Three clubs from the parish of Drumlish (also known as Drumlish & Ballinamuck parish) won key Football Championship titles over the years:
- Drumlish (incl. Young Irelands/Éire Óg)
- Ballinamuck 98’s
- Fr. Manning Gaels
Drumlish Robert Emmets was founded in 1889 and competed in the 1890 and unfinished 1891 Senior Championships. When competition resumed again in Longford in 1904, the club name had changed to Drumlish Wolfe Tones, and are cited in competition and tournaments from 1904 to 1906. The Drumlish club entered into a temporary amalgamation with Ballinamuck 98’s in 1906 and 1907 as Drumlish/Ballinamuck 98’s and reached the county final in 1907. Thereafter the Drumlish club was next recorded in official competition in 1911 Senior Championship and in local tournaments in 1911 as ‘Drumlish’. A committee was formed in late 1912 to look at the possible creation of a combined Drumlish and Ballinamuck club for 1913, and a team called Drumlish 98’s appeared briefly in 1913 in a tournament game, but never in official competition. The combination didn’t last long and there was no further reference to Drumlish in official competition again until 1919 when the club was recorded in a challenge match, and then in official competition in both 1919 and 1920. Thereafter no activity is recorded until 1925. The club went on to win 8 Senior Championships as Drumlish between 1927 and 1945. The first of those titles was won in 1927 by beating Ballinamuck 98’s in the county final, which is thus far the only time two clubs from the same parish met in the senior decider. Drumlish didn’t affiliate in 1949 but are back in action in 1950. A re-organisation of the club occurred in 1951 under the leadership of Fr. Seán Manning, and included the adoption of the ‘Young Irelands’ name. Young Irelands appears in print from January 1951 when Leader Cup & Junior fixtures are announced ( Source). (FYI – It is worth noting that a Minor Club called ‘Young Irelands’ was formed in the parish in July 1949 by Fr. Manning and was announced as a Minor club to “represent the united parish of Drumlish & Ballinamuck” ( Source). The Young Irelands Minors went on to reach the Minor Championship final of 1950). The Drumlish Young Irelands senior club (referenced mostly by the shorthand ‘Young Irelands’) won Senior Football Championship titles in 1951, 1953 and 1955 and Leader Cup title in 1953, before pivoting to the Irish name Éire Óg from 1958 (both versions referenced initially from 1958, and then just Éire Óg in the 1960’s). Éire Óg remained in active competition until March 1969 but by the start of the 1969 season were struggling to fulfill fixtures at senior grade due to emigration, retirements, loss of players to the revived Ballinamuck club since 1967 and the loss of some young players who were in higher education in various parts of the country and abroad (challenges mirrored by other rural clubs at the time). In the Leader Cup fixtures on 2nd March 1969, Éire Óg conceded the game to Mostrim two weeks before the formation of Fr. Manning Gaels club.
Ballinamuck 98’s was formed in 1890 and competed in the unfinished 1891 Senior Championship. The next reference to the Ballinamuck club was their temporary amalgamation with Drumlish in 1906 and 1907, reaching the county final in 1907. Both Ballinamuck and Drumlish clubs went their separate ways thereafter, and the Ballinamuck 98’s club was next recorded in competition in 1912. The club was not active again until 1916 when there was a revival of activity. Ballinamuck 98’s won the 1919 Junior competition and the 1920 Senior Football Championship (the first club from the parish to win a Senior Championship title). Ballinamuck 98’s then reached the 1927 Senior Championship final, losing out to Drumlish in the decider. This was the first SFC title for a club from Drumlish parish, and is thus far the only time two clubs from the same parish have ever met in the decider. The Ballinamuck 98’s club lapsed for a few years after 1927, reforming in 1933 at Junior grade and winning the Junior Championship in 1938. The club did not affiliate in 1939 and lapsed until 1944 when the club reformed again and competed in Junior competition until the end of the 1949 season. The club is not found in any active competition from 1950 to 1966 (it is assumed based on wider context of the involvement of Fr. Manning and activity such as the formation of the Minor Club in the parish in 1949, that Ballinamuck players were perhaps encouraged to play for a renamed and re-organised Drumlish club from 1951). The Ballinamuck club is revived again in December 1966 ( Source), with club officials elected in January 1967 ( Source), and appears in Junior fixtures from January 1967 ( Source) while cited as ‘returned to the football scene’ in February 1967 ( Source). Players transferred from nearby clubs such as Éire Óg and Dromard in early 1967 and Ballinamuck competed at Junior grade from 1967 to 1969 (referenced as Ballinamuck 98’s during the initial announcement, but as Ballinamuck thereafter) and remained in active competition until March 1969. At the start of that 1969 season, Ballinamuck played Colmcille in Junior League in February, and beat Dromard 5-2 to 2-7 in Junior League on 9th March (fixture originally set for 23rd February). The March 1969 fixtures showed Ballinamuck down to play Mullinalaghta in the next round of the Junior League on 23rd March, but just prior to that fixture the announcement was made of the formation of Fr. Manning Gaels club.
Fr. Manning Gaels was formed on 18th March 1969 when the Éire Óg and Ballinamuck clubs decided to unite ( Source). The clubs announced their intention to Coiste Chontae an Longfort and an official notice appeared in the local newspaper on 22nd March 1969 with a new club name announced a week later on 29th March 1969. The Fr. Manning Gaels club entered competition at Intermediate grade in 1969. It is worth noting that this was different from the grade of the individual clubs that united to form it – they had competed at Senior (Éíre Óg) and Junior (Ballinamuck) grade, and were two months into active fixtures for the season by the time the creation of Fr. Manning Gaels club happens. Fr. Manning Gaels played their first competitive game against Colmcille on 20th April 1969 in the newly formed ‘Special League’ which was a mixed competition for all grades ( Source). The club then competed in the Intermediate Championship later in 1969, losing out to Ballymahon in the first round. Fr. Manning Gaels decided to regrade to Junior for the 1970 season, and completed at Junior grade in 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973 & 1974. The club combined with Mullinalaghta to win the 1973 Intermediate Championship, then won the Junior Championship on their own in 1974 to gain promotion to Intermediate grade from 1975, and then won the Intermediate Championship in 1975 to gain promotion to Senior grade. Fr. Manning Gaels enjoyed Leader Cup success in the 1980’s but the big breakthrough came in the 1990’s with the club winning Senior Championship titles in 1996, 1997, 1998 & 2001.
Our research concluded that the formation of the Fr. Manning Gaels club in 1969 was not a simple renaming or re-organisation of the existing Éire Óg club following a previous temporary split of players. The published evidence shows two active clubs (Éire Óg competing in Senior & Junior and Ballinamuck competing in Junior) uniting to form a new club part way through the 1969 season, while the wider historic context shows the two constituent clubs within the parish for most of the first half of the 20th century. When the Ballinamuck club was revived in 1967 after being inactive for 17 years, the Éire Óg club in the parish did not cease to exist, nor did it re-affiliate as a new club (i.e. Éire Óg 2.0). The Éire Óg club continued as normal when the Ballinamuck club revived in 1967, but with the loss of whatever players transferred to Ballinamuck. Had the formation of the Fr. Manning Gaels club been a simple renaming and re-absorption of players from Ballinamuck following a temporary split, there would have been no need to announce the formation of a new club in local media, no requirement to affiliate that new club part way through an ongoing season in which both Éire Óg and Ballinamuck are already involved in active competition, and there would be no need to affiliate at a different grade to Éire Óg (who were Senior at the time). The published evidence shows the literal formation of a new club in the parish by uniting Éire Óg and Ballinamuck clubs to form a unified club for the parish of Drumlish called Fr. Manning Gaels in March 1969.
Other publications may display the allocation of titles differently, with some showing them as ‘Drumlish/Fr. Manning Gaels’ and others just showing all titles as Fr. Manning Gaels and claiming the formation of the club in 1969 was simply a re-organisation of Éire Óg following a temporary split. In this archive we attempt to be consistent in the allocation of titles to club units across the board, and to carefully delineate, for historical accuracy, between newly formed club entities and the previous constituent club units for allocation of all titles to all clubs at all grades. As such, the titles of Fr. Manning Gaels are displayed separately from titles of earlier Drumlish or Ballinamuck clubs, just as the titles of Longford Slashers are displayed separately from titles of Longford Wanderers or Whiterock Slashers clubs, and titles of Ardagh Moydow displayed separately from titles of Ardagh St. Patricks and Moydow Harpers clubs.
In September 2020 the Fr. Manning Gaels P.R.O. approached our Research Team team with a request to re-examine title allocations for Drumlish (including Young Irelands/Éire Óg) and Fr. Manning Gaels in the Senior Championship roll of honour. This was the first approach by anyone from the club or parish to any member of our team since the revised roll of honour was first published in October 2014.
Our teams original finding in 2014 was that the Drumlish Young Irelands club was formed in 1951 as a combined parish-wide club under the leadership of Fr. Seán Manning, to combine the two clubs in the parish (Drumlish and Ballinamuck 98’s) both of which had existed concurrently in the parish for much of the period from 1890 to 1949, and appeared to be replaced in 1951 by Drumlish Young Irelands. In wider context, a Minor Club called ‘Young Irelands’ had been formed in the parish in July 1949 by Fr. Seán Manning and the announcement in local media stated that the club would “represent the united parish of Drumlish & Ballinamuck”. Our research and the wider context around that research suggested that Young Irelands and Fr. Manning Gaels both appeared to be parish-wide clubs, distinct from the previous, separate and competing Drumlish (1889-1950) and Ballinamuck 98’s (1890-1949) clubs in the parish. Thus we concluded in 2014 that the titles of Drumlish Young Irelands and Fr. Manning Gaels should be combined as one count, but kept separate from titles of earlier Drumlish or Ballinamuck 98’s clubs, which by definition were separate competing clubs within the same parish (played each other in the SFC final of 1927!). The Fr. Manning Gaels club approached our research team in September 2020 to re-examine that assumption and a package of work was undertaken by our team in association with the County Board Secretary over a number of months in 2020 and 2021, along with inputs received from the Fr. Manning Gaels club. Our findings were submitted to Coiste Chontae An Longfort on 5th May 2021 in accordance with the County Board’s own procedure.
Our team concluded that while published material strongly suggests that Drumlish Young Irelands was a combined Drumlish-Ballinamuck club distinct from the Drumlish or Ballinamuck 98’s clubs which preceded it, there was no definitive way to disprove the position of the Fr. Manning Gaels club that Young Irelands was simply a re-organisation and continuation of the existing Drumlish club under a new name, not a new combined club absorbing both Drumlish and Ballinamuck 98’s clubs into one new Young Irelands entity similar to what had occurred with the Minor club in the parish in 1949. Our research team accepted the position that Young Irelands could indeed be a continuation of the Drumlish club (but not the Ballinamuck 98’s club) via re-organisation and renaming. However we concluded that the creation of Fr. Manning Gaels in 1969 was demonstrably the creation of a new combined club, uniting the existing clubs of Éire Óg (who competed in Senior and Junior at the time) and Ballinamuck (who competed in Junior at the time) into a new combined club which was affiliated anew with the County Board at a different grade, and was comprised of players and officials from both constituent clubs that united to form it. The formation of this new club was reported in local media at the time and discussed in GAA’s oral history project, and is reflected in other printed sources of the day as a combined entity.
The totality of our research concluded that if the Drumlish club prior to 1951 was not a combined Drumlish and Ballinamuck club (evidenced by the fact that Drumlish (1889-1950) competed against Ballinamuck 98’s (1890-1949) for decades and played each other in the Senior Championship final of 1927), and if Drumlish Young Irelands (later renamed Éire Óg) from 1951 to 1969 was simply a continuation of the earlier Drumlish club, then the Young Irelands/Éire Óg club could not by definition be the same club as Fr. Manning Gaels, which was formed by uniting the Éire Óg club and Ballinamuck club in March 1969. Furthermore the newly formed Fr. Manning Gaels club competed at Intermediate grade in 1969, not in Senior grade (Éire Óg was a senior club prior to the merge and had already participated in senior competition that year with fixtures for Senior and Junior already more than 2 months underway by the time of the clubs formation). If Fr. Manning Gaels was a simple continuation of Éire Óg with players re-absorbed from the discontinued Ballinamuck club, then there would be no need to change anything about the Éire Óg club. But the available published evidence shows this was the creation of a new combined club. Hence our conclusion is that for historical accuracy and consistency of title allocations, the titles of Fr. Manning Gaels should be displayed separate in the roll of honour from titles of the earlier Drumlish or Ballinamuck clubs that united to form it. This has historically been the case with respect to the Ballinamuck 98’s title of 1920, but our research found that to display titles of Drumlish (including Young Irelands/Éire Óg) with titles of Fr. Manning Gaels was inconsistent and incorrect.
The Fr. Manning Gaels club disagrees with the conclusions reached by our research team of this matter and asserts that titles of Drumlish (incl. Young Irelands/Éire Óg) should be combined with titles of Fr. Manning Gaels as one single count and club. However our assessment (including full assessment of all inputs received directly and via the County Board from the Fr. Manning Gaels club) arrived at a different conclusion. It should be noted that since submitting our updated analysis of this matter to Coiste Chontae An Longfort in May 2021, we have received no new input or new evidence from any source, nor has there been any communication from the Fr. Manning Gaels club to any member of our team on this matter since April 2021. The conclusion of our research into title allocations for clubs in the parish of Drumlish is summarised on this page, for the avoidance of doubt and to ensure transparency on this matter for the reader. We encourage anyone with differing evidence on this matter, to please get in touch via the Contact section of this archive.