The History of Kilnadeema/ Leitrim Hurling Club
When researching both Kilnadeema and Leitrim hurling club history, it is noteworthy that both clubs are among the oldest in the County with records showing involvement from the very start of the association in 1884. Peter Kelly of Kilnadeema in fact was involved in the very first meeting to set up the association in 1889. He Later became the GAA’s third President succeeding E.M Bennett in 1889 and stayed in the position until 1895. The honour brought on Peter Kelly is still very much felt by the Kelly family in Grange Park and further a field today.
Peter Kelly President of GAA 1889-’95
August 1st 1908 reported a collection named “the Kelly testimonial”. The Testimonial was to honour Peter J Kelly of Kilnadeema who died on April 18th 1908 aged 61 years. He had been President of the GAA from Jan 23rd 1989 when he succeeded E.M Bennett, the second President until 7th April 1895. Peter was a Fenian and suffered much imprisonment for his Political stance. A tribute to his great popularity was that in a short period of time from April to August, over £500 was contributed to the testimonial, more from the United League than the GAA. The honour of been the only President of the GAA from Galway stood with Peter for over 100 years until Joe McDonagh was elected in 1997. Joe was coincidentally officially nominated to run for the Presidency at the County board convention in 1996 by his Grandson Anthony. He had stated many times since that day how honoured he was to have succeeded Peter Kelly. The Kelly family has always been associated with the club with Anthony filling the roll of delegate for many years.
On the hurling fields both clubs got involved very early with records showing Leitrim playing in a competitive tournament in Ardrahan in 1886. Having achieved the clubs dream of senior status in 1999, it is worth noting that both clubs competed successfully at senior level in the past with Kilnadeema coming very close to the ultimate dream of winning a senior title in 1908 when the records show they lost by 15 pts to 2pts to Kilconieron. The final was played in Loughrea along with the Football final in 1909. Kilnadeema continued to be a force at senior level for a few further years before emigration hit and they slipped back down to Junior level. and stayed their for many years never again reaching the heights of 1908 until they re emerged in the early 80’s. Leitrim continued to improve though and went on to play senior for many years. In 1924 they had a major success when they won the junior championship of 1923 defeating Kilmacdough 2-3 to 1-2.
Kilnadeema and Leitrim were regularly meeting in games at this time with many a heated battle taking place. Leitrim reached another final in 1930 only to lose to Craughwell 7-4 to 1-5. A few players from both clubs appeared with the county team around this time with Mick Connaire of Kilnadeema playing in the 1925 All Ireland senior final against Tipperary along side Jack Fallon of Leitrim. Leitrim’s most famous player at the time was Tom (Cox) Tierney and he was the captain of the Galway Junior team of 1928 which lost to Meath in the final. J.J Darcy of Leitrim played in the 1931 Minor final against Kilkenny.
Ton (Cox) Tierney
We now move on to the 50’s and 60’s, Leitrim’s most famous period when they had a wonderful team which won the Junior championship 3 years in a row 1954, 55, 56 defeating Killimor in the first two finals and Eyrecoart in 1956. The team of ’56 progressed to the senior final but sadly came up against the great Turloughmore 6 in a row side. Kilnadeema had notable Junior teams in the 60’s which never got their rewards. School’s hurling was getting very strong in both parish’s in this period with Kilnadeema winning 2 7-a-side title in 1967-68, and Leitrim winning back to back titles in 1968-69. In the late 60’s and early seventies Kilnadeema found it very hard to field a Junior team and a lot of their players moved to play with Leitrim, Loughrea and Kilconieron.
Leitrim Junior champions 1954/55/56
Back Row: Patrick Lyons RIP, Betty Moore/Kenny, Tom (Cox) Tierney, RIP, Tom Healy, Mick Kenny, Johnny Robinson, Sean Flannery,
Mick Kennedy, Kieran Flannery, Edward Kenny RIP, Jerome Tierney, Jackie Kenny and Ned Shiel RIP. Front Row: John Lyons, Henry
Molloy, Brendan Loughnane, Padden Downey, Frank Loughnane, Tom Loughnane, Tomsie Kinsella, Vincent Melody, Brendan Flannery,,
and Paddy Conway RIP.
Leitrim/Kilnadeema first joining 1975
Leitrim and Kilnadeema decided to join up at all levels in 1975 and played at Intermediate level without much success. The under age structure in the club was very good and this was most evident at Under-16 level when the club won three titles in 4 years .Even though the future looked bright this did not run right through the club and the clubs went their separate ways in 1981. both clubs competed at Junior level and it was not long before both had county final success with both clubs winning the junior B title. Kilnadeema added the Under-21 title in 1985 before the inevitable happened in 1988 when both clubs meet in the Junior A final in Loughrea. Kilnadeema were successful that day but it was not long before the A title also came to Leitrim.
Kilnadeema/Leitrim’s second joining 1995
Kilnadeema/Leitrim Committee 1996
Back Row Left to Right. Paul Kennedy, Joe Keane, Seamus O’Grady (RIP), Michael Flanagan, Gerry Donoghue, Joe Kenny,
Front Row. John Carroll, Francis Kenny, Vinnie Flynn (RIP) Sean Flannery, Padraig Winters (RIP)
With a lot of the underage players in both clubs playing together at school’s level and at Football level it was always on the cards that they might one day want to play together in Hurling as well and so with the help of the late Vinnie Flynn RIP they formed a minor team in 1995 and went on to win the B title against Kilconieron. This success eventually lead to the club rejoining at all level again in December 1995. The adult team were placed in the Intermediate grade and after a lot of hard work the greatest day in the clubs history arrived in 1999 when they defeated Kiltormer to take the Intermediate title and the chance to play senior for the first time ever.
Kilnadeema/Leitrim found the going very difficult at senior level for the first few years surviving relegation a few times before 2003 arrived and a wonderful year finishing with defeat by near neighbours Loughrea in the county semi-final. Kilnadeema/Leitrim had certainly arrived. Sadly it was not to continue as 2004 was very disappointing and relegation the outcome at the end. The club are building for the future with some very bright young players and this was obvious in 2001 when the Under-16 championship was claimed at the expense of Athenry. Those players are now the future of the club and the hope that they can return to senior hurling very soon.
Kilnadeema/Leitrim club moved on to new highs in the first decade of the twenty first century when there under age system really came of age after many hours of hard work put in by many people really began to pay off. It all started off in 2001 when the Under 16 A 1 title was won against Athenry. A new bunch of players were coming together at this time and in 2007 a very important Under 14 B title was won against Killimor Year later a second Under 16 title of the decade was added with victory over Liam Mellows before the real highlight of the decade arrived in 2009 with the Under 14A and Feile Na nGeal title against both Liam Mellows and St Thomas. This was a super achievement for the club. The future looks very good with this crop of players coming on board.