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

Recollections By Seamus O’Brien

Some recollections about Ardmore GAA Club by Seamus O’Brien, composed on the 30 year commemoration of the club on 14th October 1995.

‘By their fruits you shall know them’, it is a biblical quotation that is often misapplied when related to achievements in the sporting arena.  It can be particularly misleading when related to achievements on the GAA Scene where we are inclined to measure a club’s greatness and status by counting the championships they have won, be it over a decade or a century.

Very many clubs in this and other counties who may be close to the bottom of the list of championship winners, have contributed as much, if not more that those units whose names appear high up on the Roll of Honour in every county.  I think about this quite often and when I do, Ardmore are one of Clubs that I have in mind.  In the 110 years or so that the GAA has been in existence we here in Portlairge have played about 103 senior football championships and only on two occasions, 1965 and 1977 will readers see the name of Naomh Deughlan/Ardmore listed as champions.  Certainly in the case of Ardmore this gives a very wrong impression of their input into GAA affairs both on and off the field over the past 38 years since they were reformed.

Yes, no one will dispute the fact that the glorious victories of 1965 and 1977 were memorable and historic and were earned with the sweat and blood of the great players who served the club, in those two seasons but my personal recollections of the Club, would name the year 1964 as one of the greatest in their history.  I would rate their game in the final against Kilrossanty in that year as one of the best games of that era.  Even though Ardmore suffered a tantalising defeat by a single point having led all the way up to the 60th minute, it will stay in my memory as one of the greatest hour’s football in their history.  Having beaten Geraldine’s by 3-7 to 0-6 in the first round of the knock-out championship they accounted for the fancied Dungarvan side in the next and proved all the forecasters wrong when beating the hot favourites, John Mitchells by 3-2 to 0-10 in the semi-final.  To lose a great county final on a score line of 2-3 to 0-8 was agonising, but the resilience, the character and the fierce dedication of that group of players was to prove more than adequate when it came to gaining revenge in the following year and winning a very deserved victory which we celebrated in style and is being commemorated here tonight.

A first is always special – probably because it is historical – but the way that Ardmore’s’ proud followers celebrated again in 1977 after another wonderful achievement, gave the impression that the second title was also very special.  In the 38 years of endeavour the Ardmore Club can boast of having won football championships in every grade – minor, junior, intermediate and senior as well as titles in minor and junior hurling – a roll of honour that any club should be proud of, but there were years too when a great effort was made and no titles came their way.  Being able to survive through the bad times is much more of a test of a Clubs character and the fact that Ardmore has the will and the resolve to keep plugging on in the times things were not going so well, is in itself a guarantee that this club is here to stay.

My association with the club stretches back to 1959 and during these years I have been very privileged to have been closely associated with many of the wonderful players and officials who served the club and the county as players, administrators, referees and in other capacities.  On the playing side the club had many who made the headlines both for the club and county and for Munster.  It is dangerous to be invidious in these circumstances as when starting to name names, one never knows when to stop.  But, I feel I will be forgiven if I mention the great John Hennessey who with four of his brothers helped Ardmore to win the 1977 county title, went on to make headlines with Munster and helped them beat Connaught and the Ulster in the final and so made history by becoming the first Waterford man to win a Railway Cup medal in Croke Park. 

I’m sure too that no one will begrudge a mention to the late Mike O’Brien who in many respects was a man apart.  He lived in the Club and for the club and it would be impossible to quantify the work he did on behalf of the boards, as a representative and a county selector.  I have noted with great interest the enormous successes achieved by the clubs underage teams in recent years and the victories, particularly in 1993, must mark a new beginning for the club and the greatest possible guarantee of a great future.  I pay tribute to the men who are working with the young boys in whose dedication, the future of the club lies.  While you have dedicated officials to encourage, inspire and motivate young players, you are on a winner and time will undoubtedly prove this to be so.  I hope this celebration will prove to be as memorable as that great day when the 1965 title was won !