History of the Club | Stair na gCumann (1943-2003)
St Mary's G.A.C., Ahoghill is a rural Gaelic Club situated in the heart of
South-West Antrim. The club fields teams in Senior and Reserve Football, Senior Hurling (playing as Cloney
Gaels), Camogie and Juvenile football and hurling (playing as Sean Stinsons - a team combined with Casements, Portglenone).
The club was formed in the height of the war years and in a very small parish
this was a remarkable achievement. The man who started it all was the parish
priest at that time Rev. Fr. Henry McGuigan who called a meeting to consider
the possibility of introducing Gaelic games to the area. The men who became the
founding fathers were present and Fr McGuigan also invited Sean Stinson, County Secretary and P.B. Laverty, South-West Chairman.
The idea of setting up a club was discussed and a committee formed. The
men elected were:
- President: Fr Henry McGuigan
- Chairman: Patrick McGarry Snr.
- Secretary: John Logan
- Treasurer: Samuel P Haveron
The club started with a set of sky-blue jerseys donated by Ballymena United
Football Club. Then in 1947 after contact with the County Board, Patrick
McGarry Snr. bid £300 for an area of ground and Ahoghill became the first
club in Antrim to purchase their own ground and vest in the G.A.A.
The club played in South-West Antrim for a number of years where they
eventually won every trophy available.
During the mid to late 1950s the club had probably its most successful period
winning many tournaments in Antrim and Derry and many "sevens"
competitions. Then in 1957 the minor team were narrowly beaten by Pearses
in the County final.
In 1964 Ahoghill achieved a significant breakthrough when they won their
first major trophy beating Dwyers in the Junior Championship Final at
The next important event in our history was the official opening of
Fr McGuigan Park after a major contract carried out by Jack Wilson. This
took place on 4th June 1972 and a full day of entertainment followed. The
naming of the park showed that the people of Ahoghill would never forget
Arguably the 1973 team was the best ever to represent the club. They reached
the semi-final of the Senior Championship where they lost to a Pat
Armstrong-inspired Rossa. On the way they defeated Cargin who went on to
win the Senior Championship in 1974.
Camogie has played a vital role in our club from the outset. In 1948 the Camogs won
the County Championship and in 1969 went one step further to win Ulster.
They were narrowly beaten by Ahane of Limerick in the All-Ireland semi-
final. Still, this was a remarkable achievement. After some lean years the
club recently went from Division Four to Division One in five seasons.
Hurling in the South-West has long been neglected although a few clubs
strive to keep it alive. In 1974 a hurling committee was set up and juvenile
and adult teams formed. The biggest success to date of the hurling team was
winning the Junior Championship against Ballymena in 1989 at Cushendall.
The team are currently playing in Division Three of the All-County Leagues.
Ahoghill fielded under-age teams with little success until 1978 when they
amalgamated with Portglenone to form a juvenile club which was named
after a man who gave a lifetime of service to the G.A.A. - Sean Stinson.
After a few lean years success followed and this culminated in the winning of
four County Minor Football titles in a row starting in 1995. The U-16 hurlers
have won two Division Two North Antrim League titles in recent years and
there is a lot of work being put into under-age hurling.
The Senior football team made another breakthrough in 1992 when, after
defeating St Paul's and Ardoyne, they met their arch rivals, Portglenone, in the
final of the Junior Championship at Rasharkin. They eventually broke down
the Portglenone resistance to win 0 - 9 to 0 - 5 and great celebrations
followed. The team are currently playing in Division Two of the All-County
2003 has been the biggest in the club's history as we officially
opened our new £200k changing-room complex, along with ground improvements (new fence and catch-nets). We
are also developing a second pitch and have recently obtained charitable
status which will bring us many benefits. I know of no other club in Ireland
to have attained this status. The future of St Mary's G.A.C., Ahoghill looks
Niall O'Loinn (Runaí 2003)