THE HISTORY OF BELCOO O’RAHILLY’S
The first recorded playing of Gaelic football by a Belcoo team, is by a team called Belcoo O’ Rahilly’s in 1917, who competed in the mid-ulster league. In 1926 Belcoo appeared in Fermanagh County competition for the first time. Organised football seemed to die out from 1926 onwards, although there are records of challenge games being played in the 30’s and 40’s along with football kickabouts on the Belcoo fair green.
In 1943 a new team, Holywell St Patrick’s was formed. A club was also formed in Mullaghdun, but never affiliated with the Co. board. In 1944 Holywell competed in the Fermanagh county board organised competitions, and while not winning many games managed to fulfill all their fixtures. The club colours were green and white.
In 1947 Holywell won both the county Junior league and county Junior championship titles. In 1949 Holywell were suspended by the County board for not fulfilling a fixture, and the club disbanded.
In 1952 a club called Belcoo was registered with the county board. During the 50’s two Junior League finals were contested but the team was defeated on both Occasions. In 1960 Belcoo won the Junior Football League when they beat Knocks in the final. In 1963 the Junior league was won once more. The club was promoted to Intermediate level in the mid ’60s, and after 3 championship semi-final defeats (66,67,68), Belcoo won the Intermediate league and Championship in 1969. In 1970 the club reached the Senior championship final for the first time, but were defeated by Tempo. In 1975 Belcoo won the Senior division 2 title. Also in the late 1970’s the club changed to its current colours of light blue and navy.
In the 1980’s the club reached the Senior championship final in 1981, 1985 and 1988 without winning the New York Gold Cup. Belcoo also contested 3 division one league finals, in 1981, 1986 and 1987. In 1990 Belcoo won the Senior division 2 league. During the 90’s and 00’s the club won 4 Intermediate championships – 1994,1995,2000 and 2003.
Early to Mid 2000’s
The potential of this current crop of young players became evident in 2004 when they won the clubs first ever Division One Minor League title. The following year the Minor League and Championship Double was completed. As well as the minor double success of 2005, the majority of these players made up the Junior Side that won the Division 2 Junior League. In 2006 the Seniors went the entire Division 2 league season unbeaten but lost the league final to Irvinestown, but the main objective of playing Division One football was achieve. Also in 2006 the Seniors won the Intermediate Championship Final following two draws with Brookeborough before we came out on top in the third game. Into the Ulster Intermediate Championship were we beat Drumgath but lost in the Semi Final to Coleraine, who went on the reach the All Ireland Final.
Milestone Year (2007)
For the first time in a number of years the seniors would compete in the Division One league following promotion from Division 2. The season started with some excellent victories and the team’s style of play was talked about throughout the county. This team was to make History at the end of the season when they lifted the clubs First Ever Senior Title when they defeated Teemore in the League Final on a score line of 2-15 to 1-8 in Kinawley on October 14th 2007. The team on this historic day was James McGrath, Emmet Scollan, Niall Leonard, Mark McGovern, Sean McNulty, Ryan Dolan, Declan Leonard, Stephen Maguire (0-2), Seamus Conlon, Paul McGrath (0-4), Shane McCabe (0-1), Brian Cox (1-2), Kieran Leonard (0-5), John Carrigan (1-1), Ciaran Flaherty. Subsititutes included Kevin McPartland, Ryan, Gavin and Christopher Leonard, Ryan McGovern, Nevan Higgins and Shain Gallagher. The management setup included John Joe Stewart, Brian Treacy and Tony McGourty.
The late 2000’s continued to be a successful period for the club. The Minors completed a second double of this decade in 2008, after the preious success in 2006. Also in 2009 the Minors done a third double of League and Championship however the League title in this particular year was a Division 2 one.
Elsewhere the Juniors, who were benefitting from the up and coming youngsters collected the Junior Division 2 League and Reverse B Championship crowns in 2008. In 2009 and back in Division 1 the Juniors only survived relegation following a playoff victory. However in 2010 the Juniors were to collect the clubs first Junior Division 1 League title since 1963 with a victory over Teemore. Gary McNulty, Connor Leonard and Kieran Nugent also guided this Junior side to the reserve A Championship final in 2010 but Roslea proved too strong on the day.
In terms of the Seniors, all has gone quiet following their breakthrough victory in 2007, they contested the league semi finals in 2010 but neighbours Devenish defeated them.
As we prepare to enter another decade, Belcoo remain without a Senior Championship Title and following four first round defeats in the last four years, it will take a big effort to get our hands on the New York Gold Cup.
The 2010 season started on a positive note with 7 straight league wins under the guidance of Raymond Gallagher & Hugh Donnelly before a 4week break midseason as Fermanagh took part in the Ulster Championship halted the winning run. For the remainder of the season form was patchy and a limp Championship outing against Roslea (2-13 to 0-4) was a big disappointment. In the League Semi Final the Seniors Lost to Devenish 2-9 to 0-7.
The Junior side had a good season, winning the Erne Cup Division 1 league with a 2-15 to 1-9 success over Teemore in the Final while almost completing the double, a strong Roslea outfit securing the Championship honours after a 1-13 to 1-8 win over the O’Rahilly’s in the Final.
2011 was the beginning of a number of years flirting with relegations. 3 wins from the last four league games were needed to secure Division 1 status, these were achieved. Another Championship disappointment arrived when Seniors lost out to Division 2 side Teemore 1-7 to 0-9.
Again the Juniors under Gary McNulty and Conor Leonard secured the Erne Cup Division 1 title after another fine season. This time it was neighbours Devenish who the O’Rahilly’s beat in the Final, 2-10 to 0-13.
2012 was to be a tough year all round, the Seniors stayed up with 2points to spare, a Championship Exit at the first hurdle for a 6th consecutive season, Tempo the team this time, 1-14 to 2-7. The Juniors went from winning back to back leagues to being relegated, losing a promotion/relegation playoff with Enniskillen Gaels 5-8 to 1-10 while exiting the Championship at the first hurdle at the hands of Devenish.
2013 – History Was Almost Made
2013 was ‘nearly’ the year the Club broke it’s Championship duck. Colm Bradley was appointed manager and following a successful pre season in the Ulster League, Colm was forced to step down for family reasons. Damien Gormley took charge and despite picking up just one point from the opening 7 league games Belcoo began to turn the corner in late May with a win over narrow one point win over St.Pat’s in Belcoo, 3-9 to 3-8.
League results remained mixed but it was in the Championship this side made its mark. It was the seventh attempt at the first round for some and Belcoo eeked out a 1-12 to 0-12 Preliminary Round win over Lisnaskea in Brewster Park. An early second half goal by wing half back Paul McGrath the telling score.
The O’Rahilly’s had ‘Momentum’ and were buoyed by the long awaited success in a Championship encounter. In the Quarter Final they confidently disposed of Erne Gaels 2-14 to 1-6. The went into the Semi Final as big underdogs again Derrygonnelly and produced a wonderful display under the bright lights in Brewster on a warm Sunday evening. Jonathan Feeley’s 44th minute goal the difference in a tight 1-9 to 0-9 contest.
25years since the O’Rahilly’s last played in the showpiece final. The opponents were to be Roslea, twice winners in the previous three years. Again the O’Rahilly’s were big underdogs and despite a really positive opening 20minutes they trailed to a Sean Quigley goal, 1-5 to 0-5 at the break.
Stephen Maguire plundered a goal to tie the game with 20minutes remaining, Roslea kicked clear before Paul McGrath had the chance to put Belcoo ahead from the penalty spot. Sean Boyle saved the spot kick and Roslea would finish the stronger to secure a third title in four years on a 1-12 to 1-9 scoreline.
In terms of the league, Belcoo won their final game of the season (the week before the Final v Roslea) the score was 0-16 to 0-0. Roslea sending down a weakened side ahead of the Championship.
The Juniors were hit and miss in a stop start league before embarking on a Championship run. They reached the ‘B’ Final only to lose to St. Pat’s on a 1-15 to 1-9 score.
In 2014 – Again the league was a struggle while the Championship opener pitted the O’Rahilly’s and Roslea together in a repeat of the previous years final. Roslea comfortable seen off the Belcoo challenge 0-13 to 0-4. It prompted Damien Gormley to step down, there were three games remaining in the league and a win was required. James McGrath stepped into help and a win over Ederney in Brewster Park sealed Division 1 football for another year.
The League & Championship were no longer linked. The 8th place final meaning Belcoo will contest the 2015 Intermediate Championship