1953: Mullingar Shamrocks foundation
The Pearse’s Hurling Club was founded in November 1951; its first chairman was Commandant Denis O’Callaghan whose grandson Con O’ Callaghan made a significant impact when he was introduced as a second-half substitute for Dublin in the 2016 All-Ireland football final. The possibility of the Pearse’s club affiliating a football team was considered at the club’s first AGM in November 1952. A definite decision was postponed until the January club meeting held on Friday 16 January 1953 in St Mary’s Hall. After a lively debate, it was decided, that ‘as the hurling club was still in its infancy it would be unwise to burden it with a football team’. Instead it was decided to form a separate football club. The members of Pearse’s were determined that the footballers of Mullingar ‘would no longer be left orphaned and abandoned to be eventually lured away to the winter sodden fields of alien associations or to become the adopted children of a country club.’
The following officers were appointed:
President: Rev. P. J. Regan.
Vice-President: F. Garvey N. T.
Chairman: Brother Baldwin
Vice-Chairman: Frank Tuohy.
Secretary: Vincent Gillick.
Committee: S. Browne, T. Mullaney, S. Tone, P. Lucy, P. Mooney.
Multyfarnham provided the first opposition for the Shamrocks. In a junior football league game played in March 1953, Multyfarnham defeated the new boys 3-5 to 1-3. Paddy Mooney enjoyed the distinction of scoring the first goal for Shamrocks against opposition that were ‘fitter and without question played more as a team than their opponents who were having their first competitive game’. Unfortunately, no team was published for this inaugural game but Paddy Mooney, Sean Mullen, Ollie Mahedy, Paddy McCoy and Andy Duncan were identified for individual excellence.
1954: At the first AGM, it was revealed that the running costs of the club for the year were £50 and that the club had a credit balance of £20 for the 1954 season. Shamrocks were ambitious enough to enter the senior championship and were successful (1-8 to 0-1) against Kinnegad in a preliminary round. Paddy Doyle at fullback performed heroics and completely outplayed Kinnegad’s Maurice Dunne in a defence that was generally sound. The first twenty minutes were scoreless and the forwards were castigated by the Midland Reporter for their erratic form, ‘wides being numerous, easy frees driven wide, and an all-round poor standard of finishing’. Shamrocks fielded the following team in their senior championship debut; M McLoughlin; F Fitzgerald, Paddy Doyle, Dave Errity; Sean Mullen, Ollie Mahedy, M Martin; M McGarry, P Braiden (0-2); T Mullaney, Leo Osborne (1-1), Joe Reynolds (0-1); J Corroon (J Byrne), C Mooney and Andy Duncan. Shamrocks were lucky to escape with a draw against Boher who provided the opposition in the second round as ‘only the crossbar kept Shamrocks in and Boher out in the dying minutes’. Boher were comfortable replay winners (2-8 to 2-4), Shamrocks ‘with little or no team work made poor use of their breeze advantage’ and this ended the club’s maiden voyage in the senior ranks.
1957: Shamrocks won their first minor title in unusual circumstances. Rosemount provided the opposition in the final, the closing moments of which proved extraordinarily controversial and provided a quota of material for referee baiting well above the local average. With the sides level, full-forward A Dalton crashed the ball to the Rosemount net for what seemed to be the winning goal. The goal was disallowed and Shamrocks were awarded a penalty instead. Christy Braiden blasted the penalty to the net but! the referee again disallowed the goal as the whistle had not been blown. The retaken kick was saved and the final whistle was blown on the kick-out leaving the sides level at 2-3 for Shamrocks to Rosemount’s 0-9. Shamrocks lined out Paddy Browne; P Gerety, Christy Braiden, Tony Mulkearns; Feichin McCormack, Billy Creamer, Pat Smith; Ollie Grennan, Jimmy Finn; Phil Mullally, Dessie Newman, J Fitzgerald; Davey Nolan, Tony Dalton, Tommy Lyng. Sub: Seán Mulderry. The match was never replayed as Rosemount were thrown out of the championship for transgressions in an earlier round as was Maryland, the team they defeated in the semi-final.
1962: Mullingar Shamrocks played their first football match in Springfield and christened the venue with a win. Shamrocks beat Cullion 4-5 to 2-1 in a junior football league game. The first score was registered by Sean Magee who pointed after five minutes and Frankie Connaughton scored the first goal direct from a ‘50’. The Shamrocks team was O Mulvey; S Mullen, P McNamara, L Woods; P McCormack, F Connaughton, K Higgins; P Cole and C Lennon; C Connaughton, S Magee, C Quinn; T O’ Dowd, M Lynch and V Brady.
1962: After a number of near misses Shamrocks qualified for senior ranks after beating Boher by 4-4 to 2-6 to win the Westmeath junior football championship and the club’s first adult title. A team winning this title could expect to do well in the senior championship the following year. The Shamrocks title winning team was Paddy Browne, Sean Mullen, Brendan McNamara, Matt Ryan; Frankie Connaughton, Davey Nolan, Feichin McCormack; Paddy Cole (1-0) and James O’Dowd; Colm Connaughton (1-2), Christopher Lennon, Sean Magee; Terry O Dowd, Jimmy Finn (1-2) and M Kelly (1-0). Sub: Willo Reynolds for James O’ Dowd.
1963: Frankie Connaughton became the first Shamrocks player to captain a Westmeath Leinster title winning team as Westmeath minor footballers won their third provincial minor title. Frankie was Westmeath’s top scorer contributing 4-13 in the course of the 1963 campaign. Shamrocks players on the panel included goalkeeper Kevin Higgins who had a sensational game in the All-Ireland final against Kerry, Tommy Reeves and Dan O’Dowd. Alan Lambden emulated Frankie Connaughton’s achievement in 2000 when he captained Westmeath to a Leinster final victory also against Dublin.
1964: Mullingar Shamrocks won their first senior county title. Three points in the final minute secured the championship against St Mary’s (Rochfortbridge) by 0-8 to 1-3. The first senior championship winning team was Tony Caulfield; Sean Mullen, Brendan McNamara, Dan O’Dowd; Kevin Higgins, Frankie Connaughton, Davey Nolan; James O’Dowd (capt), Paddy Cole; Colm Connaughton (0-2), Sean Magee (0-2), Des Newman, Tony McCormack (0-2), Mick Lynch (0-2), John Daly. Subs: Terry O’Dowd for Des Newman; Des Newman for John Daly.
1966: A first ever minor-senior double for Shamrocks and for Tony Keegan, Barry McKeogh, Kevin Craig and Noel Daly the achievement was specially significant as these players played in both finals. Paul McGrath, Joe Bardon and John Ross were also members of both panels but didn’t play in the senior final. In 1994, the same double was achieved with Mark Treanor playing in both finals and Aidan Lyons coming on a substitute in the senior final. The 1966 championship was a bit late getting underway and Shamrocks did not begin their campaign until 17 July when Rosemount were defeated 1-8 to 0-6. It looked bad earlier in the year and in June 1966 Aindreas O, who wrote the GAA notes for the Westmeath Examiner, was inspired to write:
If hurling has come to a poor pass in Westmeath, then football in the town of Mullingar has reached a sorry state. The once great team of Shamrocks, who reached their peak in 1964, when winning the senior football championship have, I am afraid, fallen on evil days. How sad it is to record that they were unable to field a team at Ballynacarrigy on Sunday afternoon in the u-21 football championship. Added to this was the humiliation of only having eleven players to commence the semi-final Feis cup game against St Mary’s on Sunday evening at Cusack Park. How the mighty have fallen!
However, by 2 October, Shamrocks had qualified for their second county senior final after defeating The Downs and St Mary’s, Rochfortbridge. In the final, Shamrocks were far too strong for Maryland and were the most convincing of winners on a 5-10 to 1-5 scoreline. Shamrocks: Noel Daly; Barry McKeogh, Paddy Monaghan, Dan O’Dowd; Frankie Connaughton, Davey Nolan, Kevin Higgins; Paddy Cole and Kevin Craig; Tony Keegan, Michael Quinn, Colm Connaughton; Sean Magee, James O’Dowd, John Daly (Terry O’Dowd).
1968: Kevin Higgins became the first Shamrocks player to gain inter-provincial honours and the first Westmeath player selected to play in goal for Leinster when he played and kept a clean sheet in the Railway Cup semi-final match against Munster. An injured Higgins was replaced by Martin Furlong for the final but Shamrocks were still represented in Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day as Paddy Cole played at right-corner back in the final against Ulster. Paddy Cole is the only Shamrocks player to play in a Railway Cup final.
1973: The under-fourteen championship was won for the first time by a Shamrocks team that included a few players that were to become household names over the next few decades. Two of this team Spike Fagan and Ned Moore were still playing for Shamrocks thirty years later.
1979: The first sign of a Shamrocks revival emerged when the senior team reached the county final but were eventually defeated by an impressive Athlone team. Further evidence of a Shamrocks revival was evident in the winning of the under-12, under-14, under-16 and under-21 championships.
1986: Spike Fagan became the first Westmeath footballer to be selected for Ireland in the ‘compromise rules’ football international series against Australia and captured the national imagination with a number of brilliant performances against Australia in Perth, Melbourne and Adelaide. Spike represented Ireland in 1987 and 1990 also and played eight times in the international series. And of course the first senior title in twenty years was won in 1986.The Downs were defeated (1-11 to 2-5) in the final by a Shamrocks team that lined out as follows: Stephen Fagan; Richard McKenna, Gerry Nohilly, Paddy Dunne; Patsy Fagan, Kevin Daly, Peter Smith; Tom Ormsby (0-1) and Peter Faulkner; Michael Fagan (1-2), Mark Kelly (0-5), Denis Corroon; Sean Hynes (0-2), Michael O’Reilly and John Corroon (0-1).
1987: Shamrocks retained the senior county title for the first time in the club’s history. St Malachy’s were beaten by 2-12 to 1-5 in the first round and just 0-7 points were conceded in the next three matches as Tyrrellspass (2-10 to 0-4), Athlone (0-9 to 0-1) and Moate (0-6 to 0-2) were comfortably defeated to bring the Flanagan Cup back to Springfield. Shamrocks lined out in the final as follows: Tom Hunt; Richard McKenna, Gerry Nohilly, Paddy Dunne; Peter Smith (0-1), Kevin Daly, Michael Fagan (0-1); Tom Ormsby (0-1) and Peter Faulkner (Patsy Fagan); Michael O’Reilly (0-1), Mark Kelly, Denis Corroon; Sean Hynes (0-1), Jim O’Shea and John Corroon (0-1).
1988: The strength in depth of the club was highlighted as Shamrocks won their first and only intermediate football title with a 2-2 to 0-7 victory over Kinnegad. In what the Midland Topic headlined as a ‘sixty second blitz’ two goals in the 53rd minute from Bob Marren and Noel Nugent secured victory. The team (including six minors Dermot Monaghan, Noel Nugent, Paddy Boyce, Ivan O’Connor, Derek Farrell and Barry Kelly) was Mick Noone, Dermot Monaghan, Mick Conlon, Paddy Monaghan; Paddy Boyce, Pearse Corroon(Capt), J P Crowley; Bob Marren (1-0) and Noel Nugent (1-0); Mick Greene, Noel Dempsey (0-1), Derek Farrell; Ivan O’ Connor, Fergus Conlon (0-1), John Fagan. Subs: Jody Moran and Barry Kelly.
1990: Shamrocks captained by Pearse Corroon won their fifth county senior title with a single point victory over Coralstown-Kinnegad (2-7 to 2-6). Shamrocks: Dermot Ryan; Ned Moore, Michael Conlon, John Conlon; Pearse Corroon, Luke Dempsey, Peter Smith; Tom Ormsby and Peter Faulkner (John Corroon); Michael Fagan (1-2), Sean Hynes (0-1), Denis Corroon; Paddy Hassett (Michael O’Reilly 0-2), Mark Kelly (1-1), Eddie Casey (0-1).
1991: Shamrocks new clubhouse was opened with full bar facilities and refurbished dressing rooms but on the playing fields it was a disappointing year with defeats in the senior, intermediate and under-21 county finals. Early in the year, the club appointed its first lady officer when Detty Cornally was elected President of the club.
1993: The first continental holiday organised by Shamrocks was held as a party of over fifty travelled to Tenerife between 22-29 October for some serious socialising and a little light training for the Leinster club championship match against Meath county champions Skryne which was won comfortably (1-11 to 1-7). The match took a heavy toll as Eire Óg heavily defeated an injury stricken Shamrocks in the Leinster semi-final.
1994: Ritchie O’ Donoghue finished his first term as Shamrocks senior manager by leading the club to its first three-in-a-row senior football championships. Ritchie became manager in 1985 and managed Shamrocks in 32 Westmeath senior championship games winning 28 including six senior titles in ten years (1985-1994).
1995: The four-in-a-row senior championship wins is achieved this time with Gerry Nohilly as manager and Paddy Dunne and Tom Hunt as selectors. Tyrrellspass were comfortable defeated (0-18 to 1-7) in the final. Shamrocks captained for the third successive championship by Ned Moore lined out as follows: Dermot Ryan; Ned Moore, Brian Lalor, Paul Ahern; Michael Fagan, John Conlon, Bill Sex (0-1); Tom Ormsby and Kevin Cahill (0-1); Eddie Casey, Kieran Ryan (0-1), Denis Corroon; Bernard Flynn (0-10), Mark Treanor (0-3), Michael O’ Reilly (0-1). Substitutes: Paddy Monaghan for Paul Ahern; Eric Smyth (0-1) for Denis Corroon; Aidan Lyons for Eddie Casey.
Ten players, Dermot Ryan, Ned Moore, John Conlon, Bill Sex, Michael Fagan, Tom Ormsby, Kieran Ryan, Denis Corroon, Michael O’Reilly and Bernard Flynn played in all four finals.
Westmeath won the All-Ireland minor football title for the first time and Davey Walls as a panellist became the first Shamrocks footballer to win an All-Ireland minor football medal.
1998: The first ladies’ championship was captured when Shamrocks under-16 girls defeated Garrycastle in the county final and defended the title in 1999.
1999 Westmeath win the All-Ireland under-21 football title for the first time defeating Kerry in the final with Micheál Burke and Brian Lambden key figures in the victory. Micheál Burke added a second Leinster under-21 medal to his collection in 2000. A very strong Shamrocks team, that featured Niall Breslin before he became Bressie as a towering midfielder, was very unlucky to lose the county semi-final to Tyrrellspass.
2000 In November it was a ‘winter wonderland’ as Shamrocks won the first senior championship of the new millennium on a day when team captain Tom Ormsby walked on water and inspired Shamrocks with a brilliant mid-field performance against Tyrrellspass and Paddy Monaghan dominated the defence from centre-back. Spike Fagan, Pearse Corroon, Tom Ormsby and Mickey O’Reilly collected their eight Westmeath senior football medal. Shamrocks: Dermot Ryan; John Conlon; Micheál Burke, David Walls; Pearse Corroon, Paddy Monaghan, Brian Lambden; Tom Ormsby and Aidan Lyons; Barry Loughrey (0-1), Dermot Curley (Adrian Keaveney) Brian Morley (1-1); Michael O’Reilly (0-1) [Paddy Rouse] (Eric Smyth), Mark Treanor (0-1), Eddie Casey (0-1)
Donal O’Donoghue became the first Shamrocks player to be selected for the Compromise rules under seventeen football series against Australia and played in the three international games. Later in the year Donal was a member of the Westmeath Leinster title winning minor football title which was captained by Alan Lambden.
2001 Lisa Burke joined a select group of Paddy Cole, Kevin Higgins and Spike Fagan who have achieved interprovincial recognition when she was selected on the Leinster ladies football panel. Unfortunately, the foot and mouth disease forced the cancellation of the ladies’ inter-provincial series and Lisa lost out on the chance of playing for Leinster. In September, the first adult ladies title was captured when the junior football title was landed with the defeat of St Loman’s in the county final in Rochfortbridge. Karen Hegarty joined the interprovincial quartet in 2012.
2002: The official opening of the club’s Springfield complex took place on 28 April 2002 when Westmeath and Derry played in a game to mark the occasion. Over the previous ten years, the Springfield pitch had been drained, a clubhouse built and then extended and two additional dressing rooms constructed.
2004: One of the longest famine periods in the history of the GAA ended on 24 July 2004 when Westmeath finally won the Leinster Senior football championship beating Laois (0-12 to 0-10) and reduced to two the number of counties that have never won a provincial senior title. The Shamrocks contribution to the occasion was significant. Donal O’Donoghue picked up two Man of the Match awards in the course of the campaign, Shane Colleary’s goal against Wexford was the vital score and Brian Morley’s famous wide point against Offaly was a sign that the God’s of football were on Westmeath’s side in 2004.
Also in 2004, Shamrocks won the first of what proved to be five under-21 county titles over an eight-year period.
2005: Stars in Your Eyes was unveiled to the Mullingar public for the first time at the Arts Centre. The shows have produced fabulous entertainment over the years and provided an opportunity for all levels of talent to appear on stage. Performers included Niall Horan whose appearance as Jason Mraz suggested that he was headed only in One Direction. Mark Irwin too was moving in the direction of an Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation scholarship and a career in music. Mark has since gone on to start in London’s West End as a member of the cast of The Commitments. The highlight of this series of shows The Ultimate Classical Music Show was held in the Arts Centre in March 2010 when a galaxy of singers, all connected to Shamrocks, presented a light opera show of classic songs from the musicals.
2006: After years of disappointment and heartbreak a coveted All-Ireland Scór title was finally brought back to Springfield when the Shamrocks ballad group gained the judges verdict in the Scór na nÓg finals in Athlone. Rory Hughes, Jemma McNamee, Aoife Gavin, Mark Irwin and Katie McCarthy were the ones who impressed the judges with their singing of Bríd Óg ní Mhaille and The Flower of Magherally
2007: An All-Ireland Scór double was the reward for the energy invested in the annual competition by the club’s Scór committee led by Mrs Scór herself, Detty Cornally. Mary Hughes performed John Cowley’s The First Shall be Last and the Last Shall be First, in Killarney, to win the All-Ireland Senior title in the Recitation section. Katie McCarthy completed an All-Ireland Scór na nÓg double earlier in the year with a brilliant win in the solo singing section with a fantastic rendition of Brid Óg ní Mhaille.
2009: Senior football status was achieved by Shamrocks ladies footballers when the intermediate title was secured for the first time with a 3-9 to 2-7 victory over Kilbeggan. The history making team captained by Lisa Burke was Gemma Leahy; Lorna Morris, Louise Begley, Emily Turkington; Jean Kenny, Niamh Spellman, Linda Gilmartin; Aoife O’Brien and Elaine Faughan; Emma Morris (0-5), Lisa Burke (0-1), Áine Melody, Karen Hegarty (0-1), Carole Finch (1-1), Nadine Conway (2-1).
2010: After three losing All-Ireland final appearances, the club’s Novelty Act team landed the All-Ireland Senior Scór title when they won performing their own production Curtain Up which ironically poked some fun at the Scór novelty act concept and its judges. The novelty actors were Mary T. Irwin, Mary Hughes, Paul Doolin, Joe Earley, Gemma McNamee and two noted football corner-backs Robert Ryan and Aaron Purcell.
In 2010 also the latest phase of the club’s development of the astro-turf, floodlights, perimeter walkway and redesigned juvenile pitch was completed, work that was driven to completion by club chairman, Pearse Corroon. The development was officially opened on 30 July 2011.
2011: With the club’s senior footballers losing out to Garrycastle in the county senior final replay, four of the Shamrocks ladies footballers were responsible for bringing back some spectacular silverware to Westmeath. Gemma Leahy, Carole Finch, Karen Hegarty and Emma Morris played key roles on the Westmeath team that won the National League (Division 4) and the All-Ireland intermediate titles. Gemma Leahy was a superb goalkeeper. Karen Hegarty was awarded the Player of the Match award for her display in the league final against Roscommon in which she scored 0-6 and her second-half display against Cavan in the drawn All-Ireland final when she scored 1-1 was crucial. Emma Morris played in every match in the league and championship and Carole Finch’s twelve-year career with the Westmeath team was rewarded with league and All-Ireland medals in a year in which she played thirteen league and championship matches. Robbie McCarthy, a former Shamrocks under-age footballer, also created history when he won the All-Ireland 60x30 senior softball singles title beating Eoin Kennedy to become the first Westmeath man to win an All-Ireland senior singles handball title, the first of many such titles.
2012: Character is the only word needed to describe the quality of the panel of players that regained the Westmeath senior football championship for the Mullingar Shamrocks Club after an incredible twelve-year absence. Once the knock-out stages were reached the players refused to accept defeat. Down by 0-10 to 0-4 and virtually out against Tyrrellspass in the quarter-final, the players inspired by Micheál Curley staged a magnificent last ten minutes recovery to win by 1-10 to 0-10. St Lomans provided the semi-final opposition and led by five points early in the first-half before Shamrocks drew level only to then drift out of the game and allow the local boys establish another six-point lead. This was of course clawed back and converted into a two-point lead before the game eventually ended in 2-12 to 2-12 draw. In the replay, St. Lomans led by six points after seventeen minutes but then the serious business began and Shamrocks took control to secure a county-final place with a comfortable 3-7 to 1-10 victory. In the final, Garrycastle blundered into a 3-7 to 1-4 lead early in the second-half and their four-in-a-row title quest seemed secure. Shamrocks had other ideas and outthought, outfought and outscored Garrycastle for the last twenty-five minutes to earn a well-deserved draw (3-9 to 3-9). Half-way through the first half of the replay Shamrocks conceded the customary five points lead to the opposition but the successful fight back began and three magnificent Seanie Daly points in the final minutes secured victory for Shamrocks (0-12 to 1-8). Captain Kieran Gavin escorted the Flanagan Cup back to Springfield for the eleventh time.
These men were responsible for this marathon championship victory which involved twelve matches.
County Final: Ronan Tyrrell; Eddie Moore, Kieran Gavin, Aaron Purcell; Killian Daly, David Gavin, Micheál Curley; Denis Corroon & Donal O’Donoghue; Paddy Joyce, Seanie Daly, Conor Twomey; John Ganley, Ciarán Curley, Lorcan Smyth.
Subs: Anthony Clinton for Donal O’Donoghue; Simon Quinn for David Gavin; Aonghus Smyth for Killian Daly; Daragh Daly for John Ganley; David Miller for Aaron Purcell.
County Final Replay: Ronan Tyrrell; Aaron Purcell, Kieran Gavin, Eddie Moore; Paddy Joyce, David Gavin, Micheál Curley; Denis Corroon & Donal O’Donoghue; Killian Daly Seanie Daly, Simon Quinn; John Ganley, Ciarán Curley, Lorcan Smyth.
Subs: Anthony Clinton for Simon Quinn; Daragh Daly for Paddy Joyce; David Miller for Aaron Purcell.
Team Management: Ray Smyth, Pearse Corroon, Johnny Corroon.
Team Coordinator: Ray Twomey.
Team Doctor: Dr Liam Dalton
Physiotherapist: Derek Mitchell.
The win was made all the sweeter as Shamrocks had been defeated by Garrycastle in the 2010 and 2011 finals, the latter after a replay following which Garrycastle went on to win the Leinster final before losing the All-Ireland final in a replay to Crossmaglen.
2013: The club secured its second junior football title on 6 October 2013 when a team managed by Adrian Keaveney and captained by Calvin Kirwan defeated St Pauls in the final (1-7 to 0-8). Shamrocks: Ronan Tyrrell; Conor McEntee, Robert Ryan, Calvin Kirwan; Davy Coyne, David Miller (0-1), Efi Siode (0-1); Eoin O’Neill and Sean Maguire (Paul Christie); David Noonan (Sean Lee), Patrick Fagan (0-1), Conor Twomey (1-3); Steve Noonan (Nathan Smith), Gary Corroon (0-1) (Ryan Blundell), Adam Corroon.
2014: Another significant event in the club’s history was celebrated on 8 May when Minister for Sport, Michael Ring T.D. performed the official opening of the Mullingar Shamrocks Fitness Centre with its fully equipped gym.
2016: The staging of the musical Grease in the Mullingar Arts Centre om 5-10 July as the club’s main fundraising initiative for the year was another significant first for the club. It was a six-day completely sold-out success. The key people who made this possible were Jemma McNamee as Director, Niamh O’Shea as Musical Director, Chris Corroon who choreographed the show and Aaron Purcell as Stage Manager. Jemma is a former All-Ireland Scór winner with Shamrocks whilst Aaron is a long-time member of the Mullingar Shamrocks senior football team and was a key-member of the 2012 senior title winning team.