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Ardmore GAA Club, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, Ireland.

The Roots Of St. Declan's GAA Club Ardmore

An article on the history of Cumann Deuglán Naofa composed by Pádraig Ó Foghlú for the occasion of the 25th Anniversary Victory Celebration at Lawlor’s Hotel on 23rd November 2002.

Since Cumann Deuglán Naofa has continued in the new Millennium as it finished the old, it is opportune for us to cast our minds back to where it all started.

Ardmore first won The Western Junior Football title in 1950. This historic title was captured in pre-electricity times when most houses were thatched, carbolic soap was our gel, shampoo and deodorant ! Piseógs were almost part of our religion, the banshee was the dread of every teenager and many an adult ! Money was for survival and not for spending, a bicycle was a luxury and manual labour was the order of the day. The games of 45 in candlelight, ghost stories and of course, football, were our only relaxation. Naturally then football was the talk of the parish and the nub of all activity. The Club was the centre of everything and the players were the real heroes.

The old saying ‘that you never miss the water ‘till the well runs dry’ was certainly true of the Fifties. Ravaged by the scourge of emigration, we were unable to field a team in 1952 and the club went out of existence for a few years. During those years our players were scattered, some helping Clashmore, some Old Parish and some with Ring. Fr Billy Phelan arrived as curate in the mid-fifties and missed the vibrancy of a GAA club in the parish. Then in 1957 with the backing of Richard Lincoln, Sgt Farrelly, Paddy Prendergast, Jimmy Rooney, Paddy Mansfield and myself and Kevin Coughlan and many others, Fr Phelan called a meeting to reform Cumann Deuglán Naofa and in the process reunited the parish. I had the honour of being elected Secretary at that historic meeting. The beginnings were humble indeed – we were fortunate indeed that Jimmy Rooney gave us the use of a field. We togged out by the fence, carefully avoiding the cattle dung and putting our clothes and shoes out of their reach ! We take it for granted now to have a couple of dozen sliothars and several footballs. In 1957 we had a door to door collection for funds to buy a football (one !) and a set of jerseys. We would not have dreamt of dressing rooms, showers, gymnasiums, never mind a club computer ! With the return of all our players, success wasn’t long coming and we won the county Junior Football in 1960 and with it promotion to senior ranks (there was no intermediate). 1962 was a tremendous year for our minors when we reached both County Finals, losing the football to Tramore and the hurling to Mount Sion. There was no Bord na nÓg then and no Grade A or B, so the Western Minor double was great gaisce. Some of the names that spring to mind from those halcyon days are paddy Carlton, Jim Rooney, Pat Prendergast, Liam O’Rourke, Hugh and Michael O’Reilly, Richard Hennessey etc. With the younger players coming through we soon became a force to be reckoned with in Senior and 1964 heralded our arrival when we narrowly lost our first Senior County Final to Kilrossanty and a month later went down to St Mollerans in the county Junior Hurling Final. However, we bounced right back and beat Mount Sion to capture our first ever Senior Football title in 1965 and the following year, 1966, we won our very first Minor Football title. Liam Lincoln, Tommy O’Reilly, the Hennessey’s, Anthony Carlton, Noel Rooney and Donal Murphy, among others were the stalwarts of that team. However, the adult team began to break up and we dropped down to Junior for a couple of years until promoted to intermediate when we beat Butlerstown in a reply to win the junior title in 1968.

Onto what proved to be the wonderful seventies for our Club and Parish. Powered by ‘fir na gruaige fada’, 1972 saw us capture the Intermediate title for the first time followed by our three in a row Phelan Cups in 1974, 1975 and 1976. Then the great event which we celebrate tonight, the 1977 success and then in 1979, driven by Dick Doocey we captured our first Junior Hurling Title. The eighties was a strange decade. 1981 saw us lose to Ballinacourty in the County Senior Final. We formed our first Juvenile Club in 1982 and that same year we bout our own field in Duffcarrick. In June, of that same year disaster struck when two of our players and great clubmen, Tommy Morrissey and Liam Lincoln were tragically drowned whilst fishing in the Ardmore Bay. 19884 GAA President, paddy Buggy officially opened our new field and the great Austin Stacks team of the time provided the opposition for our own team in the game that followed. The highlight of 1987 was the visit of Cardinal Tomás O’Fiach and the arrival of President Hillary by helicopter. Success on the playing fields eluded us until the last year of the decade when our Peter Power trained team captured the Junior B Hurling Title at the expense of Fenor after a couple of gigantic battles in Portlaw. However, the underage policy driven by the juvenile wing of the club started to bear fruit into the e nineties and what a rich harvest it proved to be. Under 12 hurling and football victories in 1991, another double in 1993 at under 14 with an under 16 hurling title added for good measure. Under 16 football success in 1995 and after 30 years our second minor football title in 1996. 1997 was truly wonderful with an historic treble when we won Minor A, Under 21 B and intermediate Football. Incredibly seven players played on all three teams – Seamus Prendergast, Damien Lenane, John Conway, Cathal & Wayne Hennessey, Cillian McCarthy and Mickey Supple. Incredibly too, no less than 21 of our players proudly wore the County Jersey in the same year. We won our first Minor Hurling title in 1998 adding it to another Minor A football title that year. In 1999 we lost our Minor Football title to Ballyduff in a controversial replay. The decade taught us to expect titles and to take success in our stride. Our players had talent to burn and the commitment to go with it. A group of young men and women that are a source of great pride to the parish.

We really hit the ground running in the new millennium with a never to be forgotten Under 21 double when our young-guns, hone by Cork legend Tadhg Murphy beat star studded Mount Sion hurlers by 8 points a game in which Seamus Prendergast scored 3-9. Another Under 21 Football title followed in 2001 but Mount Sion got their revenge in the hurling final.

Its November 2002 and thankfully we are still going well. To date, we have captured Western titles in Under 21 football and Intermediate hurling and we eagerly await both county finals. The Prendergast brothers have brought tow Munster Senior hurling Medals to the Parish, did we ever expect to see that day ? We are going from strength to strength and my hope is that this great movement spirit will continue through the generations.

Goals from Pat Hallahan and John Conway have secured our first Phelan Cup Victory since 1976. Goals from Damien Lenane and 16 year old Maurice O’Connor have crowned us intermediate hurling Champions and will see us in Senior ranks for the very first time next year. Crúibíns and Ribs at Kiely's Cross through ? to an early evening sing-song, Bonfires and a parade through the Village and onto the Round Tower for the official meal. A late memorable night and the rafters shook in Paddy Macs at the afters on Sunday !