Delving into the history of Ballymore Eustace GAA

New book

Leinster Leader reporter

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Delving into the history of Ballymore Eustace GAA

Ballymore Eustace, Kildare Senior Football Champions 1953

A new book is being launched this month about the history Ballymore GAA.

Author, Henry Murphy, is deedicating the book to the late Eddie Hubbard, and his wife Noelle, who did trojan work on the project.

A pharmaceutical operator at Pfizer in Newbridge, Henry and Noelle have two adult sons,

Stephen and Harrye coupl. The couple support and participate in many clubs and events in Ballymore Eustace.

Founded in 1887, the club proudly had the unique distinction of being the only Kildare club to win Junior, Intermediate and Senior championships in consecutive years in the early ‘50s.

In 1985 and ’86, the club again claimed back to back Junior and Intermediate titles but a tough Leixlip side with Jack O’Shea in its midst put paid to any hope of repeating the ‘three in a row’ record in 1987.

On that Ballymore side was a young Henry Murphy, a prolific player with the successful Oliver Plunketts (BME, Two Mile House and Eadestown) already with three underage Leinster medals with Kildare at U14, U16 and Minor levels.

For the past six years, Henry has been writing a history of GAA and sport in Ballymore Eustace. This is not a light weight publication, a ‘quick-flick’ read. It’s a comprehensive catalogue of 130 years of the club’s sporting history – 750 pages (A4) in fact!

Describing it as a labour of love, Henry has meticulously covered every decade from 1887 up to 2016, interviewing not only players but mentors, and has travelled the length and breadth of Ireland to meet opponents of Ballymore’s most famous wins.

“Every decade is covered equally” said Henry “From the formation of the club, through the Rising of 1916 and the Troubles. Of course, the era of the ‘Three in a Row’ team of the 1950s is also included, along with the 1960’s side captained by Tommy Daly who won the Junior B Championship in 1968”.

“Through the ‘70s, the juvenile club was building; after a barren spell, Ballymore captured the Junior A County Championship captained by Paul O’Donoghue in 1985.

The following year, Harry Murphy was captain when Ballymore lifted the Intermediate title, beating Suncroft in the county final and thus, promoted back to senior level”.

There are also chapters on the development of Ladies GAA in Ballymore and the success of Oliver Plunketts under the management of Eugene Gilroy (father of former county player, Jarlath) assisted by the late Seamus Kelly. The pitch development fundraising and subsequent purchase of a second juvenile pitch is included with a significant chapter onhandball also.

Ballymore Handball Club has a rich history in the sport, having won titles from county and Leinster to national and world titles via players such Tom O’Rourke and Mickey Dowling in latter years.

“It has truly been a labour of love” said Henry. “I decided around the time of Ballymore’s defeat of Nobber in the AIB Leinster Championship final to write this book to capture the marvellous achievements of the club down through the years.”

The 2010 campaign, which saw Ballymore grounds under snow for a Leinster game, brought the entire community out with locals from 8 to 80 shovelling snow to accommodate the game! Despite the fixture being called off, Ballymore defeated the Meath side, Nobber in January 2011, in a tight game which saw club man James Kavanagh return home from a holiday in Australia to participate.

“I didn’t expect it to take so long but when I got going, I wanted to cover so much and of course, there was cross referencing, checking captions, interviewing and researching – but I couldn’t have done without Noelle, my wife who was my typist and editor.”

The official launch will be hosted at the Avon Rí, Blessington, on November 23, circa 7:30pm for 8pm.