Yesterday we took a brief look at the football history of St. Mary’s Aghagallon and their journey to a first Antrim SFC Final. Today we take a look at Sunday’s opponents, Kickham’s Creggan and their football history.
Later in the week we will take a look at both sides in depth as we preview this eagerly awaited final. We hope to speak to both managers in the build up to that final and, of course we will be there on the day to bring you coverage of the big game.
Kickhams GAC Creggan – a brief Football History
Kickhams GAC Creggan was established in 1924. The main driving force behind the setting up of the club was Jimmy Kelly, the local blacksmith and Pádraig Mac Con Midhe (Paddy McNamee) the local schoolmaster who went on to be president of the GAA on two occasions. The club grew throughout the 1920’s fielding hurling and football teams in the South West and Belfast leagues.
The 1940’s and 1950’s and into the early 1960’s were a period when Creggan footballers competed strongly with the best teams in County Antrim and Derry. The first major success came when the team won the Antrim Senior Championship defeating O’Donnells after a replay in 1943. The remainder of the forties and fifties saw Creggan compete strongly in the senior league and championship. With the early fifties a crop of new young players were emerging backboned by the Totten, Bateson and Coogan families. Patsy Totten and Joe Bateson in particular were excellent players who were regulars for Antrim in their day. Patsy won an Ulster minor medal and an Ulster Senior medal with Antrim in 1950 and 1951 respectively. A second Senior Championship success arrived in 1954 when Creggan defeated St John’s by two points in Casement Park.
The late fifties and early 1960’s was an era when ‘carnival’ football was very much to the fore with huge crowds attending. Creggan were frequently in action in County Derry where they defeated leading sides like Bellaghy, Ballinderry and Desertmartin in epic encounters. The next senior success in Antrim came in capturing the Antrim Senior league title in 1960 and 1961.
In 1977 Creggan footballers, although playing in Division 2, reached the final of the Antrim Senior Football Championship only to be narrowly beaten by a strong St John’s side. Throughout the1980s and 1990s, Creggan played their football mainly in Division 2. The pattern continued with some successes such as lifting the Antrim Intermediate Championship in 1997 and 1999.
Early in the new millennium football took a huge step forward when the senior team was promoted to Division 1 of the Antrim league in which they have since proved to be one of the strongest teams.
As the new millennium progressed the club enjoyed unprecedented success in under age football. As well as a range of juvenile titles gained by the club, the minor footballers won the Antrim title in 2008 and 2009 while the under 21s won the Antrim title in 2009 and 2011, a record of achievement which was unprecedented at under age level in the club. The most recent major success in football came when Creggan won the Antrim Senior league in 2018, while seven players from the club won Mac Rory Cup medals
Hurling came once again to the fore in 2014 and this time in spectacular fashion. The hard work of club stalwarts such as Thomas McCann, Danny and Seamus Dougan and Niall Robb was rewarded by winning the Antrim Junior Hurling title. They then embarked on an amazing journey winning the Ulster Junior title and finally the All-Ireland Junior title in a replay against Waterford’s Ballysaggart with whom they had drawn in Croke Park. Inspired by this success the team then won the Antrim Intermediate Championship the following year, following this up with an Ulster title and were narrowly beaten by Galway champions Abbeyknockmoy in the All-Ireland semi – final. Recently the club was honoured to have Conor McCann as the captain of the Antrim Senior team, the first time such an honour has been given to a player from the South West.
Many of those involved in Creggan’s hurling success, including Conor McCann feature on the football side and the Kickham’s can rightly be regarded as a very successful dual club and later in the week we will look at those players and the part they have played in reaching Sunday’s final against Aghagallon.