The earliest record we have of an affiliated G.A.A. Club in the parish echoes from the newspaper “The Munster News and Clare Advocate” in March 1888 which states the “Brothers Sheares” club of Loughill/Ballyhahill was one of 56 clubs affiliated to the county board on the 17th March.
The tradition of playing football in the parish goes back many years further, for back in pre-famine times, Moneymohill was the meeting for parish against parish football matches between Kilcolman and Ballyhahill. One of the oldest hurling balls in the museum in Croke Park was found in the townland of Cloonlahard.
On the 26th February 1888, Loughill/Ballyhahill played Shanagolden in challenge matches at both senior and junior levels at Loughhill. The parish junior team was known as ‘Faugh-a-Ballaghs’ and the senior team was known as the ‘Brothers Sheares’. Loughill/Ballyhahill won the junior game by 1-3 to 0-0 and the senior game by 1-2 to 0-1. In the following months the junior and senior teams repeated their victories over Shanagolden and they also had victories over the Thomas Davis club of Glin.
Early in May of the same year great excitement prevailed in the parish, and the surrounding districts when it became known that challenge was given by the Labasheeda and Kilmurry, Co. Clare “Home Rulers” to the Loughill “Brothers Sheares”. The former club having heard of the victories of the latter in their own county, were anxious to have a contest with them.
Consequently the “Home Rulers” accompanied by a host of friends came across the Shannon Estuary in a number of boats and landed in Loughill for the game in the afternoon of Sunday 6th May. Fr McNamara C.C. Loughill acted as referee. As in previous games that year the “Brothers Sheares” were once again victorious.
Records in the years that followed of G.A.A. matches played by the club are few and far between. On 2nd August 1908 Jack Tom O’Connor of Ballyhahill became the first player from the club to play inter-county football when he lined out for Limerick against COrk at Ennis in the Munster Senior Football Championship.
In 1919, the club by this time known as “Ballyhahill” gained their first taste of championship success. Ballyhahill played Newcastle West in the West Limerick Senior Football Final at “Brouders” field in Newcastle West. Ballyhahill won on a scoreline of 1-8 to 1-6, and went on to meet the great Commercials side for Limerick city in the county final, on 11th August 1920. Final Score: Commercials 0-4 Ballyhahill 0-2.
The following year Ballyhahill again reached the West Senior Final, only to lose to Newcastle West on the scoreline of 2-3 to 1-4. In 1927 Ballyhahill again reached the West Senior Final, going down to Glin on the scoreline of Glin 3-2 Ballyhahill 2-0. Later the same year the parish junior side, playing under the name “Loughill” won the West Junior Football Title, and the County Junior Football title.
This was the first team to bring a county title to the parish. During the period Roger O’Sullivan and Sonny Sheehan represented the club at inter-county level and in 1929 Sonny Sheehan won a Munster Junior Championship Football medal. In 1931 the junior team won a second West Junior Football title. They also reached the West Finals in 1936 and 1938 but lost on both occasions.
During the forties the club made up in abundance for the barren years of the thirties. In 1941 the junior football team won both the West and County Championships. The team lined out as follows for the County Final: Paddy O’Shaughnessy, Tom Griffin, Mick O’Shaughnessy, Tommy Sheahan, Michael Curtin, Joe Curtin, James Feely, Bill Reidy, Con Taylor, Mick Costello, Sonny Sheahan, Pat Walsh, Pat Neville, Pat (Jointer) O’Saughnessy, Pat O’Brien (Capt.). In 1943 the club contested the West Senior Final going down to a star studded 9th Desmonds.
The clubs second West Senior title was added the following year when the team proved victorious over Abbeyfeale on a scoreline of 2-5 to 1-4. In 1946 Abbeyfeale were once again the opposition in the West Senior Final and on this occassion the Fealesiders revered the decision of 1944. Success at underage level was achieved in 1942 when the local minor team claimed a first West Minor Football title. A few years this the team back to junior ranks mainly due to emigration and retirements.
The year 1950 was an historic one for the club, as our minor football team won the County Minor Football Championship defeating Treaty Sarsfields in the final. and in so doing they were the first minor team from West Limerick to win a county championship. The minor contested West Finals again in 1951 and 1952, loser the former and winning the latter. Two very able mentors, namely Padraig Cahillane N.T. and Fr O’Beirne CC, were responsible for the development of the club minor teams in the early fifties.
The success at underage level did not transfer to our adult teams as emigration robbed the club of the services of some of its most promising players. As a matter of fact by 1955, there were only six members of those minor panels living within the parish. In 1955 a number of players from the parish played with Glin and won a County Junior Football title.
For the next twenty years the club struggled to keep afloat. With the young population dwindling in the parish, great credit is due to the club officials and mentors who worked tirelessly and very often at their own expense in an effort to keep the game alive. During the mid 60’s the club adopted the name Gerald Griffins.
During the mid 70’s there seemed to be light at the end of the tunnel, as the population of the parish increased and more and more men were involved in the playing of Gaelic Football.
Under the chairmanship of Gerry Brennan the officers of the club decided at a meeting in October 1981 , the only way forward was to purchase their own field and build their own facilities. In January 1983 a field was purchased and by the end of the summer the field had been levelled and sidelines and car park completed. During the following months the dressing rooms were built and on June 2nd 1985 the field was officially opened by Dr. Mick Loftus, President C.L.G.
THE FOLLOWING PIECES WERE TAKEN FROM THE ARCHIVES BY JOHN CURTIN,MAIN STREET, BALLYHAHILL.
The Munster News March 17 1888-The Affilated County Gaelic Clubs;”The following is a list of clubs for whom I have received affiliation fees-Brother Sheares”.
The Munster News April 18 1888 – “FOOTBALL AT BARRIGONE”
The Brother Sheares defeated Shanagolden(Shanid Aboos)for a silver cup by 1-2 to 0-0.
The next match between Loughill(Faugh-a-Ballagh)and Shanagolden juniors for a silver watch was won by Faugh-a-Ballagh by 1-5 to 0-0.