100 Years in The Making Tír na nÓg GAC 1919 to 2019

Tir na nÓg are half way through their Centenary celebrations. John Shannon gives a brief outline of the club’s history and how the year has gone so far.

From humble beginnings, having playing its first competitive match in August 1919 on reclaimed marshy ground, the Tír na nÓg Gaelic Athletic Club has remained true to its core values and grown from strength to strength.

Members of the Tir na nÓg club visited the grave of club founder Maurice Bogue in Drogheda earlier in the year

The history of Gaelic games in Co Antrim and Randalstown’s Tír na nÓg club, in particular, have their origins in the Gaelic Revival which swept Ireland between the death of Parnell, and the Irish Revolution from 1916 onwards.  The growth of the GAA in Ulster owed much to an infusion of key personnel from the South of Ireland, mainly of Post Office officials, inspectors and agricultural workers, often from strong hurling and football counties.

So too, in Randalstown when a young forestry worker, Maurice Bogue, arrived in 1912 to take charge of the forest in Shane’s Castle Estate for Lord O’Neill.   Having obtained a few sticks and a sliotar he introduced the skills to several locals.

Early in 1919 a meeting was called to consider the formation of a hurling club.  With the great revival of national spirit it was unanimously agreed to establish a club and to enter the County Championship.  The club assumed the name Tír na nÓg and registered the familiar royal blue colours. Among that first committee elected was: Arthur Martin, Tommy Martin and Paddy McCann whose children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are still involved in the club today.

One of the club’s founding members Arthur Martin

In Irish mythology Tír na nÓg (Land of the Young) is one of the names for the Celtic Otherworld.  It is best known from the tale of Oisín and Niamh.  Tír na nÓg is depicted as an island paradise and supernatural realm of everlasting youth, beauty, health, abundance and joy.  Its inhabitants are described as the gods of pre-Christian Ireland, who engage in poetry, music and entertainment.  The young from the lands around the Whitehill pitch have benefited from the vibrant spirit within the club.

Gaelic football and camogie were soon introduced in the club and within a few short years drama, Irish dancing and céilí evenings were the norm.  Underage hurling was not omitted and it was as a direct result of the activities of the Tír na nÓg club that the first South-West Antrim Schools Hurling League was formed in 1924.  The six teams that contested the league were Creggan, Farinflough, Magheralane, Randalstown, Moneynick and Carlane.  In the 1920s and early 30s an annual picnic was held in the hurley field, jam sandwiches and tea being the order of the day.

The social contribution of Tír na nÓg during the 20s and 30s must not be underestimated.

Often we look upon the first half of the twentieth century as black, white or grey years before moving into the era of colour and technicolour as the new millennium approached.  Yet on reflecting back on the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s that perception of drabness cannot be applied to the mindset, outlook and general personality of the people involved in Tír na nÓg at that time.  Their passion, humour, enthusiasm, ambition and almost zealot-like approach ensured that from humble beginnings by a Cork man in a marshy field off the Craigstown Road a strong and vibrant club had emerged.

Success in competition has been achieved over the centenary with hurling, football, camogie and Scor honours having been obtained at Antrim and Ulster Level with All Ireland achievement emanating from the Scor na nÓg competition.  The spirit within the club has ensured a constant programme of growth and development both in the facilities and the inclusivity of the local community.

Thus with an energy that has prevailed for one hundred years Tír na nÓg GAC has emerged as one of the eminent clubs in the country.  Today, at its home on the Barnish Road, there are two excellent pitches, a training pitch, an indoor 4G pitch, gymnasium, hurling wall, a suite of changing facilities, meeting rooms and a function room.  The facilities, some of which have received grant assistance from Sport NI, DARD, Antrim Borough Council and the Gaelic Athletic Association are for all the community with schools and other sporting organisations availing of them.  There have been a number of shared events with hockey and rugby clubs and in 2003 Tír na nÓg hosted the Special Olympians from Connecticut USA for a display of gaelic games and other local sports.

The club fields teams from Primary 1 through to adult level in camogie, hurling and gaelic football for both male and female.  There is an emphasis of personal health and Tír na nÓg has associated itself with with CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) – the club organised for a heart screening clinic to be set up and two hundred young people were screened in 2017 and a further 200 in 2018.  Since its inception one hundred years ago Tír na nÓg has produced many fine sportswomen and sportsmen, many of whom have represented proudly the club but have also played for Antrim, Ulster and Ireland in all codes of hurling camogie and gaelic football.

The club has a thriving cultural aspect participating in Scor and drama while offering Irish language, dance and music classess.  The social events continue to appeal and while the picnics and jam sandwiches may have gone they have been replaced an every expanding eclectic mix including Cúl Camp; Children’s Summer Scheme; Hunt for the Hunk; Balloon Race; Hypnotist; The Biggest Loser; Dancing with the Stars; Primary School Discos; Barbeques; Concerts; and Guest Teas to name but a few.

The club has thrived because of its people and their commitment to fundraise, train teams, referee matches, transport juvenile teams, build facilities and organise events.  This commitment gelled the Tír na nÓg family into what it is today and aspires to become in the years to come.  

To celebrate their one hundredth year anniversary the Tír na nÓg club have arranged a number of events which loosely follow four ancient Irish Festival times.  The themed festivals are:-

Imbolg:- This was held in February and was the opening week of the centenary.  It was based around St Brigids Day and had traditional crafts(basket making, rush cross making, turf cutting; eel fishing; hurling stick making; etc) and Irish language lessons

The Centenary committee with guest of honur Oliver Galligan at the Gala dinner in Tullyglass Hotel

Bealtaine:-A Gala Dinner was held in June attended by over five hundred and fifty guests.

Lúnasa:- To be held in August this will be a weekend of music, outdoor nights, children fun day and other events.

Samhain:-  Halloween shall bring the year of celebration to a close with a night for members to relax and reflect on the year that has been.

Interspersed throughout the year will be a focus on the teams, the games, bespoke club products and ground improvements.

The club has a museum installation for the year, displaying club and GAA memorabilia alongside members memories and highlights of their Tír na nÓg .

One of the highlights of the forthcoming Feile weekend will be the burial of a time capsule. set to be opened again in 25 years, the capsule has been filled with pictures, children’s art and other artefacts of interest.

Centenary Féile Celebrations at Tír na nÓg Randalstown

To mark 100 years of the formation of Tír na nÒg GAC in Randalstown, the club are hosting a Centenary Féile running from the 21st-25th of August in a purpose built marquee at their grounds on the Barnish Road in Randalstown. The Féile celebrations are open to one and all and we look forward to welcoming friends, neighbours and those from far flung places to celebrate with us and enjoy this milestone event in our history.

The festival kicks off on Wednesday 21st August with a night of Family Bingo, sure to be full of laughs, this is one for everyone! Kicks off 7:30pm tea and refreshments available. This is a non-ticketed event, just buy a book at the door! Book – £10, Half book – £5 Square – £1.

On Thursday 22nd  Tír na nÓG honours the champions of tomorrow with the Juvenile Gala. Ticket includes dinner, drink/slushie, entertainment and a very special gift box which will contain a commemorative gift only available at this event! It is smart dress so everyone is encouraged to wear their best party outfit! Children primary 1-4 celebrate from 5pm-7pm and Primary 5 upwards take to the floor between 7:30 and 9:30pm.

Friday 23rd August is a night of Comedy and Cocktails starring TV comedian Nuala McKeever and her ‘Letting Go or Losing it’ tour. Starting at 8pm, whilst the theme of the night is a celebration of Tír na nÒg women everyone is welcome! A handpicked selection of cocktails will be available for one night only, including a ‘Tír na nÓg Blue Lagoon’! Music ‘till late.

Saturday 24th August is our ‘Craic N’ Country’ night. Starting off the night is up and coming local artist Tiernán Heffron who has just recently launched a new album. ‘Jive NI’ will be presenting a showcase of jiving skills, which are sure to have everyone wanting to give it a go! The headline act is the fabulous Joe Davitt Country Band, joining us all the way from Co.Wexford. Hot on the heels of his successful UK tour, the current five-piece country dance group, is comprised of second and third generation family members of the famous Davitt Showband that were a major attraction in the dance halls around Ireland from the1950s to the 1980s. Its bound to be a lively evening, packed full of fantastic music and great entertainment.

Through out the evening there will be a Rodeo Bull Competition, with a cash prize for the rider with the best staying power. Starting at 8:30pm and the Criac’s on ‘till late! BBQ and refreshments available.

From 1pm-4pm on Sunday 25th August the Annual Family Funday will take place at Whitehill football pitch. Costume characters, face-painting, bouncy castles, an open air concert and a spectacular colour run are just of the events running in this jam packed afternoon!

To cap off the weekend of celebrations, The Whistlin’ Donkeys 32 County tour comes to Tír na nÓg commencing at 8pm ‘till late the headline act will be supported by The Katie McParland Folk Group.  BBQ and refreshments available.

Tickets for all events are available online at https://www.klubfunder.com/Clubs/Friends_of_Tir_na_nOg

and are also on sale at the clubroom, 57 Barnish Road Randalstown on Tuesday 20th between 7 and 8pm. All tickets are £12 excluding the Juvenile Gala which is £10.

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Ballygalget power home in final quarter

ACHL Division 1-2 Promotion / Relegation play-off first leg

Ballygalget 3-22-1-13 Sarsfields

By Kevin Herron at Milltown

Ballygalget took a huge step towards survival in the top tier of Antrim hurling as they outscored Sarsfields 3-07-0-02 in the final quarter of this afternoon’s promotion / relegation first-leg at Milltown.

With just a point separating the sides a Jordan Doran goal tilted the game back into the County Down sides balance after Sarsfields had chased a five-point deficit at the start of the second-half.

Tim Prenter added further goals to give his side a 15-point advantage ahead of the second-leg in a few weeks time and only a mammoth overturn would see Sarsfields clinch promotion to Division One.

The Stewartstown men started the brighter of the sides at Milltown Row and hit the opening two scores through Darragh McGuinness and Niall McKenna (free).

Although Adam Doran angled over Ballygalget’s opening point; Kevin McKernan restored his sides two-point advantage.

Doran doubled his account and Owen Clarke floated the ball over the bar to level after ten minutes with a converted Caolan Coulter free edging the County Down side ahead for the first time (0-04-0-03).

Niall McKenna drew the sides level for the second time just after the midway point in the half – converting a free after a foul on Caolan McKernan.

But back to back points from Cathal Coulter and John McManus had Ballygalget two points to the good.

McKenna twice reduced the deficit to the minimum – converting a free and landing a point from play, though points from Jordan Doran and Marc Fisher (long range free) restored their sides advantage.

Gerard Roddy plucked the ball from the air and conjured a magnificent score and a second placed ball of the half from Marc Fisher had Ballygalget in control with a 0-10-0-06 lead.

Sarsfields were thrown a lifeline with four minutes to the break as Jack Daniels launched a high ball forward that wasn’t dealt with by Ballygalget goalkeeper Gareth ‘Magic’ Johnson as Kevin McKernan profited – scooping the ball to the net to make it a one-point game (0-10-1-06).

Successive points from Daniel Toner and Tim Prenter stretched their sides lead – but Gary Lennon squeezed the ball over from a tight angle to ensure that just two-points separated the sides at the end of an enthralling opening half (0-12-1-07).

Ballygalget began the second period on the front foot and quickly opened up a five-point gap with three unanswered points.

Daniel Toner added to his two-points from the opening half with two converted frees, whilst Tim Prenter conjured up his third point of the game in-between.

Niall McKenna landed his fourth placed ball in response and then played a quick free to Caolan McKernan as the midfielder split the posts.

The Stewartstown side had the bit between their teeth and points from Darragh McGuinness and Ryan Carson reduced the deficit to the bare minimum with twenty minutes remaining (0-15-1-11).

Crucially Sarsfields failed to land the leveller that may have saw them kick on with the momentum and on 43 minutes they were dealt a setback they failed to recover from.

Daniel Toner emerged from a ruck with the sliother and fed Jordan Doran who rifled past Brendan McGibbon to give the Down men a 1-15-1-11 advantage.

Sarsfields may have replied instantly as Caolan McKernan released Gary Lennon – but credit to Gareth Johnson who made himself big and denied the wing-half forward a certain goal.

Toner (free) and Tim Prenter increased Galget’s lead with James McKernan floating the ball over at the other end.

With seven minutes remaining the game was up for the Paddies as Adam Doran’s pass across the face of goal was tucked away by Prenter to make it 2-17-1-12.

Niall McKenna (free) conjured up his sides final score in response – though Ballygalaget ended the game strongly, scoring 1-05 unanswered.

Three of the Down sides last five points came courtesy of Daniel Toner- who brought his personal tally to 0-08 (0-05) arriving from the placed ball and 0-02 of those came late-on.

Adam Doran and John McManus both pointed between times to finish their sides point scoring for the afternoon, though they weren’t finished on the score front altogether.

Sarsfields goalkeeper Brendan McGibbon parried excellently from a stinging Caolan Coulter shot, however a scramble ensued and Tim Prenter prodded the ball home to ensure his side ran out comfortable 3-22-1-13 winners at full-time.

It would take a comeback of epic proportions to see Sarsfields claim promotion to Division One as a strong final quarter looks to secured survival for Ballygalget ahead of the second-leg on September 4th.

Ballygalget: G Johnson, P McManus, M Fisher (0-02, 0-01f; 0-01 65’), J Smyth, P McManus, J McManus (0-02), B Toner, Cathal Coulter (0-01), J Doran (1-01), G Roddy (0-01), O Clarke (0-01), Caolan Coulter, T Prenter (2-04), D Toner (0-08, 0-05f), A Doran (0-02). Subs: C Watson for Cathal Coulter (46 mins); J Hughes for J Doran (58 mins).

Sarsfields: B McGibbon, J Daniels, J Cunningham, K Ward, N McAlea, C Caldwell, J McKernan (0-01), C McKernan (0-01), D McGuinness (0-02), G Lennon (0-01), N McKenna (0-06, 0-05f), R Carson (0-01), T Doherty, M Rea, K McKernan (1-01). Subs: A Stewart for T Doherty (40 mins); M Campbell for J Cunningham (48 mins); J Cunningham for M Rea (55 mins); D McKernan for K McKernan (57 mins); N McDonald for R Carson (60 mins).

Referee: Darren McKeown (St Galls)

Coby steers Cuchullains to semis


Senior Hurling Championship Group One

O’Donovan Rossa 1-17 Dunloy Cuchullains 2-21

Saturday August 17

Brendan McTaggart reports from Rossa Park, Belfast

Nigel Elliott celebrates after scoring Dunloys second goal

Dunloy booked their place in the last four of the senior hurling championship with a comfortable win over Rossa on Saturday afternoon.  Seven points separated the sides at the end of an hours hurling where the Cuchullains improved immeasurably from their opening performance against Cushendall.

A man of the match performance from Conal Cunning helped the Cuchullains to maintain control of the match throughout the hour.  ‘Coby’ finished this tie with 14 points beside his name on the scoresheet, three from open play but it was a more complete performance from his side punctuated with goals in either half from Paul Shiels and Nigel Elliott.

If it weren’t for Coby’s scoring exploits, Keelan Molloy would have been a shoe in for man of the match.  Renowned for his own attacking play, Molloy excelled around the middle of the pitch, especially in the second half along with two points throughout the hour.

The home side relied heavily on the free taking of Deaglan Murphy with the Rossa man finishing with 10 points and while Thomas Morgan threatened, they had little else in attack.  Their goal came in the last minute of the hour, Mickey Armstrong’s long range free evading a plethora of hurls in front of Ryan Elliott and deceiving the Dunloy ‘keeper.  Rossa did hit 1-6 in the closing 10 minutes to just three points from the Cuchullains but it was game over at that stage as the visitors to the Shaw’s Road had their sights firmly set on the semi-final at that stage.

Rossas Crickey McGuinness in action against Dunloys Ronan Molloy

The Cuchullains played with the help of the elements in the first half and with Coby Cunning in top form from the first whistle, they quickly gained control.  He fired over three frees in the opening 10 minutes to Rossa and Deaglan Muprhy’s one before a brace of points from Ronan Molloy opened a four point lead in the 12th minute.  The home side could have had a goal in those opening exchanges but Morgan was denied by a superb piece of ‘keeping and bravery from Ryan Elliott to deny him when he had the goal at his mercy.

The Cuchullains were dominant but a number of wides threatened to knock the wind out of their sails.  Murphy’s second free reduced the Dunloy lead to four points after Coby found the target from placed ball but a piece of brilliance from Paul Shiels ensured the Cuchullains were beginning to make their dominance show on the scoreboard.  A slick move resulted in space opening up in the Rossa defence and with the goal at his mercy, Nigel Elliott passed to Shorty and he drilled the sliotar beyond Matt Devlin in the Rossa goals.

Rossa responded with Deaglan Murphy (free) and Morgan firing over either side of another Cunning free for Dunloy but the Cuchullains finished the half strongly.  Four points from Cunning (three frees) and one from Keelan Molloy were answered to by white flags from Stephen Beatty and Deaglan Murphy (free) to give the Cuchullains a nine point lead at the short whistle.

The Cuchullains were worthy of their nine point lead and probably should have been ahead by more.  There was a significant wind in Rossa’s favour for the second half but it didn’t feel like a ‘nine point’ wind. 

The home side introduced Callum McVeigh at half time in an attempt to curb the Dunloy dominance in midfield and while Rossa started the second half strongly, the Cuchullains were making light work of the elements.  Stephen Shannon fired over seconds after the restart before Cunning reached double figures for his scoring exploits in the third minute of the second half.

Dunloys Nickey McKeague solos towards the Rossa goal

Rossa put together a slick move moments later that saw Ciaran Orchin with a sniff of a goal chance but his effort saw the sliotar come back off the post.  Deaglan Murphy fired over a free soon after but Dunloy began to go through the gears and stretch their advantage.  Cunning with a brace (one free) before points from Keelan Molloy and Seán Elliott were answered to by a pair of Deaglan Murphy frees and a mammoth score free from Rossa ‘keeper Matt Devlin to leave the Cuchullains ahead by nine midway through the half.

The second Dunloy goal came in the 47th minute and effectively sealed the Cuchullains path to the semi-final.  Keelan Molloy stole the sliotar from a loose pass before breaking free of two Rossa men and shimmying his way past a third.  His movement alone deserved a point but he elected to pass the sliotar in the path of the rushing Nigel Elliott.  The Dunloy man made the dart and his drive was unstoppable, a superb finish and when Ryan McGarry broke free to score his first of the match, Dunloy had opened a 13 point lead going into the last ten minutes.

Rossas Deaghlan Murphy in action against Dunloys Ronan Molloy

Rossa answered the second Dunloy goal with a pair of points from Seaghan Shannon and Deaglan Murphy as they continued to fight for every ball.  Cunning’s third free of the half and third from play overall came either side of another brace from Deaglan Murphy before the home side landed their major.  Mickey Armstrong delivering the sliotar high into the heart of the Dunloy defence and with a crowd in front of him, the sliotar evaded everyone and the bounce deceived Elliott between the sticks.

It was too little too late for the Shaw’s Road side however.  Substitute Nicky McKeague replied for the Cuchullains before a driven free from Armstrong was deflected over the bar from Eamon Smyth on the line before referee Colm McDonald called time.

Dunloy advance with Rossa playing Cushendall in two weeks time in what is effectively a quarter-final with the winner heading to the last four.


Rossa: Matt Devlin; Michael McGreevy, Chris McGuinness, Aidan Orchin; Gerard Walsh, Stephen Shannon, Aodhan O’Brien; Cónall Shannon, Ciaran Orchin; Seaghan Shannon, Tiarnan Murphy, Stephen Beatty; Thomas Morgan, Michael Armstrong, Deaglan Murphy.

Subs: Callum McVeigh for C Shannon (HT); James Connolly for T Murphy (44); Niall Crossan for M McGreevy)

Scorers: Deaglan Muprhy 0-10 (9 f’s); Michael Armstrong 1-1 (1-1 f’s); Thomas Morgan 0-1; Stephen Beatty 0-1; Stephen Shannon 0-1; Matt Devlin 0-1 (1 f); Seaghan Shannon 0-1; James Connolly 0-1.

Dunloy: Ryan Elliott; Phelim Duffin, Conor McKinley, Conor Kinsella; Aaron Crawford, Kevin Molloy, Kevin McKeague; Paul Shiels, Ryan McGarry; Nigel Elliott, Ronan Molloy, Keelan Molloy; Seán Elliott, Conal Cunning, Chrissy Brogan.

Subs: Nicky McKeague for K McKeague (38); Shane Dooey for C Brogan (52); Eamon Smyth for K Molloy (56); Karl O’Kane for P Duffin (60); Oran Quinn for C Kinsella (60).

Scorers: Conal Cunning 0-14 (10 f’s); Paul Shiels 1-00; Nigel Elliott 1-00; Ronan Molloy 0-2; Keelan Molloy 0-2; Ryan McGarry 0-1; Seán Elliott 0-1; Nicky McKeague 0-1.

Referee: Colm McDonald (St Galls)