The Parish of Clonard representing the townlands of Ballymorris, Clonard Great and Little, Coolree, Killeens, Laurstown, Newtown (Forth by), Whitemill South and North, Ballnagee, Forth Commons, Larkinstown and Newbay is represented by Clonard GAA club. The club crest reflects the meaning of the word Clonard – ‘An Chluain Árd’ the high meadow as well as a church steeple to reflect the view from the meadowlands of Clonard. The church steeple also reflects the origins of the club in the parish and perhaps a nod to one of its founders Fr. Lory Kehoe and its past history as Our Lady’s. The church steeple has also been interpreted as a windmill perhaps a reference to the seventeen windmills that were mapped in the now parish of Clonard in the early 1800s.
The club has its beginnings as mentioned as a result of Fr. Lory Kehoe’s efforts in 1986 to have a GAA club to represent the parish. Fr. Lory Kehoe a man steeped in the tradition of the GAA, whose father Michael was a past president of the GAA from 1949-1952, called a meeting of parish members who might be willing to set up a club in the parish. Thus these beginnings resulted in thirty-one adults and eleven juveniles attending the first general meeting of Clonard GAA club on January 29th 1987. The annual general meeting of Clonard GAA club at the end of 1987 almost twelve months after the foundation of the club records a total of 46 adult players representing the club in eighteen games and 169 under age players (including 42 u10s) playing in sixty-eight games. The team managers from u10 to adult level included John Roche, Joe Brennan, Michael Lyng, Donal Littleton, Larry Brennan, John Quigley, Eamonn Moore, Brendan Smith and Charlie Doyle.
Clonard GAA club has its origins in Our Lady’s of Clonard GAA club which represented the parish from 1978 to 1986 and thus in many ways Clonard GAA club can be seen as a rebirth or reforming of the club. The role Our Lady’s of Clonard played in the birth and continuation of Clonard GAA club cannot be under estimated with Joe Brennan a “prime mover” in the forming of Our Lady’s. The founding members of Our Lady’s in 1978 included Fr. Dan Nolan (President), Fr Pat Cummins (Vice-President), Joe Brennan (Chairman), Tom Morris (Secretary), Seamus Mooney (PRO), Liam Murphy (Treasurer), Brendan Benson, Brendan Corcoran, Liam Butler, Paddy Malone, Garry Doyle, Nicky Walsh and Sean Furlong. Our Lady’s was a winner of a Club of the Year award in a national competition run by the GAA in 1981, winners of the Slaney Festival in 1983 and won Wexford’s first ever All-Ireland Feile title in under-age Hurling in 1985 as well as an underage roinn 2 hurling championship in 1985. Whether you take 1978 or 1987 as the beginning Clonard GAA club, the only club in the town at that time to offer both hurling and football to its members as well as representing the parish with the largest population was up and going.
From starting with a football team in 1987 Clonard GAA club debuted an adult hurling team in 1988 with a victory over a Glynn-Barntown team in the Junior B grade in their first game. In 1990 the Clonard adult football team “surprised a lot of people by winning the Loch Garman Cup, defeating the favourites, Dan O’Connells” as well as winning the Junior B hurling league with John Quigley scoring seven points. As a note Matty Bierney was one of four players to make both teams. In 1993 the adult hurling team won the Wexford District championship at Junior B grade thus qualifying the club for the County final. However the club had to wait until 1994 for success with the team winning the championship after a successive District title was won. Brendan Benson, the manager was supported by trainer Nicky Broaders and co-selectors Brendan Murphy and Michael McMahon of Kennedy Park. This first ever adult championship for the club was according to The People newspaper earned by a “clearcut victory over Geraldine O’Hanrahans”. The adult football team reached the final of the County championship in 1996 with the efforts of Olly Gogarty as coach making a significant contribution. Unfortunately, the loss in the County final was followed by a loss in the Division 2 league final. In 1999 the Junior Football team won the Wexford District championship and in 2000 the Junior A hurlers reached the league final and gained promotion. The year 2001 was beyond doubt a significant year in the history of the club with the football team winning their first Junior A championship by defeating Sarsfields. The victors were managed by Mick McMahon of Monaghan who was assisted by selectors Matty Bierney and Sean Gregg as well as trainer John Hegarty. The team was deservedly captained by Olly Gogarty who previously represented Meath. Victory on the day can in no small part be credited to ten points scored by Ross Dunphy as well as goals by Tommy Hynes and Shane Keogh. The club can also look at 2010 as a year of great success. The Junior football team under the guidance of Liam Bent, Colin Bent, Franny Byrne and Paul Fox achieved promotion to the Intermediate ranks. Furthermore, this same panel of players captained by Conor Doyle achieved league success with promotion to Premier C.
The history of the club should acknowledge the contribution of all players and at all levels to the present day standing of the club. However, it would be remiss not acknowledge the members of the club who have represented the county due to their talent and application. A minor level Tim McGrath, Karl Smith, Mark O’Connor, Anthony Cleary, Graham McCarty, Barry Redmond, Ross Dunphy, Eoin Quigley and Andrew Lehane have represented the club. At adult level Ross Dunphy, Barry Redmond, Graham Carty, Rory Quivalan, have all made the club proud. Players who have represented the county with distinction at senior level who had previously represented the club at underage level included the aforementioned Eoin Quigley as well as Diarmuid Lyng and Ciaran Lyng. In addition, John Quigley, Mattie Bierney, John Nolan of Pinewood and Fr Tommy Brennan had represented the county prior to their membership of the club. John and Liam Nolan of Carlow also represented their home county as well as Olly Gogarty representing his native Meath.
A focus of the club since its inceptions has been Coiste na nOg with Michael Lyng explaining that “all youngsters should be given the chance to play … that’s what we try to do at Clonard”. The clubs efforts in promoting hurling and football to the youth of the parish has on many occasions paid dividends. In 1991 the u12 football team won the premier football championships beating Naomh Eanna in the final. A victory that was richly deserved with three County finals lost the previous year. The nucleus of this u12 team was to be responsible for much of the underage success of the club in the nineties. Thus in 1993 the u14 team won the roinn 1 County championship and the roinn 2 hurling championship with the u12 hurling team losing in the County final. In 1994 the juvenile hurling team reached and won the roinn 2 championship final. In 1995 Clonard won the minor football in roinn 1 with a victory over Castletown and won the premier juvenile championship with a victory over Naomh Eanna. In 1996 the club reached county finals in the u14 football and u16 hurling in roinn 1 beating HWH-Bunclody in the football but unfortunately losing to St. Martins in the hurling. In 1998 the u11 ground hurling team were successful in winning the division 4 championship captained by Joseph Sheehan. In 1999 the minor football team won the Peter O’Loughlin Cup while the u14 team were roinn 1 football finalists. In 2001 the u12s won both the Wexford District hurling and football titles as well as going close in both codes to winning the county titles. In 2002 the u16 footballers reached the county final in roinn 2. In 2003 the u10s competed in the Brendan Redmond Memorial Cup Final. In 2004, 2005 and 2006 the club u10s footballers won their division cup. In addition in 2004 the club ran its first ‘SummerSkills’ camp. As a note, in 2004 Dylan Carty won the sports star of the year award at u12 in both hurling and football. In addition, he was to win the football ward again in 2005 with Lee Elston winning the football award at u14. Dylan ands Lee were again to pick up sports star awards in 2006. In 2005 the club U12 and U14 footballers competed in their respective county finals although success was not achieved. However the u12s were successful in the Autumn Cup that year. In 2006 the u14 footballers were defeated in the County final while 2009 saw the u10s again achieve honours in the Kent Cup. In 2010 the same year u10s again achieved Kent Cup success as well as the u14s footballers wining their County final at division 3. In 2012 the u16 footballers won their county final with the u10s winning the Kent Cup. The u16s also competed in their County hurling final as well as the minors in their football final. The u12 and u16 footballers reached their respective county finals in 2014 with the u10s losing out in the Kent Cup. The contribution of local schools to the club and vice versa must be noted in any outline of the clubs development. For example, Scoil Mhuire contested and won Rackard league finals in hurling and football under the guidance of Liam Turner and Pat Goff. The 1995 St Peters College Leinster football final team fielded six Clonard players; Barry Redmond, Ross Dunphy, Kevin Williams, Paul Mooney, Tim McGrath and Anthony Cleary. In addition, Scoil Mhuire’s win in roinn 1 of the Rackard League in 2013 had eight of the footballers from the ladies teams.
Clonard GAA club must also identify the pioneering efforts of Chrissie Cleary aided by Angela Turner in fielding an underage camogie team in 1995. Jimmy Heeney encouraged by Mick Power led a renewal of camogie in club from 1998 with Podge Rossiter as trainer. With forty to fifty underage players the camogie club made its contribution to the club including helping in the hosting of the Feile na nGael in 1998.
Clonard Ladies Gaelic Football Club affiliated with the LGFA of Ireland was originally started in 2000 but unfortunately floundered and thus was reformed in 2003 in large part due to the efforts of Chairman Mick Power and the late Chrissie Cleary. Starting with an u12 team in 2004, many of whom had played with a strong Kennedy Park school team that got to the Rackard League Final against Fethard. The club presently have two u10 and u12 teams, an u14, u16, u18 and adult team with over 100 girls in total registered. In addition, Clonard LGFC have county representatives at all age grades as well one senior player on the All Ireland Winning 2014 Wexford Junior A football team. The original u12 team from 2004 were real diamonds in the rough going on to win County finals at all age levels, while making club and county history on the way as the first Wexford town team to achieve these titles. Clonard LGFC has a very strong identity debuting their trademark pink jerseys in the St Patricks day parade of 2009; a jersey designed by the players which all girls wear with great pride. Due to the dedication of the coaches, mentors and management 2014 has been the best year so far for Clonard LGFC with the introduction of the Gaelic4Girls programme, indoor winter training and seven competing teams. In addition, the senior women went on to win the Junior A championship final against Fethard in Patricks Park. The team which was undefeated in 2014 look forward to promotion to the Intermediate ranks having narrowly lost out in 2013 and 2014.
All officers of the club deserve recognition for their efforts and achievements over the almost 30 years of the club. More so than most the executive officers of the club in that 30 year history of Clonard GAA club have made their significant contribution. The first chairman of the club John McNicohlas was followed by Ger Cashman, Mick Power, Dave Ormonde, Ger Cashman again, Seán O’ Leary and Ger Cashman presently. The treasurers of the club have included Ger Cashman initially with Donal Sheehan, Mattie Bierney, Seán Dwyer, Margaret O’Connor and Seán Dwyer presently. Secretaries of the club include John Roche, John Dwyer, Joe Sheehan, Joe Tiernan and the present Angela McCormack. The club has also made a contribution to the administration of the GAA in Co Wexford with Joe Brennan serving as Chairman of Coiste na nOg at Loch Garman as well as a County minor selector in 1983. Joe, a founding member of the club, was recognised for his contribution to the GAA with the presentation of the Bord na nOg clubman of the year in 2011 and as well as being inducted to the Wexford District GAA Hall of Fame. In addition, clubman Joe Sheehan has served as vice-chairman and Chairman of Bord na nOg Loch Garman and Dave Ormonde as chief stewart at Wexford Park.
This brief and far from comprehensive history of the club allows a reflection to take place on the club’s progress thus far but also highlights the considerable work that is required to bring success and match our ambitions.