Chairman: Bernard Maxwell
Vice Chairman: Ciaran McCormak
Treasurer: Edwina Connell
Secretary: John Kearney
Ballymore GAA 126 years of history – The 60’s to the 90’s
Ballymore is one of the oldest clubs in the county. It was founded in 1884 although it didn’t affiliate to the Westmeath GAA until 1893. However a game of football was popular in the area for some years before that. What type of game it was is hard to fathom but most probably it was based on the game of rugby where possession and territory gained was the most important feature of this type of game. This is where the term “We beat them Home” came from.
When the club affiliated to the Westmeath GAA in 1893, its membership was short lived due to a dispute in that years final between Athlone and Mullingar. This dispute caused the break up of the young association and the County committee disbanded. Several attempts were made to put a new committee together after this, all to no avail. However a new County Committee was formed in 1899 and they organised a competition for 1900 with the winners getting a cup. This competition was by invitation only and Ballymore got an invitation to take part which was accepted. There is no record of how the club fared in this competition other than the fact they didn’t win it.
The first recorded report of a match which was played in Coffey’s field in Moyvoughly in 1903 between Ballymore “Brian Boru’s” as they were named at that time and “Moate Invincibles”. The match was a friendly and was played on the 13th of December 1903. The game was hard but fair with scores at premium, Moate won the match on the score of 0-3 to 0-2. There is no record of the clubs activities or it’s progress during the following years, except there were no honours gained. The club disbanded at the end of the 1912 season and a number of Ballymore players threw in their lot with Bishopstown club which was in the Boher end of the parish. This club was formed in 1910 and continued to operate until about 1921 winning an Intermediate championship in 1918. Meanwhile the Ballymore club was reformed in 1920 and had mixed fortunes during the 1920’s. Their most successful year was in 1929 when they reached the semi-final of the Junior Championship only to fall by the way side at that stage. The semi final was reached again in 1930 where they came up against Moate who proved too strong on the day.
From that time the club kept improving and had reasonable results on the playing fields. With the addition of a few new players who had been with Rosemount up to 1935 a big effort was made to win the championship. The first bit of silverware arrived in the club in 1936 when they won the Carmelite Cup which was run in connection with a Festival in Moate. The team defeated Moate in that final.
1937 was the year of the big break when the championship and league double were landed. Lean years followed with relegation back to Junior in 1941. The Junior Final was reached again in 1943 but a strong Derrymore team proved best in that one. The club struggled on until 1945 when defeat in the first round of the championship sounded the death knell for that period.
There was no team in Ballymore for 2 years but a few young lads from the club went to play with Drumraney who won the championship in 1946 and reached the Intermediate Final in 1947. Meanwhile the club was reformed in 1947 and entered for the 1948 competitions. Success was slow to come but at the end of 1950 players who had been with other clubs came back to help out and the semi-final of the championship was reached with Tubberclair which ended in a draw. The replay ended in a free for all with the club being suspended for a year. However an appeal to the County Board was successful and the club was allowed to compete in 1952 with a whole new committee in place. A poor run in the league followed by a first round exit in the championship to Walshestown concluded that years activities.
1953 brought an improvement when the team reached the quarter finals of the championship only to fall against Ballinagore. First round exits to Milltown and Tubberclair respectively followed in 1954 and 1955 after poor performances in the leagues.
With the arrival of a few young players in 1956 a big improvement was noticeable with a very good run in the league followed by a quarter final appearance in the championship. Castledaly proved too strong in the championship while Moyvore put paid to the league run. A poor run in the league followed by a first round defeat in the championship ended the clubs aspirations for 1957.
At the start of the 1958 season there was a big influx of young players into the club and they made an instant impact winning their division of the league. This was followed by a final appearance in the championship after a fairly comfortable run. The championship run ended in heartbreak when the team were beaten by a point when Coralstown nosed in front at the final whistle. However the league was captured in a very hard game against the Downs. The following year proved to be a disaster with a poor start to the league followed by a series of injuries to key players. After struggling to win the first round of the championship, Kilbeggan put paid to the teams chances in the second round.
However there were better days around the corner with the club winning the double in 1960, so the long wait was over with these victories. The Intermediate grade beckoned in 1961 and the team responded by reaching the final only to succumb to Kilbeggan. The intermediate grade was abolished for 1962 so it was up to Senior ranks for the club. The semi final was reached that year where St. Marys the eventual champions put a stop to the gallop. However the club reached it’s first Feis Cup Final where they met Kinnegad who also fell at the feet of St. Marys in the championship. The final was played in Cusack Park on a crisp October day where both teams served up a great game of football before Ballymore won their first ever Senior trophy on a 2-4 to 0-5 score line.
The following year was a lean one where no progress of any kind was made. Meanwhile near neighbours Boher folded and six of their players joined Ballymore for the 1964 campaign. Their presence had an immediate effect with an unbeaten run to the league final and a final place in the Feis Cup as well. In the meantime the club won the Castleshanahan Cup which was very prestigious tournament run by the nuns in Castleshanahan between the top clubs in Longford and Westmeath.
The Suir Valley Cup run by the Glasson Carnival Committee was annexed for the first time also. However St. Marys halted our championship hopes when they defeated the team in the first round . The Roseland Cup which was run by the Moate club and attracted teams from Longford , Westmeath, Offaly and Roscommon was in full swing at the time. Having completed for this cup from its inception and failing at the semi final spot for the two years previous, a big effort was made to win it in 1964. Good victories over Tullamore and Clara assured a final spot for the first time. The final couldn’t be played due to a fixture pile up between Ballymore and St. Lomans who reached the final from the other side of the draw. As the Autumn approached the league final was played in Moate where Ballymore won their first Senior league title with a good win over St. Lomans. However St. Lomans turned the tables 3 weeks later when they edged out Ballymore in a thrilling Feis Cup Final.
1965 started with a series of sluggish play with poor returns from the league and a first round defeat in the Feis Cup. However the Suir Valley Cup was retained after an exciting tournament. This was leading up to the championship where Kinnegad were waiting and after an none too impressive performance the locals edged home by a couple of points. Mullingar the county champions were next in line and after an enthralling match the locals scraped home on a score line of 1-6 to 0-8. Meanwhile the club’s Junior team were having a good run in the championship by capturing a final spot. This coupled with the success of the Seniors was making for a very successful season. However the club suffered defeat in both finals. St. Lomans proved too strong for the Juniors while Athlone grabbed the Senior title on the score 2-7 to 0-6. Ballymore played well in this final but their inability to take a couple of good goaling chances early on in the match proved fatal in the end. Had these chances been taken at the time a different result could have been the case.
1966 proved to be a disaster with defeat in every league match plus a first round defeat in the Feis Cup. However injuries were a big factor at this time but as summer arrived form improved and the Suir Valley Cup was retained for the third time in a row. In the championship old rivals Athlone handed out a comprehensive defeat. That concluded the clubs interests in the county competitions. Meanwhile the Roseland Cup Tournament commenced with Ballymore edging out Tubberclair in the first round on a replay. A fairly easy win over Clara in the semi final gained a place in the final for the second time. The final was played in October against old rivals and near neighbours Maryland who were defeated in the County final in September. After a wonderful hours football Ballymore edged out Maryland with a goal in the last few minutes to lift the Cup for the first time.
Things didn’t improve in 1967 with a string of defeats in the early parts of the season. However a good run in the Suir Valley Cup, getting to the final brought an improvement in form for the championship. A good win over Rosemount in the first round set up a meeting with hot favourites Athlone. This game was played in Moate and Ballymore caused the shock of the season by eliminating Athlone on the score of 3-6 to 1-4. This victory set up a semi final meeting with our bogey team St. Marys. In a thrilling game St. Marys held out for a victory on the 3-6 to 1-9 score line in a game where Ballymore had far more of the ball but the story of wide’s, wide’s and more wide’s caused their downfall. With retirements and injuries it was a much depleted side which took the field against Athlone in the first round of the championship, Athlone won easily and that concluded our clubs involvement in Senior grade. Relegation to intermediate followed at the end of 1968. A terrible slump in the fortunes of the club followed with a first round defeat in the championship and a very poor run in the league left morale at an all time low in the club at the end of 1969. With the introduction of a couple of young players at the start of 1970 there was a big improvement with full points in the league to win the title for the first time. A good run in the championship ended when St. Finians beat them in the final on the score St. Finians 2-9 Ballymore 2-3. Meanwhile the Junior team won their way to the Junior B final where old rivals Athlone proved too strong on the score Athlone 2-10 Ballymore 2-7.
In 1971 a slump set in again with 2 wins in 7 league games didn’t give much hope for the championship. This proved to be correct when a young Bunbrosna outfit outscored Ballymore by 1-12 to 0-6. First round defeats followed for the Junior and U-21 teams.
Undaunted the club set out in 1972 but poor results followed in the league. However the Junior team progressed to the semi final of the championship with good victories over The Downs, 1-7 to 0-7, St. Lomans 2-5 to 0-7 and St. Marys 3-13 to 0-9. The intermediate team edged out St. Marys by 2-9 to 2-7 in a thriller in the first round and then they saw Caulry out of the way by 1-7 to 1-6. In the final they defeated hot favourites Tang after a fine hours football on the score Ballymore 3-4 Tang 1-8. This was a great victory after all the disappointment of the previous 12 years where the club were beaten in one Senior, two Intermediate and two Junior B finals. The Junior team failed to Castletown Finea at the Semi Final stage of the championship by 4-11 to 0-12 and the U-21 team were eliminated at the quarter final stage.
1973 was a disaster with not win in the league and first round defeats in the championship and Feis Cup. The junior and U-21 teams fared no better with the season drawing to a close and one league game left to decide relegation back to Intermediate it was do or die. The game was against The Downs who were crowned county champions in September and it looked an impossible task to take the points to retain senior status. However on a dull October Sunday, Ballymore overcame the Downs by 2-9 to 2-8 in a cracking game of football to retain their Senior status.
An improvement in form in 1974 saw the team reach the league final where The Downs proved best by 2-6 to 1-2. They also proved best in the Feis Cup first round by 1-10 to 1-6 and by 2-9 to 2-3 in the Shanahan Cup final. A very poor effort in the first round of the championship saw Kilbeggan/Castledaly group team win by 1-4 to 0-6. In the meantime the Junior team defeated Streamstown in the first round of the Fr. Macken Cup but were eliminated by Ballynacargy in the Semi Final.
In 1975 prospects looked dim early on with three defeats in the league and the junior team weren’t doing much better with two defeats and a win. However in the championship a mixed set of results took the team to the divisional final where the Downs proved best by 3-8 to 1-9. The Downs were now proving a bogey team just like St Marys in the early sixties. Kilbeggan put the team out of the Feis cup in the first round. With the championship run on a league basis in 1976, a good start in the competition followed by a slump in form which ruled out a chance of a semi final place. A very poor run in the league proceeded the championship. There was no joy for the Junior and U-21 team either. However the Feis Cup commenced in August where the Downs provided the opposition and a thrilling game where the lead changed hands several times, Ballymore emerged winners on the score 4-7 to 1-12. After this win the Junior team had a good win over Multyfarnham in the first round of the Fr. Macken Cup. A draw with Castledaly was the outcome of the second round. However Castledaly won the replay convincingly . The U-21 team won the first round of the championship with a good win over Rosemount but Moate proved superior in the following round.
On the first Sunday in February 1977 the Feis Cup semi final was played in Moate where Ballymore and Tyrrellspass provided a good hours entertaining football with Ballymore finishing in front on the score 2-7 to 0-9. After this the league commenced with a trip to London as the prize for the winners. One loss plus two draws and two wins left the team in a play off for a semi final spot with Moate which the latter won by 2 points. The Junior team had a good first round win in the championship over St. Malachys but failed to Rosemount in the second round. A two point win over Castledaly in the U-21 championship was followed by elimination at the hands of Kilbeggan in the second round. The Senior championship started poorly with a loss to Mullingar followed by four straight wins in a row leaving the team in a play off for a semi final spot. This game was decided on two give away goals against the Downs when the team played exceptionally good but at the end failed to reach the Semi finals. Meanwhile Caulry invited the team to play in the Egan Cup Tournament which started in September. A good win over Castledaly in the first round set up a meeting with the host club in the final. The final was thrilling affair with Ballymore edging in front in the last few minutes to win by two points. This concluded the years activities and there was a trophy for the sideboard.
An early start to the 1978 season with challenges to prepare for the Feis Cup final which was due to be played in April. Two early victories in the league brought an air of confidence into the team as the final day drew near. Having to field without a few key players on final day left the team with an impossible task. However the replacements got stuck in and gave a great performance before an experimental Kilbeggan outfit edged home on the score Kilbeggan 0-9 Ballymore 1-3. After this defeat deterioration in form set in and a series of losses followed in all grades from U-21 to Senior. 1979 proved to be no better with defeat in every game in the Junior and Senior leagues followed by a couple of heavy losses in the championship. Tyrrellspass proved far too strong in the first round of the Feis Cup and the year dragged on with relegation staring the club in the face. However the club managed to stay in Senior for another year.
There was an improvement in form in the early part of 1980 with a few good victories in the leagues, Junior and Senior. A good win over St. Marys in the first round of the Feis Cup created optimism for the championship. However this didn’t materialise as Tyrrellspass proved too strong in the first round of the championship and St. Malachys handed out a heavy defeat in the following round to end the teams chances for the year. Mullingar proved too strong in the second round of the Feis Cup and as the year drew to a close Intermediate grade was staring the club in the face. At a meeting of the club it was decided to regrade to Intermediate grade for 1981.
The first game in 1981 was a first round of the 1980 Feis Cup against Mullingar which ended in a win for Mullingar by 0-12 to 0-8. This match heralded a new beginning for the club with the introduction of a couple of new faces to the team. Good wins over Rosemount, Milltownpass and a loss to Tang gave the team confidence for the championship. The junior team had a bad league run but improved in the championship with a good win over Castledaly in the first round. Meanwhile the Intermediate team had good victories over Castletown Finea, Caulry, St. Finians and Shandonagh. Defeat in the last round by Ballynacargy left the team in a play off with St Finians for a semi final spot. This match was won comfortably by Ballymore on the score 3-5 to 0-2. In the semi final Ballynacargy came out on top with 0-9 to 0-5 win where Ballymore wasted a lot of good opportunities during the game. In the meantime the Junior team reached the Semi finals of the championship where the Downs were waiting for them. It took 3 games to sort this one out before the Downs progressed with a 3-3 to 0-3 score line. These teams met again later in the year in the Fr. Macken Cup Final and once again the Downs emerged winners by 1-8 to 1-7. The U-21 team failed at the first round of the championship. In 1982 early defeats in the league didn’t auger well for the season. However there was an improvement in form by the time the championship came round. With a couple of good results in the early rounds followed by a few poor ones left the team struggling to stay in the race. A draw in the last game of the championship put the team out of contention for honours. The Junior team fared no better with a few wins in the league followed by a first round win in the championship over St. Lomans. However Tang proved too strong in the second round to end their interest in the league and championship for that year. Later in the year they reached the final of the Fr. Macken Cup which was held over to 1983. The U-21’s failed in the first round of the championship.
At the beginning of 1983 the junior team were beaten by the Downs in the Fr. Macken Cup Final by 1-10 to 1-3. This was the start of a very poor season for the Juniors with a string of defeats in the league followed by a 1-12 to 0-2 drubbing at the hands of the Downs in the championship. The U-21 team fell to the same opposition in the first round of the championship. Meanwhile the Intermediate team were doing fine with a couple of good league results and a win in the Feis Cup against Caulry. The first and second rounds of the championship were negotiated to set up a semi final spot against St. Pauls which was lost on the score St. Pauls 0-8 Ballymore0-6. After this setback it was back to the Feis Cup where a win over St. Marys set up a semi final meeting with Maryland. Once again Ballymore were defeated to conclude the activities.
Centenary year started off brightly with a couple of wins in the Junior league but the Intermediate team made a dismal start to their year with a defeat by Maryland. A win over Garrycastle and a loss to Tang followed. Moate ended our interest in the Feis Cup in the first round. In the meantime the Junior team defeated Maryland in the first round of the championship and beat St. Malachys in the second round. The U-21 team made a good start to the championship with wins over St. Pauls, Multyfarnham and Loughnavalley but Kilbeggan put a stop to their gallop in the next outing. The Intermediate team made a good start to the championship when they overcame Killucan in a hard fought game. In the semi final they proved far too strong for Castledaly and qualified for the final after the disappointments of the previous year. While they were waiting for the final the Junior team made their exit from the championship at the hands of Moate. The final was played on the 21st of August with St. Finians Kinnegad as opposition and in an enthralling final the teams finished level at 0-8 to 1-5. The replay was another cracker with very little separating the sides through the hour with Ballymore edging home on an 0-6 to 0-4 score. This victory set the seal on a great year for the club and was achieved mainly by the displays of an outstanding defence. Senior status was beckoning for 1985. The season ended with a league win over Caulry.
A good run in the league heralded in the 1985 season. Victory in the championship over Kilbeggan in a replay got the team into the second round where another draw with Rosemount set up another replay which Rosemount won. The Junior and U-21 teams made no progress in their competitions but the club had secured their position in Senior for the 1986 season.
1986 dawned with high hopes of achieving something on the playing fields but a poor start to the league didn’t inspire confidence. However the club entered the Forgney, Kenagh, Caulry and Milltown tournaments, winning the Milltown tournament for the first time beating Ballinacargy in the final. We won 2 rounds in the Feis cup only to fall to Athlone in the semi final. A second round exit in the U-21 championship at the hands of Kilbeggan followed. The Junior team were beaten by Tubberclair in the first round of the championship. Old adversaries Rosemount halted the Senior team in the first round of the championship by 1-9 to 1-5. However a couple of good league wins at the end of the season ensured Senior football for the following year. The club made a poor start to the 1987 season with a loss to Tyrrellspass in the league. A win over Rosemount lifted hopes but it was a false dawn because three defeats in a row followed. A hard fought game against Rosemount in the first round of the championship ended in Ballymore’s favour by 0-7 to 0-6 but Athlone proved stronger in the second round after a cracking game. The Score reading Athlone 2-9 Ballymore 2-5. Meanwhile the junior team missed out on a semi final spot in the championship after a very good run. The U-21 team were defeated in the second round of the championship by a slicker Garrycastle outfit. The Feis Cup got underway and good wins over Milltownpass, Garrycastle, Ballynacargy and Moate to reach the final. This game against Tubberclair was played in Mullingar after the Senior final and in a pulsating encounter the teams finished level at 1-6 to 1-6. Tubberclair won the replay in Athlone by 1-5 to 0-6 after another exciting match. In the meantime the team won the Fr. Macken Cup with a good1-2 to 0-7 win over Carrickedmond for the second year in a succession. However trouble was in store when the league re-started and a win in the last game was needed to hold onto Senior status. This was not to be as the Downs won easily by 4-7 to 0-8 so it was back to Intermediate grade for the 1988 season.
1988 started with high hopes of winning the championship but that was put paid to by Mullingar in the second round when they proved best by 0-10 to 1-6 in a game where Ballymore kicked 15 wides in the second half of the match. However the team made good progress in the league to reach the final where Coralstown-Kinnegad proved best on a score line of 1-9 to 1-5. The team lost to Tang in the second round of the Feis Cup. The Junior team missed out on a semi final spot by being beaten twice in the league championship. However the team reached the final of the Fr. Mackin Cup only to give best to Ballinagore. The U-21 team failed at the first hurdle to Milltownpass in the championship.
Once again our hopes were high for 1989 and a good run in the league helped to raise morale with a semi final spot guaranteed before the championship started. A first round win over Ballinagore in a replay set up a meeting with Tyrrellspass who ended the clubs hopes of a championship also in a replay by 1-7 to 0-8. In the Feis Cup Castledaly proved best on the score of 2-9 to 0-7. In the Junior grade a reasonable run was the result of the teams efforts. The club had no U-21 team due to lack of numbers. There was further disappointment in the semi final of the league when another defeat ensued. Having entered in three tournaments during the year , first round defeats in all three left the club with a very poor year on the playing fields.
The 1990 season proved to be very disappointing winning 3 games in the league and losing 6 . A first round defeat by Tang in the championship after a replay was a disaster. The Junior team fared no better. The Senior team won their way to the final of the Ballymahon Tournament but were thrown out because they couldn’t field a team on the date the final was fixed.
There was an improvement in form at the beginning of the 1991 season. A good run in the league guaranteed a Semi final spot where Tyrrellspass proved too good on a 2-6 to 0-4 score line. Good victories over Rosemount and Killucan earned a semi final spot against Mullingar in the championship which was lost by 1-12 to 0-2. Feis cup hopes were shattered on a 1-11 to 0-8 score by the Downs. The Junior team had a very poor run of results in the league and elimination in the first round of the championship by Bunbrosna. There was no U-21 team due to the lack of numbers.
1992 started in a very poor fashion with one win out of five games in the league. However a good 0-12 to 0-5 win over Tubberclair in the first round of the championship set up a meeting with Caulry who beat Ballymore by 1-9 to 1-6 on a day when nothing went right. The junior team had a very poor season winning one game out of six played. Coralstown-Kinnegad ended our Feis Cup hopes with a 3-12 to 0-8 defeat. Maryland defeated the U-21 team in the first round. Meanwhile St. Martins amalgamation which brought Ballymore, Tang and Maryland together for the Senior championship made good progress with wins over St. Patricks, St. Lomans and Coralstown-Kinnegad to gain a semi final spot where Mullingar beat them in Moate by 2-9 to 1-9 in a thriller. The club had a disastrous start in 1993 with seven defeats and one draw in the league. However there was a dramatic improvement when the championship got under way with a great win over Mullingar in a thriller. Maryland were next in line where they eliminated Ballymore by 0-10 to 0-8 in a replay which ended controversially after a free for all. Kilbeggan proved too good in the Feis Cup first round. The Junior team had a very poor run of results during the year with one win out of six games played. The U-21 team had a good season reaching the semi final of the championship only to fail to St. Malachys-Ballinagore by 1-11 to 0-8. There was a good start made to the 1994 season with a good league run, just missing a semi final spot. However things went very badly in the championship when St. Marys ended our hopes in the first round on a 1-9 to 1-7 score in a replay. The Junior team had a poor league run but won the first round of the championship against Shandonagh and Moate ended the run in the next round by 2-12 to 0-6. Moate also eliminated the U-21 team by 3-11 to 0-5 in the first round.
In 1995 the club just avoided relegation to the Division 3 of the league due to lack of interest of some players in the early part of the year. After a good first round win in the championship Kilbeggan ended our gallop in the second round by 0-11 to 1-7. After having what appeared to be a great goal disallowed 5 minutes from the end of the game. The junior team and U-21 teams made no impact in their competitions.
There was a reasonable start to the 1996 season with a few good victories in the league to secure Division 2 status. Two good wins over Ballycomoyle by 2-7 to 0-8 and Shandonagh by 4-10 2-6 set up a semi final meeting with Ballynacargy who proved too strong by 3-10 to 1-7. The junior and U-21 teams had a fair run in their respective competitions. The intermediate team progressed to the quarter finals of the Feis Cup with wins over St. Malachys and Kilbeggan but failed at that stage to Rosemount by 0-15 to 0-3.
Hopes were high for the 1997 season after the good results of the previous season, however a mixed run in the league didn’t dampen spirits as the championship approached. A good win over Killucan in the first round set up a meeting with Ballinagore who defeated the team by 2-4 to 0-8 in a game where Ballymore had 60% of the play but couldn’t score. Garrycastle proved too good in the first round of the Feis Cup by 3-10 to 1-12. Relegation to Division 3 was avoided only by the skin of our teeth. Meanwhile the Junior team had a good run in the league just missing a final place. The Junior Championship was run on a league basis and the team were very unlucky in so far as never being beaten but failed to make it to the knockout stages. They played too many drawn matches. The U-21 team got a walk over from Delvin in the first round and failed to field in the following one, the game being awarded to Shandonagh.
A new trainer was got at the start of 1998 and a big change came over the club with a fair run in the league. Good victories over Athlone, Kilbeggan, Milltownpass and St. Malachys got the team to the semi final of the championship. Meanwhile Milltownpass beat them in the first round of the Feis Cup by 0-12 to 1-7. The Junior team had a good run in the league and a first round victory over Tang by 1-8 to 1-7 in the championship. However Mullingar Shamrocks edged them out by 3-8 to 1-17 in the second round in a thriller of a game. The U-21 team lost to Ballynacargy by 6-8 to 2-9 in the second round of the championship. When the four semi finalists were known for the Intermediate championship Ballymore were pitted against Maryland and in a tense encounter Ballymore finished in front by 0-7 to 0-6. The final was another tough, hard game which Ballymore won by 0-9 to 0-6. So the Peter Geraghty Cup came back to Ballymore after a lapse of 14 years. It was the clubs first time to win this cup since it was presented to the County Board by the Ballymore club in memory of the late Peter Geraghty who was a life long member of the association and the first president of the Westmeath GAA.
With entry to the senior ranks in 1999 hopes were high that the club would do well in the championship. However this was not to be although the club had a good run in the Feis Cup, getting to the final only to succumb to Mullingar Shamrocks by 0-19 to 0-11 in a very entertaining final. Defeats by St. Lomans, Moate and Mullingar Shamrocks in the championship left the team in the relegation play off with Tang and Rosemount where the team lost and relegated back to Intermediate grade for the year 2000. The loss of four players from the 1998 winning team was a great handicap going into senior and was more or less the cause of relegation. The Junior team just missed a league final place while the U-21 team are in the second round of the championship as this article is being compiled.
Underage in the club
Ballymore first entered the minor championship in 1929 with no success. During the thirties and early forties any good young player from the area played with Moate or Rosemount. At the end of the forties underage became established in the club although very weak. Then in the fifties a radical change was introduced into underage with the formation of the group team system. Ballymore were part of the St. Martins outfit which dominated underage for the next decade winning a total of 15 championships from U-14, U-16 and Minor competitions. In 1970 the group team system was abandoned and clubs were on their own. During the next decade the club made some progress in so far as a steady stream of talent for the adult team kept coming through as witnessed the success in the Intermediate championship in 1972.
The clubs first underage success came in 1987 with the winning of the U-12 B and the U-14 C championships. The U-12 team reached the final again in 1988 only to fall to Caulry in a replay. In 1989 the U-14 B championship was won in a replay against Moate in what were two as good an hours football as were ever seen at this age. The next success came in 1992 when the Minor B Championship was annexed after a very hard campaign defeating Bunbrosna in the final. The following year the final was reached again only to lose to Maryland/Tang.
The next bit of success came in 1997 when the Minor team reached the semi final of the championship only to fall to St. Marys in a replay. As the club enters the new century numbers are small but there is a crop of players aged 11 and under who will be a force in years to come with proper coaching to keep the Green and Gold in the eye of the followers.
The County Connection
When Westmeath won the All Ireland Junior Football final in 1929 there was a member of the team from Ballymore. His name was John Conlon and at that time he was assisting another club but returned to help Ballymore during the thirty’s. After this the club have produced some of the finest exponents of the game to wear the county jersey.
Peter Geraghty and Joe McKnight followed him. Next came Joe Casey followed by Ned Martin who was a member of the 1939 Minor team which made the breakthrough in Leinster. He won a Leinster Junior medal in 1940 and was a stalwart on the 1949 team which lost to Meath. During the forties John Hoare, a great goalkeeper was selected to play for the Junior county team.
In 1952 Fr. J Kerrane PP Dunshaughlin was a member of the Leinster Minor Championship winning team but failed to Cavan in the next round. He also wore the Senior jersey on a few occasions.
At the end of the fifties a wonderful group of players came on the scene starting at minor level. There was John Dillon, Tommy Cleary, Mick Murphy and Jim Murphy who played at all levels with the county. They were followed by Seamus Stokes another great player during the sixties. Rob Cornally now living in Mullingar, a native of Ballymore was a half back on the 1963 Minor team defeated by Kerry in the All Ireland Final. Then came Frank Dillon, Declan Rooney, Gerry Murtagh, Johnny Hoare and Eddie Finnerty who played for the county U-16 team with some progressing to minor and adult level.
Next came Brian McCabe and Pat Connaughton who played for the county at both hurling and football and are holders of an All Ireland medals at minor level(hurling). The Hughes brothers Paddy and Tony were also called to the county team and played centre field together in the 1970’s. Eddie and Gerry Somers, Vinnie Butler and Willie Finnerty saw service with the county, in fact Willie Finnerty was a corner back on a Byrne Cup winning team.
The nineties produced another crop of young players to serve the county. Derek Cuffe saw service with a Fr. Manning Cup winning team, injury dogged him after that. Michael Ryan, David Hughes and Paddy Martin were also to the fore at minor level. Denis Eivers also played for the County Minors and with the U-21’s. Ciaran McCormack, Derek Molloy together with Paddy Martin played for the Junior County team in 1999 Leinster Championship.