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Club History

[thanks to Mick Kinsella]

Long, long ago ...

From the very early days of the Gaelic Athletic Association, football was popular in Ballinkillen and its surrounds. As early as 1890 Ballinkillen had a football team affiliated at Carlow County Convention. From 1890 to 1927 we have intermittent reports of games involving Ballinkillen.
There is one report of a game involving Ballinkillen's second team called Notre Garcon's and Donore's Brian Boru's in 1891.

The Nationalist November 20th 1897

'98 Tournament Football Match:     Young lrelands, Ballinkillen v Goresbridge

The match was played last Sunday, in the presence of a large number of spectators at Ballinkillen. From start to finish the play was very fast and interesting. The referee Mr. Joe O'Neill gave general satisfaction. The toss was won by Goresbridge, but the home team exhibited much superiority over their opponents during the half.
    At half time the score stood Young lrelands l goal l point, Goresridge nil. The game grew warmer after the change of sides took place, and at the call of time the score was Young lrelands 2-2 Goresridge
nil. The following are the names of the winning Ballinkillen team: Ml Brenan capt, Thomas Brenan, Andrew Byrne, William Treacy, Ml Warren, Thomas Brown, Ml Neill, John Neill, James May, Patrick May, Thos Walkins, Patrick Connoly, Patrick Redmond, Walter Butler, Pack Murphy, Joseph Murphy and Thomas Hickey

The “98 Tournament" games were organised by the G.A.A as an important part of the centenary commemoration of the 1798 rebellion. The Ballinkillen area had suffered greatly in that event 100 years previously - being the scene of the bloody 1798 “Battle of Kilcumney”. The memory of that great catastrophe would still have been very prominent in the minds of the local community.

Ballinkillen Drumphea Football Team - 1930's
The Ballinkillen playing pitch was at this time rotated between Coles field in Timbergap and
Brenans field on the flag road. Jackie McDonald, the long serving Principal in Ballinkillen National
School was involved in training the team at this time. McDonald park in the village was called
after Jackie.

The arrival of hurling in Ballinkillen seems to have coincided with the emergence of the great Wexford Hurling Team of the 1950's. The great games played between Wexford and Kilkenny and the rivalry between their supporters were infectious in South Carlow, being sandwiched between both counties.

An initial meeting took place with a view to forming a hurling club in Ballinkillen. The venue was under a skeogh bush in Hughes’ field close to the village. Only three people turned up, Jack Murphy, Jack Neill of Clowater and Peter Kelly of Slyguff. They were undeterred and Ballinkillen Hurling Club was formed in 1957, through their efforts and the efforts of others like Michael O'Gorman, Dimroe, Jim Power, Kilgreaney, Patsy Keegan, Corries and Jim O’Neill of lower Ballinkillen. The first assembly of players arrived for training with an assortment of home made hurleys. Tommy Murphy was the envy of all, he came equipped with two proper 'camans'.

ln 1958 the new club afiiliated to the Carlow County Board and participated in the Junior Hurling Championship, which was then the premier competition. The first attempt to get among the honours was in 1961 when they drew with Kildavin in the Junior Final. Unfortunately Ballinkillen subsequently lost the game in the board room. There was a question of both teams fielding illegal players (this was not unusual at this time). Ballinkillen lost the board room battle and were suspended for one year. They did not return.

This was the death knell of this team and Ballinkillen hurling for a decade. There were still some fine hurlers in the area who mainly played with the adjoining teams of Bagenalstown, Borris and Myshall. The excellent Kilcloney/Borris Minor Hurling Teams ofthe l960's were well represented with players from the Ballinkillen area.

During the winter of 1970 some of the local hurling people got together and committed to reform the club. Under a new committee based around Tommy Murphy, Kilgreaney, John O'Neill, Ballycormack, Louis Kearney, Lorum, Paddy Cummins, Skahanrane, Patsy Keegan, Corries, Dermot Hughes, Ballinkillen. Jim O'Neill, lower Ballinkillen. Jim Power, Kilgreaney, Paddy Farrell, Heath and others, Ballinkillen Hurling Club re-emerged.

There was a great enthusiasm and love of hurling among these people and a burning desire to put Ballinkillen hurling on the map. The street field (Hughes') became the playing pitch. Once the evenings lengthened, players assembled almost every evening of the week to practice.
Back-boned at the outset with players of the calibre of the Byrne brothers Tim and Terry, Tom Collier, Paddy Cummins, Cyril Hughes, Tommy Murphy, the Farrell brothers Paddy and Jimmy, Brendan and Jimmy Canavan, Jim Clerkin and Joe Kelly, success was immediate. Ballinkillen romped to the Carlow Junior Hurling double in its first year, in 1971. This was a prelude to a long sojourn in the senior ranks.

In 1972, Ballinkillen, playing an exciting brand of hurling made a tremendous impact on the Carlow Hurling Championship. The players skills were honed by the club entering tournaments in neighbouring Kilkenny. The Bennettsbridge tournament was the most popular, where the team invariably acquitted themselves extremely well. The excellent performances in these games gave the team the confidence and self-belief to really challenge for honours. After convincingly defeating neighbours Erin's Own in their opening Senior Championship game, people began to take notice of this ‘new' team.

County Champions, Ballinabranna, awaited Ballinkillen in the semi-final and were still fancied by most punters to be too strong for the new boys. They were to be proved wrong after two thrilling games. Ballinkillen prevailed and were now unbelievably in the County Final. Their opponents were Palatine who were also going for their first title. The cruel hand of fate meant Ballinkillen had to field without three key players and ultimately this was to prove too much.
Ballinkillen lost out on scoreline Palatine 4-9 Ballinkillen 0-18. Terry Byrne had the unenviable distinction of scoring fourteen points and still finishing on the losing side. To this day Terry's performance is still recalled and recounted - he later that year won the Carlow Hurler of the Year award. Winning the Bolger Cup [S.H.L] brought some compensation to the club.

Ultimate glory came the following year when Paddy Cummins captained Ballinkillen to win their first ever Senior Hurling Championship. They defeated near neighbours Myshall on a score line of 5-5 to 2-9. ln the Leinster Club Championship Ballinkillen put up a very commendable performance against the mighty Fenians/Johnstown team from Kilkenny. The Bolger Cup was also retained.
Remarkably within three short years those far sighted people who resurrected the Hurling Club in Ballinkillen saw their dreams fulilled with Ballinkillen winning Carlows premier hurling competition.

The Club, now 39 years on, is still alive and well. Not always among the honours but still to the forefront in Carlow hurling, providing amongst other things many fine County Hurlers down through the years. Ballinkillen's second senior hurling title didn’t come until 2001, that year completing a great double, the minors having completed the three-in-a-row in 1999,2000 and 2001.
Ballinkillen were back among the honours in 2009 with our minor team defeating Carlow Town in the 2009 County Final.

Roll of honour:

1971 - Junior Hurling Championship, Junior Hurling League
1972 - Bolger Cup
1973 - Senior Hurling Championship, Bolger Cup
1977 - Bolger Cup (1978)
1978 - U21 Championship Winners
1979 - U21 Championship Winners
1989 - Minor Hurling Championship (B),  Minor Hurling League
1990 - Intermediate Hurling Championship Winners
1991 - Minor Hurling Championship (B)
1996 - U21 Championship Winners
1998 - Junior Hurling Championship Winners
1999 - Minor A Hurling Championship Winners
2000 - Minor Hurling Championship Winners
2001 - Senior Hurling Championship Winners, Minor Hurling Championship Winners
2005 - Junior Hurling Championship Winners
2008 - Junior Hurling Championship Winners, Minor Hurling League Winners
2009 - Minor Hurling Championship Winners
2012 - Junior Hurling Championship Winners
2012 - U21 Hurling Championship Winners

ln 1985 a defining event in the Club's history was the formation of a juvenile section. The two people mainly responsible for this development were Pat Dowling and Eamon O'Neill. Unfortunately Pat, who gave a life time of service to the Club, is no longer with us.

Some high points for the Juvenile Club:

1987 - U12 B Championship
1988 - U14 and U16 B Championships
1989 - U12 and U14 B Championships, McMahon Trophy at Feile na nGael competition for U14s (U14 Feile na nGael Div.5 Winners)
1990 - U16 B Championship, U13 and U15 Leagues
1991 - U16 A Championship
1993 - U16 B Championship
1994 - U12 Championship, U13 League
1995 - U12 and U14 Championship, U13 League
1996 - U14 B and U16 B Championships, U13 League, U14 B Feile
1997 - U14 B Championship, U15 League,
1998 - U11 League, U12 B Championship, U15 League
1999 - U10, U11, U12 B, U14 B and U16 A Championships
2001 - Juvenile Hurling Club of the Year, U12 Div 2 Championship
2002 - U11 Div 1 and Div 2
2003 - U14 Div 2 Championship
2005 - U12 Div 1 B Championship
2007 - U12 B Championship,
2010 - U14 A Championship
2015 - U16 A Champiomship
2016 - U14 Feile na nGael Div 3 Shield Winners
         - U16 A Championship

The Juvenile club trains players from U-6 to U-16.

The Pitch and Club House

Since the reformation of BalIinkillen Hurling Club in 1971 the playing facilities were in the main generouslv provided by the Hughes and Brennan families of Ballinkillen.
In 1980 the club applied for and was granted 6.6 acres by the Land Commission at a cost of £14,000. The field although ideally situated was in need of major development and it wasn't until 1992 that this task started. A field committee was set up and fund raising commenced. This group worked tirelessly at raising funds.

Jim Collier a local contractor was hired to develop the field. After months of hard work overseen by Denis Wall the pitch was ready for seeding in September. Continuing on with 2 dressing rooms, showers, toilets and a meeting room which were completed in time for the official opening on the 3rd of Julv I994 (on a spilling wet day). Mr. Albert Fallon, Leinster Council Chairman performed the official opening. The highlight an the day was the inter-county challenge match between Wexford and Tipperary.

The Lotto committee was formed in the year 2000 organising a weekly lotto draw. This provides funds for the running of the Club and for development. It has provided a strong financial base, mainly on the strength of this, the Club could applv for grant aid from the department of Arts, Sports and Tourism.
No major addition to the facilities was undertaken until 2005 when a perimeter wall was constructed.
2006-2007 saw flood lighting installed in the 1st half of the pitch. An additional 2 dressing rooms were completed in 2008 and a ball wall in 2009 with the help of a grant from the Dept. of Arts, Sports and Tourism.

These additions have created an excellent facility which caters for many users. Along with the hurling teams, juvenile and adult, the pitch is used by the Ladies Football Club, the local National School and is also home to the Camogie Club. The Club is very much a hub of the local community and such is the demand on the pitch that a strict rota has to be adhered to, to give all teams their fair share.