This year 2014, Belleeks St. Laurence O’Tooles will have celebrated 30 years in Armagh football, maybe not as long as many of the clubs around us, but for Belleeks it has been a long journey.
In 1967 Belleeks first came into football, formed in the local Primary School, Master Connolly’s room as we called it then, that team lasted no more than 4/5 years, the present one is now going on 31, So for this club now reaching this hallmark, and growing, it is indeed a massive milestone.
When Joseph McCreesh held aloft the Armagh Junior Championship trophy in the Athletic Armagh in 2001, the year before Armagh won their first ever ‘Sam’ it was undoubtedly the highlight of a short history of Belleek GFC. It was an achievement that the club had aspired to since they return to the scene in 1984, although it took two final appearances to achieve it, that night in 2001 was both historic and memorable.
Plans for Belleek reformation commenced in 1983 and a few months later, after a lapse of approximately thirteen years, they were back in the GAA circles and in February of 1984 they played their first league game in Forkhill winning 4-3 to 2-3
The St. Laurence O’Tooles Belleeks Line-out on that historic day, Sunday February 12th 1984 were, in goals Emmett Murphy. Laurence Quinn. Louie Smith. Gerard Savage. Joseph McParland. Gerry Murphy. Joseph O’Rourke. Brenden Finnegan. Eugene O’Callaghan [B/F] Declan Finnegan. John McParland. Fergal Boyle. John Quinn. Finbar Murphy, Paddy Cahill. Substitutes. Martin Smith. Mal Kelly. Scorers. Martin Smith [2-0] Finbar Murphy [1-1] Fergal Boyle [1-0] Paddy Cahill. Declan Finnegan. [0-1 each]
Referee Tony Gillen ‘Ballymacnab’.
There have been numerous promotion and relegation battles before and after, but that Junior championship win in 2001, has been the highlight
Belleeks history doesn’t start with the present team, the structures, were put in place in 1967, though it mayn’t have lasted all that long, five years at the most. Chaired by the late Pete ‘Boiler’ Murphy, the first head of the club, committee men likes of John boyle, Bob Finnegan, James Savage, Eddie ‘Ted’ Finnegan, Kevin Murphy, Oliver Murphy, Stan Donnelly, Barney Murphy, Gerry McParland, Mickey McParland and many more, they built the foundation of what is now in place.
The reforming of the club in 1983 didn’t go as comfortable as everyone would have liked there were many objections, the past was only a few short years ago, but hard work by certain individuals who sold the idea of club to the county board got it through.
The first official meeting took place on 27th. October of the same year, in Belleek Primary School, a committee was then put in place, Jimmy McCreesh was elected [Chairman] Fr Christopher McMahon [Vice-Chairman] Patricia Tully [Secretary] Gerard Savage [Treasurer] Patsy Finnegan [PRO]
There was a tremendous attendance at that meeting, thirty-seven persons, Finbar Murphy, John Quinn, Gerry [Rowe] McParland RIP. Martin Smith. Pat Fearon, Sean Tully. Colm McParland RIP. Laurence Quinn, Micheal O’Callaghan. Brenden Finnegan. Francis Smith. Emmett Murphy. Fr. Christopher Mohan, Kevin Fearon. Eugene O’Callaghan [B/F] Aidan Finnegan. Fergal Boyle. Johnny McParland. Eamon Boyle. Philip McParland. Joe McParland. Paul McCann RIP. Micheal O’Callaghan [Belleeks] Seamus O’Callaghan RIP. Martin Walsh. P.J. Boyle. John Boyle [Senior] RIP, Declan Finnegan. Joseph O’Callaghan. Peter Fearon. Gerald Savage. Jimmy McCreesh. Patricia Tully. Joseph O’Rourke RIP. John O’Callaghan. Seamus McCaffrey and Patsy Finnegan.
Belleeks lifted their first silverware when they won the Whitecross tournament beating Granemore in September 1987, big celebrations followed afterwards. Fergal Boyle brother of the late Sean, of which the tournament was named after, scored 0-9 of Belleeks 0-11.
In that year of 1987, Sean Tully took and under-12 team to Crossmaglen to play the Rangers, and although they lost that game, it was possibly the start of under-age football in the club.
In 1988, Belleek defeated Shane O’Neills at Killeavy to lift the first of their four South Armagh Cup/Shield from 1988 to 92, that first win, with goals from Declan Finnegan and Gerry Murphy, Johnny McParland was the captain, was the first Armagh trophy to be won by the club, more was to follow
Belleek were promoted from the 4th division to the 3rd as runners-up Clady in 1990, moved house in the same year, 1990, from Davitts crossroad on the Shaughan Road to Tate Road, a few miles away, they were seven years in that dwelling, and like their first ever game at Forkhill, they also were victorious as they entertained Clonmore in their first league on Tate, winning 1-8 to 0-7
In 1991 the club put their first camogie team on the field, Cailini na hEireann, starting at under-12 and in 1997 they created history winning both the Junior Championship and Division 3 league title, a truly memorable double for the girls, unfortunately they folded in 1998.
In 1992 the seniors were promoted to the 2nd division after a tremendous win in Portadown against Tir na nOg, but missed out the following year in a play-off with Culloville to got to the Premier [1st Division] league in Armagh.
There has been Tournament wins, Whitecross, four times, Carrickcruppen twice, Clady once 1990, Cullyhanna, four times, Shane O’Neills once. The first all county trophy the Murray McAvoy arrived 1992 against Derrynoose, and then again two years later in ’93, beating Tir na nOg in Lissummon, and the Division 3 league cup in 1995, but no doubt the winning of the Junior championship dwarf all that, and in 2009 they got to their 3rd final although on this occasion losing to Shane O’Neill’s after a replay.
In 1992 Drumherrif and Belleek legendary John Boyle, who played for Drumherrif in the Armagh Junior Championship final of 1952, and in the Belleeks team 1967, cut the first sod on Pairc na nGael our new football field on the Shaughan road, which is now our home, the ground belonged to another 1967 footballer Seamus McParland.
After falling all the way down the league tables, Belleek in 1996 won their first league title to return to the 3rd Division.
In 2001 the greatest day in the Belleek calendar apart from them entering the Armagh league in 1984, the winning of the junior championship under the guidance of the management of Martin Smith and Eugene O’Callaghan and coaches Marty McDonnell and Tommy Murphy, they lifted their first Junior Championship with a magnificent win over Annaghmore at the Athletic Grounds. Earlier round victories over Derrynoose, Clonmore, and Killeavy 2nds to get them to that final appearance against Annaghmore, which followed with a meeting against Drumgoon from County Cavan, at Crematin in the final of the first ever Ulster Junior Club Championship
The Victorious Belleek team that lifted the Junior Championship.
Niall Loughran. Ciaran Connolly. Joseph McCreesh. Patrick McElroy. Conor Quinn [0-1] Shane Quinn. Martin Boyle. Darren Toner. Johnny McParland. Brenden Collins. [0-2] Gary McParland [0-3] Colm Quinn. [0-1] Raymond O’Rourke. [0-1] Eugene O’Callaghan. Ciaran Leonard [0-2].
Padraig McCreesh, for Ciaran Connolly.
Patrick O’Callaghan [2-0] for Eugene O’Callaghan.
Other subs. Paul Hayes, Oliver Maguire, Cathal Hayes. Gavin Bradley. Noel Crilly.
Gerry O’Reilly, Shane Toner. Patrick Hearty. Raymond McCreesh. Dermot Murphy.
Referee Noel Martin. ‘Ballymacnab’.
In 2002 came the opening of the field, blessed by Archbishop Sean Brady on a glorious day in November, Armagh and Meath played at the opening with five Belleeks players playing for Armagh, John McParland, Brenden Collins, Shane Quinn, Raymond O’Rourke, and Ciaran Leonard who scored Armagh’s goal in the game.
Also in that same years 2002 new Lotto Committee was created after the breakup of the Belleeks/Whitecross lotto, Pearse Lennon and Shane McGeough named on the St. Paul’s Under-14 Ulster Final team to play at Clones, Conor Quinn was selected for the Armagh County minor team, a follow on from Seamus Savage in 1990 our first Under-21 twelve years earlier. Seamus later on went onto play senior football with the county. The Under-14’s reached the final of the Shield, losing narrowly to Shane O’Neills; the Clady tournament final was lost to Ballymacnab. Success was achieved in the Under-12 League Shield final against Whitecross.
There have been many other moments in the club calendar.
1992 with Down winners of the 1991 All Ireland, Sam Maguire made its first visit to the club, and afterwards went on a tour of all the local schools in the Parish
Also in 1992 Belleek entered Scor na nOg for the first time, at Junior level, entering in four categories, Brenden Collins, Kieran Loughran and Miceal Collins, participated in Question time,
Sonya McParland and Clodagh Loughran in the Instrumental music.
Belleek Ceili Dancers were Lynette Finnegan, Fiona Murphy, Sinead Fearon. Davina McKeown.
Belleek set-dancers were who were the qualifiers for the Armagh County Final = Lynette Finnegan, Davina McKeown, Sinead Fearon, Fiona Murphy, Lisa O’Reilly, Sharon Markey, Lisa O’Rourke and Andrea McParland.
Then in 1994 they entered senior Scor, in two categories, A Question Time team consisting of Jimmy McCreesh, Fergal Burns and Aidan Finnegan, and in the Ceili Dancing, the team were Maura Murphy, Patricia Tully, Mary O’Callaghan, Pauline Markey, Tracey Loughran, Pauline Loughran, Roisin Feely and Lil McParland.
1997 Jack Boothman the President of Cuman Luthchleas Gael, was a visitors to the Primary School, a great occasion for all, and a great honour to the Club
In 1998 Belleeks won their 1st under-age trophy ,the South Armagh Under-14 Cup,.
1999 reached their first Junior Championship, beating Lissummon, Mullabrack and Tullysaron after two games, before losing to Ballymacnab.
2000 Belleeks amalgamated with Whitecross as Loughgilly at under-16 & Minor, after a lapse of 31 years.
In 2007, with a celebratory dinner in the Carrickdale hotel, Belleeks celebrated 40 years in football, in conjunction with the 1967 team.
2009 Belleeks reached their 3rd Junior final, losing to Shane O’Neills after a replay in the Athletic Grounds. 2013 the under-16 lifted their first ever All County under-age trophy, beating Carrickcruppen after a replay in Dromintee, drawing the first game in the Athletic grounds a fortnight earlier.
In 2013 Belleeks Facebook page was launched, club Belleeks gac.