There are few details of the presence of the Gaelic football team in Clonmore in the early part of the twentieth century but the origin of the sport in the area is said to have been instigated by a Derry man, Joe Doherty, who had been a Station Master at Vernersbridge station. Names which have been associated with this era include Charlie McKee (Senior), Tom Fox, John and Paddy Carberry, Paddy Tierney, Dick Tierney and James Farrell in goals. Farrell supposedly ferried the team in his jaunting car to matches in Moy and Collegeland.
A team is thought to have played in a tournament in Con O’Neill’s ground in Trewmount during a time when a ban had been placed on Gaelic games by the British. This was said to have been because of the volunteers training with hurley sticks as they had no guns. One day in 1917, almost every area in Ireland turned out a team to play and Clonmore did so too. Police and loyalists are said to have threatened to shoot the players in Trewmount, so the match was never finished.
Although 1917 had been earmarked as the year when football was introduced, Clonmore’s name appears in a historic narrative in a Souvenir programme for the opening of Davitt Park, Lurgan in 1947. The article describes the journey of the North Armagh league and in one section refers to the initiation of this league in 1916 with Clonmore named as one of the participating teams. This would mean that 2016 not only marks the 50th anniversary of the current team but the centenary anniversary of the oldest recorded team in Clonmore.
With the commencement of Gaelic games notes being recorded in the Armagh Observer and with the records available from the O’Fiaich Library of county board minutes, a less ‘word-of-mouth’ approach to the history of the game in the area can be described. The great local historian, Jim McAlinden (RIP) is responsible for keeping some of the most treasured clues to the history of Clonmore, not least by the safeguarding of the details of the community collection for this 1930s team.
Jim’s brother Frank, who was tragically drowned in 1936 at the age of 28 in the River Tall, had picked the notebook pictured below and right as a prize when a child attending Clintyclay. He was fascinated by the world clocks design on the front of the book. This book had been used by various members of the McAlinden family through the years in recording little notes and details but it is the record of the collection for the team among local families which holds significant interest. A pencil record, which has started to fade in parts, speaks volumes of the community at this time, with both Catholic and Protestant families contributing to the fund and with a number of family names which have long since been lost from the area documented in this text. The list is entitled ‘June 1932, Hamill’s Field, Clonmore FC’ and the contributors included are:
F Coyne, J Carberry, Ned McFarland, C Leonard, WH Thompson, R Lavery, A Molloy, P Daly, E Gilpin, HJ Collon, J Reid, F Farmer, Joe Grimley, E O’Neill, J Falles, J O’Neill, H Coleman, J McFarland, J McDowell, A Dynes, J Mullan, M Tierney, F Casey, M Gilpin, F Hayes, F McAlinden, J Hamill, T McCall, H A McAlinden, C O’Neill, T Donaghy, M Farrell, J Grimley, M Foye, D McAlinden, J Farmer, V Dynes, P Carberry & ‘Friend’.
The collection was lifted by ‘D McA’ and ‘J F’ (most likely Dan McAlinden and John Farmer). Mickey Teggart who later emigrated to the USA was said to have been a chief organiser of this team of the thirties.
The war, emigration and a number of factors meant a volatile period for the club during the 40s with the team folding and forming often. Dirmuid O’Reilly recalls the panel for selection during this time:
Goal: John Peden Full backs: Charlie McKee, Pat Joe Dynes, Diarmuid O’Reilly, James Fox Half backs: George Mullan, Jimmy McGeown, Seamus McDowell Midfield: Charlie O’Neill, Pat Mullen Forwards: Johnny Foye, Malachy Foye, Tommy Coleman, Mickey Fox, Barney Grimley, Jimmy Mullan, John Grimley. Tony O’Neill who played for the famous St Vincent’s Club in Dublin used to play for us when on holiday – he was a team on his own! Charlie O’Neill, Barney Grimley, Pat Mullen and the great Pat Joe Dynes were the star performers. Young players were Gerry Dynes, Dermot McDowell, Patsy Dynes, Brian McDowell and Sean Daly
In 1953 the last game of this Clonmore Emmets team was played against Blackwatertown on the rampart pitch – it included: John Molloy, John Grimley, Pat Joe Dynes, young John Grimley, Tommy Coleman and the McDowell brothers. This team played in blue. At a time when the county team had such success it was disappointing that the Clonmore team would have to call it a day.