Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Milltown GAA club is one of the longest established sides in Galway and is the holder of two senior county titles in 1971 and 1981. Its home ground is Fr Conroy Park.
This short history of the club is based on match and AGM reports from the invaluable archives of the Tuam Herald dating back well over a century. It features many team photos with the kind permission of Ray Ryan, photographer with the Tuam Herald. It also draws on Milltown Sketches, the local history book written by Christy Molloy.
The “Milltown ‘81” booklet produced by Jim Carney was an invaluable source, as was Ollie Turner’s booklet on Milltown GAA club in 2011 and Michael Gilmore’s article on the early years of the club.
The work of the Milltown Heritage Group also helped provide insights into the fascinating story of the club, which dates all the way back to 1888. The history continues to be written today by a new generation of players, volunteers and supporters.
Michael Brennan (Liskeavy) January 2021.
Origins of the club
The first GAA team in Milltown played in green jerseys rather than blue ones. In his history of Milltown GAA club, Jim Carney wrote that there was a fine football team in the parish as far back as 1888.The club was then known as John O’Keane’s. It was named in honour of a
famous local man from the Knock and Bawnmore townlands who was forced to leave his native country on a Fenian emigrant ship. The first recorded match played by Milltown was against Dunmore McHales, which was the start of a great rivalry between them. This was played in Milltown on April 6 1888. The records of the old Tuam News state that thousands of people came from all over North Galway to watch the game. The Milltown Fife and Drum Band was sent out to greet the Dunmore men but Milltown won by 0-4 to 0-1 after two hours of play. Peter Monaghan, Pat Mullaney, and M. Morgan were recorded as the local heroes.
In a tournament played at Milltown in February 1889 the local O’Keane’s beat Cortoon by 1-7 to no score, and then met their arch rivals Dunmore who triumphed by the only point of the whole game. Milltown’s best players are recorded as:
- Monaghan, J. Lyons, T. Kirrane, M. Noone, M. Coyne, M. McGrath, M. Charles, W. Heaney, J. Quinn, W. Connolly, P. Charles, J. Flaherty and the captain Feeney.
In 1891 the annual Congress of the G.A.A. took place at the Rotunda in Dublin and Milltown are recorded as being represented by Mr. D. Flannery, Poor Law Guardian. Around this time they also had a county selector, a Mr. Linsey, thus giving an indication of the club’s strength. Several years later, an American newspaper called The Irish World reported an eight team tournament held in Milltown. The local Milltown team beat Caherlistrane in the final by two goals to two points. There is also a record of Milltown being affiliated as one of the Galway GAA clubs in the Tuam Herald in 1896:
In 1900, Milltown John O’Keane’s played matches against Tuam Stars and Tuam Krugers. In one game at Milltown, Tuam Krugers won by 1-1 to 0-2, despite objecting to the state of the Milltown pitch which apparently had more the appearance of a hill than a playing field.
The state of the pitch was commented on by a local reporter that year after Milltown John O’Keane’s took part in a football tournament in the parish.
“The Stars were beaten a few Sundays ago by this same O’Keane’s team, but then the Milltown field which they played in was only fit for mountain sheep or goats to gambol in, and certainly not fit or suitable for a game of football,” he wrote.
By 1901 there was a new club in existence in the parish, called Milltown Erin’s Hope. In August that year, they beat Tuam Emeralds by 2-3 to 2-0.
There were Milltown teams fielded in the decades afterwards but conditions were difficult.
The problems facing the players at the time included not just the condition of the field, but also the difficulties in travelling to matches during World War Two when there was petrol rationing and a dire shortage of bicycle tyres and parts.
In his book, Milltown Sketches, Christy Molloy described the resilience of the “hardy warriors” playing at the time who had to tog out under the hedge. He recalled how one of them, Pete Coyne, cycled at daybreak from Milltown to Croagh Patrick in Mayo on Reek Sunday, climbed the mountain, cycled home and then , after that 140km round trip, played in a local seven-a-side tournament afterwards.
The Tuam Herald recorded how Milltown beat Cortoon in a challenge game in 1943.
“After a lapse of a few years, Milltown is organising a team which expects to be a force in junior football next year. The district always had some first class footballers and it is hoped that the present young team will outstrip all previous teams in its achievements,” it said.
The Milltown junior team won a North Board semi-final against a Tuam team featuring the legendary Sean Purcell in 1946. The first game ended in a draw but Milltown won the replay by 2-6 to 1-2. The Tuam Herald reported that the Actons, Connor, Blake, Burke, Hehir and Rhatigan were prominent in a team that had no ” passengers.”
“While Tuam fell far short of their drawn game form; Milltown were, if anything, even better and gave a very convincing display. They played the ball, caught and kicked with great dash, and served up a brand of football not often seen in junior games,” the match report stated.
But despite the promise of this young junior team, the Tuam Herald later reported in 1953 that “adverses on the field, emigration and transfers” killed the revival of football in the parish.
In 1953, a group of dedicated men came together and revived the Milltown club. They included John Joe Brennan and Luke Hehir. At the club’s first AGM on December 31 1953, the following officers were elected:
President: Rev. Malachy Concannon, parish priest
Chairman: George Garvey;
Vice-chairman: Paddy Cunningham
Treasurer: John Joe Brennan
Secretary: Luke Hehir.
Committee: Michael Donnellan, Billy Kelly, Michael Connolly, Fr. Conroy, Michael Tierney.
Captains: Johnny Kelly (senior), Luke Hehir (junior), and Paddy Coen (minor).
George Garvey, the principal in Kilgevrin national school, trained the juvenile team and managed to find ways of getting them to matches when there were just five cars in the parish.
“I had to do double runs with my own car and Luke Hehir had a taxi or hackey car and he’d help me,” he said.
Once, Garvey had a team of players assembled outside Willie Burke’s shop in Milltown when he spotted a man with a horsebox. “I hailed him down and got him to bring a crowd into Tuam for me,” he said.
The first team to represent the new club was the junior side that played Kilconly on April 12, 1953. Kilconly won by 2-3 to 3 points. Jim Carney retrieved the names of the first team to play for the revived Milltown club.
They are as follows: E. Blake, J. Blake, G. Garvey, J. McCormack, J. Fehilly, M. Donnellan, T. Fitzpatrick, C. Grogan, W. Kelly, J. Kelly, P. Connolly, T. Connolly, J. Fitzpatrick, M. Rhatigan, L. Hehir. Substitute: D. Acton for T. Fitzpatrick.
Milltown’s 1953 Junior title
Milltown won their first title at adult level in the first year of the revived club in 1953. The club won the Junior North Board title by beating Ahascragh in a replay by 1-7 to 2-1 in Abbeyknockmoy. The Tuam Herald stated that the young Milltown side, with eight players aged under 20, had “made rapid progress this year, and with serious training and good team spirit, they reached their goal in flying style.”
A prominent player for Milltown was Luke Hehir, who scored two points and “realised his life’s ambition in captaining the winning side”, according to the Tuam Herald. The full report of the match can be read here:
The Tuam Herald reported that the victorious Milltown team were met at the outskirts of the village on their return from the match, with bonfires blazing in welcome. The parish priest, Fr Malachy Concannon, met the team and congratulated them on their victory.
However, Ahascragh submitted an objection against one of the Milltown players, a Co. Longford man who worked as a barman in Tommy Hannon’s pub in Vicar Street, Tuam. Milltown were subsequently stripped of their first Junior title and suspended for 12 months for fielding an illegal player. Jim Carney wrote that while they relinquished the title, “they steadfastly refused to hand over the Cup”.
However, there was a boost for the club the following year in 1954 when the Milltown minor team, with the help of several Kilconly players, won the North Board Championship.
The team was: K. Doherty (Kilconly); Jimmy Walsh (Illaune), Michael Coen (Kilconly); M. Devane (Carnageehy,1-0); Johnny Quinn (Conagher); Edward Doherty (Kilconly); Paddy Brennan (Liskeavy); Padraic Godwin (Belmont); Paddy Forde (Liskeavy, 0-1); Padraic McCormack (Kilgevrin); Paddy Coen (captain, Rossmarin, 0-2); Jarlath Connolly (Drim); Peter Igoe (Kilconly); Mattie Concannon (Russelstown, 0-1); Padraic Flannery (Milltown). Substitute: Tom Flanagan (Kilconly) for Quinn
Promotion to the senior grade
After Milltown’s successful first year in the junior championship, the founders of the club decided to field a senior football team as well. The proposal was put on the agenda for the club’s AGM in the CYMS Hall in Milltown in January 1954. It was accepted by the members.
The club chairman, Luke Hehir, in his address, welcomed all present. He spoke about the great interest in football in Milltown district and appealed to the youth of the club to play for the love of the game and to maintain a high element of sportsmanship on and off the field.
The Tuam Herald reported that Milltown and Carrantryla (a rival club in the parish of Dunmore) were accepted into the senior grade in March 1954. That brought number of teams in the county senior football league up to 13. The teams were divided into four groups:
A: Army, Micheal Breathneachs, Fr. Griffin’s and Oughterard. B: Annaghdown, University College Galway, Tuam.
C: Milltown, Carrantryla and Dunmore.
D: Ballinasloe, Moylough, and Corofin.
The first recorded senior line-out is that of a team that went down to a star-studded Dunmore side in a league game on March 28, 1954.
The development of Fr Conroy Park
The site that is now the home of Milltown GAA was once part of the Quinn’s Cartron farm. The Land Commission divided the site in 1930 and set aside one acre of the farm as a school playground for the adjacent Milltown national school. It was bordered by the River Clare. In his book, Milltown Sketches, Christy Molloy wrote about how poor the conditions were on what became the playing field for Milltown’s footballers: “In the confined space of this uneven field, containing a dangerous, badly filled in excavation, the footballers of the 1930s and forties trained and played.”
But the club took a big step forward in the 1950s when local volunteers started to level the pitch. Those involved in the organising included Willie Burke, George Garvey, John Walsh, Luke Hehir and his brother Paddy, and long serving club secretary John Joe Brennan. They also had the backing of the parish priest at the time. Fr Conroy was a driving force in getting the club established and its pitch modernised. He was the first president of the club.
A historic Milltown GAA club meeting on January 21, 1955 passed a motion that “all that can, will come to the school field on Saturday, January 22 for the purpose of developing the field into a pitch and that the P.P. (parish priest) be approached to announce this off the altar”.
John Joe Brennan’s minutes of Milltown GAA meetings held throughout 1955 and 1956 record the names of between twenty and thirty local players, officials and supporters who helped to develop the pitch.
George Garvey recalled what it was like for Milltown players in those times with no modern pitch and no dressing room to change in. “We togged out by the ditch, bundle your clothes up and leave them by the ditch. If it rained, it rained. And that’s how we started out in ‘53, ‘54,’55, and ‘56,” he said.
Garvey had to close his school in Kilgevrin that year for a fortnight due to an outbreak of scarlet fever, but he used the time to work on the draining of the pitch.
“I spent a week with my father’s horse and cart, bringing stones down and making drains to drain the pitch,” he said.
The full interview with George Garvey by Pauline Connolly is available on the Milltown Heritage website here.
Another of the volunteers working on the pitch was Paddy Hehir, later to be elected president of the club. He brought down stones to the pitch for draining using his tractor and trailer. The club also got the use of Burke’s bulldozer. At one stage, it was once brought down by lorry from Tuam at eight o’clock on a Saturday morning to help the voluntary workers levelling the pitch.
At the club’s AGM in January 1956, Luke Hehir, the chairman thanked everyone who worked on the new playing pitch “which will be a great asset to the players”. “It shows the great spirit and the interest in football which prevails in Milltown,” he said.
Willie Burke, the vice chairman, appealed on behalf of the club’s development committee for all the help possible to complete the pitch. ” “The Milltown Club is now nearing the time when it can compete with the leading clubs in the county,” he said. John Joe Brennan, the club secretary, stated that Milltown hoped to build a club that in years to come they could look back on with pride.
The AGM report is available here:
After two years of hard work, the pitch was finally ready. Around £300 had been spent on its development, which was a large sum at the time and equivalent to around €8,400 today.
John Walsh, the club treasurer, said the club had managed to have a “slight credit balance” despite the £300 cost of the new pitch. He said it had been “a big task” to raise that much money but it had been overcome.
The pitch was named in the memory of Fr. Conroy, who by that stage had passed away. The Tuam Brass Band and the Clifden Pioneer Boys Band led a parade to the field for the official opening on Easter Sunday in April 1957.
At the opening of the pitch, Fr Conroy’s successor as parish priest, Fr Malachy Concannon, congratulated the Milltown GAA committee on the great work they had done in providing such a fine sports field in the parish. The Tuam Herald reported that he was glad to see the young men of Milltown doing such good work and he hoped their efforts would be crowned with success in the years to come.
There was a special double bill of matches to mark the occasion. Fr. Griffin’s beat Dunmore by
1-9 to 0-2 and Claremorris beat Milltown by 1-8 to 2-3. The Milltown team was: P, Flannery; M. Connolly, J. Walsh, J. Connolly, P. Kirrane, P. Godwin, W. Kelly, P. Concannon (0-1), P. Forde, P. Coen, S Concannon (1-2), J. Connolly, M. Concannon, J. J. Sheridan (1-0), M. Devane.
The opening of the new pitch coincided with a big result for Milltown that same year. The senior team beat Dunmore McHales in the championship by 1-8 to 1-7. The Tuam Herald described it as a “first class surprise”.
“Honours of the game go to the former county player, Peter Tierney, who was an inspiration to the Milltown men. He scored 1-3 of his side’s total, and his goal in the second half was the tonic they needed,” the match report said.
The Milltown team was: P. Flannery; J. Connolly, J. Walsh, M. Connolly; B. Kelly, P. Godwin, P. Forde; M. Donnellan, S. Concannon; P. Coen, J. D. Flannery, J. Connolly; M. Flannery, P. Tierney.
Milltown’s first junior county title
The new pitch did help to create the conditions for the emergence of Milltown’s trail blazing minor team of 1960 and the junior team of 1961. Milltown won the 1961 north board junior title by beating Kilconly. The Tuam Herald reported that two goals scored in rapid order scored by the Flannery brothers, Seamus and Padraic proved to be the decisive factor.
“That knocked the wind out of Kilconly’s sails,-and though they tried hard they never recovered from the double goal,” it said.
Milltown went on to beat Ballinasloe in the junior county final by 6-8 to 1-2. The Tuam Herald report of the game was headlined: “Scoring Spree Win Over Ballinasloe! Milltown’s Bright Display Won First Junior Title”
“The winners served up a brand of football not often seen in junior ranks, and there was not a weak link in the whole team from goalman out. They were twice as fast as the Ballinasloe lads, who were also a young bunch of footballers, .and their splendid display earned its reward,” the match report stated.
But Milltown ended up having to play the final a second time. Clonbur had not fielded a team in the semi-final, so Milltown had been given a bye. Then Clonbur objected and were given a refixture.
Due to this dispute, the match was not played until New Year’s Day in 1962. And the throw in at Tuam Stadium was also delayed because both Milltown and Clonbur appeared in blue jerseys. After the toss of a coin, Milltown had to change to Dunmore’s green and white colours. “However, as it turned out, that was the only win Clonbur had!” the Tuam Herald match report stated. Milltown won by 0-9 to 0-1. “Milltown, who were the better balanced team all round, had a match-winner in Sean Concannon, who was easily the best player afield. On this form, what an asset he would be to the county senior side—but he is returning to a teaching post in England,” the match report stated.
The full report is available here:
Jim Carney noted that this was the first G.A.A. result to be announced on the RTE Television
channel which had its first full day’s broadcasting on New Year’s Day in 1962.
The team was: Billy Kelly (captain), Miko Feerick, Noel Tierney, Jimmy Walsh, Paddy Forde, Sean Brennan, Jimmy Saunderson, John Waldron, Sean Concannon, Pat Feerick,
Paddy Coen, Jarlath Connolly, Fr. Seamus Flannery, Padraic Flannery, Francie Mullarkey.
A sub on this team was Tony Ryan, who had been a star on Milltown’s winning minor team in 1960.
At the club AGM in 1962, Luke Hehir, the Milltown chairman, said the first junior county title was a timely reward for perseverance, enthusiasm and co-operation down through the years. He said the fitness of the players for every match was one of the notable features of their success. And he said former members of the club now on the foreign mission fields had always taken the greatest interest in their team. He mentioned Rev. Peter Tierney (Korea), Rev. Mick Acton (Philippines), Rev. Colm Acton (London), Rev. JD and Michael J Flannery, and many more in the U.S.A. and in England.
“I am sure they were all with us in spirit in our hour of glory,” he said.
Milltown joined the senior ranks in 1962 after that victory. It is one of the club’s proudest achievements that it has maintained senior level status ever since through the diligent efforts of players, management and volunteers.
Milltown reached the club’s first senior county final in 1967. The team was defeated by Fr Griffins but many of the players would go on to feature in the club’s next senior county final in 1971. The match report is available to read here:
1971 final victory
Milltown won their first senior county title on a wet and windy day in Tuam Stadium. John Waldron gave a man of the match display at midfield. In a very tense game, the score was Milltown 0-5 Ballinasloe 0-4.
The Tuam Herald reported how the match had hung in the balance for the final five minutes.
“But if determination and perseverance were ever to gain just reward, this must be Milltown’s day and in winning the championship for the first time since they took senior status in 1962, these were the qualities that saw them hold out in a thrill-packed climax to a match that had set another record, for low scoring, in appalling conditions.”
Sean Purcell, the famous Galway and Tuam Stars footballer, presented the Frank Fox trophy to Milltown captain Sean Brennan.
The Milltown team was: Tom Boyle, Pat Feerick, Noel Tierney, Sean Brennan (captain), Jim Farragher, Joe Waldron, Peter McGrath, John Waldron, Tom Brennan, Billy Burke, Sean Loftus, Michael Delaney, Noel McCormack, Miko Feerick, Tom Nestor. Substitutes: John and Eamon Blake.
Milltown won the senior county league title for the first time with a 2-8 to 2-5 win over Caltra in the final at Tuam in April 1975.
Milltown lost the county final to Killerein in 1978 by a single point after a replay, on a score line of 2-6 to 0-11. The Tuam Herald reported that Killererin would “surely spare a thought for their gallant victims Milltown whose second half recovery epitomised the club’s spirited tradition.”
The match report is available here:
The 1981 county title
After the county final disappointment in 1978, Milltown came back to win county final in 1981, beating Ballinaloe by 0-11 to 2-3
Gay McManus scored nine points in the final. The Tuam Herald reported that midfield superiority was the foundation for Milltown’s victory “where the pairing of Jarlath Brennan and Tom Tierney always held the advantage.”
“Powered by a ravenous hunger for success nurtured over a ten-year waiting period, Milltown halted Ballinasloe’s three-in-a-row gallop in more convincing fashion than the scoreline suggests, displaying a near perfect blend of youth, experience and spirit to capture the county football title at Tuam on Sunday for the second time in the club’s history.”
The team was captained by John Hehir, who proudly accepted the Frank Fox Memorial Cup.
The team was: Padraig Coyne, John Blake, Joe Waldron, Sean Rhatigan, Martin McManus, Tom McWalters, Seamus Costello, Jarlath Brennan, Tomas Tierney, Billy Varley (0-2), John Hehir, Miko Feerick, John Waldron, Gay McManus (0-9), Michael Ruane.
Rest of championship panel: Michael Rhatigan, Martin Varley, Tom Boyle, Eamon Blake, Pat Hehir, Oliver Brennan, Tom McManus, Billy Burke, Tom Donnelly, Padraig McHugh, Noel Farragher, Gerry Brennan, Padraic Rhatigan, Gerry Ruane, Aidan Varley, PJ Glynn, Pat Brennan.
In his history of the club, Jim Carney described how three Milltown men had been involved in the club’s three junior and senior county titles. Miko Feerick and John Waldron had been players in 1961, 1971 and 1981, while Pat Feerick was a player in 1961 and 1971 and a
selector and mentor in 1981. Joe Waldron, John and Eamon Blake, Tom Boyle and Billy Burke were all involved as players on both the 1971 and 1981 senior teams.
Another of Milltown’s selectors for the 1981 team was Jim Carney. He had a successful career in sports journalism with RTE, becoming the first presenter of the Sunday Game. He was a long term sports editor of the Tuam Herald, where he had a big influence on encouraging sport in the county. His authoritative booklet on Milltown’s GAA history is the source of much of the information for this article. It can be read in full here.
Milltown GAA moments
The club reached the county final in 1986 where they came up against Val Daly’s Mountbellew. The first game finished in a draw at 0-5 each. In the replay, Mountbellew won by 1-5 to 0-4.
The full reports on the two matches can be read here:
Milltown managed to get to the county final again the following year in 1987 but were beaten by Annaghdown. The score was Annaghdown 1-07 Milltown 0-7. The match programme is available here:
The match report is available to read here:
In the early 1990s, a talented young Milltown team emerged under Miko Feerick and Peter McGuinness which won three Under 21 A titles in a row.
The three-in-a-row panel was: Bernard Brennan, Frank Brennan, Fr. Ronnie Boyle, Seamus Boyle, Fintan Burke, Kevin Carney, John Cunningham, John Concannon, Alan Feerick, Brian Forde, Eddie Forde, Niall Forde, Prionsias Glynn, Ronan Glynn, Eoin Godwin, Michael Kenny, Enda O’Connor, Gerry O’Neill, TJ Molloy, Niall McWalters, Oliver Turner.
The Milltown under 16 team, managed by Tony Murphy and trained by John Concannon, achieved a league and championship double in 1998.
In his report on the campaign, the club PRO Ollie Turner (now head of sport for Galway Bay FM) described the “scintillating football” that the team had played. It is available to read at this link. https://dpdgay9x1sxad.cloudfront.net/milltown/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2016/10/Annual-1998-2.pdf
Milltown won the Junior B championship in 2001. The Junior B team won all ten rounds in the league but lost the county final to St Brendan’s.But in the championship, the team beat Cortoon, Menlough, St Brendan’s and Killerein to qualify for the county final. They beat St Kerril’s by a point. The county final victory was just reward for the Padraig Devane’s commitment, judgment and patience with the team, assisted by selectors Tony Murphy, Oliver Brennan and Alan Feerick.
Milltown won the county junior league title in 2004 by beating Fr Griffins in a replay.
The path to the county league final replay included a quarter-final win over Caherlistrane, a semi-final win over the junior championship holders Tuam, a north board league final win over St Kerill’s of Ballymacward. The team was managed by Shane Walsh and his selectors were Brendan Walsh, Padraic McHugh and Jarlath Farragher.
The Milltown team on the day was: Kieran Healy, Brendan Molloy, Cathal Sheridan, Niall Forde, Paul Costello, John Concannon, Michael Brennan, Daniel Farragher (0-2), Terrance Godwin (captain), Peter McDaid (1-0), John Cunningham, Damian Brennan (0-2), Stephen Costello (0-2), Fergal Nicholson (0-6), Colm Ruane (1-1).
Subs: Paul Farragher, Martin Monaghan
The next senior county final the club reached was in 2007. Milltown had a series of impressive wins along the way over , including a victory over the reigning county champions Corofin. In the final, Milltown were beaten by Killererin on a scoreline of 1-09 to 0-10. The Tuam Herald reported that Milltown had rallied from 1-7 to 0-4 down at half time. “They played with spirit and determination, taking inspiration from the brilliant play of the outstanding Darren Mullahy.”
The full match report can be read here:
Milltown went on to win three senior county league titles in a row. The last time the club had won this title was in 1992. The first of the three senior league titles was in 2011 against Tuam. The Tuam Herald report of the match is here.
The second senior league title victory was in 2012 against Corofin.
And the third was in 2013 against Corofin.
In 2013, Milltown won the final Exiles Cup in Garrymore against the home team. It was a tournament that Milltown teams had played against Galway and Mayo teams over the border for 50 years every Easter Sunday.
The famous Exiles Cup trophy had been funded by the Garrymore diaspora in New York. The Garrymore club, led by Bertie McHugh, always extended a warm welcome to visiting Milltown teams. The Mayo News described how Milltown had topped the roll of honour with a total of 12 wins in the much loved competition.
“For fifty years, the Exiles Cup was part of the Easter ritual. It heralded the arrival of summer and an end to the bitter wind, an end to the winter…” it said.
The full report of the final Exiles Cup tournament is available here.
Milltown continues to produce promising young players and the Under 16 team won the Shield final in 2020, beating Cárna-Caishel-Na Piarsaigh.
The upgrade of Milltown facilities
In the past two decades, the facilities in Milltown GAA club have undergone a further transformation. Some of it was due to sports capital grants but there was also substantial fundraising among the community. The club also had the benefit of loyal sponsorship from its long term supporter, the Bridge Bar in Tuam. Floodlights were installed to allow teams to train better during the dark winter months. A full size training pitch was constructed, along with an astro training pitch and a wall ball facility. After the completion of the training pitch, new dressing rooms and a gym were built. The clubhouse has a kitchen to provide tea and sandwiches for players and supporters after matches. A successful “Seat the Stand” campaign helped to deliver a covered stand for Milltown. An electronic scoreboard was recently installed, allowing for club championship games to be played in Fr Conroy Park.
This was made possible by the sale of seven acres to Milltown GAA club by Padraic and June Flannery in 2004 at a time when there was intense market demand for land. Padraic and his brothers Michael, John and Seamus wore the Milltown jersey with distinction. His vital help in providing the site for the club’s new training facilities is indicative of the strong community spirit that is at the heart of the GAA.
Milltown Ladies’ GAA
By Máire Ní Bhraonáin
As far back as 1970, the Tuam Herald recorded that Milltown ladies were taking on Corofin in the football championship. The match preview stated that it promised to be a thriller.
”Milltown will have the services of ladies with a football tradition behind them, while Corofin who have plenty of experienced players will hope to advance in the competition,” it said.
Milltown Ladies Gaelic Football Association was formally established in 1998, initially thanks to the efforts of a local woman, Loretta Crushell, and many other committed people. Special mention also has to be given to Mary Hernon, who was a key force in re-establishing the ladies GAA team in the club.
The following article, from the Milltown annual in 1998, tells the story of how the club was founded.
Whenever a group of parents gathered in Milltown in recent years, the conversation invariably focused on the lack of activities and facilities in our parish for young people, particularly our girls. This year however, one parent had the courage to do something about it. Prompted by her daughters’ wishes to play football, Loretta Crushell took it upon herself to find out how to go about setting up a ladies football club.
With the help and cooperation of the officers of the GAA club and others in the parish Loretto got all the necessary information. Once armed with this information and a commitment from Michael Oates and Michael Connolly to train the ladies, Loretto called a public meeting on Saturday, the 17th of September 1998. The meeting was very well attended by a big group of young ladies ranging in age from 13-18 years, some parents, officers from the GAA club and our parish priest Father JJ Cribben. Jarlath Connolly kindly consented to act as a facilitator for the evening.
The following committee was elected:
Fr. JJ Cribben (RIP) honorary president, Mary Hernon chairperson, Loretta Crushell secretary, Bill Aherne and Mary Hernon joint treasurers.
Other committee members included Michael Oates (RIP), Michael Connolly, Tresa Gannon, Bríd Kirrane (RIP) Peg Loftus, Ann Mullaghy, Ann Whelan, Jarlath Connolly, Sarah Hehir, Fiona Gannon and Petrina Monaghan.
The first training session was held on Saturday 24th of October at 10:30 and there was a huge turn-out despite terrible weather conditions. Everyone enjoyed themselves and as the photograph shows, turned up in numbers again for training the second day. Training will continue every Saturday morning at 10:30 am and all ages are welcome. If the enthusiasm that has been shown so far continues this club is set to flourish. Thank you Loretta.
A copy of the Milltown annual article, with the first Ladies GAA club photo, can be viewed here.
The Milltown junior ladies team reached the final of the All Ireland sevens in 2005. The report of their campaign was published in the Tuam Herald.
Milltown Junior Ladies team played in the All-Ireland Club 7- aside at St. Sylvester’s GAA grounds in Dublin last weekend, 30 junior teams took place in the competition. In group 6 in the first game they beat Éire Óg from Carlow 4-6 to 2-4. In round 2, they defeated Templemore by 3-5 to 1-2. In round three they played St. Penegrine’s of Dublin and won by 5-4 to to 2-4. They lost their last match to Heston of London, 1-3 to 3-5. With nine points, they topped the group and were drawn to play Laune Rangers of Kerry. This team had beaten them in the final last year and this year they came out winners again on a score of 8-4 to 5-6. This was a very enjoyable tournament and it was the highlight of the weekend in Dublin.
Panel: Aoife Monaghan, Michelle Hyland, Maria Varley, Anne-Marie Mongan, Marie Brennan, Marian Hernon, Ann-Marie McGrath, Claire Hehir, Elaine Connolly, Claire Connolly, Áine Sheridan and Stephanie Connolly.
Milltown ladies underage and adult teams have been successful in a number of county finals, All Ireland sevens tournaments and Connacht sevens competitions.
In 2004, Milltown’s Aoibheann Daly played at wing back in Galway’s first ever All Ireland ladies senior victory.
Other Milltown ladies who have played with Galway Seniors include Clare Hehir, Marie Brennan, Marian Hernon and Shauna Hynes in more recent years, winning Senior Connacht Titles, U16 All Ireland finals and minor All-Irelands. Michelle Hyland, Elaine Connolly, Ashling Hynes, Grace Sheridan and Laura Ann Costello have also played at underage with Galway.
In, 2003, Milltown ladies junior team won their first county title by beating Na Piarsaigh Rosmuc, in the Western Hygiene Supplies Junior B championship in Caherlistrane.
In 2005, Milltown ladies won the inaugural Connacht ladies junior football sevens tournament in Bearna.
In 2016 Milltown ladies’ under 12 team were crowned champions in the league.
Milltown LGFA continues to thrive and players were honoured at the end of year celebration for Milltown GAA Juvenile and Ladies Football clubs on January 2020. The ceremony took place in the community centre with special guests and silverware from Galway and the U20 panel.
The meaning of the Milltown GAA Club Logo
The Corn Mill
The mill from which Milltown takes its name was situated on the banks of the River Clare. The ruins of the mill are still visible today.
This represents the astronomer John Birmingham. He grew up in a two-storey house on the 250-acre Millbrook estate in Milltown. He became known as a kindly landlord but also as a scholar and intellectual.
The musical note
This represents a local family famous for their music and dancing, the Conlons. PJ Conlon spent the summer months as a travelling musician in Sligo and Mayo, where he reportedly earned more than any of the emigrants working in England.
This represents the playwright MJ Molloy who was born in Milltown in 1917.
He did his Leaving Certificate in St Jarlath’s College and then spent three years training to do missionary, but his plans to enter the priesthood were dashed at the age of 20 when he was struck down by tuberculosis. He went on to write many famous plays which were performed in the Abbey Theatre.
Milltown has produced many skilful footballers over the years.
Noel Tierney was the full back on the Galway team that won three All Irelands in a row in 1964, 1965 and 1966. An RTE documentary on the famous three-in-a-row team is available here.
Noel Tierney was given a special award by the Galway county board in 2007 and the article can be read here.
His brother, Fr Peter Tierney, was an accomplished footballer who went on to serve in Korea with the Columban Fathers. Joe Waldron captained Galway to win the All-Ireland under-21 title in 1972 and went on to play with the Galway senior team in two All-Ireland finals in 1973 and 1974. In 1976, Padraig Coyne, Robert Birmingham and Gabriel McManus were all on the Galway team that won the All-Ireland minor title. Padraig Coyne, Tomas Tierney and Gay McManus played with Galway in the 1983 All Ireland defeat to Dublin. Gay McManus was captain of Galway in 1982 and Tomas Tierney was captain of Galway in 1986. A clip of Gay McManus scoring a goal against Roscommon is available to view here.
Other parish footballers to play at senior county level were Sean Brennan, Tommy Brennan, Tony Ryan, Sean Concannon and Miko Feerick. In the 2000s, Diarmuid Blake, John Devane and Darren Mullahy have represented the club at county level, as well as Michael Martin, Mark Hehir and Liam Costello. James Kavanagh also played for both Kildare and Galway.
Diarmuid Blake and John Devane won an Under 21 title with Galway against Dublin in 2002.
Cathal Blake, Darren Mullahy and Matthew Flannery won Under 21 All Ireland medals with Galway in 2005 against Down. Mark Hehir won an Under 21 All Ireland title with Galway against Cavan in 2011. Jack Kirrane and Eoin Mannion won Under 20 All Ireland medals with Galway in December 2020.
Milltown players have also claimed senior titles with their schools and colleges. Frank Walsh was captain of the Galway team which won the 1964 All Ireland Vocational Schools inter county championship. Seán Brennan, Vincent McGagh, Tony Ryan and Jimmy Saunderson won Hogan Cup medals with St. Jarlath’s College in 1960.
In 1977, Padraig Coyne and Aidan Varley helped St. Colman’s College in Claremorris win the Hogan Cup.
The St. Jarlath’s College team won the Hogan Cup in 1978 with three Milltown men in the defence – Jarlath Brennan, Tomas Tierney, and Robert Birmingham. Martin Gallagher won the Hogan Cup with St Jarlath’s in 1982.
Gay McManus and Tom McWalters won the Sigerson Cup with UCG in 1980. McManus and Tomas Tierney won a second Sigerson Cup with UCG in 1981.
John Concannon and Micheál Turner won Hogan Cup medals with St Jarlath’s College in 1994.
There were eight Milltown players on the St Jarlath’s squad which won the Hogan Cup in 2002 – John Devane, Paul Costello, Darren Mullahy, James Kavanagh, Cathal Blake, Matthew Flannery, Sean Hehir and PJ Kelly.
Milltown GAA club has always been powered by the work of countless volunteers over the years. Many of the club’s administrators have toiled away for decades, leaving a strong legacy for others to follow. In the 1950s, 60s and 70s, the club was driven forward by officials such as Luke Hehir, John Joe Brennan and George Garvey. In his booklet on the history of Milltown GAA, Jim Carney described Luke Hehir, Milltown’s club chairman, as a tireless worker on behalf of the game in the parish and the inspiration for many a young player with ambitions of wearing a county jersey. “Luke’s encouragement of promising lads to go for county trials and his unceasing dedication to transporting them to trials and training was prime among his many fine achievements for Milltown football,” he wrote.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Tom McManus, Jarlath Connolly, Michael Rhatigan, Tony Murphy and John Blake played key roles in running and developing the club. In the 2000s, Tony Sheridan and Billy Costello were among the many who put in endless hours to help the club. The Milltown GAA club lotto has been a vital source of funds, again thanks to the hard work of local volunteers. The well organised summer Cúl Camps have helped to develop young players further. In recent years, the club has continued to grow and prosper, on and off the field, thanks to the trojan work of Cathal Sheridan, Padraic Kirrane, Austin Winston and many other club volunteers who give up their time selflessly.
Milltown’s roll of honour:
- Galway Senior Football Championship: 2
- (1971, 1981)
- Runners-up: 5 (1967, 1978, 1986, 1987, 2007)
- Connacht Senior Club Football Championship Runners-up: ( 1971)
- Galway Junior Football Championship:
- Winners – 1961
- Galway Senior Football League Titles: 5 (1975, 1992, 2011, 2012, 2013)
- Galway North Board Under-21 ‘A’ Football Championship: 3
- (1990, 1991, 1992)
- Runners-up: 2 (1989, 1993)
- Galway County Under-21 ‘A’ Football Championship: 3
- (1990, 1991, 1992)
- Galway North Board Minor ‘A’ Football Championship: 2
- (1954, 1960)
- Galway County Minor ‘A’ Football Championship Runners-up: 3
- (1960, 1976, 1988)
- Exiles Cup: 20
- Intermediate All-Ireland Club 7-A-Side Shield: 2
- (2010, 2014)
- Runners-Up: 1 (2012)
- All-Ireland Club 7-A-Side Junior Championship: 2
- (2006, 2007)
- Runners-Up : 1 (2004)
Milltown match programmes, memorabilia and memories
Send in your match programmes to [email protected] so that they can be uploaded. The club would also love to get photos and stories about Milltown GAA’s history. Since its foundation, the club has been home to so many players, volunteers and supporters that it is impossible to capture it all. Any photos or stories about the club and its people can be sent to the same email address and will be included on the website
by Tony Murphy
In line with its commitment to preserve and enhance our cultural heritage, the GAA introduced Scor competitions in 1970. The competitions included traditional Irish music, song and dance with an emphasis on items through the medium of Irish.
Milltown took part in these competitions from an early stage and our first big winner was Helen Rhatigan who won the All-Ireland in Solo Singing in 1982. However, it was in Trath na gCeist (Question Time) that Milltown really came to the fore winning 2 All Ireland Finals, 4 Provincial titles and 9 County titles in Scor na Nog and a county title in Scor Sinsear. The members of the winning All Ireland teams were John Murphy, Adrian Kennedy and David Boyle in 1994 and Ciaran Murphy, Anne Marie Mongan and Shane Greene in 1999.
Interest in Scor dwindled over the years but an effort is now being made to resurrect it.