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Christy McCarthy,Tom Malone (RIP) and Sean Malone of Clonbony GAA Club

Clonbony To Recall The Good Times On Reunion Night

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Whenever the word Clonbony is mentioned, the chances are Tom Malone will be too. 2018 marked a decade since the former President of Clare GAA passed away, after a lifetime dedicated to his beloved club.

The legacy the great man left behind is as strong as ever, and this Saturday night will see Clonbony Gaels from the last 50 years and beyond gather together to reminisce on their time involved with the club.

Founded in 1936, Clonbony has served as an outlet for the people of Miltown and its environs to participate in Gaelic games, along with being a social outlet too.

Camogie, ladies football, the Clonbony pipe band and athletics club all fell under the club banner as Tom developed his dream.

His son Sean is the current club secretary, and one of the main organisers of Saturday night’s event.

“It’s something that was mooted for the last couple of months as I was meeting former players and friends of the club, so we came up with the idea that it was high time we arrange a get together. With the way things are in the modern way of living, we seldom get to meet. Pat O’Loughlin, who is our current chairman, and I got this idea of having a reunion of players and other club members who have been involved in the last 50 years and more. We are looking forward to Saturday night and getting together with old friends and colleagues that we haven’t seen for a while” he explained.

Growing up in the Malone household meant there was no escaping the Clonbony influence, but Sean is quick to point out that while Tom was the instigator, there were several others who rowed in behind the effort to keep the club going.

“The club was founded in 1936 and it was set up in a time when our area was a lot more populated than it is now. It was crying out for activities for young people to get involved in, so there was a opening there for developing things like running, football, and hurling. The idea of hurling back here in west Clare at the time was almost an alien thought but it grew from there. The pipe band was set up then and the cycling and athletics club so it all came together. Tom Malone had a lot to do with it but there lots of others down through the years who gave huge time and effort. If you were at any kind of gathering in the parishes of Miltown or Kilmurry and even up as far as Ennistymon, you were likely to meet someone who had either played with or been involved with Clonbony in some shape or form down the years” said Sean.

It wasn’t just developing hurling in west Clare that gave Tom Malone the reputation of being a pioneering figure in Clare GAA. The creation of a ladies football team for Clonbony was something that he took huge pride in, but was also a venture that took a lot of people by surprise when Tom first announced his plans.

“I really think he went to his grave most satisfied for what was achieved with ladies football in particular. I remember he told about the meeting where he first mentioned it, and there were only a handful of ladies football clubs in the whole country at the time. Not to reflect poorly on the male population of the GAA at the time but he was laughed out of the meeting, but look at it now. Ladies football has made huge progression in recent times and shown the men what to do in a lot of ways also” said Sean.

Current club chairman Pat O’Loughlin is another who has fond memories of his time involved with the club, both as a player and an official. He says it’s something that everyone gets great enjoyment from.

“When I was younger, I went to the games with my uncle-in-law Brendan McMahon, and my father was involved refereeing a lot of the matches too. As time went on, I started playing with them and before I knew it, I was being drafted in as chairman and it’s been a tough job to come out of since then” he laughed.

He continued: “To be honest with you, Clonbony is like a second family to me. There are such great people involved in the club and it has such a great history. Chairman is only a title, I know that I can on anyone to get things done, and everyone rows in on the effort when needed. We are working hard to get back to where the club should be on the field. We have had no underage now for a while but two years ago, we reached the Junior C final which was a huge achievement for us. It gave everyone a huge lift and brought the club back into the public eye and let people know that the club hasn’t gone anywhere. That gave us the impetus to arrange this gathering on Saturday night, so that lads who have played together down the years can meet up again and just have a good night together”.

One of Tom Malone’s chief motivations for establishing Clonbony GAA club was to provide the young people of the area with an outlet to play Gaelic Games, but also to establish a community focal point. That legacy has endured over the last 83 years, and it’s something Sean feels that Tom would have taken great heart from.

“I feel myself that parish is key in establishing a community because it’s what people understand. There’s another dimension to Clonbony in the sense of family. The heart and sense of spirit is remarkable. Lads will die for each other on the field, and then turn around and laugh and have the craic with opponents afterwards. Everyone involved has had a great time whether as a player or official and it has been an amazing trip for everyone. If we can leave a legacy for Clonbony, then I would die happy. As an organisation, the GAA has no rival. It has had its struggles down through the years but it has always remained intact. It’s an amazing organisation, and while people may try to pick at it, they can’t because it goes to the core of the people” he noted.

The event gets underway at the Markethouse Bar in Miltown Malbay this Saturday evening from 9pm.

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