There was a registered club in Clifden town dating back to 1912. The name of the club at that time was Clifden Shamrocks. There are no records of success until 1934 when competing as a junior club, Clifden Shamrock’s defeated Caherlistrane, 5-8 to 1-4 in the League Final. Caherlistrane objected because Clifden were late fielding and they won the objection. The next attempt was the West Board Championship Final of 1935 when the western section* was won by defeating Oughterard 2- 2 to 0- 5 but the West Board Final was lost to Wolfe Tones. In 1936, Clifden were defeated in the western section* final by Oughterard.
In 1937, however, Clifden won the western section and then the West Board Final by defeating Caherlistrane 3-4 to 3-3. They defeated Ahascragh in the county semi-final but lost to Gort in the county final. (At this time Gort was an army town!) Clifden were short McDonagh, McGrath and John Hehir for the final. It is also of note that some players who helped the club win its first West Board Final were not selected for the county final! Clifden lodged an objection about the legitimacy of the Gort team and P. K. Joyce lodged the fee of £1 – it was presumed that Gort was an all-county army team. Whatever about the Gort team, it can be said that all the players representing the ‘Shamrocks’ were from West Connemara – but there would be doubts about the validity of Stevie Salmon (Caisleen) and P. McDonald!
It is also interesting, that at this time Clifden was one of the main venues for important matches, with several western section finals played there. The West Board Final proper of 1933 between Renvyle and Headford was played in Clifden in 1934. This final is well-known because the referee marked down a point for Headford instead of a goal and initially declared the game a draw. The referee was unable to later award the game to Headford as the rules did not permit a change of score, even if the original score was an error.
* The West Board was divided into two sections at this time – the eastern section and the western section. The eastern section included teams from as far away as Athenry, Headford and Caherlistrane.
To listen to Tom Conneely relate his father’s memories of the 1930s, click on track 2.