Clann na nGael GAA Club, Co. Roscommon

MacNamee Awards GAA Website of the Year 2016

Club History

Clann na nGael is based in the western suburbs and rural hinterland of Athlone in the southern end of Roscommon. The area is comprised of the two half parishes of Drum and Clonown, the parish being SS Peter and Paul, Athlone.

The Clann na nGael Club was formed in 1936 when Drum and Clonown amalgamated. Among the prominent players of this time were Mike Nolan, Pat and Jack McManus, Jim and Frank Killian, Tom Nicholson, the Rocks, Gavins, Henrys, Terry Hynes, Paddy Lennon, Ned Egan, Jack Ruane, and Owen and Paddy Shine.

Clann won their first ever county title, the Junior Championship, in 1940, and were promoted to Senior status. However, after an unsuccessful period at senior level, the club reverted to Junior in 1945. The club battled on and in 1954 won a second Junior Championship. That win was significant as it regained senior status, a ranking that Clann has not relinquished since.

Among the players who down through the years helped to maintain Clann's proud standing were Tom Harney, John Grenham, John Gately, Paddy Seery, Tom Henry, Michael Durney, the Goodes, the Dempseys, Mike Lennon, the Shines, and Patsy Duignan.

Three Minor Championships were won in succession (1957-1959) and those young players, along with survivors from the 1954 side, went on to form the senior team that was to make history.

In 1960 Clann na nGael commenced an amazing run of success that not even their most ardent supporters could have anticipated - a run that brought a majestic seven County Senior League Titles in succession as well as five O'Rourke Cups. In addition, the County Senior Championship was captured for the first time.

Clann made their first-ever appearance in a Roscommon Senior Final in 1961 and made it a double joy day by beating Elphin. The history-making team was powered by players like Johnny O'Neill, John and Tony Kenny, Tony Whyte, P.J. Shine, the Watsons, the Lennons, Pakie and Tommy Naughton, Seamie O'Neill, Mike Goode and Sean Dempsey.

A second county senior title was brought home in triumph in 1966 following another final win at the expense of Elphin. Clann lost to Castlerea in the 1967 championship but bounced back again in 1970 to claim title number three. Along the way players like Liam O'Neill, Colm Shine, Paddy McManus, the Kennedys, Henrys, Paddy Hynes, the Hughes, Bernie Gunning, and Donal and Enda Shine had just arrived on the scene.

The senior county final of 1971 was again lost to Castlerea and then followed a few transitional years for the club.

The first juvenile title was won in 1969 at Under-13. This was followed by an Under-14 title in 1970 and Minor titles in 1973 and 1974. Again, those wins were of major importance as the teenagers of those years went on to play major roles in the future of the club.

Clann na nGael, with a blend of youth and experience, reached the senior county final of 1976 and upset the odds by beating a much fancied Roscommon Gaels side, who were county and Connaught Champions at the time, and runners-up the previous year for the All-Ireland club crown.

Since then Clann have gone from strength to strength. Eamon McManus (Snr), Tony McManus, Martin McManus (R.I.P.), Jimmy McManus, Vincent Harney, Mike Keegan and Liam Dunne were among the players who had arrived on the scene in 1976 and were to contribute greatly to the club's most successful era ever. County senior titles were won in 1976, 1977, 1979, 1981 and 1982. Young players like Fran Nicholson, Paul and Owen McManus and Eamon McManus (Jnr) were also helping to fashion the glory era.

The first Connaucht Club Championship was won in 1982 and defeat followed in the All-Ireland Final against Portlaoise, at Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary. Clann were defeated early in the 1983 county championship, but the following year bounced back to put together one of the best success stories of any side. Eight county senior titles were won in succession (1984-1991), a remarkable run by any standard.

Clann na nGael also won six Connaucht Club titles in succession in that era (1984-1989) and appeared in four successive All-Ireland Finals (1987-1990). During this period, Clann also captured the All-Ireland 7-A-Side crown in 1989.

Underage successes in the late seventies and early eighties contributed greatly to the senior success story. The county Under-16 crown was won for the first time in 1978 and retained it the following year. An Under-14 title in 1980, a minor in 1983 and Clann's first Under-21 in the same year were important achievements.

Paul Naughton, Thomas Seery, Anthony McManus, Declan Rock, Joey Connaughton, Emmet Durney, Tom, James and Gerard Lennon, Keith and Enon Gavin, Damien and Fergal Shine, Kevin and Donie Nolan, Dessie and Mickey Kennedy, Paul Whyte, and Sean and Barry Doyle all arrived on the scene during that era from the schools teams.

During the 1990's Clann na nGael continued to be to the forefront in Roscommon football, winning further senior county titles in 1993, 1995 and 1996. At Under-21 level, following on from three county titles in the 1980's, the club secured two further titles in the following decade (1990, 1997). The decade just passed also saw championship honours at Minor (1995), Under-16B (1991), and Under-14 (1991, 1998, 1999), as well as Under-14B Hurling (1991).

Clann na nGael fields teams in every grade of football and are also leading the way in ladies football. County senior champions in 1974, 1995, 1996 and 1997, the ladies were not to be out done by their male counter parts, and won the Connaucht Club Championship in 1995. Clann ladies also won the Junior County Championship in 1993, the Minor in 1995 and 1996, and the Under-16 in 1975, 1991 and 1993.

Johnstown pitch, the home of Clann na nGael, was developed and opened in 1971. In the early 1990's the grounds and clubhouse were re-structured and new dressing rooms, a function hall, training pitch and parking area were added and was officially opened by Jack Boothman, President of the GAA, on the 27th August 1994. This was the result of years of unselfish dedication by so many fine individuals, too numerous to mention. Players, mentors, officials and dedicated supporters, who have worked so hard and given so much, to make Clann na nGael the great club it is, and the proud tradition it has always upheld in the GAA world.