Kenmare G.A.A. Club History

At a meeting of Kenmare Athletic Club on 25th September 1888, it was decided that the club should affiliate to the newly formed Kerry Co. Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association. The inaugural meeting took place in the lecture room of the Lansdowne Hotel. The discussion at the meeting was mainly on hurling and the fact that the game was strong in the area. It was claimed that there were men in the area who could “wield the camán against all comers”. The motion to form a club clearly stated that it was both a hurling and football club. A further motion was passed to the effect that the club be known as the Kenmare (Daniel O Connell) branch of the Gaelic Athletic Association. The Club name was later changed to “Kenmare Shamrocks Hurling & Football” – “Craobh Chumann Iomána agus Peile na Seamróige An Neidín”.
Before the club was founded there were many references to the ancient game of hurling being played in the area. In a book, Scéal na hIomána, on the history of hurling before 1884 Brother Liam O Cathnia (R.I.P.) makes several references to the game being played locally.Sunday after Mass was the usual time for the games and matches between single and married

married men were common. On St. Patrick’s Day 1858 in Hoboken New Jersey, an exhibition game of hurling was played between two teams called the “Kenmare Guards”. The names of the teams were recorded in the “Irish News” paper in New York at the time. This may well be the oldest team list of Gaelic games in existence. There is another account of a hurling challenge played in Glengarriff Co. Cork between Kenmare and a team sponsored by Lord Bantry, the prize for which was a tierce of porter. Much to the surprise of his lordship Kenmare won and after some discussion both sides shared the prize.

When the County Championships in football and hurling were initiated in 1889 Kenmare entered both. The footballers lost to Laune Rangers who went on to win the title that year. Kenmare hurlers beat neighbours Kilgarvan Shamrocks to clinch a place in the final against Kilmoyley. Kenmare won that also on a score of 1 – 0 to 0 – 3. (A goal in those days exceeded any number of points).

Having won the inaugural Senior hurling title, we went on to represent Kerry in the Munster championship. In the early days, the County champions played in the Provincial and All Ireland championship. Kenmare played Inniscarra in the Munster Semi-final in Mallow on 27/7/1889. Kenmare won on a score of 1-01 to 0-05 (again, a goal exceeded any number of points). County Clare, represented by Tulla also qualified for the final having been beaten by Tipperary but following an appeal were awarded the game. The final was fixed for a Limerick venue and when Kenmare turned up, alas, there was no opposition.

The Kenmare players returned home in the expectation that they would be awarded the Munster title but no such luck! The Munster Council following requests from the Clare Board re-fixed the final for the 18/10/1889 at a Limerick venue. Kenmare club and players could not afford the cost of travelling (by train) and some of the players had already emigrated thus failing to field a team on the day. Tulla were subsequently awarded the title. Hurling was to become the dominant game in the area as the club did not compete in the Co. Football championship until 1912. 1902 saw Kenmare annex a second hurling title, overcoming Tralee Celtic in the final, a result which the Tralee team reversed in the 1904 Final. In 1912 Kenmare Footballers reached the quarter final losing out to Dr. Crokes while the hurlers came up short in the semi-final to Tralee Mitchels. In 1916 Kenmare beat Lixnaw in the Co. Senior Hurling Final. In the Junior Final Tullig beat Listowel. The County Board however, could only afford one set of medals and Kenmare agreed to play Tullig for the medals, Tullig won. While Tullig did win the medals there are no doubts about the records which clearly show that Kenmare did beat Lixnaw in the Senior final. 1918 was the last year in which Kenmare entered to Senior Football championship as a club team.

In 1919 two teams from the Kenmare area entered the championship in hurling. Kilgarvan beat Kenmare and overcame the other local team Bonane in the Semi-final.  Kenmare had to wait until 1942 to win the next Senior hurling title beating Lixnaw final played in Kenmare. This was the first year a cup was presented to the winners of the Co. Championship. Kenmare went under to Crotta in the finals of 1943, 1945 and 1947. We continued to play in the Hurling championship until 1965 and after that a combination of Kilgarvan and Kenmare called Roughty Rangers took part for two years after which both clubs took part separately. Roughty Rangers resumed participation in 1973 and 1974. In 1975 a combined team under the name of Kilgarvan reached to final but lost to St. Brendans Ardfert in the final.
Senior hurling went into decline thereafter and in the late 1980s following years of underage activity Kenmare and Kilgarvan resumed Co. Senior Hurling activities as a combined team. This combination reached a Co. Senior Final in 1991 losing out to Ballyduff by four points. This combined arrangement lasted until the 1990s and since then both Kilgarvan and

Kenmare have taken part in the Co. Intermediate Hurling championship in  Kerry. A District Football board was formed in the 1930s and this led to district teams entering Co. Championships and the first success was the Co. Intermediate Football title in 1940. In 1938 Kenmare club opened its new playing grounds and it was given the name “Faithche an Bhraoinaigh” (Fr. Breen Park, named after Fr. Joe Breen, who was a curate in Kenmare in the early 1930s). A second field was opened in 1981 and more recently an artificial turf field was developed along with a sports hall.

Club Achievements

In the 1960s football came to the fore in the area and in 1970 the Club won the Co. Intermediate Football Championship and repeated the performance in 1972. In 1972 Kenmare represented Kerry in the Munster Club senior championship losing out to Club Championship specialists Nemo Rangers in the semi-final. The footballers also reached the Munster semi-final in 1983 again losing out to the same opposition. In 1972 a county Under 21 hurling title was won as a combined team with Kilgarvan. In 1975 Mickey “Ned” O Sullivan captained Kerry to All Ireland Senior success having captained the Kerry Under 21 team to ultimate honours in 1973. He captained Munster to Railway Cup success in 1976.The 1980s proved to be an era of considerable success at underage for both football and hurling. In 1983 an All-Ireland Minor Football Club title was won. In 1984 an All-Ireland Feile na nGael under 14 hurling title was won.
In 1984 an All-Ireland Feile na nGael under 14 hurling title was won. In 1983 a County minor hurling title was won, the first since 1959. A further minor title followed in 1988. In 1987, ’88 and 1989 three U21 Co. Hurling titles were won. Underage hurling teams have for long been a combination of Kenmare and Kilgarvan. In 1992 another All Ireland Feile na nGael U14 hurling was annexed and in 2010 the Co. Minor title came to the Roughty Valley once again. There has been Kerry Intermediate titles in hurling in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2017. Our under age activities have grown at pace and following the example of our Senior Footballers (winners of the East Kerry Senior Football League Division 1 in 2012) our underage footballers now take part in the East Kerry Leagues and in 2012 the under U14 & U16 footballers won the East Kerry Division 2 Leagues. .

kerry County league winners 1972
Kenmare Kerry Senior Club Champions 1983

On Saturday October 13th, 2012 Kenmare senior footballers won the Co. Junior Football title for the first time ever beating Na Gaeil from Tralee by 0-13 to 0-10 in Fitzgerald Stadium. By so doing Kenmare club has created history by becoming the first Kerry club to represent Kerry in the Provincial Club championship in both codes. They went on to conquer Munster that year beating Kilmacthomas (Waterford), Rockchapel (Cork) and Cappamore (Limerick) along the way. Kenmare Shamrocks faced Castleknock of Dublin in the All Ireland Junior semi-final and it took 220 minutes (3 matches) of pulsation football to separate the side. Kenmare winning in the end 1-17 to 1-12 under the lights of Croke Park. We travelled back to the home of football a week later where a strong Ballinasloe side from Galway beat us on a score line of 0-14 to 0-10.
In 2016, our footballers ended a 26-year gap when they beat their close neighbours Templenoe to claim the Intermediate club championship in Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney. Score line on the day was 2-11 to 1-06. They went on to win out the Munster championship only to be narrowly beaten by Westport 1-10 to 0-11pts in the All-Ireland semi-final played in Cusack Park, Ennis.  Since 2016, our senior footballers have been playing in the Senior Club and County championships.