Ballygunner GAA

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Ballygunner
Baile Mhic Gonair
Bg crest.jpg
Founded: 1954
County: Waterford
Nickname: Gunners
Colours: Red and Black Hoops
Grounds: James McGinn Park
Coordinates: 52°13′37.58″N 7°03′56.33″W / 52.2271056°N 7.0656472°W / 52.2271056; -7.0656472Coordinates: 52°13′37.58″N 7°03′56.33″W / 52.2271056°N 7.0656472°W / 52.2271056; -7.0656472
Playing kits
Standard colours
Senior Club Championships
All Ireland Munster
champions
Waterford
champions
Hurling: - 1 14

Ballygunner GAA (nicknamed "The Gunners") is a Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) club located in the parish of St Mary's Ballygunner in Waterford City, Ireland. The club is exclusively concerned with hurling. The club is one of the most successful in Waterford with a number of county titles and have produced many great players for Waterford such as Paul Flynn, Fergal Hartley, Billy O Sullivan, Pauric Mahoney to name but a few. Once a small rural club, urban sprawl in recent years at southern side of Waterford city has made Ballygunner one of the biggest in the country with a large catchment area of upwards of 20 thousand people. The club enjoys an intense rivalry with city club Mount Sion and for many years through the 1990s and 2000s, the two clubs dominated the county scene in Waterford meeting each other in the county final most years. Since 1992, Ballygunner have won county titles in 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2005, 2009, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016. The Munster Senior title was won in 2001 with a victory over Cork side Blackrock (2-14 to 0-12).

History[edit]

Ballygunner GAA is a hurling club based in Ballygunner Village, on the outskirts of Waterford City. The club was founded in 1954 by local schoolteacher Jimmy McGinn.

Prior to 1954, there was no adult hurling team in the parish. All hurlers who came out of the small national school travelled into Waterford city to play for either the Erin's Own club or now archrivals Mount Sion. McGinn believed that there was enough talent in the parish to compete with the powerhouses of Waterford hurling. Having enjoyed multiple success at under age level through the local national school, Mr Mc Ginn, as he was commonly called, set up the club to nurture the game in the small parish.

Mc Ginn's aspirations were correct. That very year, Ballygunner Hurling club collected their first piece of a long line of silverware by winning the Minor county Championship. This was a more-than-promising start, for a club that would take Waterford hurling by storm.

The club holds Fourteen Waterford Senior Hurling titles: 1966, 1967, 1968, 1992,1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2005, 2009, 2011 2014, 2015 They are one of the main powers in Waterford hurling, winning numerous underage titles and also regularly winning the senior title.

Hurling[edit]

Ballygunner GAA concerns itself primarily with hurling. It passes both the camogie & Gaelic Football duties to its sister club Gáil Tír.

Notable current players[edit]

The golden era (1954–1968)[edit]

Following the Minor Championship success in 1954, Ballygunner's senior side had to start from the bottom & work their way up. In 1956, they reached the Junior County Final against Geraldines. Although they lost by 2-7, it did not dishearten the team. The following year they gained promotion into the senior ranks by winning the junior championship.

In 1963, Ballygunner faced Mount Sion for the first time in a Senior County Final. It was Ballygunner's first at this grade. Mount Sion won the match by 4-6 to 3-4. Again in 1965, Mount Sion ran out victorious to ensure a three in a row, but by only one point this time around. The tide was beginning to turn in Waterford hurling.

The 1st three in a row[edit]

1966 was the historic year that Ballygunner first made the breakthrough. They defeated Mount Sion 2-6 to 2-3. Now that the main barrier was passed, McGinn set his ambitions to make Ballygunner a serious force in Waterford hurling. They defeated Ballyduff Lower/Portlaw & Mount Sion in '67 & '68 respectively to capture a first three in a row.

Relegation period (1980–1984)[edit]

As the great team of the 60s had been trying for several to win a county title, they now faced a new problem. The three in a row winning team were aging rapidly and several key players began to retire.

Up until the '90s, Ballygunner village was very small and had a low population. This led to a lack of young people in the parish and thus a lack of juvenile players. Despite the best efforts of James McGinn, the same standard of under-age teams that had been developed in the club's early days could not be kept.

In 1980, the club was relegated to the intermediate grade. This was a massive blow to the club and parish in general. However, after failed attempts in 1982 and '83, Ballygunner earned promotion to the senior ranks yet again in 1984 after a four-year absence.

Knowing that he was getting on in age, McGinn had one more ace to play. In 1972, he began to sculpt an even greater team than that in the 60s. This team would guide the gunners to not just to the pinnacle of Waterford hurling again, but to the pinnacle of Munster hurling.

The glory days (1992-2001)[edit]

In 1992, Ballygunner won their first county title since 1968. The team's backbone was the successful underage team that had won almost every underage honour that was in the county including back-to-back under-21 County titles in 1988-89. Billy O'Sullivan and Cian Cantwell captained the sides on each occasion. This team was the last team that James McGinn would train and great things were expected.

The average age of the team was under 23 years old. Notable player on the panel that day were, Billy O'Sullivan (23), Stephen Frampton (24), Fergal Hartley (21) & Paul Flynn (17)

During this great era for the club, James McGinn died in 1995. He had seen the club he loved reach the pinnacle of Waterford hurling.

The 2nd Three in a Row[edit]

The Gunners were now the only Waterford team to win a third consecutive county title since they last did it back in 1966. In 1996, after a fiercely contested local derby, Fergal Hartly made his way up to the presentation area in Walsh Park to collect the county title for his third time after a 2-17 - 1-14 defeat of Passage.

Although unable to manage a four in a row, they returned the following year to rob Mount Sion of a two in a row. Paul Flynn finally was given the opportunity to lift the county title for himself.

2001 Munster Champions[edit]

Ballygunner players before the 2001 Munster Club Hurling Final

After Mount Sion defeated Ballygunner in the 2000 county final, it looked like the beginning of the end of a historical era for the club. However, there was still some fight left in the aging team.

After the gloom of the 2000 defeat, an AGM was held in the clubhouse in Ballygunner. At it, it was decided to elect Gordan Ryan as the new manager and the recently retired inter-county hurler Billy O'Sullivan as team captain. Ryan brought a brand new method of training to Ballygunner. Personnel training schedules were given to each player and almost weekly physical sessions were administered. This new found professionalism led to their first piece of silverware of the year in winning the County League. The next honour for the Gunners was the Sergent Cup. Both of these competitions were high profiled throughout the county of Waterford & a buzz began to creep around the parish & the county.

In 2001 Ballygunner beat Lismore GAA 4-12 to 1-16 to claim its 9th Waterford Senior Hurling Title. The proof that Ballygunner was not dead was clearly visible following several inspirational performances by such senior players as Billy and Rory O'Sullivan, Stephen Frampton & Ray Whitty as well as performances from younger players such as Andy Moloney and Alan Kirwan.

In the same year they enjoyed a very successful Munster Senior Club Hurling Championship beating St. Joseph's Doora-Barefield 2-19 to 2-13 and Toomevara 2-10 to 0-15 after a replay. Two decisive goals from Andy Moloney ensured that the Gunners would enter yet another Munster Club Final.

The final played in Semple Stadium Thurles was a closely fought game until the final minutes. Having been off target from two scoreable chances, and with the deficit down to three points, Paul Flynn took control of the final in the last ten minutes. He pointed two frees, one of them from inside his own half, and then, with just two minutes left on the clock, he snapped up an Andy Moloney delivery and gave Blackrocks goalkeeper Trevor Barry no chance with a goal. Flynn landed another point from a free to seal the Gunners victory. Ballygunner beat Blackrock of Cork 2-14 to 0-12. After 35 years of trying, Billy O'Sullivan finally lifted the holy grail of Munster Club Hurling on behalf of his much loved club.

Revival[edit]

In the years that followed their Munster triumph, players such as Stephen Frampton & Mick Mahoney had retired from senior hurling & all that was left of the original under 21 team was Billy O'Sullivan. However a new batch of young players, fresh off a minor county title, came into the fray. Players such as Shane O'Sullivan & Wayne Hutchinson, were to cement their places on the senior squad.

Ballygunner beat De La Salle to win the 2005 Waterford Hurling Championship. This was a very important victory for the club as defeat would have meant their fourth straight loss in the County Final, having lost the previously three finals to Mount Sion.

The club later beat Garryspillane 2-12 to 1-11 and Clarecastle 3-13 to 2-9, Paul Flynn scoring a tally of 4-7 in those matches. However Ballygunner later lost their sixth Munster Club Championship Final to Newtownshandrum of Cork despite a Man of the Match performance from Fergal Hartley.

Present[edit]

Today, Ballygunner is one of the biggest clubs in Waterford. It caters for hundreds of juveniles from under 6 to under 16 & hundreds of adult hurlers from minor level to senior.

Ballygunner defeated Lismore after a replay to win the 2009 senior County Championship. They were narrowly defeated in the Munster final by Newtownshandrum for the second time in recent years. In 2011, they captured their 12th Senior County Title at the expense of Tallow.

Ballygunner defeated arch-rivals Mount Sion in the 2014 Waterford Senior Club Hurling Championship final on a scoreline of 2-16 to 0-9 points in Walsh Park.

Development[edit]

In 1994, Ballygunner GAA finally acquired a permanent playing field beside the new national school. In 1996, a two-storey clubhouse was built with two dressing rooms, toilets, a referees' changing room and a small canteen.

After 2001, it was realised that to cope with the huge influx of young juveniles, and to provide adequate facilities, a great deal of time and money would have to be invested. Under chairman Pat O'Sullivan, a development plan was put into place. Phase 1 of the project involved extending of the clubhouse which would include two new dressing rooms and a meeting/trophy room. Next was the purchasing of 8 acres (32,000 m2) adjoining the current site. On this site, plans were put down for a new top-quality floodlit all-weather pitch, a hurling and handball ally, a floodlit AstroTurf and a state-of-the-art indoor hurling arena with new clubhouse facilities. For the club's 50th anniversary in 2004, the hurling ally and all-weather pitch were finished. Fencing was erected around the new field and a scoreboard was put in place for the day. Then president of the GAA, Sean Kelly, officially opened the new facilities.

Another phase of development was started in 2006. An AstroTurf was to be built between the old and new pitches. Towards the end of that year, the astroturf was completed. Then construction on the largest and most expensive project ever undertaken by a Waterford club could begin.

At a cost of approx. €1.5 million, the indoor arena would be built across from the AstroTurf. Construction began in the summer of 2008. At the current time,[when?] the main structure has been built, the astro turf floor has been laid and construction is close to completion on the adjoining pavilion.

2001 Munster Senior Club Hurling winning squad[edit]

The following is the team that lined out for Ballygunner in the Munster Senior Club Hurling Championship final on December 2, 2001:

Number Player Position
1 Ray Whitty Goalkeeper
2 Niall O'Donnell Right Corner-Back
3 Alan Kirwan Full-Back
4 Rory O'Sullivan Left Corner-Back
5 Stephen Frampton Right Wing-Back
6 Fergal Hartley Centre Back
7 Colin Kehoe Left Wing-Back
8 Tom Fives Midfield
9 Paul Power Midfield
10 Michael Mahony Right Wing-Forward
11 Paul Flynn Centre Forward
12 Andy Maloney Left Wing-Forward
13 Billy O'Sullivan Right Corner-Forward
14 Paul Foley Full Forward
15 Darragh O'Sullivan Left Corner-Forward
Substitutes
16 Pat Haran Goalkeeper
17 Tony Carroll Left Corner-Forward
18 Alan Hearn Midfield
Management Team
Gordan Ryan Manager

2005 Munster Senior Club Hurling Squad[edit]

The following is the team that lined out for Ballygunner in the Munster Senior Club Hurling Championship final on December 4, 2005:

Number Player Position
1 Pat Haran Goalkeeper
2 Niall O'Donnell Right Corner-Back
3 Willie Kiely Full-Back
4 Rory O'Sullivan Left Corner-Back
5 Alan Kirwan Right Wing-Back
6 Fergal Hartley Centre Back
7 Wayne Hutchinson Left Wing-Back
8 Colin Kehoe Midfield
9 Andy Moloney Midfield
10 Billy O'Sullivan Right Wing-Forward
11 Paul Foley Centre Forward
12 Shane O'Sullivan Left Wing-Forward
13 Tommy Power Right Corner-Forward
14 Paul Flynn Full Forward
15 Gearoid O'Connor Left Corner-Forward
Substitutes
16 Patrick O'Sullivan Goalkeeper
17 Shane Walsh Left Wing-Forward
18 Brian O'Keeffe Wing Forward
Management Team
John Fitzpatrick Manager

2009 Munster Senior Club Hurling Squad[edit]

The following is the team that lined out for Ballygunner in the Munster Senior Club Hurling Championship final on November 29th, 2009:

Number Player Position
1 Stephen O'Keeffe Goalkeeper
2 Vinny Molloy Right Corner Back
17 Willie Kiely Full Back
3 Alan Kirwan Left Corner Back
4 Philip Mahony Right Half Back
6 Fergal Hartley Centre Back
7 Wayne Hutchinson Left Half Back
8 Colin Kehoe Midfield
11 Shane O'Sullivan Midfield
10 Pauric Mahony Right Half Forward
12 Andy Moloney Centre Forward
20 JJ Hutchinson Left Half Forward
22 Gearoid O'Connor Right Corner Forward
14 Paul Flynn Full Forward
15 Brian O'Sullivan Left Corner Forward
Substitutes
16 Pat Haran Goalkeeper
9 Shane Walsh Left Wing-Forward
21 Barry Mullane Full-Forward
5 Tommy Power Left Wing-Back
13 Stephen Power Corner Forward
Management Team
Ger Cunningham Manager

Manager History[edit]

Name From To Honours
Liam Fennelly 1991 1992
Michael Gaffney 1992 1997 4 Waterford County Senior Championships
Tadgh O'Sullivan 1998 1999
Michael Gaffney 1999 2000 1 Waterford County Senior Championship
Gordan Ryan 2001 2003 1 Waterford County Senior Championship 1 Munster Club Senior Championship
Michael Mahoney 2004 2005
John Fitzpatrick 2005 2006 1 Waterford County Senior Championship
Peter Queally 2007 2008
Ger Cunningham 2009 2009 1 Waterford County Senior Championship
Niall O'Donnell 2010 2011 1 Waterford County Senior Championship
Andy Moloney 2011 2013
Fergal Hartley 2014 2014 1 Waterford County Senior Championship
Denis Walsh 2015 2016 2 Waterford County Senior Championship
Fergal Hartley 2017 -

Captain History[edit]

Name From To Honours
Michael Mahoney 1991 1992 1 Waterford County Senior Championship
Fergal Hartley 1995 1998 3 Waterford County Senior Championships
Paul Flynn 1999 2000 1 Waterford Senior Hurling Championship
Billy O'Sullivan 2001 2002 1 Waterford County Senior Championship 1 Munster Club Senior Championship
Tom Fives 2003 2003
Niall O'Donnell 2004 2004
Andy Maloney 2005 2006 1 Waterford County Senior Championship
Fergal Hartley 2007 2007
Pat Haran 2008 2008
Alan Kirwan 2009 2009 1 Waterford Senior Hurling Championship
Shane O'Sullivan 2010 2010 1 Waterford Senior Hurling Championship

Harley Barnes & Philip Mahony 2014

Hurling Titles[edit]

All-Stars[edit]

Year Name Position County
2002 Fergal Hartley Right Wing Back Waterford
2004 Paul Flynn Right Corner Forward Waterford

Notable players[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Na Piarsaigh use grit and experience to wear down Ballygunner". Irish Examiner. 23 November 2015. Retrieved 23 November 2015. 
  2. ^ "Redemption for gallant Gunners". Irish Examiner. 6 October 2014. Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  3. ^ "Ballygunner edge tough battle for poignant 14th title win". Irish Examiner. 19 October 2015. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  4. ^ "Pauric Mahony's magic drives Ballygunner as Pat Flynn is honoured". Irish Examiner. 24 October 2016. Retrieved 24 October 2016. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Sixmilebridge
Munster Senior Club Hurling Championship
2001
Succeeded by
Mount Sion
Preceded by
Lismore
Waterford Senior Hurling Championship
1992
Succeeded by
Lismore
Preceded by
Mount Sion
Waterford Senior Hurling Championship
1995
Succeeded by
Retained
Preceded by
Holders
Waterford Senior Hurling Championship
1996
Succeeded by
Retained
Preceded by
Holders
Waterford Senior Hurling Championship
1997
Succeeded by
Mount Sion
Preceded by
Mount Sion
Waterford Senior Hurling Championship
1999
Succeeded by
Mount Sion
Preceded by
Mount Sion
Waterford Senior Hurling Championship
2001
Succeeded by
Mount Sion
Preceded by
Mount Sion
Waterford Senior Hurling Championship
2005
Succeeded by
Mount Sion
Preceded by
De La Salle
Waterford Senior Hurling Championship
2009
Succeeded by
De La Salle