Douglas GAA History
Much of the items covered in this section were copied from the 1987 Douglas GAA publication "Douglas - 100 Years of GAA" written and edited by Brendan Larkin to commemorate the clubs 100th anniversary.
We express many thanks to Brendan for the permission to use this fantastic record of the clubs activities.
"Douglas, a chapelry and village in the parish of Carrigaline, barony of Cork, 2 1/2 miles south-east of the city of Cork, Co. Cork, Munster. The district included in the chapelry as the northern division of Carrigaline parish; it is watered eastward by the Douglas rivulet, it presents that singularly beautiful contour, and richly embellished dress for which the whole tract along the Lower Lee, and especially between Cork and Passage is celebrated.
Population in 1841 was 845. Houses amounted to 147." Extract from "Parliamentary Gazette of Ireland", 1844-45.
Douglas is now a sprawling suburb of Cork City with over 20,000 people. This growth has occurred at the phenomenal rate in the past 30 years.
In a book entitled "Popular Songs of Ireland" by Thomas Croston Croker and published in 1839, reference is made to the game of hurling played on the banks of the Owenabue.
Further evidence of hurling being played in Douglas can be found in Jack Power’s book "A story of champions" published in 1941. In that book, it states that Douglas were involved in the draw for the Cork County senior hurling championship as far back as 1887, with Douglas drawn against Ballinhasig.
In 1888 the County Board introduced the idea of dividing the county into divisions and the City consisted of the following teams who were dawn against each other in the first round of the senior hurling championship : Blackrock V St. Marys; St. Finbarrs 2nds V Greenmount; St. Finbarrs 1sts V SS Peter and Pauls; Douglas V Tower Street.
Tower Street defeated Douglas and went on to win the county final.
In the early part of the twentieth century the Douglas club was active in the division but they eventually faded out during the first world war.
In 1918 a new club appeared called Castletreasure, and were to have reasonable success. Indeed they were the first club to bring a county title to Douglas when they won the county intermediate hurling championship of 1922. The club included a number of players from the old Douglas club. Among these were Andrew O’Sullivan, Christy O’Sullivan, Christy Lyons, Jer O’Sullivan and Dan Hartnett.
The Castletreasure club went out of existence in 1926.
There was no club in the parish for the next few years. In 1931, Jimmy Sunderland became secretary of the St. Columbas Hall, a regular meeting place for young men that provided billiards and snooker facilities. (The Hall is still in existence today just down from the Fingerpost.) With Jimmy’s prompting a new club was formed to be called after the parish, St. Columbas.
The team colours were black with a single green band around the middle. Entrance fee was one shilling and a weekly subscription of one old penny. At the A.G.M. in 1938 held at the Old Girls National School next to the Catholic Church, Sean O’Dubhann proposed that the name of the club be changed to Douglas Hurling and Football Club.
During the 1940’s and 1950’s the committee found it difficult to field teams. It was often said that the club only affiliated teams to keep the club going.
County Junior Football Title 1962
The establishment of an active under-age committee in the mid ’50’s resulted in an upturn in football which culminated in victories in premier competitions. In 1957 the under 15 team made history in winning the league and championship and as juveniles in 1958 repeated the performance.
These superb successes gave the club a crop of outstanding young players and they were destined to bring much honour to Douglas in the coming years. In 1960 and 1961 Douglas were defeated by St. Finbarrs in the championship. So in 1962 when they were drawn against them in the first round things did not look too good.
Training was well attended early in the year and when the sides met at Ballinlough on Sunday June 6, a very big crowd had gathered to witness what proved to be a marvellous contest. Douglas had gained that badly needed experience over the previous two years and it was to proved invaluable.
They led 1-5 to 0-2 at half-time, and despite being pegged back to two points with ten minutes to go, on this occasion, they weren’t going to be caught. The transfer of Johnny Clifford to midfield proved a decisive move and when Pat Kelleher lofted a free into the ‘Barrs goalmouth, Eamonn Carroll was on hand to bang home a goal. Douglas took full control from there on, and amid joyous scenes, they defeated St. Finbarrs 2-10 to 1-5 to record a famous victory.
Douglas went on to win the City championship against St.Vincents and went on to represent the division in the county competition. Douglas played Adrigole and Canovee to reach the final against Midleton and this game was fixed for Riverstown on Sunday, December 3. Support for the team was unprecedented. 12 buses were used to transport supporters from the village to Glanmire. In the final Midleton were completely outclassed.
Five Glorious Years of Football - 1970 to 1974
In 1969 Douglas were defeated by Passage in the final of the championship in a replay, having earned the draw through a great point from team captain Sean O’Shea with the last kick of the game. Douglas got some compensation for that championship defeat when they beat Passage in the McSweeney Cup and went on to reach the final, and a meeting with arch rivals, Mayfield.
Douglas scored a marvellous 2-12 to 0-9 win over the northsiders, a victory that heralded a new era for football in Douglas. The club had secured the services of a number of great players in Tim "Gunner" O’Leary, Tim O’Connell, Austin Steward and Neilius Lehane (the last three were members of the Presentation Brothers Religious order) and they played major roles in the club’s football fortunes.
The "Gunner" was appointed trainer of the team, and his efforts were justly rewarded. In 1970 Douglas reached the junior championship final against their 1969 conquerors, Passage, and in a great game played at Ballinlough on Sunday, October 6th, Douglas scored an emphatic 2-8 to 0-9 victory over the Passage lads.
Douglas received a setback on the morning of the game when one of the forwards, Pat O’Connor was ruled out of the game with an eye infection. Brendan Larkin was drafted in as a replacement and was to play a major role in the teams victory. He scored six splendid points from play and gave the Passage defence a hard time. Goals from Tim O’Leary and Austin Stewart gave Douglas an interval lead of 2-2 to 0-5 and with Larkin in rare form in corner forward, Douglas took the title in glorious style.
Team captain, Cathal Toal, gratefully accepted the cup from Mr Dan Murphy, Division chairman.
The Douglas team was Davie Bray, Sean O’Shea, Fred Humphries, Wallie Clarke, John Cummins, Neilius Lehane, Pat Holland, Cathal Toal, Joe O’Sullivan, Ned Flynn, Tom O’Leary, Austin Stewert, Brendan Larkin, Tim O’Connell and Tom McCarthy.
In the county Douglas were defeated by Newmarket. Douglas went on to win the league again defeating Passage.
With practically the same team in 1971, Douglas were fancied to retain their title and early successes against St. Nicholas and Delaneys, confirmed their rating.
However in the semi-final against Bishopstown, Douglas came a cropper, losing 1-9 to 0-6. In 1972 Douglas were defeated by Ballinure in the championship. They did manage to retain their league title with a trilling victory over Nemo Rangers. With ten minutes to go, and down to 14 players, Douglas trailed by five points. But points from Cyril Kavanagh and Donie Harris (2) and a goal from John Cummins gave Douglas the lead with time almost up. Nemo managed an equaliser to send the game into extra time. Douglas lasted the pace better and in the end won their second league title in a row.
Douglas got back on the winning trail in 1973. The junior footballers regained the championship title, retained the league and won the 1972 McSweney Cup and lost the 1973 decider. The championship victory was achieved by a 1-12 to 3-4 victory over St. Finbarrs and it was very sweet indeed. It was , however, tinged with sadness because the club’s most popular senior citizen, Donal Downey, died during the game, and wasn’t to see the team winning, something he always cherished.
In the county Douglas beat Castlehaven in the first round only to be defeated by Mitchelstown in the semi-final.
The one regrettable aspect of this five year run of victories was that Douglas failed to win a county title.
Five Hurling Finals in Seven Years
The success at junior B level in 1973 and greater attention to under-age hurling paid off handsomely in the 13 year up to 1986. Douglas reached the final in 1978 and again in 1979 and yet again in 1981 but on each occasion were defeated although we did manage our first MacCurtain Cup win along the way. The 1978 defeat was at the hands of our great rivals Mayfield who won 3-9 to 2-5.
Our team was - Cyril Kavanagh, Eddie Buckley, Alf Cooney, Der McCarthy, Maurice Kelly, Michael O’Regan, Sean Corkery, Jim O’Mahony, Bart Cremin, Pat Holland, Noel Sisk, Tommy Walsh, Michael Lawless, Bob Thornhill, Eddie Forde, Subs used were Ollie Tobin and John White. Mayfield went on to win the county title. In the MacCurtain Cup Douglas were defeated by Redmonds on a 1-15 to 0-9 scoreline.
Coming back with greater determination in 1979, Douglas reached the final of the championship again but this time it was Na Piarsaigh who upset the apple-cart. Two years later Douglas reached the city final again but as on the two previous occasions, had to settle for runners-up spot, this time to St. Finbarrs. This was a final that Douglas literally threw away. Leading by six points midway through the second half and well in control, one moment of lapse of concentration proved fatal. It let Barrs in for a goal and from then on we fell apart, finally going down 1-12 to 1-9.
Douglas reached the 1983 junior hurling championship in tremendous style. It was a great year for the code in Douglas with the B side also winning their championship in trilling fashion. The Na Piarsaigh club provided the opposition in both finals which were played over the weekend of September 10 and 11.
Few people gave Douglas much chance in the A grade final, as the Piarsaigh side which included Cork senior star Tony O’Sullivan and a string of highly talented young players. Douglas went on to record a famous victory giving a truly superb display winning on a scoreline of 4-13 to 3-10. On the previous night the B side had won their championship, defeating Na Piarsaigh by 2-10 to 1-8 in a replay.
Douglas and Na Piarsaigh were to meet on two more occasions in 1983. In the semi-final of the MacCurtain Cup the following Saturday after the Championship triumph, both sides met at Ballinlough in a downpour and once again Douglas confirmed their superiority over the northsiders winning 3-12 to 1-4. Douglas were fortunate to secure the services of Pat Harrington for the 1983 season and he certainly proved an invaluable asset. He played centre-back and was to make a major contribution to the club’s hurling fortunes.
Both side met for the third time in the final of the league again at Ballinlough. Douglas has yet to win the A league and made a determined effort. However Piarsaigh’s had other ideas and with time ticking away they were in front by a point, when centre-back Pat Harrington, called on the selectors to move him nearer goal in the dying seconds.
It proved a good move as he notched the equaliser with the last puck to send the game to a replay.
The replay was eagerly awaited and the large crowd were treated to yet another epic struggle. On this occasion it looked like Douglas were going to make a clean sweep of the junior titles when they led by two points with time almost up. It was a most dangerous lead. A weak clearance from defence was snapped up by a Piarsaigh forward and his shot from 40 yards found the net to deny Douglas their first league title.
Douglas were bitterly disappointed not to have won their first title but had to wait just one year to fulfil that dream.
In 1984 Douglas reached the final for the second time in a row and on this occasion Glen Rovers provided the opposition. The Glen regraded from intermediate the previous year and so their junior side was the second team. Once again the punters gave Douglas no chance again a potentially star studded Glen side. But Douglas weren’t going to surrender their title without a fight. Training was stepped up with the full panel of players giving all they had.
The selectors realising that it was going to take a great effort to retain the title, took the players up the "Bogs" to Venon Mount (a world motor-cycle scramble took place on these hills which challenged even the best riders on the steep slopes).
Douglas went on to defeat the Glen in the championship by 2-15 to 2-4. They went on to record their first victory in the league beating Ballinora in the final by 3-12 to 3-8. In the MacCurtain Cup Douglas defeated St. Finbarrs to make it a grand slam of hurling titles for the village.
In 1985 the club regraded to Intermediate for the first time in 30 years.
Intermediate Football County 1997
After the successes in the early seventies the club regraded to Intermediate in 1975. County honours were gained in the league on a few occasions but we had to wait until 1997 before the county championship was won.
Following a replay against Castletownbere Donal O’ Callaghan captained a winning Douglas football side and led the club into the realms of senior.
Intermediate Hurling County 2000
After being defeated at semi-final stage in the 1999 championship to Blarney the Douglas intermediate team were determined and hopeful heading into the championship of 2000 and on a rain-soaked October afternoon in Pairc Ui Caoimh Douglas defeated Aghada to become Intermediate champions. Johnny Grimes captained the side.
It is worth telling how the club got the present colours. In the early 1950’s the club had only one set of jerseys between 4 teams and obviously this presented problems. Joe O’Reilly, who was working in the Sunbeam at the time, brought to the committees attention that a set of jerseys had been returned from Dublin because they were not suitable.
Joe thought this was a great opportunity to acquire a second set for the club. He bargained with his boss who wanted £20 for the set and eventually got them for £12. The colours are what we wear today.
The Playing Fields
When the club was reformed in 1931 one of the key objectives was to own our own field. Jimmy Sunderland, who founded the club, managed to obtain the use of a field from Mr Jerome Burke on an annual rent and this is the one nearest the club rooms on which we play today.
In 1938, under the chairmanship of Eugene Barrett, the club finally succeeded in buying the ground. The area concerned was 4 acres 40 perches and the price paid was £275 plus £42/11/1 in fees to the Land Commission. This fee was repaid with many ventures including tournaments and letting it to the Inter-House Board. The loan was finally paid off in 1945. All those who had the courage and foresight to take this step are to be commended.
Douglas first attempt at fielding under-age teams was early in 1940’s when Jack Dennehy and Paddy Desmond tool charge of an under 16 team. Little or no success was achieved, though the team did reach the final of the football league but were defeated by Nemo Rangers. Still, it was a start.
In 1945 the minors, now playing in the South-East division, won the hurling championship, despite losing to Ballymartle in the final.
Douglas won on an objection. In the county, Douglas met Bandon in Ballinhassig on November 5. The sides were level 2-5 to 3-2 at half time. In a fiercely contested second half Douglas looked set for victory when they led by two points with time running out. Bandon however snatched the all important goal to give them victory 3-6 to 4-2.
In the county final played in Douglas later, Glen Rovers easily accounted for Bandon, 11-9 to 1-1.
In 1948 Douglas under 16 hurlers defeated Blackrock in a trilling first round championship game, 4-5 to 5-1. However Blackrock objected, Douglas counter objected and after lengthy board investigations, it was recommended that the game be re-fixed.
Both sides agreed but on this occasion Blackrock scored a comfortable victory. In 1949 Douglas reached the under 16 hurling championship semi-final before going out to Glen Rovers 7-4 to 2-2.
Michael Horgan was the club juvenile Secretary and board delegates were Michael Tobin and Noel Downey. Bill Aherne and Liam Bennett were others to give a hand. Indeed Liam Bennett was elected to the GPC of the Juvenile Board in 1948, while Jerry Collins was vice-chairman of the same board for a number of years.
These few successes at minor and under 16 level gave the club great hope for the future but through sheer neglect their promise did not materialise.
The club committee of 1955 were quick to realise that the future of the G.A.A. in Douglas lay with the youth and set about organising the young boys. Street leagues were run and proved highly successful and soon the victories followed. So successful were these leagues that the county junior football title won in 1962 was attributed to their organisation.
Douglas first success at under age level was in 1956 when the Fe 16 footballers defeated Na Piarsaigh 3-3 to 1-2 to win the league. In the championship they reached the final against Glenview, but the Dillons Cross side objected and Douglas counter-objected. The outcome was that both sides were rules out of the competition and the final declared void.
The season 1957 and 1958 were the springboard from which the club finally established itself. For the first time ever the under 15 footballers won the "A" football league and championship, and repeated the performance the following year as juveniles. These successes produced a crop of some of the finest young player ever to play with Douglas and no less than eight of them were on the junior side that won county honours in 1962.
The under 16 victories were achieved in trilling fashion. Team trainer Liam Collins had the players out early in the season and it proved beneficial. Douglas reached the final of the football cup - a competition designed to grade the teams for the league - and were badly beaten 4-3 to 0-5.
However Douglas opted to play in the premier grade. In the championship Douglas met Na Piarsaigh and it was an opportunity to reverse the cup final defeat. This they did in splendid style winning 2-6 to 2-3. That victory put Douglas into the final against Lees and it proved a magnificent event.
The game was played at Church Road on September 22, and at the end of a gruelling hour both sides were tied together, 3-3 for Lees to 2-6 for Douglas. The replay was fixed for the Athletic Grounds on November 2 and again it was a cracker. On those occasions Douglas emerged victorious 1-4 to 1-3 to create their own bit of history.
At the senior County Board meeting the following Tuesday night, a letter was read from a man who lived in Listowel and was at the final. In his letter he complemented both clubs on their magnificent displays and said it was the best game of football he had seen in the park for many years. High praise indeed.
Douglas went in search of a double when they met Na Piarsaigh in the final of the league and emerged winner 3-5 to 3-1 after another classic. For good measure Douglas won the under 16 "B" hurling league when they defeated Brian Dillons 3-3 to 2-2 at Church Road, after losing the championship semi-final to the same opponents the previous week.
Douglas had to wait until 1965 for the next under-age success when the under 15 team won the "B" football league and championship with an exceptional team that included future stars in Pat Holland, Davie Bray, John White and Joe Lynch. Der Keane was the team’s official.
Another young man who gave invaluable service to under-age affairs in the early 1960’s was Sean O’Shea.
In 1966 both Fe 15 and Fe 6 boards amalgamated to form Bord Na nOg and Jim Daly (RIP) of Douglas was elected vice-chairman, an honour well deserved. Jim also served as club delegate to the county board for a number of years and proved a very capable representative.
With the parish beginning to expand and plenty new recruits becoming available, the under-age committee found itself able to field teams in all grades and it was only a matter of time - we thought - before that elusive senior title would come to the parish.
In 1970 the club fielded at under 13 level ad duly won the football and hurling leagues - there was no championship for this grade at that time. Team mentors Joe Lynch, John Dwyer and Brendan Larkin worked extremely hard with these lads and their efforts were rewarded.
Hurling was well organised at under-age level and victories at Under 15 level over Mayfield in the league and championship finals gave the club a number of marvellous exponents of the code that were to bring great honour in later years. I refer of course to Jimmy O’Mahony and Michael O’Regan.
Team mentor, the late Paddy Kidney, can take the lions share of the credit for these victories.
1971 was a very successful season for the under-age section of the club. Victories were recorded over Brian Dillons 4-6 to 2-4 in the "B" under 16 hurling league final, over Delaneys 1-9 to 1-5 in the under 16 "B" football championship final and over Ballyphehane 3-6 to 2-3 in the under 16 "B" football league final. For good measure the under 13 team beat St. Michaels in the "B" football league final.
The 1978 season saw Douglas win its first ever county at under-age level. Following their victory over Mayfield in the city final, the under 14 footballers made the journey to Ballyanley to play Kanturk in the county final. The team was managed by Paddy Murphy, Wilbert Aherne and club chairman Matt Twomey with Brendan Larkin looking after the coaching and training.
No stone was left unturned in our quest for county honours and we knew we had to play to our full potential if we were to win.
Playing against a strong breeze in the opening half, our lads were magnificent, with the half backline of Dan Leary, Tadgh Sullivan and Fergus O'Connor completely on top. Against the run of play the Kanturk lads scored two goals ad it took great courage and determination by our lads to over come these setbacks.
But overcome them they did and when Declan Hurley scored a goal direct from a 50 there was no way we were going to lose and the team went on to record a historic 2-9 to 4-1 victory. The team and subs were: John O’Sullivan, Henry Grimes (capt), Gus O’Callaghan, Donal O’Sullivan, Fergal O’Connor, Tadgh O’Sullivan, Dan Leary, Declan Hurley, Philip Kavanagh, Neil Murphy, Paul Daly, Andy Lehane, Aodh O’Murchu, Ted O'Sullivan, Aiden Cotter, Subs. Brendan Scully, James Barry, Andrew O’Neill, George O’Connor, Kieran Kelly, Colm O’Mahony.
The under 12 hurlers also reached the county final in 1978 which was played in Crosshaven but after leading by three goals at one stage, they finally went under to Ballinhassig by two. The team did manage to win the William Lehane trophy for the Redmonds tournament and it was fitting reward for the team officials Eddie Murphy and Tom O’Sullivan. However this teams finest hour was yet to come.
1978 was also an eventful year for some of our under-age players. Pat Cotter. John Bermingham and Noel Forde were members of the Cork under 15 team that won the Tailteann Games hurling title played in Thurles, while Paul Daly, for the second year in succession, was Cork’s representative at the All-Ireland finals of the Feile na Gael skills Competition. While he did not win the event, he finished a credible joint third
Douglas had won of its most successful season in 1982, contesting 20 finals, winning 17, but more significantly, ten of the titles were won at under-age level. Two of these victories were at premier grade and brought great satisfaction to those involved.
For the under 14’s it was marvellous season winning four titles in all including a county championship in football. Success was achieved in hurling at the expense of Blackrock in the final of the "B" league and against Mayfield in the final of the "B" feile na nGael, with Niall O’Sullivan being the hero of the hour, scoring the winning goal in the last few seconds.
In the football championship city section, Douglas accounted for a stubborn Bishopstown side to qualify for the county final against Carrigaline. This game was played on December 12 at Minane Bridge before a large Douglas contingent. Up to then the Douglas lads had failed to produce their best for but in the final they really turned up trumps and won convincingly 4-9 to 0-1.
The marvellous displays of David Larkin and Brian McCarthy at midfield were the highlights of a one-sided game. The team and substitutes are as follows: Alan McGrath, Tomas O’Connor, Martin Boyle, Jerry Murphy, Adrian Bushnell, Dessie O’Regan (capt.) Dominic Wilson, David Larkin, Peter Bermingham, Rory Moloney, Brian McCarthy, Vivian Cantillon, Paul Twomey, Donal McKeown, Niall Sullivan, Subs. used Daniel Crowley, Timmy Speight, Stephan Holland, Adrian Spillane.
Team officials were Noel Cantillon and Brendan Larkin.Douglas recorder numerous under-age successes over the years and it would take a complete book to do justice to these victories. All are equally cherished both by the club and the players who too part.
The Street Leagues cater for boys and girls up to 10 years of age with a season covering both hurling and football. The games are not played on the streets of Douglas as the name would suggest but rather got the name from the original way it was organised. The first Street League was organised to cater for children too young to play in the formal competitions.
Teams were formed from different areas of the Parish and were named after that area. Since it humble beginnings the Street Leagues has been an integral part of the GAA scene in Douglas. Over the years the Street Leagues have been improving the activities and this year was no exception.
Teams are no longer named after parish areas but are now named after the counties of Ireland, with teams from Mayo, Armagh, Dublin, Wexford etc. now a regular sight on match days. The season begins with registration and games are held on Friday nights, Saturday and Sunday mornings. Each outdoor session starts with coaching so that each player gets a chance to develop his/her skills.
Teams are small in number, ranging from seven to ten players and games consist of 15 minutes per half.
The season now goes on over the whole 12 months since the GAA club have developed a fabulous new indoor facility provide for the winter months.
At the end of each period the Street League finals are held and these are eagerly awaited by the young players. On that day the teams meet in the local Community field and parade through the village behind the Carrigaline Pipe Band to the GAA complex.
There the pitches are lined out and the real action begins. All the teams play on final day and trophies are presented to all participants. As you can imagine this is a costly exercise and the club is very grateful to the Street League sponsors, the local Credit Union.
The Credit Union have long been associated with the leagues and this relationship is very important to the successful running of the leagues.
Camogie has been played in Douglas since the early part of the 20th century. During that period the club went out of existence on a few occasions only to reappear again within a few years. The present club has been in existence since the early 1970’s when a few far sighted people got together and started the club. Some names from that period include Mary Dineen, Pauline Downey, Ann Drinan, Jim Daly (RIP) and Emalda Slavin.
Over the years Douglas has contributed many players to the county teams many of whom went on to win All-Ireland medals. Since the re-formation of the club those who won honours include - Senior & Junior - Liz Lynch, Junior - Mary Harrington (Maher), Liz Maher and Christina O’Regan (Pinfield); Under 16 championship & Junior league - Amanda O’Regan. Many more players represented the club on the county teams.
In the early 18th century the linen industry was established in Douglas and the "Mills" played a major part in the village life for over two hundred years. As far back as 1726 the Douglas sailcloth industry was active. Rope making was another key industry at that time.
The Mills were still producing cloth into the 1970’s and many of the club’s players were employed there. The old St. Patricks Mill site is now a thriving industrial park while the old Morrogh’s Mill in Donnybrook, which only closed in 1971, has many small firms working out of the premises and surrounding compound.