BACK in 1985 Grangenolvan GAA Club launched a history book. Live Aid took place in July of that year and Garret FitzGerald was Taoiseach but much water has passed under the proverbial bridge since then, writes Ruth O’Brien.
Grangenolvan GAA Club, founded back in 1955, is still going strong despite many rural clubs throughout the county and country struggling in these recessionary times. The club isn’t resting on it’s laurels however. Plans of an expansion are on foot, more and more underage players are joining, while the club’s ladies team is thriving. So, as they say, from little acorns great oaks grow.
The club’s first success on the field came back in 1964 when they claimed the Junior B Championship and they followed it up by winning the Junior A and the Jack Higgins Cup in 1965.
Some six years later the club, under the chairmanship of the late Mick ‘Doc’ Kelly, purchased land in Grangemellon, and finally put down roots, despite the ‘70s proving quiet on the field of play in terms of success. Most notable the decade will be known for introduction of the club’s longest serving official. In 1975 Fran Miller was appointed secretary and remarkable he remained in the role until the club’s AGM in 2010.
Younger players took the plaudits in the early 1980s when Minor League titles were captured in ‘81 and ‘84, however the club did win a Junior B Championship in 1985 and a Junior A Championship, a Senior League and the Jack Higgins Cup back in 1987.
On St Patrick’s Day 1985 Murphy Memorial Park was officially opened in honour of the late Mikey Murphy from Kilkea and the late Paddy Joe Murphy from Rosetown. With their new club house and no outstanding debts, due mainly to the fund raising activities of the late Jack Deere and PJ Digan, the club was awarded the AIB Club of the Year in Kildare for 1985. Just recently the club got an extension of another dressing room and showers, changing room and referees shower, to help accommodate the ladies who have moved in leaps and bounds in a very short ten years to become a very strong force in ladies football in the county. Indeed Grange’s Donna Berry went on to captain the Kildare ladies team in 2011. Berry was part of the team to finish runners up in the Junior Club All-Ireland in 2001. She also has six county senior medals, four Leinster medals, eight Division 1 medals and one Division 2 medal. Donna also impressively secured the young player of the year award on three occasions in 2000, 2005 and 2006.
In the 90s the arrival of Mick O’Dwyer on the Kildare scene saw Niall Connolly and Paul Doyle come to prominence after Grange were beaten in the 1991 Intermediate Championship final.
Grange are looking ahead to the future and held an open night recently in Athy where they outlined their ambitious plans and goals.