The following is only a short summary of the history of Dundalk Young Irelands. Our Honorary Club President, Fr. John Mulligan S.M. published the history of the club “Dundalk Young Irelands – An Historical Record of the Green & Blacks” on 8th December, 2004. Fr. Mulligan S.M. has already published 2 books on the history of the GAA in Louth in 1984 and 2000.
Shortly after the inaugural congress, the first branch of the GAA in Louth, which concerned itself with playing football according to the rules of the new Association, was established in Dundalk by the Dundalk Young Ireland Society, itself founded on 10 th March, 1884. From this beginning, Dundalk Young Irelands now celebrate 120 years in existence.
The first Louth Championship was played in 1887 and it was fitting that Young Irelands were the first winners, beating Dowdallshill before 12,000 at McGeoughs field, Haggardstown. This win entitled Young Irelands to represent Louth in the inaugural All-Ireland Championship. Young Irelands subsequently went to the All-Ireland Final after wins over Ballyduff (Waterford) and Castlebridge (Wexford). The 1887 All-Ireland Final took place at Benburbs Grounds, Donnybrook, Dublin on 29 th April, 1888. Young Irelands were paired with Limerick (Commercials) who proved too strong, winning on a scoreline: Limerick (Commercials) 1-4 Louth (Young Irelands) 0-3. The Young Irelands team on this historic occasion was:
Edward Feely (goal), Pat Clarke, John Dowdall, Henry Fagan, Jack Connor, John McCrave, Pat McGuinness, Tom Murphy, Edward Murphy, Tom O’Rourke, William Whately, Arthur O’Hagan, Michael John Carroll (Capt.), Pat Morgan, Edward Goodman, John Maguire, Jim Keating, James Campbell, Pat McGinn, Peter Jackson, Tom Lavery. Reserve: Sam Keating. Arthur O’Hagan and Tom Lavery replaced Charles Mc Alester and Ned Mc Alester who did not play owing to the death of their uncle. Jim Keating was the first player to register a score in an All-Ireland Final.
Young Irelands followed the successful 1887 year and claimed back-to-back Louth Championships with a win over Dundalk John Dillons in 1888. When the first Senior League was competed for in 1903, Young Irelands were again the first winners. Indeed Young Irelands have currently amassed 8 Senior League (Cardinal O’Donnell Cup) wins the most memorable being the 4-in-a-row between 1938 and 1941. The most recent win was in 1978. Louth Senior Championships were won in 1905 and 1911 before the First World War and the Irish Civil War severely curtailed the activities of the club. It was not until the mid-thirties under the chairmanship of Larry McCrudden that Young Irelands revived their fortunes. This revival indeed led to Young Irelands best ever era with well known names like Larkin, Quigley, Carroll, Ross, Burns, Mac Artain, White and Cunningham helping the club to 6 Senior Championship wins in 1938 , 1940, 1941 , 1944, 1947 and 1950 . The club again had a remarkable achievement in 1950, winning both of Louth’s premier titles, the Senior and Junior Championship.
Louth Senior Champions in 1938
Unfortunately, the club went into another decline during the 50’s and 60’s. Many would feel that the main factor in the decline was the loss of the Athletic Grounds in 1959. In this respect, a great debt is owed to the Marist Fathers who provided their facilities to Young Irelands between 1960 and 1989. Thoughts of a contesting a Senior Championship Final were far from the minds of the group of Young Irelands stalwarts who got together in the mid sixties and decided that something would have to be done to revive the somewhat flagging fortunes of the club. Indeed it is probably fair to say that the group which included among others Charlie Connolly R.I.P., Sean Óg Flood, Jimmy Ross, Arthur Mc Donald R.I.P., Tommy Larkin R.I.P. and Larry Mc Crudden R.I.P. was more interested in putting a team on the field than on becoming world beaters overnight. They did however decide that if the “Irelands” were to scale the heights of previous years, a youth policy would be needed. The success of this policy, led by Louth’s 1957 All-Ireland winning goalkeeper and committed clubman Sean Óg Flood, can be gauged from the fact that Young Irelands again returned to the top table, winning the Junior Championship in 1977 , the Senior League (Cardinal O’Donnell Cup) in 1978 and the Louth Senior Championship in 1979
Louth Senior Champions in 1979
The Louth Senior Final was again contested in 1980, losing to Roche Emmets at Ardee. This indeed was Young Irelands last appearance in a Senior Final. In the 1980’s the committee set their sights on acquiring grounds that the club could truly call their own. This was achieved with the purchase of 7 acres at Upper Marches and following trojan work by a group that included among others, Fr. John Mulligan S.M., Cathal Mac Artain, Tommy Carroll and Michael Flood, the club played its first Senior League game at Pairc Eire Óg in 1989. Niall O’Callaghan (Bay Estate) was the first Young Irelands player to score a point at Upper Marches.
The move to Upper Marches led to an inevitable transition period among our juvenile ranks. Following relegation to Intermediate in 1990, Gerry Nixon and Jim Hande took over the managing of the premier team who were unlucky to fail twice in the Intermediate Finals of 1991 and 1993. This period also saw the opening of new dressing rooms and The club had to wait until 1996 before capturing the clubs first Intermediate Football Championship with a win over Naomh Fionnbarra at Castlebellingham. The team was managed by Enda Murray and captained by Kevin Gorham.
2001 After 2 seasons in Senior and 1 season in Intermediate, the team was relegated to Junior for 2001. They did enjoy a good first season in Junior, reaching the 2001 Junior Championship Final, losing to O’Raghallaigh’s.
2002 the renovated clubrooms were completed. This doubled the size of the original clubrooms and provided additional dressing rooms, storage and meeting rooms. During this time, the club also placed a lot of emphasis on the juvenile ranks with large numbers taking part in weekly coaching sessions in Pairc Eire Óg and Cluan Enda Green.
2003, our U14s won the league Division 1 league which was the clubs first Division 1 success in over 20 years. A new crest along with new leisure and playing gear was introduced in 2003.
2004. We celebrated the 120th anniversary of Dundalk Young Irelands (Click Here for Photos) when over 300 attended a Gala Dinner Dance in the Fairways Hotel on 29th October. There were also two other momentous events in the 120th anniversary year. On 1st December, the clubs new floodlights were switched on, and at a function in the Louth County Museum on 8th December, Fr. John Mulligan S.M. Honorary Club President published thehistory of the club “Dundalk Young Irelands – An Historical Record of the Green & Blacks”. This is a remarkable piece of work and a credit to Fr. John’s lifetime dedication to our club.
2005 Michael Heeney was the manager of our senior team this year, and while there was no silverware,overall the season was viewed positively as Young Irelands showed patches of returning to better days with more young players being introduced to adult football. The clubs drive to improve juvenile structures over the last number of years continued strongly during 2005 with wins in the U-18 “B” Championship for the first time, the U-16 Division 1 League and U-16 “A” Secondary Competition.
2006 the senior team came under the management of Patrick Conlon. His first year he captured the Macardle Cup for winning Division 3 Junior I League and the u-17s won the all-County blitz in November.
In addition the U-15s won All-County League Section B while the clubs nursery Seatown/Cluan Enda contested U-10 and U-12 Cumann Peil na nÓgs finals, winning the U-10 Championship. The U-16s also reached Division 1 League and “A” Championship Finals unfortunately losing out to Geraldine’s.
2007 will be remembered fondly in the clubs history as the seniors captured the Louth Junior Football Championship for the 4th time. Aaron Rogers captained a gallant Young Irelands in a 1.07 to 0.07 victory over St. Mochtas at Clan na Gael Park.
Unfortunately we failed to make it a remarkable double when a fancied minor team lost to Geraldine’s in the Minor Championship Final. This was the clubs first ever appearance in a Minor Championship Final and we had huge support in a sunny Dowdallshill for the curtain raiser to the Senior Final. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, however the seeds of optimism and work of recent years was paying dividend with plenty of young talented players moving up every year.
2010 The fruits of the juvenile successes were further seen when Aaron Rogers was again captain for the Intermediate Football Championship success over O’Raghallaighs at Ardee. This was the clubs second IFC success.
2011 seen the club battle to retain Senior Championship status, however relegated from Division 2 league. The clubs Junior team managed by Laurence O’Hanlon won the Division 4D League title against the Westerns in Ardee to a score of 1:16 to 2:08 the same Junior team also went on to win the Division 4 league plate against Cuchulan Geals.
2012 The latest stint in Division 3 was short-lived however as a playoff win over Naomh Fionnbarra ensured promotion back to Division 2 for 2013. On the same Autumn night in Darver, the U16s made it a double success winning the Division 1 League.
2013 will see the club compete in Intermediate Football Championship and Division 2 League. We also have solid juvenile teams and hope that the recent U16 success will lay the basis for that much sought after Holy Grail of the Minor Championship, the only county board championship that the club has yet to win in our remarkable history.
2014 The Junior team won the Division 4D League guided by player manager Micheal Shields beating the Geals 2:16 to 2:03. We also celebrated the 130th anniversary of Dundalk Young Irelands with a Gala Dinner Dance (click to see pictures) which was held in the Crown Plaza, Dundalk on 26th October.
2015. The senior teams season under the management of Pat Conlon started of in great fashion. After the first four to five games of the league the senior team where sitting pretty in the top two positions. The following half of the league was a different story. With the lose of a number of players to over seas and a large number of injury’s the senior team drifted down the table which resulted in them just about retaining their intermediate status. By the time the championship came around all momentum was lost and the senior team after a number of bad displays didnt make it out of the group stage.
2015 Senior Team Panel
The Junior team had a better run under the guidance of Michael Shields. In their first year in division 4C the Junior team reached the league final where they played a strong O’Connells team. They lost out on that day in the end losing by a couple of points. In the championship and with an under strength team the Junior team lost out to the O’Raghallaighs in the semi final in Drogheda. Paul McArdle made history that day by becoming the leading scorer in the over 45s category with a stunning goal from all of five yards out.
2015 Junior Championship Panel
The senior team came under the management of Ciaran Maguire despite the effort put in by the management team and players the team was regulated to Division Three .
“We are still Young Irelands, brave Young Irelands, Young Ireland Boys Hurrah”