Trim GAA – A short history – 1897 to 2011
Although the GAA had been founded in 1884, official playing activity was slow to get going in the Trim area.
In the 1897 junior football championship two teams from the area were in the draw. Breemount Inishfails were drawn to play Ardcath and Newtown Round Towers were drawn to play Dunshaughlin. Newtown went on to win this competition and then had to play Owen Roes of Drogheda in the senior final. However, they lost this match and Owen Roes went on to represent Meath in the All-Ireland Championship.
1900 to 1905.
In the 1902-05 period, the town of Trim had a team called John Mitchels which would appear to be a junior club. Some of their players played with the South Meath (Kilmessan) team at senior level. South Meath won the senior football championship in 1903.
1906 to 1908.
By 1906 it would appear that all the clubs in the area amalgamated and a new club called Trim Clann na Gaels was formed. This club was very successful at senior football level reaching the county final in both 1906 and 1908. On both occasions Trim were beaten by Castletown who were the big power in Meath football at that time. Clann na Gaels also fielded in hurling and on the 13th May 1906 played their first senior hurling game against Athboy. It was to prove a disappointing debut as they lost by 3-4 to 1-2.
The early playing fields.
Records show that in this era there were two official GAA playing grounds in the Trim area. They were Newtown Park and Shanlothe Ground.
Newtown Park, also known as the ‘hockey field’ as it was also the venue for hockey matches at the time was located down Rathnally lane. This pitch was the home of Newtown Round Towers but evidence has it that Trim John Mitchells also played some of their home games there.
Shanlothe Ground was the home of Trim John Mitchell’s and later Trim Clan Na Gaels. The Shanlothe Pitch was located just outside the town on the Summerhill road. Cricket was also played on this pitch at this time.
Football in decline after 1908 – Defections to Bohermeen Geraldines.
Trim football went into a sharp decline after the 1908 county final loss. In a game played in late 1908, Trim players got into trouble with the referee and he abandoned the game. When the referee’s report was dealt with Trim were suspended for six months. They did not field in 1909 and their best players joined Bohermeen Geraldines with whom they won six senior football championships in a row. These players were Jack Keegan, Matt Ward, Jack Shaw, Charlie and Dick Matthews, William Fay, Jack Kealy and Mossy O’Keeffe. These were some of the best players in Meath at the time. The two Matthews, Ward and Shaw were regulars on the Meath senior football team.
New club, Trim Abbey Harps founded.
Clann na Gaels were disbanded and in 1910 Trim Abbey Harps was founded. They fielded in senior and junior hurling and in junior football. The hurling team was captained by Jack Keegan and the football by Charlie Matthews. The new club played their first senior hurling championship match in April, 1911. Their opponents were Kilmessan. The Trim novices were beaten by 4-2 to 1-0 which was played at Robinstown. The Trim junior football team did well in its first year, reaching the junior league final which they lost to Kells Stars by 3-2 to 1-1.
The rise of hurling.
In the succeeding years, the Trim hurlers continued to improve and in June, 1914, Trim recorded their first win over Kilmessan on a scoreline of 4-0 to 3-2. Later in that year, they contested their first senior hurling final losing to a strong Dunboyne team by 2-7 to 3-0. They went one better in 1915 and in that year’s senior hurling final played in January 1916, they beat Dunboyne by 6-0 to 1-3. This team included John and Joe Kelly from Laracor, John and Michael Giles, Jack Keegan, Thomas Egan, James Reynolds and Mick Hynes. Trim retained the championship in 1916, beating Dunshaughlin by 7-4 to 6-4. The 1917 championship was declared null and void and Killyon won the 1918 championship but Trim were back to record a three-in-a-row in 1919, 1920 and 1921. They also won the junior hurling championship in 1918 and 1919 and reached the 1920 junior football final, losing to Martry by 3-0 to 0-2. The three-in-a-row team featured many of the stalwarts of the 1915-1916 period with the addition of Mick Keogh, Dinny Maher and Paddy (Poultice) Kelly. Mick Keogh (a Kilkenny man) was one of Trim’s best ever hurlers. He continued playing up to the mid 1930’s and trained many winning minor hurling teams up to the early 1950’s.
Trims Fair Green.
In 1914 the club moved their playing field closer to the town centre. The venue was called The Fair Green. This pitch was to become the Mecca of Trim GAA club for the following 22 years. The Fair Green was situated behind the Wellington Monument on the site of the present Torc and Trimproof factories. The pitch ran adjacent to the New Haggard Road with one goal close to the Summerhill road and the other goal across from the St Patrick’s Park Junction on the New Haggard road. This ground was owned by the Trim Urban Council who rented to the GAA club for a substantial sum, given the time that was in it. This ground was also the location for the town livestock markets and fairs.
Significant people early on.
Significant people in the club during this time were Laurence Malone (LM) Sheridan, Frank Devey, James Reynolds and Matt Ward. In 1906 Sheridan was the driving force behind setting up the Trim Clan Na Gael club. Devey was their first ever team captain in 1906 and also held the position of club chairman that year. Reynolds was Trim’s first ever hurler to play for Meath in 1908. He was also a significant member of the hurling championship winning teams of 1915 and 1916. After retiring from playing he held various positions in the club and in 1920 was elected chairman of the Meath county committee. Ward, from Larcor, was arguably the most outstanding footballer in South Meath from the end of the 19th. Century up to 1914. Having played for South Meath in the early noughties he then went on to play for Trim John Mitchells and Clan Na Gael and was the first ever Trim player to play football for Meath. He then transferred to Bohermeen Geraldines in 1909 and was a key player in their six senior football championship wins from 1909 to 1914.
Barren period in the late 20’s and early 30’s.
Trim had a very barren period between 1922 and 1934. The only bright spot was the winning of the 1924 junior hurling championship. The star men on this team were: Jimmy Griffin (later to be a T.D.), Wally Carter, Paddy Colgan, Bill Anderson, Pat Kane, Jack Halpin and Phil (“The Gael”) McArdle. Griffin was a member of the Meath Junior hurling team of 1927 that won the All Ireland junior hurling championship.
Success again in football and hurling in the mid 30’s.
Trim won the junior football championship in 1934. They beat Oldcastle by 0-5 to 0-2 and the star men were Paddy O’Dare, Jack Kennedy and Paddy Yore. They also reached the senior hurling final where they lost to Kilmessan by 8-5 to 3-5. This was a creditable performance as it was against arguably Kilmessan’s strongest ever team powered by the three Donnellys, “Red”, “Bear” and Tony and the two Loughrans, Joe and “Bosco”. They also had the services of legendary Cork player, Jim Hurley who had played against Kilkenny in the three finals of 1931. Trim had a very successful year in 1935, winning the O’Growney Cup by beating Dunboyne by 8-6 to 5-1 and winning the senior hurling championship with an unexpected win over Kilmessan by 0-7 to 1-1. The stars of this win were Joe Fitzsimons, Matt Ward, Bill Kelly, Paddy Yore and Mick Leonard.
Medals abound in around 1940.
Trim were out of the honours list until they recorded a three-in-a-row in 1940, 1941 and 1942. They also won the junior football championship in 1940. The 1940 hurling win was a huge shock. It was against Kilmessan who had been the dominant force since 1935. The fact that the game was played in Kilmessan made the win all the more surprising. It was a very tempestuous game with referee, Ned Giles, struggling to keep control. It is to their credit that a young Trim team won this match on a score-line of 5-4 to 4-4. The youthful Jim Keogh had a marvellous match for Trim. Trim beat Ardcath by 3-8 to 1-6 to win the 1940 junior football championship. Tom Cully at full-back, Paddy Yore, Paddy O’Dare and Paddy Reilly were the outstanding performers on the day. Trim won the senior hurling again in 1941, beating Kilmessan by 4-2 to 2-3. Recent minors, Jim Fay, Ollie O’Reilly and George Caffrey, played major players in the win. Trim completed the three-in-a-row in 1942 by beating Oberstown by 5-4 to 2-0. The star of this final was Bill Kelly who scored two goals and three points. Trim had another fallow period from 1943 to 1948 when Kilmessan won six titles in a row.
The demise of the Fair Green.
On Sunday 23rd. August 1936, the Trim club reached the end of a particular era by playing their final two games on the Fair Green. They were a senior hurling between Trim and Longwood, and a Camogie game between Trim and Kentstown. Trim won both games. The club moved to temporary grounds on the Dublin road, Egan’s field. In 1938, after a lot of negotiation, they were awarded nine acres of ground by the land commission at Manorland. In 1939 a concrete wall was built around the perimeter of the pitch. This was to be the final home of Trim GAA club.
1949 to 1960 – 12 years of great success.
From 1949 to 1960, Trim won eight senior hurling championships. They won the intermediate football championship in 1949 and reached the senior football championship final in 1953 where they were beaten by Navan O’Mahonys. The hurling championships were won in 1949, 1950, 1952, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1959 and 1960. The prominent players in this era were Ollie O’Reilly (winner of eleven senior hurling championship medals), Jim Fay (winner of ten senior hurling championship medals), Sonny, George and Frank Kelly, Peter Darby, Mickey Lenihan, Michael and Jim Keogh and Joe Melia.
Senior football success in the 60’s and 70’s while hurling struggled.
Trim had their longest barren spell in hurling in the period 1961 to 1986 when no senior hurling championship was won. Indeed, in the 1960’s, the emphasis was on football. Trim won the Feis Cup football title in 1961, beating St. Vincent’s Ardcath. Later that year, they narrowly lost the senior football championship final to Navan O’Mahonys. In 1962, Trim their only senior football championship title by beating Ballinlough. In 1967 Trim man Peter Darby captained Meath to an all Ireland Senior football title. Although adult football and hurling declined in the second half of the 60’s, Trim enjoyed a very successful period at under-age level.
Minor football championships were won in 1967, 1968 and 1972. Minor hurling championships were won in 1965 and 1968 and the U21 hurling championship was won in 1971. In spite of this, the only highlights of the next decade were a Feis Cup football win in 1976 over Ballivor and two unsuccessful semi-final appearances in the senior football championship in 1971 (against Kilbride) and in 1978 (against Summerhill). The junior footballers flew the flag of victory in 1978 by winning the division 2 football league. In 1970 the adult hurling team stepped down to intermediate grade but returned to the senior grade in 1974 after winning the 1973 intermediate hurling championship. At intercounty level brothers Mickey and Jimmy Fay were members of the Meath team of 1970 that was beaten by Kerry in the All Ireland senior football final. Mickey scored ten points in that final.
The 80’s and the resurgence of hurling as a force in Meath.
Fortunes changed for the better in the 1980’s. Following minor hurling wins in 1983 and 1984, and unsuccessful semi-finals in 1985 (versus Killyon) and 1986 (versus Athboy), Trim reached their first senior hurling final since 1960 where they met Athboy in 1987. Trim triumphed in a low-scoring game and went on to complete a three-in-a-row by beating Kildalkey in 1988 and Kilmessan in 1989. The senior footballers failed to impress during the 80’s. The only football highlight of this era was the winning of All Ireland senior football medals by brothers Kevin and Frank Foley for Meath in 1987 and 1988. Kevin again played on the Meath team of 1991 that was beaten by Down in the All Ireland final. He entered GAA folklore earlier that year by scoring the famous goal against Dublin in the last of the ‘four in a row’ Leinster championship games.
The 90’s – Very succedssful in Hurling and strong in Football.
The period from 1991 to 2006 was very successful in hurling and relatively successful in football. Four senior hurling titles were won when Kilmessan were beaten in the finals of 1992, 1994, 1995 and 1998. In 2000 a bloodless victory was gained when Kilmessan did not field for the county final and in 2001 Trim beat Dunderry after a final replay. After flirting with hurling relegation in 2002 and losing in the semi-final in 2003 to Dunboyne they were beaten by Kilmessan in the 2004 senior hurling final.
In football four junior football titles were won. In 1991 a Division 2 junior football championship, in 1996 a B football league, in 1998 a junior B football championship and in 2006 a B football league. The senior footballers reached and were beaten in the county finals of 1997 and 2002. They were beaten in county semi finals in 1994, 2000, 2003, 2004 and 2005 and beaten in a quarter final in 2006. A division 2 football A league was won in 2003. Suffice to say, a senior football championship eluded the club in what was there most successful period of adult football.
All Ireland football medals galore in the 90’s.
At representative level Darren Fay won All Ireland senior football medals with Meath in 1996 and 1999. He won All Star awards in 1996, 1999 and 2001 and in 1998 played for Ireland against Australia in the International Compromise Rules Competition. Joe Tighe and Brendan Murphy won all Ireland minor football medals with Meath in 1992.
Preparing for the future.
With the club heading for the 21st century and ever increasing in size it was felt that the playing facilities needed to be upgraded. In 1996 seventeen acres of land adjoining the existing grounds was purchased. With the procurement of the land in 1998 work commenced on the new pitches in 1999 and were opened for play in 2002. In 2007 flood lights were erected on one of the new pitches which permitted night games in football and hurling to be played.
Side by side with the pitch development were extensive discussions with Meath County Council in relation to the building of a community centre and dressing rooms on the juvenile pitch. This was to be a joint venture. The GAA club would donate the necessary ground for the Centre, free of charge, in return for getting dressing rooms built on one end of the Centre. This venture did not reach fruition as public and private funding was not available. The club continued on with the existing facilities and the three playing pitches. In the mid noughties negotiations with Meath County Council came to a head with the decision that the club would donate a strip of land from the entrance gate up to the dressing room to the Council for the building of the Community Centre and other Community facilities. The club would also build a clubhouse at the South West end of the main pitch strategically placed to look over all of the three pitches.
Towards the end of 2008 the dressing rooms were opened in the new club house. In 2009 the clubhouse was completed. The entrance foyer is a magnificent two storey naturally lit glass structure, with stairway and a lift up to a Lounge bar, a conference hall and a function room (bingo, bowling, club functions etc). Downstairs consists of a sports hall, a large meeting room, a small meeting room and an office. Facing the main pitch are six large dressing rooms, each with showers and toilet facilities and two equipment rooms. In May 2010 the main pitch was reopened (after two years of excavation) with steel surround fencing and team dug-outs. The ground surrounding the clubhouse and the relocated entrance has a tarmaced surface with parking facilities for 200 vehicles.
So, this present day Executive Committee have delivered what is one of the finest sporting facilities in the country and a solid foundation for the club for many years to come.