Celbridge GAA, a History

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Celbridge GAA, a History

Celbridge GAA club was formed in July 1885, less than a year after the G.A.A. was founded in Thurles in November 1884. Initially an athletics club, Celbridge G.A.A., under its first Chairman, William Gogarty, hosted a sports meeting on the 15th of August 1885.

According to The Leinster Leader the event was "a decided success".


Celbridge G.A.A. Club was the third G.A.A. club to be founded in Kildare and, by 1890, two clubs from the district were competing in Championship football. These were Hazelhatch Harpers, based in the vicinity of the railway station and Celbridge Shamrocks, based in Ballygoran. Around the turn of the century, Hazelhatch Harpers moved to the Dublin Championship competitions and a team listed simply as Celbridge were affiliated to the Kildare County Board. In the early years of the 20th century Celbridge  fielded both hurling and football tearns. The 1906 hurlers, who defeated Clane in the county final, included many surnames still familiar in club circles - E. King, J.McGrath, P. Donovan.Celbridge Senior hurlers won the 1921 Championship in May 1923 - the time lapse being due the the political unrest of the civil war era. The star of the day was the irrepressible Owen "Skipper" Murphy, an outstanding performer throughout his playing career, which stretched to the early fifties, in both football and hurling.


The high point of the club's history in the thirties was the victory of Intermediate Football Championship. - again under "Skipper" Murphy.In the mid forties an attempt to purchase a field, rented by the club, close to the site of the Setanta Hotel failed. A change of ownership of the field eventually led to a court order to the club to quit the pitch. Costs were awarded against a number of club members and bailiffs impounded cattle and hay, the property of one club member, until the costs were paid (by the County Board!).



The question of a pitch continued to be a vexed one and, over the years, the club moved from rented pitch to rented pitch, until the pre- sent pitch was purchased in the late eighties. Camogie was introduced to the club in 1953 and blossomed in the fifties and early sixties with the club winning a Championship and a number of members playing on the county team. Over the years Celbridge, like all clubs, won and lost finals and the hurling, football and camogie teams provided a valuable focal point for all in the community. By the mid seventies the village of Celbridge began to expand rapidly. This expansion brought newcomers to the village from literally every county in Ireland. By the mid-eighties the newcomers had become involved in club teams and activities and the under-age section began to thrive. At this time also the club won championship titles at both Junior and Intermediate levels. In the early nineties a new executive committee began the mammoth task of raising funds to build the present club house - and by 1995 the dream had become a reality. The clubhouse offers a great focal point for members, young and old, to gather and socialise. As the millennium draws to a close the recent performances of our under-age teams promise a very healthy future for the club in hurling, football and camogie in all grades.

Sept. 1999


A History of Camogie in Celbridge  

‘Sisters’ doing it for themselves! 

“A hurley in hand 

Add a flick of the wrist, 

And –   listen for 

…. the sweet sound of ash hitting leather” 


Cumann Camogiaochta na nGael was founded in 1904 and in 2004 celebrates its centenary[1]. Camogie in Kildare has its origins around 1908. Forty five years later Celbridge women organised themselves to compete in camogie competition and to register with the Kildare County Camogie Board. 


The Celbridge camogie club was founded in 1953 by Fr. V. Martin. The original club colours were maroon and white. For many years now they are the well-recognised blue and white. The original club uniform was maroon gym slips, white blouses and white socks. By 1958 another priest, this time a Cork man, Fr. Tom McCarthy moved into the parish. Fr. Tom ‘had hurling in his blood’[2] and was a great promoter and supporter of Celbridge camogie. 


On the playing fields                                                                                                                                        

In 1961 Celbridge joined with Straffan and this team won the county championship in 1962 beating Ballyroe by two goals. Players included Mossy Donovan, Gerty Cribben, Margaret Darlington, Bridget Cushen (Maloney), Peggy Rice and the Cavanagh sisters. At that time camogie was played on the Hazelhatch road opposite the Tennis club and close to the current Celbridge GAA grounds. 

By 1972 the club had ceased. 1977 saw a revival and the team won the League title after their first year in competition. Celbridge were league runners-up three times over the next seven years. 

An underage team was started by Bridget Cushen (now Maloney) in 1983. In 1984 this team were runners up in the county u14 championship and won community games silver. Teams were fielded at under 13, under 14, under 15, under 18, under 21 and Junior level. 

Celbridge competed in the senior championship in 1987 under the umbrella name of St. Wolstan’s. In the 1987 the County Board permitted junior and intermediate teams to amalgamate into four different teams to compete in the senior championship. Ardclough, Celbridge, Leixlip, Straffan and Rathcoffey called their amalgamated team St. Wolstan’s. The other teams were Cill Dara These comprised of St. Laurence’s, Athy, Kilcullen and Kildare; St. Conleth’s, comprised of Johnstownbridge, Cappagh, Carbury and Allenwood; Broadford and Prosperous. 

Bridget Maloney retired in 1989 after a dedicated career playing for club, county and province. Her departure marked the end of camogie for six years. Esther Byrne of Celbridge club was on the 1990 Kildare county panel that enjoyed a treble when it won the 1990 junior National League, Leinster and All-Ireland championships. 


In 1995, camogie was revived. Fiona Magee started an under 11 camogie team. In 1997 this team won the under 13 league under Garvan Whelan’s management; they won the County Feile final in 1998 and represented Kildare in the All Ireland Feile in Enniscorthy. They progressed to county under 15 and under 16 honours in 1999 under John Magee and Mick O’Keeffe and won under 16 and under 18 county titles in 2000.  In 2001 Celbridge were under 16 and under 18 county champions and the under 14 team won the County Feile. They again represented Kildare in the All Ireland Feile, progressing to the All Ireland Feile semi final of their grade. 


In 2003 Celbridge won the under 16, under 18 and under 21 county titles. The under 16 side secured the All Ireland Pan Celtic u16 B title in Kilkenny, managed by Gerry Ryan and Eddie O’Carroll. 

The club’s Junior team was also re-established in the late 1990s and secured the county Junior league title in 2000 under Johnny McGrath and Kay Byrne. Greater success followed in 2001 when the Junior side achieved the county Junior league and championship double. Following this the Junior team was upgraded to senior status. In 2003 the senior side secured the Senior B competition, a milestone as it was the first senior camogie title for the club. In 2003 the club won the under 18 county title for the third successive time and the under 21 title for the second successive time. 


In 2004 the club participated in competitions at seven grades – under 9, under 11, under 13, under 14, under 16, under 18 and senior. This year the club achieved All Ireland success in winning the Kilmacud Crokes All Ireland Sevens Shield in September 2004. Mary Murtagh achieved the overall Player of the Tournament. The winning All Ireland side was Fiona Lanigan, Niamh Concannon, Susan O’Carroll, Sinead O’Carroll, Angela Lyons, Aisling Meagher, Aoife Magee, Ann Glennon,CatrionaO'Shea, Aoife Murtagh. The club added the annual Clane 7s to its honours list when it beat Good Counsel in the final in September 2004. 

Club rivalry is part of the colour and excitement of camogie. Neighbours Ardclough have always been local rivals down through the years. Since the mid 1990s there have been memorable tussles with Johnstownbridge at under age level. From the south of the county, at underage and in recent years in adult competitions, St. Laurence’s and Celbridge usually bring out the best in each other in competitive rivalry. 


In the Kildare colours                                                                                                                                      

In 1966 Kildare hammered Meath 6-1 to 0-0 to win the Leinster Smyco Cup. This was the equivalent to the Leinster junior championship title. Celbridge’s presence on this team was ensured as Bridget Cushen played in the full back line on the Kildare winning side. In 1967 Kildare again won the Smyco Cup, again against Meath (2-0 to 0-0 this time). Rita Dunne of Celbridge was on this team. Kildare also fielded an intermediate team in 1967 and Bridget Cushen and Ann Dunne lined out for Kildare who were beaten by Wexford in the Leinster championship. 

Kildare were back again in a Leinster final and overcame Louth 3-3 to 1-5 to become Leinster junior champions for the fourth time. Bridget Cushen and Ann Dunne were on this victorious team.  

As well as the players from the club’s earlier years, Celbridge players continue to represent Kildare at all levels. In recent times, on winning Kildare teams these have included Orla McGrath (won a Leinster junior championship medal with Kildare in 1996); Ann Glennon, Angela Lyons, Helena Lynn, Susan O’Carroll and Niamh Concannon who won Division 2 National League titles in 2004. A notable feat of Celbridge ace forward, Susan O’Carroll, was scoring a 12 goals and 17 points in National League and Leinster championship matches in 2004. 

A number of players were on the 1997 and 2003 Kildare teams that won the u14 Leinster B titles and the u16 Leinster B title for the first time in 2003. These included Karen Butler, Susan O’Carroll, Sinead Quigley, Mary Murtagh, Katie O’Sullivan, Helena Lynn and Katie O’Brien. (These were all on the under 16 Kildare team. – have you under 14s from club yearbook for 2003?) In 1997 Aoife Magee was Kildare’s representative in the All Ireland Feile (under 14) skills competition. 


Johnny McGrath and Garvan Whelan have served as county selectors to the County Junior team and under 14 and under 16 teams. Niall Lanigan and Eddie O’Carroll served as selectors in 2004 to the County Junior team who won the National Junior League. 


In Leinster green                                                                                                                                      

During the club’s history, players have represented Leinster in the Gael-Linn inter-provincial competition. Bridge Cushen was on the 1967 Leinster team. Records are scarce on Leinster teams. However more recently Angela Lyons and Susan O’Carroll played on Leinster junior teams in Gael-Linn competitions in 2003 and 2004. Kildare is graded a junior county. In 2003 and 2004, Niamh Concannon had the distinction of being picked on the Leinster senior team. 


Schools and Colleges                                                                                                                                    

St. Wolstan’s community school has a fantastic record of success in second-level competitions. St. Wolstan’s competes in the Dublin Colleges competitions. Many of the adult and underage club players also compete with St. Wolstan’s. 


Celbridge club members have also enjoyed success at third level Colleges’ camogie. Sarah Kelly achieved a camogie scholarship to NUI Maynooth in 2003 and won a Purcell Shield medal with NUI Maynooth in 2004. 


Serving the Kildare County Board                                                                                                              

For camogie to thrive competition need to the organised and the game promoted and developed. The Kildare County Camogie Board has this responsibility. Celbridge club members have made their mark here too. In the 1960s men were not always welcome in camogie circles! The following two reports from the minutes of the Kildare Camogie Board[3][3] highlight the issue. 

A Celbridge motion to the 1964 Annual Convention proposed that the male ban be lifted for clergyman. Fr. Martin (Celbridge) explained how awkward it was for him as a priest, supposed to be fostering all games in a small village like Celbidge and yet because of the ban being asked to forsake some of these games he loved so much. He pointed out it has his duty to have all the youth of the village occupied at some sport or another and he asked the Board to give careful consideration to the case. The Board decided to bring the matter to Leinster Council but some members cautioned that ‘he had not a hope of the motion suceeding’. 

By 1966 things had moved on a little… Naas proposed and it was agreed at the 1966 Annual Convention that Fr. V. Martin (previously Celbridge but transferred to Dublin ) be invited to participate in all meetings and functions, in view of the work done by him for Kildare Camogie Board. 


County Board officers                                                                                                                                                                                        

As well as being a star on the playing fields, Bridget Maloney contributed to the administration of Kildare camogie. >From 1984-86 Bridget served as County Board Vice Chairperson. She acted as County Registrar for a ten year period 1983-93.  Joan O’Flynn was County Secretary from 2001-02 and County Chairperson 2003-present. Joan also authored Soaring Sliothar, A Centenary of Kildare Camogie 1904-2004 published by Kildare Camogie Board to mark this year’s camogie centenary. 

In 2004 club vice-chair Gerry Ryan convenes the County Development Plan Committee. 


Cups for competitions                                                                                                                                                                            

Celbridge have also generously contributed to the Kildare Camogie Board’s silverware. Over the years four cups for county competitions were sponsored by Celbridge. 

In 1967 Fr. McCarthy donated the Fr. McCarthy Cup for the junior league competition. In 2001 the Lorraine Bagnall Memorial Cup was donated and is awarded to the winners of the county under 16 competition. Celbridge were the first winners of this trophy which commerates Lorraine , a club member, who lost her life in a car accident. 


In 2003 John Magee donated a new cup for the under 21 competition and in 2004 the Lindsay family donated the John Lindsay cup for the under 12 competition. 


Men and women in the middle                                                                                                                                                            

Refereeing is an integral part of the playing and administration of camogie. Refereeing records are not maintained systematically and no doubt many Celbridge members have refereed camogie games down through the years. In recent years Deirdre Ryan and Ciaran Quigley have refereed national and Leinster inter-county games as well as Kildare club games. Deirdre refereed the All Ireland Feile (under 14) Division 2 final in 2003 and the Division 1 semi final in 2004. Ciaran Quigley refereed the All Ireland Feile Division 4 final in 2004. Ciaran has also provided service to the Leinster Council. This includes championship games and finals. Ciaran has also refereed championship games in neighbouring counties. 


The future                                                                                                                                                          

Fifty one years one from the foundation of the club, camogie is thriving in Celbridge. Players, young people, parents, coaches, trainers, referees, volunteers, supporters, those with an interest in gaelic games and the support of Celbridge GAA club all combine to ensure that Celbridge is one of the clubs with the highest number of registered camogie members in Kildare. There is great attention to developing camogie skills with underage girls. This will undoubtedly contribute to ensuring that Celbridge camogie is about fun, craic and participation in a uniquely Irish game as well as excelling on the playing fields. It is a great foundation for the next fifty years. 

Bridget Maloney on the Kildare Camogie Team of the Century                                                                    

In 2004 Kildare County Camogie Board proudly recognized and paid tribute to the Kildare Camogie Team of the Century in honour of all camogie players in Kildare over the last hundred years. Fifteen players were selected who exemplified the skills of camogie to the highest standards and made major contributions to Kildare camogie. Three players are also individually honoured for their sporting prowess and contribution to Kildare camogie. 


Celbridge’s Bridget Maloney (Cushen) was picked as left full back on the team and was presented with an award by the National President of Cumann Camogaiochta na nGael in Clane on September 5th 2004 . Bridget’s contribution to camogie included: 


¨       county and inter county success in the 1960s with Kildare; 

¨       recognition on Leinster teams in the 1960s; 

¨       establishing Celbridge under age teams and training and coaching Celbridge club; 

¨       acting as County Vice-Chair in the 1980s; 

¨       acting as County Registrar for ten years 1983-93. 

Bridget considered her most memorable personal camogie achievement to be playing and winning Leinster Finals with Kildare in 1967 and 1969. Her most admired camogie players are Miriam Malone, Broadford and Kildare and Angela Downey from Kilkenny[4]. 


Mossy Donovan who played on the combined Straffan/Celbridge side that won the county junior championship in 1962 was also selected to receive a special award for her contribution to Kildare camogie. 


[1] see Soaring Sliothar A Centenary of Kildare Camogie 1904-2004 by Joan O’Flynn and published by Kildare County Camogie Board. 

[2] Celbridge Camogie Club by Bridget Maloney in Celbridge GAA History 1984 by Darragh Mac antSaoir. 

[3] >From Soaring Sliothar (see above) 

[4] >From Soaring Sliothar (see above)