While Killimer will be out to win a famous first Junior A title, the Éire Óg Townies are no strangers to the winner’s enclosure in this grade as they contest their seventh decider since the turn of the millennium and go for a fifth title in all, writes Joe Ó Muircheartaigh
Éire Óg have been here many times before and when Saturday comes will be hoping to claim what would be a landmark fifth Junior A title and move just one behind Coolmeen in the roll of honour in the grade.
Of course, it’s the Townies’ second team as they bid to keep up their recent record and strike rate of winning a title every five years, with the most recent successes coming in 2013 and ’18 when they beat Cooraclare and Michael Cusacks respectively.
However, for the players involved this is their team and the Townies’ record in this third tier of Clare club football has been impressive, especially over the past two decades or so as it will be the second string’s seventh final since the turn of the millennium.
In that time they’ve lost three finals — 2005, 2010 and ’17, while before their most recent wins the victory in 2001 over Wolfe Tones bridged a 26-year gap to the club’s breakthrough win in the grade — the 1975 success that represented the big landmark for football in Éire Óg.
This was when Éire Óg football finally began to make strides at adult level, just a couple of years after taking over responsibility for promoting the big ball in the town from the Ennis Faughs club that ground to a halt.
The victory over Lissycasey by 2-9 to 2-3 in Miltown was the first significant football success under the Éire Óg banner since a previous iteration of the club at underage level won back-to-back minor championship titles in 1933 and ’34.
“For too long now Clare has been without adult football teams from the town of Ennis. Fans of the code in Clare will generally agree that this success by the Ennis side should benefit football in Clare,” reported The Clare Champion.
“In the last two years, Éire Óg have been very prominent in juvenile circles but this was their first success in adult competition and if the side can be kept together they should prove a force to be reckoned with in the senior championship,” the report added.
“The seed for football was sown in those early years,” recalled captain Paddy Brennan, who was one of the driving forces behind the move to embrace football in the club.
He had been a member of the Ennis Faughs side that won the Junior A title in 1968 which seemed to herald a new dawn for the club that had been a powerful force at senior level in the 1940 and ‘50s, but it wasn’t to be.
“The Faughs didn’t kick on because a lot of the lads that won the Junior championship weren’t picked in the following years and it fell apart and that’s when we decided that we’d do it in Éire Óg,” said Paddy.
“Miko McNamara from Castlewood Park got involved and he became a real father figure for football over the next ten years. Michael Howard, Denis Horgan, Bob Lyne, Paddy O’Halloran and Martin Galvin were others who got involved and did a lot of work to get football going.
“We could have won a senior championship had we concentrated on football in those years. We had the talent and drew with Doonbeg in the 1976 championship and then beat them in the Aberdeen Arms Cup final,” he added.
It would be 25 years before Éire Óg finally won a senior championship, but the Junior A success of 1975 was certainly a step along the road.