Three clubs from Drumlish parish (also called Drumlish & Ballinamuck parish) won key titles over the years:
- Drumlish (incl. Young Irelands/Éire Óg)
- Ballinamuck (incl. 98’s)
- Fr. Manning Gaels
Drumlish Robert Emmets was founded in August 1889, was the first GAA club formed in the parish and competed in the 1890 and the unfinished 1891 Senior Football Championships. When competition resumed again in Longford in 1904, the club appears to have changed name to Drumlish Wolfe Tones, and is cited in competition and tournaments from 1904 to 1906 under that name. The Drumlish club joined forces with Ballinamuck 98’s for a period from 1906 to compete as Drumlish/Ballinamuck 98’s and the combination reached the county final in 1907. The Drumlish and Ballinamuck clubs appeared to go their separate ways a few years later, with Drumlish next recorded in official competition as ‘Drumlish’ in 1911 Senior League-Championship and in 1911 Senior Football Championship as well as in local tournaments throughout 1911. On November 3rd 1912 we find Drumlish competing in an exhibition game against Clonguish in Ballinamuck, for a set of medals and a silver cup presented by Rev. W. Prunty from New York, and Philip Cassidy from Dublin. A committee was formed towards the end of 1912 to look at Drumlish and Ballinamuck clubs competing as one for 1913, and a team called Drumlish 98’s (likely shorthand for Drumlish/Ballinamuck 98’s) is cited briefly in 1913 in a tournament game, but not in official competition. The next reference to Drumlish is in Newtownforbes Tournament in March 1913 and in fixtures for the League-Championship competition of 1913 as Drumlish. Thereafter references to Drumlish in competition are few until 1919 when the club is revived and recorded initially in a challenge match, and then in active competition in both 1919 and 1920. Thereafter we find little activity recorded as Drumlish until 1925. The club thrived in the years following the restart of the Senior Football Championship in 1927, and went on to win 8 Senior Championships as Drumlish between 1927 and 1945. The first of those titles was in 1927, beating Ballinamuck 98’s in the SFC final, which is the only time two clubs from the same parish met in the Longford SFC decider. Drumlish club went into decline at the end of the 1940’s and didn’t affiliate for a couple of those years, but were back in action in 1950. A re-organisation of the club happened in 1951 under the stewardship of Fr. Seán Manning, and included the adoption of the ‘Young Irelands’ name. Our initial research assumption was that Young Irelands was a union of the Drumlish and Ballinamuck clubs which had both existed separately for half a century prior to 1951, and we assumed were combined into a joint club by Fr. Seán Manning. However the Fr. Manning Gaels club asserts that Young Irelands was not a combination club, and was Drumlish renamed in 1951 with the Ballinamuck club having lapsed/folded the previous year. We have no evidence to prove or disprove that assertion, and so take it on good faith to be so. Young Irelands name first appeared in print in January 1951 when Leader Cup and Junior fixtures are announced ( Source). (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 the end of the 1950’s (both versions referenced initially cited in local media 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 founded in October 1890 and competed in the unfinished 1891 Senior Championship. The next reference to the Ballinamuck club was when the club joined forces with Drumlish to compete for a period from 1906 as Drumlish/Ballinamuck 98’s, reaching the county final in 1907. Both Ballinamuck and Drumlish clubs appeared to go their separate ways a few years later, with Ballinamuck 98’s recorded on its own in a tournament in Granard in September 1912. The club is not referenced much thereafter until 1916 when there was a revival of the club. Ballinamuck 98’s won the Junior League-Championship title in 1919 (i.e. Junior competition played on a league basis prior to the start of knockout Junior Championship in 1927) and won the Senior Football Championship title for the first and only time in 1920, becoming the first club from the parish to do so. The club remained active through the first half of the 1920’s when many other clubs were inactive, and contested the Senior League-Championship final of 1922 (finished in May 1923) losing out to Longford Wanderers by 0-6 to 0-0, as well as the Senior League-Championship final of 1923 (finished in September 1925) losing out again to Longford Wanderers by a point. Ballinamuck 98’s then contested the Senior Football Championship when it resumed in 1927 after a gap in competition since 1920, and reached the County Final of 1927, losing to Drumlish (first and only time two clubs from the same parish had reached the County Final). The club lapsed for a period after 1927, and is next back in competition at Junior grade in 1933, but without the 98’s suffix. While we see occasional reference to 98’s thereafter, the vast majority of references to the club in published records from this point is as ‘Ballinamuck’. The club is re-organised again in 1937 as Ballinamuck and won the Junior Football Championship that year (medals presented in April 1940). The club did not affiliate in 1939 and lapsed until 1944 when the club reformed again as Ballinamuck and competed in Junior competition from 1944 until the end of the 1949 season. The club then lapsed and is not found in competition from 1950 to 1966. The Ballinamuck club is then reformed in December 1966 ( Source), with club officials elected in January 1967 ( Source), and appeared in Junior fixtures from January 1967 ( Source) while cited as ‘returned to the football scene’ in February 1967 ( Source). Players are noted as transferred from nearby clubs such as Éire Óg and Dromard in early 1967 and Ballinamuck competed at Junior grade from 1967 to 1969 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 founded on 18th March 1969 when the Éire Óg and Ballinamuck clubs met and decided to unite ( Source). The clubs announced their joint 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 the creation of a new club by combining the clubs of Drumlish and Ballinamuck into one club unit, and was not simply the renaming of the Éire Óg club following a temporary split. The published evidence shows two active clubs in the late 1960’s (Éire Óg competing in Senior & Junior and Ballinamuck competing in Junior) which had previously existed separately and as competing clubs for half a century, both uniting to form a new club unit part-way through the 1969 season. 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 or changed club. The Éire Óg club continued as before when the Ballinamuck club emerged in 1967, albeit 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 club anew part way through an ongoing season in which both Éire Óg and Ballinamuck were 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. More info on the context behind the formation of the club and the dynamics that existed with clubs in Drumlish and Ballinamuck prior to that can be found on the Oral History project on the GAA website: Listen back at GAA Oral History project (discussion on the unification of the clubs starts around 23:00).
Some publications allocate these titles as a combined count for ‘Drumlish/Fr. Manning Gaels’ while others showing all as Fr. Manning Gaels and assert that the formation of the Fr. Manning Gaels club in 1969 was a simple re-organisation and renaming of Éire Óg following a temporary split. In this archive we attempt to be consistent in the allocation of titles to club units (not parishes) 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 clubs in the Senior Championship roll of honour. This was the first approach by anyone from the club or parish since our research was first published online in October 2014.
Our original assumption in 2014 was that the Young Irelands club was formed in 1951 as a unified parish-wide club under the stewardship of Fr. Seán Manning, to combine the two clubs in the parish at the time (Drumlish and Ballinamuck) both of which had existed separately in the parish from 1890 to 1949, and seemed to be replaced in 1951 by a Drumlish Young Irelands club. Add to that the wider context of a Minor Club called ‘Young Irelands’ formed in the parish in 1949 by Fr. Seán Manning and the announcement in local media stating that the club would “represent the united parish of Drumlish & Ballinamuck”. The evidence seemed to point to Young Irelands and Fr. Manning Gaels therefore both being unified parish-wide clubs, distinct from the previous, separate and competing Drumlish (1889-1950) and Ballinamuck (1890-1949) clubs in the parish. Hence we initially concluded in 2014 that titles of Young Irelands and Fr. Manning Gaels should be combined as one count, but kept separate from titles of earlier Drumlish or Ballinamuck clubs, which by definition were separate competing clubs within the same parish (played each other in the SFC final of 1927!). That assumption remained in place from 2014 until 2020. The Fr. Manning Gaels club then approached our research team in September 2020 to re-examine that assumption and a package of work was undertaken by our team with the support of the County Board Secretary, and took place over a number of months in late 2020 and early 2021, including inputs received from the Fr. Manning Gaels club. Our conclusions were submitted to Coiste Chontae An Longfort on 5th May 2021 in accordance with the County Board’s own preferred procedure.
Our review concluded that while published material suggested that Young Irelands was a combined Drumlish-Ballinamuck club distinct from either the Drumlish or Ballinamuck clubs before it, there was no evidence to disprove the position of the Fr. Manning Gaels club that Young Irelands was simply a re-organisation and continuation of the Drumlish club under a new name, not a new combined club absorbing both Drumlish and Ballinamuck clubs into one entity similar to the Minor club formed in the parish in 1949. Our research team accepted the position that Young Irelands could be a continuation of the Drumlish club (but not the Ballinamuck 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 unit, uniting the clubs of Éire Óg (who competed in Senior and Junior at the time) and Ballinamuck (who competed in Junior at the time) into one combined club unit which was affiliated anew with the County Board at a different grade in 1969, 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 years later in GAA’s oral history project, and is reflected in other printed sources of the day as a combined entity or a Drumlish-Ballinamuck club.
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 (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, therefore 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 and Ballinamuck clubs in March 1969. Furthermore the newly formed Fr. Manning Gaels club competed at Intermediate grade in 1969, not in Senior grade (Éire Óg was in senior prior to the merge and had already participated in senior league games that year with fixtures for Senior and Junior already 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 a discontinued Ballinamuck club, then there would be no need to change anything about the Éire Óg club. But the available published evidence indicates that this was the creation of a new club. Hence our conclusion is that for historical accuracy and consistency of title allocations, the titles of Fr. Manning Gaels should be displayed separately in the roll of honour from titles of the earlier Drumlish or Ballinamuck clubs. 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 historically inaccurate.
Fr. Manning Gaels club disagrees with our team on 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 assessment of inputs received directly and via the County Board from the club) arrived at a different conclusion which we believe is based on available evidence. It should be noted that since submitting our updated analysis to Coiste Chontae An Longfort in May 2021, we have received no new input on this matter from any source, nor has there been any communication received from the club on this matter since May 2021. The conclusion of our research into title allocations for clubs in the parish of Drumlish is summarised here to ensure transparency on the matter for the reader. We encourage anyone with other evidence to present on this matter, to please get in touch via the Contact section of this archive.