the last twenty five years. Shamrock Gaels won two
senior football championships while Bunninadden and Coolera/Strandhill came
back into that particular winners’ enclosure after extremely long absences. Tubbercurry
won a remarkable ten-in-a-row senior hurling championships while recently the
emergence of the highly successful Calry/St. Joseph’s senior hurling team has
been a feature. In the Intermediate football
grade a number of clubs celebrated their first championship success at that
level. Schools football is also included with accounts of All-Ireland successes
for Benada Abbey, St. Attracta’s Community School and the county Vocational
There are many interesting anecdotes redolent of the
times they occurred in. Read about Pat Kilfeather from Knocknarea, a school
principal, who was County Secretary in the first decade of the twentieth
century. It is said that his activities as County Secretary were well monitored
by the Department of Education and it was not unusual for an Inspector to
descend on his school at Kilmacowen on a Monday morning, after an away game in
which Sligo was engaged, to satisfy himself, no doubt, that the principal was
at his post on time. Pat Kilfeather and his colleagues refused to be
intimidated in this fashion and continued in their work for the Association
with greater resolve.
Read about the long serving County Chairman who
resigned his post in disgust at a decision of the Central Council which denied
Sligo the opportunity to play in its first All-Ireland Senior Football Final in
1923. Sligo won the Connacht Final defeating Galway and went on to defeat
Tipperary in the All-Ireland semi-final. However a flimsy and belated objection
by Galway was upheld by the Central Council which directed that the Connacht
Final be replayed, a game which Galway won by two points. County Chairman Hugh
O’Donnell from Gurteen was so disgusted that he immediately tendered his
resignation as Chairman of the County Board and also withdrew from his
membership of both the Central and Connacht Councils.
The book includes a photograph of Shane Filan in his
role as a mascot with the Sligo hurlers on the occasion of their All-Ireland
Minor Hurling (Special) victory at Croke Park in 1986. Shane, of course, has
been back at Croke Park since then with Westlife and will return there again
with the world famous quartet next June.
The great improvement in facilities around the
county is noted with accounts of many official openings of parks and amenities.
Foremost among these is the story of the purchase and development of Markievicz
Park in Sligo. Formerly known as Ward’s Field, games were played on it in the
early years of the GAA. A new Park opened at Finisklin in 1934 but this project
failed in later years mainly due to financial pressures. In the late nineteen
forties and early fifties a group of people came together and succeeded in
purchasing and developing Markievicz Park which was officially opened by GAA
President Seamus MacFearann (Antrim) in 1955. The pace of development quickened
in the nineteen eighties and nineties with the laying of a top quality playing
surface, new boundary wall and entrances on the Cairns Road side, new dressing
rooms and covered stand, new terracing on three sides of the grounds and
culminating in the opening of the extended covered stand on the Cairns Road
side by GAA President Christy Cooney in June 2009.
Note: ‘Sligo GAA: A Centenary History’ published in
1984 was compiled by Christina Murphy, Johnny Benson, Sean McGoldrick and John
C. McTernan (Editor).
GAA 125 History’ has been compiled by Rory O’Beirne, Jonathan Davey, Gerald
O’Connor, John C. McTernan and Tommy Kilcoyne (Editor).