Abbeylara G.A.A Club History – (1889-2013)
Gaelic football in the parish of Abbeylara can be traced back to the year 1889 when a Club named Ballywillan Michael Davitt’s was affiliated with the Longford County Committee. No details of the officers of the Club or of its representatives on the County Committee are available. Drawn against Granard Tim Healy’s in the inaugural Senior Football Championship the Club conceded a walk over on the grounds that it was unable to field a team. In the Championship of 1891 Ballywillan Davitts was drawn against Killoe McMahons but failed to turn up citing a notice printed in error in the Roscommon Herald on the day before the game which stated that a number of fixtures had been cancelled. At a subsequent meeting of the County Committee a decision was reached that the teams which had fulfilled their fixtures would get a bye into the second round with the remaining teams which did not field being drawn against each other. The revised draw pitted Mullinalaghta Leaguers- a late entry against Ballywillan Faugh a’ Ballaghs which appears to have been a name change from Ballywillan Davitts. As in 1890 Ballywillan Davitts conceded a walk over- not a very auspicious start to the efforts to promote the game of Gaelic Football in the parish. A number of disputes over fixtures arose which were never settled and the Championship of 1891 ended as it began- in a shambles. A tournament was organised in Abbeylara but details of the participants and results have never been published.
For the next decade Gaelic Football in the county was in decline due in part to the Parnell crisis and general apathy and there are no records of any involvement of any team from the parish of Abbeylara. Many of the players on the Granard Healys, Granard Celtic and Granard Shamrocks teams of this decade and subsequent decade were domiciled in the Parish of Abbeylara. These included the Reillys, Kennys, Dales and Donohoes. A team named Carragh Gaels emerged on the scene in the middle of the 1911-1920 decade as a Junior Club under the captaincy of Peter Dale of Aughnagarron and its participation in tournaments in Bunlahy and Granard is recorded. Strangely in 1919 this Club changed its name to Ballymore Gaels for a period of time but apparently reverted to Carragh Gaels subsequently. Failure to field against Granard Shamrocks in the Junior Championship of of 1928 saw the demise of this club.
A new entity- Ballywillan St.Bernards entered the fray in 1935 approximately and participated in the Junior League of that year. In the following year William Sheridan, John Sheridan and James Finnan transferred from St.Marys,Granard but success eluded the Club and it appears to have gone into extinction in 1938/39. In the following years many of its playing stalwarts transferred to St. Marys and the St.Mary’s Senior Champioship winning team of 1941 included on its panel- Jimmy Caffrey, Charlie and Paddy Mallon,Mick Smallhorn, Kevin Higgins and Brendan O’Meara who were natives of the parish of Abbeylara.
In 1946 Abbeylara affiliated with Longford County Committee and aided and abetted by many who transferred from St.Mary’s the Club annexed the Longford Junior Football Championship and League and the Minor Football Championship. Following on the successes of ’46,Abbeylara and St.Mary’s joined forces to form United Gaels but the combination in the Junior and Senior Championship Finals of 1947.1948 witnessed a further deterioration in the progress of the amalgamation and in the following year Abbeylara again affiliated as a separate Club. However the Club had to wait until 1952 which saw the Club again achieve the double with victories in the Junior Football Championship and League at the expense of Shroid Slashers and Clonguish respectively. The inevitable amalgamation with St.Mary’s under the United Gaels umbrella ensued but success eluded its best efforts and the partnership went in decline and soon dissolved.
The year 1964 proved to be a landmark in the history of Abbeylara Gaelic as it marked the year when it rose phoenix-like from the ashes of its demise and has continued to develop and progress without interruption until the present. Affiliated once again as a Junior Club with the County Committee the Club struggled initially to make the breakthrough. Following hearthbreak defeats in the Junior Championships of 1966 and 1968(after a replay) the long awaited success arrived in 1973 after a wait of twenty one years. Now in Intermediate ranks for the first time in its history the Club contested nien Intermediate Championship Finals between 1974 and 1994, achieving honours in 1976,1985,1987,1991 and 1994 and being runners up in 1974(after a replay),1986(after a replay),1988 and 1989.
A new milestone was reached in 1995 when the Club decide to enter Senior ranks and over the intervening nineteen it has held its own with the top teams in the County and despite setbacks has retained its Senior status. The Club has won the Sean Connolly Cup in 2000 and 2006 as well as being runners-up in 1998 and 1999. Further achievements include Leader Cup victories in 1998,2000,2004 and 2009 together with Senior “B” Championship wins in 2001 and 2002.
ROLL OF HONOUR
|Senior Championship||2000, 2006|
|Senior Championship Runners Up||1998, 1999(after replay)|
|Senior “B” Championship||2001, 2002|
|Leader Cup||1998, 2000, 2004, 2009|
|Leader Cup Runners Up||1997, 1999(after replay)|
|Intermediate Championship||1976, 1985, 1987, 1991, 1994|
|Intermediate Champ.Runners Up||1974(aft. A replay), 1986(aft.a replay), 1988, 1989|
|Junior Championship||1946, 1952, 1973|
|Junior “B” Championship||2010|
|Junior Championship Runners Up||1966, 1968, 1971(after a replay)|
|Junior League||1946, 1952, 1967|
|Junior League Runners Up||1955, 1957|
|Under 21 Championship||2010|
|Under 21Championship Runn.Up||1997, 2006, 2007|
|Under 21 “B”Championship||2000, 2012|
|Under 21 13-a-side Runners Up||1996|
|All County League Division 1||2009|