In The Beginning
Carlow town's record in the G.A.A. is an extraordinarily good one, comparing more than favourably with any County's capital. It was a Pale Town and a Garrison Town up to 1922 and at the centre of one of the most heavily planted areas of the country. It gave the County it's nickname "The Scallion Aters", it gave rise to the birth of the Association and indeed it's rebirth when it failed on a number of subsequent occasions.
Carlow town almost continuously supported at least three clubs and on occasion even more and has a hurling tradition as well as any in the county. It is against this background that the start of Éire Óg should be considered as should of course the most significant void that was created in Carlow in 1950/1951 when the two Town teams amalgamated and which was still there when Éire Óg started.
Tinryland Club achieved a hat-trick of Senior championships in 1948-49-50 and looked invincible at a time while both Town Clubs were suffering a lack of success. The mighty O'Hanrahans having last won the Championship in 1945 while Junior Club, Shamrocks, were also experiencing lean times.
This led to an agreement to amalgamate by both Clubs under the name of O'Hanrahans but with the all-white colour of Shamrocks. This quickly brought success winning the Senior Championship in 1951 and 1954 and contesting the finals of 1955 and 1956, losing both to the great Clonmore team of that era, winning again in 1958 and 1961 and not winning their next Championship until 1999.
Football in 1955 was a major talking point. Both All-Ireland Semi-Finals were played on the same day, Dublin v Mayo and Kerry v Cavan. Dublin had a magical team. The Dublin County Finals attracting huge attendances and having an Éire Óg (to be) input. It is a matter of record that Kerry mastered favourites Dublin in that Final and all through the autumn of that year a group of young lads played cards and generally messed around at the back of O'Hanrahans Avenue in Pert Nolan's field (now Roncalli) and in their midst was an older Bill Brien.
The idea of playing organised games came in the autumn of 1955 when a group of teenagers decided to subscribe 2/6 each to purchase a football; the money collected being given to Bill Brien. This happened because a ball which was always loaned to the lads was refused for three successive nights and Bill suggested "buy your own, if a few give 2/6 each ye'll have the price in a fortnight. I'll mind the money for ye." The ball was bought in Doyle's The Shamrock and passed from man to man up to the field!
They next organised a seven a side league in Pert Nolan's field and come hail, rain or snow the matches went ahead every Sunday morning. Soon there was a waiting list to take part. The leagues quickly gained status to the point where objections were even lodged, one completely in Irish!
Prizes of sets of socks, medals and a cup were organised and the grounds for one final, Peter Walker v Tommy O Connor received a facelift with Jim O'Brien and Peter filling holes and goal mouths with turf mull from Mickey Brennan's coal yard at Accommodation Road. Posts were painted red and white and a big crowd induced an electric atmosphere! The games attracted regular patrons who got great enjoyment, among them were Joe McDermott, Betting Office, Tullow Street; Martin (Towney) O'Brien, St. Patrick's Ave; Jackser Smith, Mill Lane; Evan White; Murt Lennon, Bridewell Lane; Mick Harvey, Pollerton Rd; Paddy (Crowman) Kavanagh, Staplestown Rd; Peter Moloney, JKL Ave; John Lambe, McGamhna Rd; Mick Kenny, Pollerton Rd; Paddy Scully, Pairc Mhuire; Seamus Melia, Coalmarket; Pert Nolan, Green Lane; Johnny O'Meara, JKL Ave and Michael Butler, Accommodation Rd. These braved the elements to encourage the embryos growth and always contributed to every club venture. Far seeing men with faith.
The first goal posts were procured by Mick McDarby (The Mallet), son of the famous John of Carlow-Graigue fame. These were temporary and of ash. Later Frank Power obtained proper posts which lasted years. They were brought to the Town Hall and carried through the Town via old Dublin Road to Timmy Fleming's house. When being erected, the order was given to hold up the ball. Bollom Hogan continued to display his left footed drop kick. Unfortunately a crossbar fell on him and knocked him out. He received every care but little sympathy.
Early 11 a side line outs included Tom Keating, Vinny Harvey, Austin Keating, Pa Joe Hogan, Tom Mulhall, Weeshie Murphy, Jim Mulhall, Billy McGrath, Tom Hennessy, Ollie Kelly, Genie Kelly, Peter Walker, Jimmy Travers, Martin Haughney, Mickey Murray, Martin Timmons, Tom Kenny, Ned Coakley, Mick Byrne, Roger Lacey, Tom Haughney, Bollom Hogan, Val Fleming, Frank Power, Jimmy Corcoran, Noel O Brien, Richie Donohoe, Jimmy Byrne, Paddy Travers, Liam Slater, Eddie Walker, Tom Fitzpatrick, Georgie Hogan, Jim O Brien, Ber Hennessy, Phil Lacey, Tom Kehoe, Joe Hogan, Tom O Connor, Danny O'Meara, Jack Dooley, Johnny Dooley, Jim Bolger and Sean Brooks.
Out of this love of the game emerged a new Club, Éire Óg, who were especially youth oriented, enthusiastic and adamant that they were not seeking to replace the Shamrocks who had been swallowed up in the merger with the O'Hanrahans, as was the fate of other small clubs previously.
Indeed the founders had to resist an amount of pressure to assume the role of the Shamrocks who were broadly based in the Dublin road to Pollerton road area of town. When the Club changed form it?s original Derry style jersey to white with red cuffs and collars pressure was brought to bear on our suppliers by another Club to have a Shamrock crest on them! It is likely that if another Club had existed in town in 1956 Éire Óg would never have established itself especially as the main catchment area, top of the town had a strong Shamrocks tradition.
So at the beginning of 1956 a general meeting was held and the momentous decision taken to affiliate teams to the County Board in that year. It is clear that the formation of the Club was not as a result of a break away from any other Club but as a result of a great love of the game and through the lack of interest in the youth by existing clubs.
The first Committee elected at an AGM was:
Chairman - Bill Brien; Vice Chairman - J Hutton; Secretary - Jim O Brien; Assistant Secretary - Frank Power; Joint Treasurers - Tommy O'Connor and Billy McGrath; Committee Members: Austin Keating, J Lacey, Jamesie Hennessy, J Colclough, Sean Brooks and Eamon Colclough.
The Early Years
Immediately the club set about getting organised properly and various sub committees were formed to look after different aspects of activity. The enthusiasm was palpable and all were determined to ensure the club succeeded.
The first official game took place on 4th March 1956 when our minors played Palatine and it resulted in a win. The honour of claiming the Club's very first title went to the Minors who won the League beating Muinebheag and qualified for the Championship Final against the same opposition only to lose it through complacency and failing to train properly for the game.
The juniors qualified as area winners to meet a Fenagh side with which horns would be locked on many a subsequent occasion. This match immediately entered club folklore.
We were beaten by a point in a hugely controversial game and following a successful objection we could have taken the game but a replay was agreed. The replay in Muinebheag was a whitewash and many forecast that the Club would not survive.
But it did and was all the stronger for it.
The Club drew an enormous following to these games surprising in a club so young, and the attendance in Muinebheag was the second highest at any game in the County in 1956. Indeed the Club had a paid up membership of 90 members who each forked out 2/6 to join.
Central to the establishment of the club was the role of club secretary Jim O Brien whose enthusiasm was infectious and whose vision was inspirational. His organisational skills and motivational techniques were second to none.
As in many Towns a key factor in the promotion of Gaelic games was the involvement of the Christian Brothers. It was in the schools that young boys were taught a love of the games and people like Brother Rogers were tremendous influences. Éire Óg worked closely with the Brothers in ensuring the success of the Leagues and quickly came to be almost solely associated with juvenile football in the town. A tradition quickly grew up where winning Éire Óg teams visited the schools after Championship wins to show the Cup and give all the boys a drink of orange from the cup followed of course by the quickly established ?half day?.
Rather than die away after 1956 the club very quickly set its sights on winning a junior championship and going senior. That dream was realised in 1958 when the Junior Championship was won at the expense of kingpins, Fenagh in a replay, 1-10 to 1-4. The team was:
Frank Power, Austin Keating, Mick Byrne, Jimmy Corcoran, Tom Mulhall, Cran Hogan, Willie Murphy, Vinny Harvey and Genie Kelly, Martin Brophy, Pa Joe Hogan, Geraghty, Mickey Murray, Billy McGrath and Long. Jim Mulhall was not selected as he was suspended. Roy Lacey replaced Billy McGrath.
This really set the club ablaze and the momentum carried the club to greater heights soon after. The club quickly earned a reputation for the style of football played, many facets of which were based on the Dublin team of the time. The style required constant practise and went against the norm of the time, catch and kick. The style was devised and implemented by Vinny Harvey the brains on the field. It concentrated on retaining possession by mixing shorter ball with long delivery at pace to a small forward line. A local scribe quickly dubbed the Team "The Glamour team".
GENIE KELLY ON VINNY HARVEY
The first Minor title of 24 titles won up to 2002, was captured in 1959 at the expense of St Brigid's on a 4-4 to 4-3 score line. The Club laid a special emphasis at Minor level and have earned a reputation of specialists in the grade.
And so the 1950s saw the club quickly establish itself by making an almost immediate impact in contesting five county finals in four years and winning three of them. A trend that has continued up to modern times.
There was a constant air of excitement about the Club and its members and an expectation or demand for further success if only to prove the critics wrong. But all the expectation in the world will not deliver success. Plans were hatched in the Club's spiritual home, the Travers house on Pollerton Road to capture the unimaginable, a Senior Championship!!
All these dreams were solidly based in structures that were unique in a GAA Club at that time. Early on the club set up a Ways and Means Committee with the goal of raising funds to fund Club activity. One of their brainchild's was the establishment of the Take Your Pick Draw, which is still with us and continues to be the main source of funding for all football activity in the club. Run in the early years by Weeshie Murphy and Michael Broderick it is still eagerly awaited each year.
Players came first - The Club was player based and player oriented. A player who sustained serious injury received his wages from the club without any outside help even though it drained the coffers. The Club also ensured that Minors were represented on club committees and given responsibilities. From the start the Club endeavoured to provide games for all who were denied them whether through lack of talent or by lack of a club to cater for their standard. The dedication and loyalty in the early years meant that the club was actually put before everything else and this often meant even one's family. Teddy Fleming (O'Hanrahans Ave) often cycled from the Curragh to be a mere sub, without so much as a thank you. Larry Darcy (Castle St) drove to Tralee and back in the same day for a challenge match without even looking for the cost of petrol. Committee members cycled out the country selling tuppenny tickets in the weekly raffle for the magnificent prize of £2!
It was quite common practise for members to cycle to Athy and elsewhere to watch the County Minor team play evening trials. The parties included players, who at times, felt they too should have been playing.
The unique loyalty to an ideal, the striving towards a goal, generated by and between the founder members was indeed the rock upon which the club was built and ensured they stayed together despite personal differences and through thick and thin. Their idealism gave them the belief to fly in the face of the numerous Doctors of Football who repeatedly pronounced that Éire Óg had 6 months to live, 12 months, was dead even on occasion. But the "Patient" Éire Óg broke all the norms as practised, had no tradition and deliberately steered clear of being associated with any former Club and refused to die. A more apt name for the Club might have been Éire Nua.
But for the loyalty and Espirit de Corp of the handful in the early formative years the Club would have gone the way of so many other Clubs and Societies in Carlow Town. Mere records cannot give measure to the depth of the club or its founders who were fired with idealism against all the odds. They were rare ones indeed, so much so that one is tempted to express the thought, there will never be another Éire Og.
The winning of the Minor and Senior double in 1960 when only in its fifth year of existence must surely rank as one of the all-time great achievements by the Club. These were our first minor and senior championships and our first of many doubles. The victories were confirmation of our arrival and our intention of staying. A momentum was created that carried the club for the next ten years and established the club as the leading Club in the County.
The Minors defeated a much bigger team, Kilcloney, by 4-8 to 0-05 by playing an intelligent and skilful brand of football. The team was:
Leo Farrell, Mick Kehoe, Pat King, Michael Geoghegan, Mick Shaw, Matty Callinan, Pat O'Mahony, Michael Keegan, Christy Flood, Michael Broderick, T McCarthy, Ber Hennessy, Brian O Boyle, Martin Brophy and Tom Murphy. Subs: Mick Donegan, Turlough O Brien, Jerry Ruth, Paddy Dalton, Johnny Slater, Paddy Bolger, Michael Kirwan.
The seniors, trained by Dinny Hyland, win over Tullow by 0-16 to 1-3 was hailed as a badly needed revolution in the Nationalist which claimed the winners were practised and look it. They used their brains and the cleverness of their tactics showed it. The historic achievers were:
Frank Power, Lar Darcy, Cran Hogan, Jimmy Corcoran, Tom Mulhall, Eddie Walker, Dinny Hyland, Genie Kelly, Vinny Harvey, George Doyle, Brendan Hayden, Peter Walker, Pa Joe Hogan, John Geoghegan, and Martin Brophy.
The celebrations were planned for the Travers house and only players and officials were to gain entry with Jimmy Travers ensuring so. Off the field the club was fortunate to see Vice President John Swan become actively involved at Committee level and lend his experience to his colleagues. Added to the drive and experience of the great Ger Hosey, Chairman, a formidable back room team was in place to drive the club forward into the swinging sixties.
The emphasis at minor level was well placed and it was to prove the grade from which future senior successes flowed. A record breaking run, begun in 1963 saw the Club annex nine minor championships in a row. This was a phenomenal achievement and would almost certainly have extended to 12 in a row but for the fact that an area team, St Anne's, was specifically put together in 1972 from Tullow, Grange, Clonmore and Rathvilly to finally halt our run of success. We succeeded in winning the next two championships thereafter.
At senior level the 1961 Championship threw up for the first time, in almost a quarter of a century, a unique pairing that captured the imagination of the GAA public nationwide when Éire Og and O'Hanrahans clashed in the first of two all town deciders in a row. What made it unique was the pairing of three sets of brothers against each other. Peter Flood (O'Hanrahans), Christy Flood (Éire Óg); Pa Joe Hogan (Éire Óg) and George Hogan (O'Hanrahans); Peter Walker (O'Hanrahans) and Eddie Walker (Éire Óg). For a while during the game the two Walker brothers marked each other. On the day the Blues were by far the stronger team winning 3-13 to 2-5. Revenge was gained in the League Semi-Final later in the year but more importantly in the following years county Final when the tables were turned and a second title was won on a 5-5 to 1-7 score line.
The sixties proved to be a golden era with seven senior finals contested and six championships claimed, including a first three in a row of titles in 1967, 1968 and 1969.
Many would contend that the Championship in the sixties was on a par with the best on offer in any county at that time. There were certainly great contests and many of the finest footballers to don the red and white did so during this decade. Along with those already mentioned can be added names such as Tommy Corcoran, Eamon O Gorman, Seán King, Tony Moran, Billy O Brien, Paddy Dalton, Seamus Fitzpatrick, and Barney Ffrench.
No club championship existed at this time but many tournaments were entered and their status was much higher than nowadays. Éire Óg had a fearsome reputation as far afield as Meath and Dublin. Many would contend that a provincial club title could have come much earlier. Sin scéal eile!
The sixties saw the start of the U21 championship in 1964 and given our minor success the grade proved a rich source of titles. The first final saw us beat St. Vincent's after a replay on a score line of 1-11 to 1-5 and from which we went on to record three in a row when winning in 1965 and 1966. Tinryland got the better of us in 1967 but we bounced back again in 1968 to account for Myshall.
Three Junior championship finals were also contested in 1961 against Milford, 1965 against Palatine and 1969 against Myshall. All three were lost! A source of concern, first voiced by Jim O Brien as far back as 1960, was the lack of our own pitch and a home. Efforts were made but to no avail and it was to be another decade before progress was made on that front.
One of the successes of the sixties was the organising of the Co. Carlow Sports Awards which the club started back in 1968. This was a unique concept as it involved a GAA Club honouring the best Carlow people in a range of different sporting disciplines. It attracted the attention of RTE and was shown on national television at the time. The function has grown to become the major social event of the sporting calendar and is eagerly looked forward to every year by all sports and sportspeople.
Maintaining the high standards of the sixties was always going to be a difficult task and in a Club that had scarcely faced a bad year since its foundation the early part of the decade would pose serious questions for the future. A barren spell at senior level resulted in no Championship coming our way from 1970 through to 1974. The 1972 final was lost to Tinryland on a score line of 1-10 to 2-14 and hearts were heavy.
Our Minors great run from 1963 right through the sixties and into 1970 and 1971 was brought to an end with an area team specially constructed to do just that in 1972. They bounced back though to take the next two titles in 1973 and 1974, losing out in 76 and 77 before finally beating Muinebheag in 1978 by 0-12 to 1-4. A Junior title in 1970 with a win over Myshall and an U21 win over St Malachys on an appalling day offered some hope that the tide might yet turn back in our favour.
The IFC Final was contested twice in the seventies with Tullow breaking our hearts by 2-11 to 2-10 in 1972 and Old Leighlin three years later when we went down by 0-10 to 3-7. A major driving force behind the club was, as previously mentioned, Secretary Jim O Brien. He was becoming more involved at County Board level and consequently had less time to devote to Club affairs. This possibly impacted in the early seventies on our progress and a period of decline was entered into at the start of the decade.
It was certainly the only real period of decline the Club has faced but stalwarts like Billy Hutton managed to keep the ship afloat but with new administrators like Seamus Donohoe, Tom Geoghegan, Eamon Ellis, Ber Hennessy and Tommy Corcoran becoming increasingly involved, the drift was to be only short term. Billy in particular did most to bridge the gap from the exceptional period of the sixties to a late flourishing in the seventies.
The 1974 Senior win over Kildavin by 5-8 to 2-6 was another significant milestone and a turning point bringing confidence and belief to a new team who went on to dominate the remainder of the seventies just as the team of the sixties had done. A second hat trick was won from 1976 to 1978. Four in a row was missed out on when Tinryland again beat us in a county final by 2-13 to 1-6.
The seventies threw up its own plethora of great Club players to compare with the best of any decade. Players such as Tom Rea, Andy and Eamon Ellis, Eamon Fitzpatrick, the diminutive Tommy Ayres, Tom Geoghegan, Tom Begley, Seamus Donohoe, Pakes Connolly, John Kenny, John and Ritchie Moore.
Eight Minor finals were contested in the seventies with five wins (70, 71, 73, 74, 78) and three losses (72, 76, 77).
Worryingly only one U21 final was contested and won in 1972 against St Malachys.
The focus off the field was very much on obtaining a playing field and minds were concentrated on this task towards the end of the decade. Key people in this task were Tom Geoghegan, Ger Hosey, Seamus Donohoe, Jim O Brien, Pat McCarthy and Mai McGrath. Agreement was reached in 1978 with the council to purchase our present site and major fund raising initiatives were drawn up headed up by Ger Hosey, for whom no task was to little or too great.
Eleven committees were set to handle various projects, some worked and some didn't. In one ten week period £7,000 was raised, a considerable sum at the time.
Many contributed hours of effort to raising money by all sorts of efforts from field days to car draws. People such as all the aforementioned and Bernie O Brien, Kevin Moore, Billy McGrath and others gave freely of their time to ensure the dream became reality.
With the purchase of our new home and the building of a clubhouse we had moved into the first division of GAA clubs nationwide. All we had to do now was pay for it!!
This proved more difficult than imagined as interest rates were sky high and the economy deflated. Added to that we had no experience of running a club bar and lounge. Many mistakes were made but through sheer grit and determination it was made to succeed and the efforts of people such as Seamus Donohoe, Ber Hennessy, Pat McCarthy, Tom Geoghegan, Ger Hosey and Pat O'Shea paid off.
We now had over six acres of land and a fine Club house with potential to develop. The very fact of having our own place contributed to the Club developing strong roots that have really given the club a great foundation to face the future. We had turned a corner. The first town final since 1962 saw us beat the O'Hanrahans by 3-11 to 3-4 and progress to a first ever Leinster Final v Walterstown of Meath. Trained by Dan Carbery the team had gone where no team before had and Dan maintains to this day that lack of belief cost them the title, losing by 2-9 to 2-8. A great disappointment but a lesson well learned.
It was the first year we had taken the provincial campaign seriously and many would contend that we had the talent to have made this impact much earlier. But attitudes were changing and ambitions were growing.
Seven senior finals were contested in the eighties, on a winning note in 80, 82, 84, 87, 88 and 89 our third hat trick of titles in three decades. Of greater significance was our domination in the U21 grade. Seven finals were reached, losing the first in 82 to Rathvilly, before going on to win five in a row from 84 to 88 and finally losing in 89 to Burrin Rangers. These teams were to form the back bone of the great senior teams of the nineties. The influence of Eamon Ellis and Ber Hennessy on these teams was enormous and they can take great credit for developing the teamwork and skills of the players involved. Two junior titles were won in 81 v Rathanna and 83 v Kildavin. Again the intermediate grade eluded us and Old Leighlin beat us 4-4 to 0-8 in the 86 Final. It seemed as though this title was beyond us.
The coaching structures at underage level were beginning to pay dividends as young players who started out at 7 and 8 years of age came through at Minor level and four finals were contested resulting in four wins 85, 86, 87 and 89.
Pat O'Shea had been involved with the Club when he arrived in Carlow from Glenbeigh in Co Kerry and his renewal of those links was vital in the development of the Club. A real GAA man, Pat embraced all aspects of the Association the games, the culture and the pride of place that the GAA instils in communities all over Ireland. Credit must go to the new wave of people who took the baton passed on from the sixties and who built a new era of success in the late seventies and the eighties. It was at this time that the club really became firmly established. They set the club in a leading position as it faced the nineties and an incredible era was about to unfold.
The advent of the nineties saw the club seek to push its horizons further and further. No longer were the standards of old sufficient. It was recognised within the club that the pool of talent was the largest ever available and possibly the most gifted. Despite losing the first two Senior finals of the decade a belief was held by those closely involved that we should be looking beyond Carlow and aim to be seriously competing at Leinster level. To that end a major decision to bring in an outside coach was taken and Bobby Miller was targeted. He arrived in 1992 and our agreed aim was to develop a team capable of challenging for provincial honours in three to five years.
Winning the Carlow championship when beating Tinryland 1-10 to 0-7 indicated that we would be likely to achieve our target at the end of a five year period rather than at the beginning. The key difference now as distinct from before was that Miller pushed players to a level they had never been pushed before and he inculcated a self-belief that was to grow with every result obtained. The rest is, as they say, history.
The period 1992 to 1998 is clearly the most successful the club has ever experienced and catapulted the club into national prominence. We were now mentioned in the same breath as the giants of GAA Clubs from around the thirty two counties, Austin Stacks, Nemo Rangers, St. Vincent's, Crossmaglen Rangers, Kilmacud Crokes and Glen Rovers. Household names.
Nine county senior finals were contested in the nineties, winning six and losing three. Five Leinster club Finals were played and won. An incredible achievement and one that puzzles all the other counties who cannot understand how a Carlow Club can match the best in Leinster while the county side languishes in the doldrums.
Great campaigns - great memories great victories Skryne, Clara, Baltinglass, Ballyroan, Emmet Og, Clane, Mullingar Shamrocks, Erins Isle, Moate, Clane, Ballyboden St Endas, An Tochar, Portarlington, Dunderry, Round Towers, St. Sylvesters, Rathnew, Clanna Gael Dundalk, Fr. Manning Gaels, Kilmacud Crokes. A virtual tour of the province. The only County Champions we didn't meet in this period were those of Kilkenny and Wexford. Our record over Dublin Clubs in particular is a source of tremendous pride we beat the Dublin champions on the four occasions we met them. The county was on fire and support was received as they followed us up from Carlow.
For many people the greatest occasion of all was the All-Ireland semi-final against Knockmore in Knockmore, Co. Mayo. The build-up was intensive and controversy over the venue added to the occasion. It was very much a case of going into the lion's den. We had an epic encounter managing to scrape through to the final on a 2-5 to 0-9 score line. Every bus within 40 miles of Carlow was booked out weeks in advance; a special train carried hundreds more and a convoy of cars headed west across the Shannon. Stories are still being told of the craic the night before in Ballina and Castlebar and of course of the game itself and the journey home.
And so we were into an All-Ireland Final in Croke Park against the Champions of Cork, O'Donovan Rossa. This was probably the game that established the Club Championships as the next most important competition in the GAA after the All-Ireland Inter-county Championships. Crowds mushroomed for every game along the way and St Patrick's Day saw new records set for attendance at the Finals. A classic encounter and a nail biting finish had the commentators searching for superlatives; a drawn game 3-6 to 1-12 meant a replay in Limerick. Controversy surrounded their last point when a push on Garvan Ware went unpunished.
The replay in Limerick was played in appalling conditions and was even more controversial than the drawn game. Again we suffered. A late goal by Darren Moore was deemed a square ball though an almost identical goal was allowed against us earlier. It was a bitter defeat on a score line of 0-8 to 1-7. A crowd of over 35,000 attended the Gaelic Grounds on that unforgettable day. The genius of the late Mick McCarthy, who was tragically killed some short few years later in a traffic accident, was the difference between two great and well matched sides.
It was a measure of the team that they could bounce back from such a heart-breaking outcome to win another four Leinster titles and contest another All Ireland Final. The toll of being on the road for so long caught up with the side in the following years All Ireland semi-final when playing way below par they went under to Castlebar Mitchells in a replay.
After a break of almost a year Sarsfields beat them in the Leinster Club Championship - they again qualified out of Leinster and accounted for Ulster Champions Mullaghbawn in the All-Ireland Semi-Final by 0-12 to 0-6 in Navan to again qualify for an All-Ireland Final. Laune Rangers, Killorglin hit us with some sucker punches as we leaked some soft goals to lose by 4-5 to 0-11. Our graph was now on a downward spiral and we won a fifth Leinster title on auto pilot and were found out in the All-Ireland Semi-Final as Knockmore wreaked revenge for the humiliation of a home defeat in 92 when hammering us by 3-14 to 0-5. It was the end of an era and yet the never say die spirit of the team brought them to the 99 county final and a clash with an emerging O'Hanrahans, who themselves went on to Leinster glory.
While the seniors blazed their trail the Club won all four minor finals it contested in the decade, accounting for Clonmore (94) then a hat trick of titles in 97, 98 and 99 when beating O'Hanrahans twice and then Tinryland. A further two junior titles were claimed in 1993 and 1996 beating Leighlinbridge and the Fighting Cocks respectively. Curiously no U21 or Intermediate finals were contested in the decade.
Hard to believe that at the start of the nineties the club did not have proper permanent dressing rooms. Old school prefabs served as changing rooms and an old fibre glass bath with a single shower head was all that could be provide as wash facilities for our teams. The life span of the prefabs was well and truly past and they were a hazard and totally unacceptable in the 1990's.
A major expansion of the club facilities was undertaken under the guidance of Tom Geoghegan. Tom worked in the background and is largely responsible for positioning the Club where it is today. The expansion, costing over £250,000, consisted of four large dressing rooms, shower area, toilet blocks and a large function hall overhead. Work was completed in time for the 1992 All Ireland Final held on St. Patrick's Day 1993.
The first female Secretary of the club was the late Ann Brennan who was taken from us in the prime of her young life following a long hard battle with illness. Ann epitomised the spirit in the club always enthusiastic, committed and unselfish. The club was first with Ann and she made others follow where she led.
A major boost for the Club was the decision by Michael Broderick to relocate to Carlow in the nineties and to become involved in the running of the Club. He quickly got involved in the development of facilities and was responsible for the planning and design of the refurbished Club House. The design has attracted lavish praise and its success can be gauged by how busy the Club has become.
The New Millennium 2000 - 2007
The club launched ambitious plans to improve the facilities available to our teams and members. A unique partnership concept was devised by Éire Óg to develop land at Ashgrove in association with the Town council, the Gaelscoil, local residents and soccer Clubs.
As a result the Club developed a 7 acre playing field beside the new Gaelscoil at Ashgrove on land provided on a sporting lease by the Town Council.
Seven acres of land was also purchased beside the Club at a cost of €1,000,000. This was developed into two new playing fields, a 1200m walking trail and outdoor exercise stations were installed. Páirc Uí Bhriain is now one of the finest Club grounds in the country. State of the art Floodlighting has been installed to allow our teams play matches all year round.
The Club was selected as the AIB GAA Club Of The Year 2001 at a function in Dublin spring 2002 - officially declaring us as the leading Club nationwide in 2001!
While the senior championship eluded us in the early years of this decade our playing strength has never been greater. We have won U21 Championships in 2001, 2002 and 2004 and Minor Championships in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, contested four Intermediate Finals, winning in 2002 and again in 2007, our first two titles in the grade. O'Hanrahans beat us in the 2000 SFC Final by 2-8 to 0-11 but 2005 saw us beat our closest rivals O'Hanrahans in the SFC Final by 0-7 to 0-6. We were narrowly beaten in the 2006 SFC Semi Final by Kildavin in controversial circumstances. 2007 saw Éire Óg again reign as SFC winners with a convincing win in a replay over Palatine by 4-9 to 1-9.
At juvenile level all out teams are invariably involved at the final stages - in 2002 we won the U14 Final and lost the U16 Final, after a replay, while the U12's were beaten at the semi-final stage. Our underage girl's teams are going from strength to strength, winning the U14 and have reached the semi-final of the U16 grade in 2002. The lads regained the U16 FC in 2003.
The juvenile coaching structures are constantly improving and the coaching at our Saturday morning nursery is first class and augurs well for the future. We can look forward to the future with confidence. We have never had structures so strong or such high quality coaching at all levels. Our facilities are among the best available. Everything is in place to continue the great tradition formed by previous generations