Our History

A History of  Ballinora Hurling & Football Club, Waterfall, Co. Cork By | John Brosnan "Full many a hard fought battle, Full many a stirring game, Have gained for Ballinora, a proud and glorious name. By Owenahue's dark waters, in Blarney Castle's lawn, the boys of Ballinora have clashed the ash caman." (from   "The Boys of Ballinora"  by Seamus O’Longaigh, 1924) Ballinora G.A.A. Club is heir to a long and proud heritage and tradition. Records exist of hurling being played in the area long before the foundation of the G.A.A., and of games against other  parishes, the most notable being an epic home and away encounter with Kinsale in 1864. The newly introduced railway line, with its station in Waterfall, ensured a large Ballinora following at both games. In the home game the action of the day was not confined to the players on the field and the final result could be classed in the annals of military rather than of sporting history. Records from the early years are for the most part hazy and unclear. There exists, however, a long poem from circa 1914, eulogising a victory by Ballinora primary school over neighbouring Ballinhassig, in which is found the following verse: “The ball was thrown in and the game set in motion, to your places our Captain Mick O’Riordan did cry. Then he lifted the ball and sent to young Lucey who scored a neat goal while you'd just wink an eye.” Young Lucey went on to become Bishop Cornelius Lucey.  As with many rural areas, Ballinora was subject to a cyclic rise and fall in population reflected in the chequered fortunes of the local GAA  Club. The records from the local primary school, the sole nursery of the club, show that enrolment had  reached a peak of approximately 150  by the early 1920's.  Experience gained in the School Shield for Ballinora N.S. and furthered by some at post primary level, led to an improved standard of hurling in the area. The club, which had been allowed to lapse, was reorganised on a proper footing in 1924 under the chairmanship of local teacher Seamus 0’Longaigh (Jimmy Long). Seamus, as secretary of the County Board introduced the present Divisional system within the County and  he is also immortalised as author of "The Boys of Ballinora.    By the mid 1920's a young and talented side began to emerge, and by 1940 ensured that Ballinora was recognised as a major hurling force within the County. The Mid-Cork Junior Championship was annexed in 1928 and again in 1929.  Having opted for Intermediate grade without winning the County Junior title, Ballinora won the County Intermediate Championship and the Mid Cork Cup in 1932.  A Mid-Cork minor Championship was won in 1934 and thus the club fielded a strong Intermediate side during the 1930's. The same fortune did not smile again on the club and a narrow defeat in the County Final at the hands of Ballincollig in 1939, and a semi-final loss to Cloghduv in 1941, signalled the end of a glorious era not to be equalled until later in the 1990’s & turn of the century to come. From circa 1970 the Waterfall-Ballinora area began to experience a massive population influx. This has totally transformed the club on a number of fronts. For the first time in its history Ballinora became a recognised force at under age and this has been reflected in the winning of numerous school shield and Divisional competitions in hurling and football since the mid 1970's and the resultant upgrading of teams which now means that Ballinora competes in the ‘A’ grade for the most part. To cater for this expected growth, the club was fortunate that in the late 1970's a progressive development committee, spearheaded by John O'Shea and Tadhg O'Connor, both now gone to their eternal reward, began a process which led to the acquisition of a new playing field and the erection of a modern Club Complex, including a sports hall, meeting rooms and dressing rooms. Though initially part of the Ballincollig parish, it was traditionally accepted that Ballinora, due to its mainly rural composition, possessed a totally unique and separate identity. The influx of population made it feasible for the Diocese to implement the separate standing of Ballinora and on Sept. 1st 1986 Ballinora achieved the status of parishdom. This development was greeted enthusiastically by all, but by none more so than the GAA Club, ever conscious that the appeal and strength of the G.A.A. nationwide are deeply rooted in parish pride and rivalry. From his arrival as our first Parish Priest, Fr. William Dineen endeared himself to all the people of the parish, and coming as he did with a strong GAA background, he quickly became associated with the local club. Within a year of his arrival he spearheaded, in conjunction with the GAA and ,other parishoners, a major £300,000 draw which had made possible the building of a Parochial House, a major extension to the local N.S., extensive modernisation of Ballinora Church and the total clearance of substantial debts of the GAA Club remaining from its years of major development. Thus were laid the firm foundations for an infant parish which has officially adapted the GAA colours of Red and Green, which are also worn by sporting and other organisations from the parish. At his retirment in 1998, Fr. Willie was replaced by Canon Donal Lenihan as PP. A man of different vision and methods, he has equally endeared himself to a bigger and changing parish, which he has helped nurture and grow. He shares the ideas of the GAA club and has been most supportive as club vice president and as an ardent fan. Parish pride and identity continues to flourish with his help and support. The following verse from an old club poem titles "The Red & Green", with its noble sentiments and strong sense of parish pride, could well serve as an anthem for all: Down in Blackrock and Balinlough and by the lovely Lee, We play the game against them all, no matter who they be. Although we play to win each day, yet should our efforts fail, we take defeat and wait to greet whatever will maintain. For fortune's dame is still the same, now as she's always been and a tear or smile will ne'er beguile those wearing Red &' Green' Very few references to Gaelic Football exist from the early years, with the exception of some tales of games with neighbouring parishes in the early years of the GAA, in which Ballinora were famed for their “fine high kicks". Football was played in the 1930's and Ballinora also participated in competitions in the 1950's and '60's without any great measure of success. From the mid 1970's a team comprised of newcomers to the parish, blended with local players emerging from the school shield competitions, began to impact competitively. The Whitechurch tournament won in 1978 was the first football title to come to the club and in 1979 the Mid-Cork "B" league and championship were won and since then the Club has competed at A level. In 1980 the club won its first U21-B title. In 1983 an U13 team with School Shield experience was entered in the City Bord na nÓg league which they duly won, attracting great support from the parish. This team went on to win the county U14 title in Centenary year 1984, the Mid. Cork juvenile champ and Co. League in 1986 and a county minor title in 1987, and in the process football became deeply rooted at underage level for the first time. Down the years the club has been fortunate that local bards have emerged to immortalise in poetry, various milestones in its history. For many years this mantle was adopted by our esteemed former president Dinny Joe Murphy. Now have gone to his eternal reward, he was for many years a father figure in the club,, a widely known character and raconteur, he was tour leader in the club's sole overseas visit to New York in 1981. The general euphoria surrounding the U14 football victory over St. Finbarrs in the 1984 Co. Final inspired Dinny Joe to put pen to paper as oft since and before, with the following being brief excerpts: You will read in history's pages of sportsmen of great fame, of deeds done and honours won and where they played the game, but the team that made club history, to live forever more, they came from Ballinora in 1984. Excitement then was rising high, it nearly reached the stars and we were told we had met our lot when we faced the St. Finbarr’s. So we travelled down to Ballygarvan with our gallant band so true Where we rose Ballinora’s Red &' Green and lowered St. Finbarr’s Blue. Just 6 years later, in 1990, over half of this side teamed up with those players still remaining from the 1980 U21 team to win the Mid-Cork Junior ‘A’ title at the expense of Blarney. Few would have predicted in 1980 that a team of locally born and trained players would emerge as Mid-Cork ‘A’ champions within the decade. All this has ensured that both games are now embraced with equal fervour within the club and parish. Since 1990 there has been substantial consolidation of the progress experienced in the previous decades. A new playing field was purchased at Ballymah. Its distance from the main pitch and complex at Ballinora meant that new  dressing rooms were required and construction on same is now almost complete to complement the excellent new pitch. Though much had been achieved by 1990, success on the playing fields since then has been unprecendented at under-age and adult levels. Mid Cork titles are now won regularly at juvenile level and the minor footballers in 1998, the under 16 footballers in 2000 and the U14 footballers in 2001 have gone on to win County titles. The U14 hurlers won County Feile in 1991, thus the years 1996 and 1997 will forever occupy an exhaulted position in the history of the Ballinora club. Titles at adult level had always been cherished, mainly because they were few and far between. Thus the illusive back-to-back double of Mid Cork Junior’A’ titles in hurling and football was achieved in those two glorious seasons with the footballers going on to win the county title in 1997, to gain intermediate status.  Twice since then they have reached the county semi-final in this grade. Many players have gained representative honours at all levels in both hurling and football, ranging from U13 players selected to represent Cork in School Shield Inter-County games to players selected to represent Muskerry at U 16 and Senior level. The most notable, however, have been Derry Murphy who won an all-Ireland medal with the Cork Junior hurlers, Brendan O'Shea who was a Cork minor footballer, Eddie Carey in U21 football and Tomas Conway and Eddie Carey who were on the Cork schoolboys team to tour Australia in 1988. Eddie Carey was goalie on the County junior football team since the early 1990’s winning a number of Munster titles and all Ireland titles in 1996 and 2001. Since the mid 90’s Cathal O’Connor, Cathal Sheehan, Michael Murphy, Denis O’Hare and Conor Brosnan were selected as Cork minor footballers. Cathal Sheehan and Conor Brosnan won Munster titles in 1999 and Conor Brosnan and Denis O’Hare were on the Cork minor side which won Munster and all Ireland titles in 2000.  Conor Brosnan was also on the County minor hurling team in 1999 and 2000, winning a Munster title and all Ireland runner up in 2000. He was also on the Cork U21 football team in 2001 and 2002,   winning a Munster medal in 2001 and was also selected on the Cork junior football team in 2002. Numerous divisional and county titles have also been won in Scor. Former Club officer, Tony O'Mahony, who for many years had been progressing as an administrator at divisional and county level, achieved the ultimate and deserved honour for himself and the club by being selected as Chairman of the county board in 1991. These events really crowned a decade of great progress, development and achievement for the club. Tragedy struck in the club on Sun. 24th May, 1981. Denis O'Mahony, a long serving and most dedicated club officer and Denis O'Hare, who had just joined the club, were electrocuted in a freak accident while moving portable goalposts in the new pitch. Their deaths cast a never to be forgotten shadow over the club and both men will live in our memories forever. The club erected an impressive commerative monument to the memory of the two men at the site of the accident and this was officially unveiled at a major club ceremony in May 1996 by president elect Joe McDonagh. Ar dheis lamh De go raibh a n-anamacha. The GAA club has always been central to the Ballinora way of life, and never more so than in recent years. Virtually every family in the parish is involved in one way or another in club activities. The very large number of juvenile players from 6 to 16 are being excellently coached and catered for by the club and in addition to these the minor, U21 and junior teams  involve a constantly expanding membership. Cultural, social, political and indoor sporting activities are now at an all time high in the area thanks to the facilities of the new Club Hall. The local Camogie Club, I.C.A., Red Cross and Scouts work in close co-operation with the club. Great social change has taken place in the country since the foundation of the club, but down the years, people of vision have ensured that the club has not alone kept pace but has set the pace for change within its catchment area. These people are too numerous to mention in this brief history but their legacy lives on. Those who presently carry the torch can certainly compare more than favourably with any former generation and the prospects for the future appear bright. The modem GAA Club often faces a crises of identity as it endeavours to cope with the many side activities, often unconnected to its original aims and purposes. The Ballinora Club is now involved in a diverse range of activities but it has never faltered in its primary function of promoting hurling and football. The physical face of Ballinora today would be almost unrecognisable to its inhabitants of a century ago, but in the things that really matter, very little has changed as can be seen from this verse from "The Boys of Ballinora" written almost 80 years ago; “In dear old Ballinora, where the streams come rushing down, and the glens are dothed over, with gorse and heather brown. The boys at eentide gather with gambols like the fawn and mid shouts of joy and laughter rings the clash of the ash caman.”

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