Football – History

Football History – Clonakilty GAA

The game of football, of much later vintage than hurling, probably 17th century, does not seem to have had the same popularity in most areas. This was probably because there were practically no rules attached. At times the game resembled a battle-field rather than a football match, as hundreds literally fought for the ‘honour of the little village’. “Caid” was the name of the game played in South Munster, a name still used for football in the Gaeltacht areas of Cork and Kerry.
The game might start on Sunday after Mass at a central point between two parishes or villages and the team which got the ball home first won the game, usually lasting all day. The fastest runners were heroes in these games which bore little resemblance to the G.A.A. game. It is to the credit of the early G.A.A. legislators that they managed to fashion a presentable game of ‘Gaelic’ football from all the chaos. Although Rosscarbery was famous for its footballers even in pre-G.A.A. days there seems to have been very little football played in the Clonakilty area.

The first recorded match took place, between Clonakilty and Carbery Rangers, at Cahirmore near Ross, on 19th February, 1888.
The first championship win came in 1892, on 3rd April against Bandon in Bandon.
The first title won by the club was the West Cork senior championship of 1892, beating Timoleague in the final.
The first county final won was the Intermediate Football title in 1913, against O’Briens of Cork, with the legendary John ‘Count’ O’Donovan as captain.
The first All-Ireland medal, senior football, was brought to Clon by the same ‘Count’ Donovan in 1911. Captain of the team was Ardfield man Mick Mehigan who played for Clon for some time.
Clonakilty was the first western team to join the new South Cork Division in 1926, with the name then being changed to the ‘South-West Division’.
Clon’s first title win in the new S.W. Division was the junior football of 1930, Dan ‘Taylor’s Fifteen. They won their first, and the club’s only county junior football title that year.
The first county senior final contested by the club was the football final of 1932 against Beara in the Mardyke in Cork on 18th September.
Clon’s first dual Munster medal winner was ‘Big’ Jim Hurley in 1928 when Cork won the Munster senior double.
Clonakilty was the first football club in the county to contest six senior finals in seven years, in the Thirties, unfortunately losing them all.
The first senior football title came to the club in 1939, against Beara in Skibbereen on 12th November.
The first Clon player to captain both the football and hurling teams was Jack ‘Rockett’ Aherne.
Clonakilty and Dromtarrife played the first ever five-match marathon in the county senior football championship in 1941.
The first Munster finals ever to be played in the S.W. Cork v Kerry in junior and minor, were played in Clon in 1932.
The first match played in the present pitch was between Clonakilty and Ardfield in U-14 football, 28th June 1957.
Clonakilty became the first club in the S.W. Division, and one of the first in the county, to provide a proper pavilion for its players, 1970.
Nancy Connolly was the first lady member of the club committee.

Extract from Clonakilty G.A.A. 1887 – 1987 Publication by Tom Lyons