On The Rise 1900-1909

On The Rise 1900-1909

by Jackie Hyland 

The county board again lapsed in 1900 due no doubt to the controversies that maimed the closing years of the century. A benefit tournament at Killenarde on 10 March 1901 was the first green shoot of the new decade as far as the GAA in the county was concerned. A three match programme featured teams from Offaly, Laois and Kildare with Portarlington defeating Ballybrittas 0-7 to nil.

On 14 April a meeting was held in Abbeyleix to reorganise the county. The Leinster Council was set up 4 November 1901 with Ald. James Nowlan as President and Walter Hanrahan as secretary. Rathdowney continued their hurling dominance recording a three in a row 1901-03. Kilcotton however defeated them for the 1904 title on 18 March 1905 at Clough.

The same pair competed in the delayed 1905 final played 22 June 1906 at Ballacolla, again Kilcotton were champs. Enthusiasm for hurling was growing in the county eleven teams, Camross, Clough, Castletown, Ballacolla, Kilminchy, Rushall, Rathdowney, Ballinakill, Mountrath, Ballygeehan and Kilcotton entering the championship.

Kilcotton made it three in a row defeating Camross in their first final appearance 0-17 to 0-1 in the delayed 1906 final played at Ballacolla on 8 April 1907. On the football
scene Raheenabrogue captured the 1901 title victors over Abbeyleix. However Abbeyleix reversed the result to recapture the title for 1902 in the final played February 03.

Abbeyleix at the height of their powers retained the title for 1903 over final newcomers Stradbally in January 1904. Abbeyleix had a close shave in the 1904 to record their three in a row defeating The Heath 0-5 to 0-4 at Knock on 12 February 1905. Stradbally recorded their first of many football titles beating Raheenabrogue who had eliminated the champions Abbeyleix for the 1905 title 1-4 to 0-3 on 21 January 1906.

Details of the officers of the board for the early 1900's are scant . Mr M Kelly Abbeyleix being President in 1904 while Mr. J. Lalor Raheenabrogue was secretary in 1903. By 1906 Rev J. Byrne CC Mountrath was President of the board. In 1906 twenty four clubs had affiliated to the board, by 1907/8 the number had risen to forty one.

In the 1906 football final Raheenabrogue beat Maryborough 1-3 to 0-4 after a replay. Following an objection Maryborough was awarded the title. Raheenabrogue are listed in the records as champions but the evidence suggests that Maryborough are entitled to the honour. No Leinster Council minutes survive to confirm or deny an appeal against the County Board.

The 1907 convention was held at Mountrath on 12 May and elected Rev. W. Wilson CC Mountrath, President, Rev. J. Kearney CC Maryborough Vice President, T. Phelan Camross Treasurer, and John Drennan Ballacolla Secretary.

At this convention it was decided to grade the senior championships into two Divisions I and II . Clubs could opt for either division in senior hurling, 21 entered and all elected to play in Division I. In football 19 teams entered and the draw resulted as follows

Division I : The Hollow V Rathdowney, Stradbally V Knock, O'Moore's Forest V Cloneagh, Raheenabrogue V Wolfhill, Derrykearn V Maryborough, Raheen a bye.

Division II : Cromogue V Clough, Mountmellick V Portarlington, Killenard V Mountrath, Durrow (1906 JF Champs) V Abbeyleix. In the 1907 SF Championship Rathdowney eliminated Stradbally following an objection but lost to Maryborough in the final played in 1908. The title of the board changed from Queens County in 1906 to Leix and Ossory in 1907.

In 1905 the Junior hurling championship was initiated to be followed by Junior football in 1906. In Junior hurling Kilcotton 1905 Borris-in-Ossory 1906, Rathdowney 1907, Kilcotton 1908 and Ballacolla 1909 won titles in the decade. In Junior football Durrow 1906, Ballyroan 1907, Maryborough 1908 and Ballybrittas 1909 recorded titles
wins, Ballybrittas beating Vicarstown 0-10 to 0-01 on 10 April 1910 at Stradbally. In the first Division II football decider or as it became known, the middle grade Killenard
beat neighbours Portarlington by a point at Killenard on 12 April 1908. Abbeyleix 1908 and Ballyroan 1909 also won football titles in this grade. Rathdowney took senior hurling honours for 1908 and Abbeyleix did the Division I double by winning the hurling title.

In the delayed 1909 senior hurling decider Kilcotton returned to the top beating a rising Clonaslee team by a point 2-10 to 4-03 in early 1910. Cullohill won their first hurling honours claiming the Division II title for 1909. The Leix and Ossory Schools leagues continued to prosper under the stewardship of President Fr. J Kearney CC Treasurer Thomas O'Dunne Mountrath and Secretary Robert O'Keefe Borris- in-Ossory.

Apparently there was two grades Senior Minor U-18 and Junior Minor U-15. In hurling
1907-'08 Mountrath were winners. The schools convention was held on 24 May 1908 and the football draw resulted Durrow v Portarlington, Raheen v Maryborough, Ballyroan v Heath, Mountrath v Emo, Mountmellick a bye. Raheen 1908 Maryborough 1909 won the senior honours with Emo 1908 taking junior schools football titles.

At intercounty level during the decade Leix and Ossary or Leix as the county was termed from mid decade on, was defeated three times by Kilkenny in football. After a particularly heavy defeat by Louth 2-18 to 0-04 in the 1906 championship played at Jones Road on 14 April 1907 the county decided to contest the new Division II grade for 1907.

In the semi-final at Athy on 4 October Leix beat Carlow 0-10 to 0-05. In the delayed final at Athlone on 7 June 1908 Leix defeated Westmeath 2-11 to 0-05 to take
the gold medals.


The team to bring the first Leinster Championship medals to the county was; Joe Kenny, Pat Scully, Joe Downey, R. Booth, J. Booth, R. Broomfield, B. Bannon, John
Brady (Maryborough), Jos Delaney, John Tynan, James Tynan, E. Tarrant (Derrykearn), Andrew Carroll, Partick Mulhall (Raheenabrogue), John Delaney, M. McLoughlin (Stradbally) and T. Kenna (Killenard). Listed as a junior championship in the records the writer is of the opinion that the grade was more akin to the new Division II as being run within the county. This was the county's best selection. No minutes exist to prove or disprove this hypothesis.

In 1906 the athletics divide that had festered in the early years of the association again errupted. The I.A.A.A and the I.C.A. were considered sympathetic to the loyalist cause. The ban had been reintroduced in 1905 and the more Nationalistic association banned players from competing under the I.A.A.A banner.

As had become commonplace the 1908 senior football championship ran late. Portarlington had eliminated the holders Maryborough and qualified for the final against Stradbally who had an easy victory 1-13 to 0-3 on 13 April 1909. Around this time a football league was introduced.

With Stradbally in command on top of the table there is no record of it being completed. The 1909 championship was marred in controversy because of the athletics divide. Stradbally the champions had beaten O'Moore's Forest and then Rathdowney. Rathdowney however objected on the basis that Stradbally had infringed under the athletics ban competing under the I.A.A.A banner. The board upheld
the objection and Stradbally were expelled. Abbeyleix went on to claim the senior football title.

On the intercounty hurling scene Leix was on the rise towards the end of the decade. They won the 1908/9 Dr. Croke Cup and medals though losing heavily 5-16 to 2-7
in the Leinster final to Kilkenny later All Ireland winners, on 3 October. In the Croke cup campaign, Leix defeated Galway 1-18 to 0-6 on 30 August in Athlone. In the final
in the Market field Limerick on 1 December 1901 Leix had four points to spare over Kerry 3-11 to 3-7.

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