First Organised Games

The first organised games were played in Clifden in the early 1900s. There are statistical records of a match in Clifden between two towns teams in 1912 when the Clifden Wild Geese defeated Town Hall St. Joseph’s on a score of 1-2 to 0-1. Games like these were played on a regular basis at that time. The first official club was formed at the beginning of 1912 under the name of Clifden Shamrocks,(there was an attempt to register in 1910 but affiliation fees were not paid) the first secretary was Tobias Joyce and the first captain was P. K. Joyce. The team played in the county senior championship in 1912 and reached the county semi-final but were defeated by one point by Dunmore who later won the title with ease. In folklore and also well documented, is the story of the north Galway man, playing for ‘Shamrocks’, who was believed by his team-mates to have deliberately kicked the ball wide rather than inflict defeat on his home town, with some of his team-mates threatening to throw him off the train on the return journey home. In 1914, ‘Shamrocks’ were the only senior team in the west and competed in one of the senior groups in north/east Galway.

There are records available of sporting events in Clifden in 1913 which included both hurling and football, with some teams travelling from as far away as Athenry. University College Galway travelled to Clifden to play a game in 1912. The ‘Shamrocks’ fielded two teams at this time, one in the senior championship and one in the newly formed West Board G.A.A. which was created in 1913. Championship games brought huge crowds by train to Clifden. Those were discontinued in 1913 but were re-activated in 1928 and championship games against teams from Craughwell and Carna were events which were greatly looked forward to. It is also interesting that two of the first junior teams to affiliate with the new West Board were Letterfrack and Tullycross. There are also records of matches versus Marconi Wireless Station in the 1920s. One such match, a soccer match had a final score of 2 goals to 1.

There were three ‘Shamrocks’ on the Galway senior team that defeated Roscommon in the Connacht championship of 1913: P. Joyce (P. K. Joyce?),  A. ‘Glennon’ (possibly a priest using a false name) and P. Connolly (possibly a cousin of R. J. Connolly Solr.). It is also interesting to note that as well as the 3 representatives from Clifden Shamrocks on the Galway team, there were 6 from Dunmore, 2 from Ballygar and 1 each from Athenry, Ballinasloe, Glynsk and Mountbellew.

Seven-a-side football has records dating back to the late 1920s with big events in Clifden, Tully, Cleggan, Carna, Recess, Cashel, Letterfrack and Roundstone. Initially, seven-a-side football matches were attached to sports events such as athletics and pony racing but in later years they were stand alone and they reached their peak in the 1960s/70s. There was never any attempt to develop a good sevens team in the parish. Teams were just put together ad hoc on the day. The experts in sevens in Connemara were the Renvyle team of the 1970s who generally had the same panel for all competitions.

The First World War, the War of Independence and the Civil War would appear to have dramatically curtailed G.A.A. activity in the area from 1914 to the late 1920s. The west Connemara clubs at this time were in essence only playing local challenges with no official club structure in place. Another factor that may have affected clubs was the new rule introduced in 1916 by the West Board which stated that any club that failed to be represented at three consecutive meetings would have their membership terminated.