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Errill GAA History

Errill Club - A Brief History

Errill Village is situated on the Tipperary/Kilkenny border and is located 12 miles from Thurles where the Gaelic Athletic Association was founded in 1884. Prior to the foundation of the Association, hurling was played in Errill and they regularly competed against all the local rural teams in Tipperary, Kilkenny and Laois. In those early days Errill didn’t affiliate to the GAA. however, many of their players such as the Deegans, Campions and Mick Fogarty threw their lot in with Rathdowney who, at that time, were considered the kingpins of Laois Hurling winning numerous County Titles around the turn of the century. Errill players also played Junior Hurling with Rathdowney.

In the early 1920's a serious effort was made to form a Club in Errill. The decision of the Irish Railway Company to move their quarry works from Laffansbridge in Tipperary to Lisduff in Errill generated job opportunities and many families from Tipperary and Kilkenny moved into the area. Over the years these families were to play a major role in the development of hurling in Errill.

In 1928 a group of hurling enthusiasts, Jack Bergin, Martin Hennessy, Ann Lowry, Jim Murray (Snr), Jim Connell, Pat Tierney, Paddy Delaney and Stephen Carroll came together and formed the Errill Club. In those formative years it was extremely difficult as the Club had no grounds and funds were limited.

Success came early, however, as Errill were victorious in the Junior Hurling Championship of 1929, beating Ballygeehan in the final. Their joy was short lived, however, as Ballygeehan objected due to the fact the Errill team wasn’t registered and they were awarded the game. Silverware wasn’t long in coming, however, as they won their first final in 1932 beating Camross in the final of the Junior Hurling Championship 3-5 to 1-5. Members of that team were: M J Campion (Capt), Willie Bowe, Joe Campion, Paddy Hennessey, Martin Hennessey, Andy Dowling, Jack Tynan, Billy Delaney, Gus Bowe, Paddy Bergin, Albert McEvoy, Jack Hennessy, Paddy Drennan, Joe Deegan, Gus Lowry, Jack Wiliams and Bill Brophy.

Errill went on to qualify for the following years Senior Final but were defeated by Clonad.

Their first Senior crown was won in 1938 when they defeated their neighbours Rathdowney 2-5 to 1-4. Members of that historic breaking team were as follows: Mick Mockler, Paddy Pyne, Martin Hennessy, Din Quinn, Paddy Drennan, Andy Bergin, John Joe Delaney, M J Campion, Andy Dowling, Tommy Wall, Paddy Hennessy, Dan Hennessy, Billy Delaney, Tim Dowling, Paddy Morrissey, Kieran O'Dea, Billy Wynne, Billy Delaney (Barney), Jack Williams and Joe Campion. Though they were defeated in the 1939 final against Abbeyleix (2-9 to 1-3), the 1950 final against Clonad (3-13 to 1-5) and the 1951 Semi Final against Kyle/Ballaghmore, who went on to defeat the Rovers in the Final, they didn’t raise the 'white flag' and in 1952, under the captaincy of Jimmy Murray, were rewarded by winning their second Senior title, beating Clonad 6-6 to 3-4. To the historian or statistician that doesn’t read as a very impressive record nor does it do justice to the brilliant players this team produced. Billy Delaney of Laois and Leinster fame was a talented forward. The Campion brothers Michael, Foncie and Joe were fast, neat and skilful players who would have fitted very nicely into the game as it has evolved today. Then there were the other Campion brothers, Fathers Pat and Con and Michael who added strength and sparkle to supplement the undoubted skills of Jimmy Murray, Liam Gorman, Timmy Dowling, Billy Delaney of Barney and the exuberant Andy Bergin. They were hampered during this period, however, as a Junior Hurling team was formed in 'Kyle/Graigue' and a number of Errill players changed allegiance and this had a negative impact on the Errill Club. By the end of the forties a lot of these players had returned, men of the calibre of the Sherman brothers, Din Quinn, the Bowe's and later the Hickey's, Hanrahan's, Lalor's, Bergin's and Brophy's.

The Errill team, who won the Title in '52, under the Captaincy of Jimmy Murray, was as follows; Joe Grogan, Paddy Delaney, Martin Keane, Bert Sherman, Liam Gorman, Tom Butler, Paddy Sheerman, Mick Campion, Paddy Butler, Fr Kevin Molloy, Foncie Campion, Mick Mockler, Kieran Bowe, Billy Wynne. Subs Tim Dowling, Tom Tynan, John Murray, Martin Dunne, Tommy Keane, Fr Kieran Butler and Paul Keyes.

Errill qualified for the 1954 final and on September 12th were defeated by Clonad on a scoreline 1-9 to 0-4. The man responsible for Errill defeat that day was John Kileen from Galway who was responsible for the majority of Clonad's total. The Errill team was as follows; J Grogan, P Delaney, M Keane, B Sheerman, M Campion, Jimmy Murray, T Butler, P Sheerman, L Finn, P Spencer, Liam Gorman, T Tynan, A Campion, M Mockler and P Purcell.

In the following years. Errill's hurling fortunes faded a little. Emigration taking its toll. They did qualify for the Junior final of 1955 and on November 13th were defeated by Ballypickas 5-4 to 2-01. Towards the late fifties a number of their younger players played a prominent role as part of the Rathdowney minor teams that qualified for 4 finals, '56 to '59 winning two, in '57 and '58.

During the sixties these minor hurlers were maturing into fine hurlers and hopes were high that Senior success would come our way. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen. We qualified for a number of Semi Finals against Borris In Ossory, Clonad and Abbeyleix without success. Emigration again took its toll and Errill were forced to regrade to Intermediate status for the first time since 1933. They did qualify for the 1967 Intermediate final but were defeated by Mountmellick on a scoreline 3-9 to 0-3. They also unsuccessfully contested the 1969 final losing out to Clonaslee 6-6 to 0-6. In addition, in 1968 and 1969 they merged with Rathdowney at Under 21 level and qualified for the final both years losing out to Borris In Ossory (4-7 to 3-6) and Camross (4-9 to 3-5) respectively.

In the late sixties and early seventies juvenile hurling in Errill began to flourish. This was mainly due to the efforts of Ger Dowling, Joe Keyes, Jack Williams and a Roscrea man Seamus Feehan. They organised street Leagues and the result was Under 16 and Under 17 Championship victories. Both these victories were won by Errill/Rathdowney combinations. In addition further success came the Club's way in 1971 when a Rathdowney/Errill combination won the Under 21 Championship beating Portlaoise 1-7 to 2-1. Goalkeeper that day was Tom Hassett who went on to become a stalwart member of the Errill team and at the end of his playing days went on to represent Laois at administrative level serving as Chairman of both Hurling and County Boards for many years.

Then in 1973 Errill reached a Junior Final only to be beaten by Durrow 4-10 to 0-8. They also reached a Junior Final in 1976 but were beaten by Abbeyleix 4-8 to 3-6. In 1977 they won their first trophy for 25 years when they won the Intermediate League Title. Around this time Rathdowney was dominating the Minor Championship winning five out of six Championships from 1976 to 1981, including a four in a row between '78 and '81. Errill supplied a number of players on these successful teams, men like Paul and John Delaney, P J Hassett, Paddy Bergin, Jim Grant and Paddy O'Dea to name but a few. John Delaney and Paddy Bergin went on to play for Laois in the Leinster Final of 1978 while a Rathdowney/Errill combination, known as St Kierans, Captained by John Delaney, claimed the Under 21 Championship of 1980 beating Ballacolla 3-10 to 1-10.

In 1979 Errill claimed another Intermediate League crown. Championship success still eluded them as they lost the Intermediate Final of 1980 to Castletown 1-12 to 1-6. That all changed the following year when, under the Captaincy of Martin Tynan, they won their way back into Senior ranks for the first time in nearly 20 years by defeating Mountmellick 2-10 to 1-8 at Rathdowney.  The team on that occasion was as follows: Tom Hassett, Harry Wynne, Martin Tynan, P J Hassett, Danny Bourke, John Delaney, Liam Delaney, Timmy Williams, Michael Purcell, Paul Delaney, S Scully, Mick Burke, Paddy Bergin, Peadar Cleary Liam O'Dea. Subs Sean O'Dea Gerry King. Many thought they would have difficulty retaining their Senior status, however, they confounded the pundits by storming to the Senior final in 1982. Due to the closure of O'Moore Park, for development work, this game took place in Borris In Ossory. Errill were to lose this final to Portlaoise 2-12 to 1-8, however, the scoreline doesn’t do justice to a gallant display by the Errill team.

Not only did Errill remain in Senior ranks they combined with Rathdowney and qualified for 3 Under 21 Finals in a row '84 to '86. In 1984 they were beaten by Clonad/Shanahoe by the narrowest of margins 2-10 to 1-12. Success did come our way in 1985, Captained by Bill Maher, we defeated Borris In Ossory 2-12 to 2-8. In 1986 Borris In Ossory gained revenge for the previous year’s defeat winning on a scoreline 2-9 to 2-4. At Senior level we continued to compete and qualified for the 1986 final where Camross awaited us. This was one that got away as we lost by the narrowest of margins 4-9 to 2-14.  Since then the Club have been there or thereabouts in the Championship without looking like contenders. During this period Errill supplied many players to Laois. P J Hassett, Jim Grant, Peadar Cleary, John and Paul Delaney, Michael Burke and Paddy Bergin. John Delaney was Centre Back on that gallant Laois team of the '80's while his brother Paul won an Under 21 Leinster Championship medal with Laois in 1983. John also played for Leinster during this period joining his Uncle Billy, Paddy Drennan, Andy Bergin and the illustrious Jimmy Murray. In 1988 a Rathdowney/Errill combination were defeated by Castletown/Slieve Bloom in the Minor Final 2-12 to 1-5.

Errill continued to compete at the top level thru the nineties. There only success at that level came in 1995 and 1997 winning the Senior Shield. In 1995 they defeated Borris In Ossory 4-10 to 2-10 and in '97 Ballinakill 5-5 to 1-5. In 1991 they contested a Junior 'B' Final losing out to Trumera 3-18 to 3-7. In 1992 they contested an Under 21B Final, losing out to Rathdowney, following a replay and in 1994 lost out to Clough/Ballacolla in the Minor 'B' Final 1-12 to 2-2.  They did however make up for the defeat to Rathdowney by winning the Under 21 'B' Final of 1997 defeating Park/Rathneska 3-11 to 2-9. In 2000 they lost out in the Senior Shield to Rathdowney 0-12 to 1-08, however, were successful in winning the All County Hurling League Division 4 Title beating Clonad 4-6 to 2-5.

Years of hard work by various committees and the dreams and ambitions of Club members was fulfilled on when the Club opened its new grounds at the Heath Errill. 

As can be seen the Club has had its share of successes and heartbreak over the years. In 2002 it was agreed to merge with Rathdowney at juvenile level. Subsequently in 2005 it was agreed to join at Adult level. As can be seen from the 'Rathdowney/Errill roll of honour' it has been an extremely successful alliance to date.