Three clubs from Drumlish parish (or Drumlish-Ballinamuck parish) won key adult titles over the years:
- Drumlish (Young Irelands)
- Ballinamuck (98’s)
- Fr. Manning Gaels
Title Allocation: Titles of the club units listed above are displayed separately as distinct club units in rolls of honour. Fr. Manning Gaels was formed in 1969 when Éire Óg (Drumlish) and Ballinamuck clubs united.
Drumlish Robert Emmets was founded in August 1889 and was the first club formed under GAA rules in the parish. The club contested the 1890 and the unfinished 1891 Senior Football Championships. When competition resumed again in Longford in 1904, the club was called Drumlish Wolfe Tones, and was cited in competition and tournaments from 1904 to 1906 under that name. Drumlish Wolfe Tones and Ballinamuck 98’s clubs amalgamated in October 1906 to compete jointly for a period as Drumlish/Ballinamuck 98’s. Their first game was against Gorletteragh St. Patricks on 27th October 1906. The amalgamation competed in the 1907 Senior Football Championship, reaching the county final and losing to Killoe Young Emmets after a replay. Drumlish appear to emerge on their own again in the early 1910’s and is referenced in the inaugural 1911 Senior League-Championship competition as Drumlish. The Drumlish club is cited again in the announcement of the draw for 1911 Senior Football Championship in August 1911, where the club is listed against Longford Commercials in a game to be played on 18th October 1911 with Mr. Burns from Ballymahon appointed as referee. Drumlish also appeared in local tournaments in 1912 and in November 3rd 1912 Drumlish are cited against Clonguish for a set of medals and a silver cup presented by Rev. W. Prunty from New York, and Philip Cassidy from Dublin. Thereafter references to Drumlish in competition are few and far between until 1919 when the club is revived and recorded in challenge matches, and then in active competition in 1919 and 1920. By 1926 Drumlish is competing in both Senior and Junior competition, while neighbours Ballinamuck 98’s are also competing in both Junior and Senior competition. Following a game between the two clubs in September 1926, local notes make reference to the strength of football in the parish and cites onlookers at the game saying “If the teams united what a splendid 15 could be picked; why they would have the Gaelic Football of the county at their feet“. Drumlish played against Ballinamuck 98’s in the Senior Football Championship final of 1927, a first title for the Drumlish club and second for the parish. This is the first and only time that two clubs from the same parish played each other in the SFC final. Drumlish went on to win eight Senior Football Championship titles in 1927, 1928, 1932, 1937, 1939, 1940, 1943, 1945. The SFC final of 1945 ended Drumlish 1-7, Longford Wanderers 1-6. However at the County Board meeting on 18th October 1945 a decision was taken to suspend the Drumlish club and award the title to Longford Wanderers. This decision cited the referee’s report which alleged rough play and threats to himself on the part of members of the Drumlish team. The Drumlish players denied the allegations but the vote was 6 to 4 in favour of awarding the title to Wanderers and suspending the Drumlish club. The club escalated their objection to the Leinster Council who upheld it on the grounds that five days notice had not been served on Drumlish by the Longford County Board. The original county final result stood and the suspension was voided. In 1946 Drumlish won the Leader Cup but lost out to Ballymahon in the first round of the Championship. The club continued to compete in League and Championship in both 1946 & 1947. The club did not affiliate in 1948 or 1949 with many of their players lining out for Dromard in these two years. In November 1949 a report in the local newspaper suggested that the lapsed Drumlish club and the active Ballinamuck club may be combining forces for the upcoming 1950 season. Instead Drumlish affiliated in 1950 and re-entered competition while Ballinamuck did not affiliate in 1950 and the club was not active again until December 1966 when the club is revived once again. In 1951 Drumlish re-organised and adopted the name ‘Young Irelands’. Our initial research indicated that Young Irelands was a combined Drumlish and Ballinamuck club to bring together the two clubs which had existed separately for half a century prior to 1950, and appeared to come together under the stewardship of Fr. Seán Manning who had already established a ‘Young Irelands’ Minor Club for Drumlish & Ballinamuck in 1949 (📷 Source). However we have been advised that Young Irelands was simply the renamed Drumlish club which also absorbed players from the Ballinamuck club which lapsed in 1950. The new Young Irelands name first appeared in fixtures in February 1951 ( Source). The club was initially referenced as Drumlish Young Irelands in 1951 and then more commonly thereafter as Young Ireland. One theory on this is that the ‘Drumlish’ part of the club name was dropped (or more accurately not used) in order to keep ex-Ballinamuck club players on board within the revived club, but it is difficult to be certain. The club won Senior Football Championship titles in 1951, 1953 and 1955 and Leader Cup in 1953 as Young Irelands. Records show the Young Irelands name giving way to the Irish version of Éire Óg from late 1958, at exactly the time that other club names were being referenced in local media in their Irish form for the first time. For a period after 1958 we can find both Éire Óg and Young Irelands names in use and then exclusively Éire Óg in use during the 1960’s. The Young Irelands or Éire Óg name was often used in published sources with ‘Drumlish‘ in parenthesis after it. By the start of 1969 Éire Óg was struggling to fulfill fixtures at senior grade due to emigration, retirements, loss of some players to the reformed Ballinamuck club since 1967 and the loss of some young players who were in higher education in various parts of the country and abroad, similar to that experienced by other rural clubs at the time. In the Leader Cup fixture on 2nd March 1969, Éire Óg conceded the game to Mostrim. Two weeks later the Éire Óg and Ballinamuck clubs decided to unite to form the Fr. Manning Gaels club.
Ballinamuck 98’s was founded in October 1890. Fr. McCabe (C.C. Ballinamuck) in a letter to the County Board in October 1890 noted that the “young men around Ballinamuck are anxious to establish a branch of the G.A.A. in this side of the parish of Drumlish”. The Drumlish Robert Emmets delegate Francis Sheridan noted that their club had no objection and Ballinamuck 98’s (or ‘ninety-eights’) were subsequently affiliated, creating two clubs in the parish of Drumlish. The club name was a nod to the 1798 rebellion against British rule and the key role Ballinamuck played in that struggle. The main organising force of the 1798 rebellion was the Society of United Irishmen, a Republican revolutionary group influenced by the ideas of the American and French Revolutions. Originally formed by Presbyterian radicals angry at being shut out of power by the Anglican establishment, they were joined by many from the majority Catholic population. This included a French expeditionary force which landed in Mayo and were eventually defeated in the Battle of Ballinamuck on 8th September 1798. Ballinamuck 98’s contested the unfinished 1891 Senior Football Championship. GAA activity in Longford faded away for most of the next 15 years as the impact of the Parnell split decimated the GAA across the country. In 1906 the club was recorded ‘in training‘ and in October of that year Ballinamuck 98’s and Drumlish Wolfe Tones (both in same parish) amalgamated to compete jointly for a period as Drumlish/Ballinamuck 98’s. Their first game was against Gorletteragh St. Patricks on 27th October 1906. The amalgamation was recorded in official competition once, in the 1907 Senior Football Championship, reaching the county final and losing to Killoe Young Emmets after a replay. Ballinamuck 98’s club name is then referenced separately in a tournament in Granard in September 1912. A football tournament is held in Ballinamuck in October 1912 involving teams from Clonguish, Colmcille, Bornacoola, Granard, Killoe and Drumlish. Ballinamuck 98’s club seemed to be revived again in 1916. Ballinamuck 98’s won the Junior League-Championship in 1919. Further details on Junior League-Championship competition history and title winners in Longford can be found here. Ballinamuck 98’s went on to win the Senior Football Championship in 1920, becoming the first club from the parish to do so. The club is found in active competition during much of the 1920’s when many other clubs had lapsed, reaching the Senior League-Championship final of 1922 (completed in May 1923) losing out to Longford Wanderers by 0-6 to 0-0, and reaching the Senior League-Championship final of 1923 (completed in September 1925) losing out again to Longford Wanderers by a point. By 1926 Ballinamuck 98’s are competing in both Senior and Junior competition, while neighbours Drumlish are also competing in both Junior and Senior competition. Drumlish played against Ballinamuck 98’s in the Senior Football Championship final of 1927, the first title for the Drumlish club and the second for the parish. This is the first and only time that two clubs from the same parish played each other in the SFC final. Ballinamuck 98’s lapsed for a period after 1927, but are reformed and back in competition by 1933 at Junior grade, cited as ‘Ballinamuck’ (no 98’s). Thereafter the club is referenced in published sources as either Ballinamuck 98’s or Ballinamuck. In February 1937 a listing of affiliated clubs in Longford included Ballinamuck 98’s and in reports later that year the club is cited as Ballinamuck 98’s. However most references in published sources after 1933 used Ballinamuck (no 98’s). The first fixture post the clubs return in 1933 was against Dromard in Junior competition in June 1933 and was the first game played at the new Gaelic Grounds at Kelliher Barracks, which was later developed into Pearse Park which was officially opened in 1937. That Ballinamuck v Dromard game took place ahead of the 1933 Fr. Lynch Cup final in which neighbours Drumlish beat Killoe to win the cup. The Ballinamuck club lapsed briefly again and was re-organised in 1937 at Junior grade. Among the games played that year was a Junior League with Ballinamuck vs Drumlish in March 1937 (Drumlish club had teams in both Senior and Junior, while Ballinamuck were Junior only at this point). Ballinamuck won the Junior Football Championship title in 1938 (medals presented in April 1940) with references in that years published reports to both Ballinamuck 98’s and Ballinamuck names. Thereafter the club lapsed (along with a number of other clubs) for some of the early WW2 years. Ballinamuck reformed again in 1943 and reached the Junior League final that year, beaten by Cashel in the decider. The club continued to compete in Junior competition until the end of the 1949 season and in November 1949 a report in the local newspaper noted that the lapsed Drumlish club and Ballinamuck may be combining forces for the upcoming 1950 season. Ballinamuck does not affiliate in 1950 (Drumlish do affiliate after lapsing for two years) and the next reference to the Ballinamuck club comes in December 1966 when the club is revived after a gap of 17 years ( Source), with club officials elected in January 1967 ( Source). Ballinamuck appeared in Junior fixtures from January 1967 ( Source), and was noted as ‘returned to the football scene’ in February 1967 ( Source). Initially described in local media as ‘reformed‘ or ‘returned‘ and initially cited as 98’s when announced in their club notes in January 1967, the club name appeared in fixtures and match reports from 1967 to 1969 as Ballinamuck. Reports in local media in early 1967 showed players transferring from neighbouring clubs (including Éire Óg and Dromard) to the reformed Ballinamuck club ahead of the start of competition that year. There is no published evidence of any change to the status of the Éire Óg club during that period, and the two clubs co-existed in the same parish from January 1967 to March 1969, just as both clubs had previously co-existed in the same parish from their respective formation in 1889 and 1890 until the end of 1949. Ballinamuck competed at Junior grade from 1967 until March 1969. At the start of the 1969 season, Ballinamuck had played Colmcille in the Junior League in February, and had just beaten Dromard 5-2 to 2-7 in Junior League on 9th March (fixture originally set for 23rd February). The fixtures showed Ballinamuck down to play Mullinalaghta in the next round of the Junior League on 23rd March 1969. However less than 10 days after the game with Dromard, the Ballinamuck and Éire Óg (Drumlish) clubs decided to unite to form the Fr. Manning Gaels club.
Fr. Manning Gaels was founded on 18th March 1969 when the Éire Óg and Ballinamuck clubs 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 fellow Junior club Mullinalaghta to compete in the 1973 Intermediate Championship and the combination made history by winning the IFC title that year. Fr. Manning Gaels then won the Junior Championship on their own in 1974 to gain promotion to Intermediate grade from 1975, and won the Intermediate Championship in 1975 to gain promotion to Senior grade thereafter. 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 found that the formation of the Fr. Manning Gaels club in 1969 was demonstrably the creation of a new club unit by uniting the clubs of Éire Óg (Drumlish) and Ballinamuck (and their officials) into a single new club unit. Reports of the time show two active clubs in the parish in the run up to March 1969 (Éire Óg competing in Senior & Junior and Ballinamuck competing in Junior) and the wider context showed both clubs having existed separately as competing clubs for half a century previously. When the Ballinamuck club was revived in 1967 after being inactive for 17 years, the Éire Óg club did not cease to exist, nor did it re-affiliate as a new or changed club. The Éire Óg club continued as before albeit with the loss of whatever players transferred to Ballinamuck. Had the 1969 formation of the Fr. Manning Gaels club been a simple renaming and re-absorption of players from Ballinamuck following a split, there would have been no announcement of the formation of a ‘new club’ in local media, no requirement to affiliate a club anew part way through an ongoing season in which both clubs were already involved in active competition, and there would be no need to affiliate that club 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 and the joining of players and officials from both clubs into a new combined unit which was affiliated at a different grade (Intermediate) to either of the clubs that formed it, and all happening in mid-season. More info on the context behind the formation of the club can be found on the GAA’s Oral History project at this link: GAA Oral History project
Postscript: The Fr. Manning Gaels club does not concur with our conclusion on this matter and asserts that Fr. Manning Gaels is simply a direct continuation of the Éire Óg club, renamed in 1969 following the return of players who had split from the club temporarily in 1967. However our research in 2014 and a detailed re-assessment of that research in 2021 (including assessment of inputs received from the club directly and via the County Board) arrived at the conclusions outlined further above, which we believe to be evidence-based and meet the standard for consistency in title allocations to club units. Hence we stand by our research and conclusion on this matter. Since submitting our re-assessment of this matter to Coiste Chontae An Longfort in May 2021, we have received no additional input on the matter from any of those involved. A detailed summary of our findings on the matter along with a copy of all communications with the club on the matter was supplied to the Coiste Chontae An Longfort to ensure maximum transparency. We encourage anyone with published evidence which conflicts with our above-stated position to please get in touch via the Contact section of this website. We ask that you do so professionally, courteously and without resorting to the shameful levels of abuse and character maligning used by a small number of elected club officials towards members of our volunteer research team.