The centrality of hurling and the GAA in the lives of the people of Kilmaley has been evident since the formative years of the Gaelic Athletic Association. The ‘Davitts’ Club representing the Inch area was formed in 1886, and was shortly followed by the ‘Wolfe Tones’ club which was founded in Kilmaley. The Smith O’Briens club was soon formed in Connolly and by 1887 there were no fewer than three separate hurling clubs operating within the parish. For some years the three clubs operated successfully and the exploits of each against opposition from neighbouring parishes were frequently documented within the local press. However, by 1900 the three clubs had effectively disappeared owing to the political turmoil in relation to the Charles Stewart Parnell divorce scandal, which threatened the very existence of the GAA nationwide. Around 1902-1903 a new club was formed in Kilmaley, and this team reached their peak in 1905 when they were beaten by Tulla in the county semi-final. At this time, Connolly had a football team, and were assisted by some of the players from the Kilmaley hurling team. One of Connolly’s leading men was local school teacher E. Quinn, a native of Bansha who was regarded as one of Munster’s finest players, representing Clare on many occasions in the Munster championship.
The Kilmaley team went into gradual decline between 1905 and 1925, resulting in no club representing the parish between 1925 and 1928. The men of Slaveen (North Inch) formed a new club which competed in the County Junior championship between 1929 and 1931. In 1934 this team amalgamated with Kilmaley to form a single club which continues to the present day.
The club won its first county title in 1938 when it defeated Ogonnelloe in the final of the Intermediate ‘B’ championship. The club narrowly missed out on the intermediate championship the following year, before entering a period of transition from the mid 40’s to the early 60’s. Although 1945 did prove to be an historic year for Kilmaley GAA, when parish native Mick Murphy, who played at centre field on the ’38 team, won an All-Ireland medal at wing back for Tipperary.
A revival in the clubs fortunes was sparked in 1963 when Kilmaley won the Junior A championship with victory over Meelick in the final. In the late 60’s and early 70’s great effort was devoted to the development of underage hurling within the parish and this was reflected in maiden minor A and U21 A championship victories in 1973 and 1975 respectively. These teams formed the backbone of the Intermediate championship winning team of 1980, who defeated Cratloe by the minimum in the final. Then in 1985, under the captaincy of PJ Kennedy the Canon Hamilton was captured for the first time, with a 0-10 to 0-8 win over Eire Og (Inis). This victory coincided with the development of the clubs original playing facilities at Kilclogher.
Many of the clubs players have also represented the county with distinction down through the years, with some winning All-Ireland medals at various grades. Conor Clancy was a member of the victorious 1995 and 1997 All-Ireland teams, and he was joined in 1997 by Colin Lynch. Both players were subsequently part of our second senior county championship win in 2004.
Recent years have seen unprecedented success by the club at underage level, culminating in an U16 A and Minor A double in 2014. The club now caters for players of all ages, with teams ranging from U6 to U21, with the aim of developing players for our 3 adult teams. The club has also recently developed new state-of-the-art playing pitches in Lisbeggeen in the centre of the parish, to cater for all the parishes hurling and camogie players. As a result all club members look to future with justifiable optimism, as we attempt to provide the best playing facilities possible, to enable us to continue to foster a love of the game amongst the future generations of the parish.
Club Executive Officiers 2015:
President: Eugene McMahon.
Chairman: Vincent Wall (087-8516945).
Secretary: Vincent Hennessy (087-8113030).
Treasurer: Emmet Pyne (087-2373427).
Further information on Kilmaley GAA can be found on the following: