MOOREFIELD, the oldest GAA Club in Co. Kildare, will host a festival of Gaelic games planned for this weekend (Saturday 4, Sunday 5 and Bank Holiday Monday 6 May) as they celebrate the official opening of their impressive new clubhouse, new main pitch alongside their floodlight pitch and other ancillary facilities.
GAA President, Liam O’Neill, will perform the official opening on Saturday 4 May at 3 pm, followed by a football challenge between Moorefield and Garrycastle of Westmeath. Earlier in the day their will be a host of underage activity while that evening, starting a 10pm the club will hold a social night.
Sunday 5 May sees the Ladies open proceedings with a football game at 12 noon, followed by Kildare senior footballers taking on Galway in a challenge which throws in at at 1 pm, a vital game as Kildare prepare for their upcoming Leinster SFC opener against Offaly.
This will be followed by a senior hurling challenge.
Bank Holiday Monday will see the underage boys and girls in action at the Parish Race Day at the Curragh while back at the club a tree planting and reception for Club Moorefield Members is planned for 5.30.
The entire weekend is a culmination of many years of dedicated work undertaken by club members which all began as far back as “1882 when two brothers in the Moorefield area, John O’Kelly of Moorefield Road and James O’Kelly of Ballymany decided to start a Gaelic football game to combat soccer and so the first Gaelic football team in Newbridge was formed” as Alex Whelan wrote in the history of Moorefield, published in 1984.
“Calling the team the J J O’Kelly’s after the O’Kelly brothers, they duly acquired a football field on W. Cummins’s land beside the railway on the old coach road from Ballymany to Milltown”.
As there was no County Committee and no championships until 1888, “the club arranged matches against teams from Eyrefield, Monutrice, Monasterevan, Kildare town and Milltown”. The Moorefield tournament was a highlight of the Kildare GAA calendar in the early years, and acted as an unofficial trial for the team that played in the 1903 All-Ireland final.
When the GAA was formed the club changed its name to Moorefield, the name of the local townland. Royal Irish Constabulary records from 1890 show that Moorefield J J O’Kelly’s had 100 members with officers listed as James Callaghan, John Langton, Thomas Lannery and John Dixon.
The club’s first county title was in junior football in 1932, followed by intermediate titles in 1937 and 1939.
Triple Leader Cup success (1958-60) put Moorefield on the map as a serious force leading to victory in the 1962 championship on 12 May 1963.
The senior hurlers also won the county title that year (1963), 20 years after their first win in that grade, and won again in 1991.
Millennium year, 2000, heralded unprecedented success for Moorefield in football, hurling, camogie and ladies football.
The senior footballers set the standard and took top honours in 2000, 2002, 2006, 2007 and 2010, and were Leinster Club champions in 2006. The hurlers won junior and intermediate titles in the last decade while numerous other football, camogie and ladies football titles also came to the club.
- Tommy Callaghan