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The History of Clann na nGael

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 GAA Clubs amalgamated after a meeting in the old Kielty Dance Hall. 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 & 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. 

McCrann Cup Winners 1938

Junior Champions 1954

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.

Senior Champions 1961

Tony Whyte collecting the O'Rourke Cup

 

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.

1986 County Champions

Another successful year

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.

The road to Croker

All-Ireland Club Final action

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. A lull followed in the late 90's and 00's where Clann failed to pick up any major silverware for over a decade.

The last decade has been more prosperous, with a number of U.16 and Minor titles followed by an O'Rourke Cup win in 2013, the first time to win a Senior title in 13 years. The group of players kept the momentum growing over the years and claimed their first Senior Championship title since 1996 in 2015 and added another in 2018, along with two more O'Rourke Cup wins.

O'Rourke Cup Champions 2013

Senior County Champions 2018

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.


The Clann Museum, Johnstown.

The History of Clann na nGael GAA Club


  • Clonown GAA Club - 1889

    It is reasonably certain that the first GAA club in the parish was started in Clonown in approximately 1889 or 1890, initially playing Hurling and athletics. By the beginning of the century, Football became the main sport in the area and the club competed in local Leagues and Championship, reaching the Final of 1909, but the strong Kilbride team of the early 1900's reigned supreme.

    Clonown did have some success, winning a number of Leagues in the 1920's and other tournaments in the Midlands. However, club activities declined during the 1930's.

  • Drum GAA Club - 1928

    The pastime of Gaelic Football is recorded in Drum during the 1900's, with Bealnamulla, Cornafulla, Kielty and Thomastown competing in local competitions. In 1928, these villages came together to form the Drum club, allowing them to compete with the likes of Clonown and Taughmaconnell who were the successful teams of the early 20th century.

    The foundation of the Drum club was the second major milestone in the history of GAA in our local area. The two half parishes of Drum and Clonown took part in competitions as two distinct clubs until 1936 when an amalgamation of the two half parishes was agreed upon.

  • Clann na nGael GAA Club - 1936

    During 1935, the two clubs of Drum and Clonown were beginning to realise the futility of fielding two teams in one small parish. Some efforts were made to get the two sides to amalgamate and make a renewed effort to capture some of the trophies which were being played for in the area.

    In early 1936, representatives of Drum and Clonown met in Kielty Hall and an amalgamation was agreed upon, choosing the name Clann na nGael, which, is believed to be a reference to the successful Clann team of Dublin at the time.

    The members present on this historic day included Jim, Frank and Ned Killeen, Michael Nolan, Terry Hynes, Owen Shine, Jack McManus and Mike Henry.

    The new club found immediate success in local tournaments such as the O'Meara Cup, McCrann Cup and Millar Tournaments. The following decade saw Clann compete in the Junior Championship, but they did not acheive the success of victory until 1954, when they made the step up to Senior ranks.

  • Senior Success in the 1960's

Clann na nGael

Clann na nGael GAA Club
Johnstown,
Athlone,
Co. Roscommon.
N37 DX94

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