Club Name (As Gaelige): Cluain Mhor Roibeard Eimeid
Club Name: Clonmore Robert Emmets
Team Colours: Green and Gold
There are few details of the presence of the Gaelic football team in Clonmore in the early part of the twentieth century but the origin of the sport in the area is said to have been instigated by a Derry man, Joe Doherty, who had been a Station Master at Vernersbridge station. Names which have been associated with this era include Charlie McKee (Senior), Tom Fox, John and Paddy Carberry, Paddy Tierney, Dick Tierney and James Farrell in goals, Farrell supposedly ferried the team in his jaunting car to matches in Moy and Collegeland. A team is thought to have played in a tournament in Con O’Neill’s ground in Trewmount during a time when a ban had been placed on Gaelic games by the British. Clonmore’s name appears in a historic narrative in a Souvenir programme for the opening of Davitt Park, Lurgan in 1947. The article describes the journey of the North Armagh league and in one section refers to the initiation of this league in 1916 with Clonmore named as one of the participating teams along with Ballyhegan, Collegeland and Maghery.
A pencil record, which has started to fade in parts, indicates contributions from both Catholic and Protestant families to the fund for the club. The list is entitled ‘June 1932, Hamill’s Field, Clonmore FC’. The collection was lifted by Dan McAlinden and John Farmer. Mickey Taggert who later emigrated to the USA was said to have been a chief organiser of this team of the thirties. At this time Felix (Claude) Coyne was also instrumental in the purchase of the home of the county team – the Athletic Grounds.
In an interesting turn of events, Clonmore Emmets (1935 runners up) and MagheryBradys (1935 title holders) ended on level points in the 1936 league. The deciding match was played on 2nd May 1937 in Blackwatertown and resulted in a draw after a “fast match” in which both teams had players sent off. Recorded as “outstanding” for Clonmore in this match were “Farmer, Foy, O’Neill and Taggert”. Two weeks previously Maghery had defeated Clonmore by two points in a 1937 league game. The following match was set for June 6th, again in Blackwatertown and in a day described as a “Mecca for North Armagh Gaels”, Clonmore lifted their first ever title defeating Maghery 3-7 to 2-0.
Johnny Carberry suggested that we start a team and a meeting was duly held in Coyne’s apple store. A large crowd attended and a committee was formed which included Johnny Carberry (Chairman), Willie Molloy, Pat Mullen, Charlie McKee and “Big” John Grimley as committee members. Some money was raised and a full football strip of Royal blue jerseys and white shorts purchased. Mrs Fox of Tullyroan sewed numbers on to each jersey and Johnny Carberry applied to join the Lurgan Junior League.
In 1953 the last game of this Clonmore Emmets team was played against Blackwatertown on the rampart pitch – it included: John Molloy, John Grimley, Pat Joe Dynes, young John Grimley, Tommy Coleman McDowell brothers. This team played in blue. At a time when the county team had such success it was disappointing that the Clonmore team would have to call it a day.
The current Robert Emmets GFC club was formed in 1966. A call for a public meeting described in the Armagh Observer refers to Clonmore as ‘A once famous County Armagh club…is to be revived after a lapse of nearly 20 years’. The article goes on to name many of the historic figures of the football club in previous years:
Frank O’Neill, Bernard, Edward and Frank O’Neill, the Coynes, the Caseys, Malachy Foye, Johnny Foye, Jimmy McGeown, The Grimleys, the Dalys, John Farmer, Seamus Carberry, the Molloys, Mick Taggert, the Mullen brothers and others.
The first league game was against St Patrick’s in March 1966, with Clonmore securing their first victory by a narrow margin of one point. They also provided a shock in the first round of the Junior Championship in the same year defeating Camlough.
The formation of the senior team in 1966 brought with it a thirst for the game among the younger members of the Clonmore community and while unable to develop a full team on their own, a drafting of young players from neighbouring parishes and clubs without a junior structure, Clonmore went on to win the Juvenile league. The Observer headlined ‘A trophy at last for Clonmore’ and describes how the team played Ballymacnab in the Athletic Grounds Armagh on the 5th of November 1972 ‘wielded into a successful team by trainer Brian Farmer’. A week later the team completed the double by also winning the Juvenile Championship in the same grounds against Maghery, the final score 1-12 to 0-5.
The Emmets kept winning and the talk turned to whether they could go through the league unbeaten. Their nearest rivals were Derrynoose but they managed to beat them twice. They drew two matches against the same team (Aghagallon/Cullaville) home and away and won every other match. They had the league won with four matches still to play. At the end of that year the league system in Armagh changed from four divisions to three so Clonmore were promoted straight from Division Four to Division Two.
The battle for promotion to division 1 was within grasp and a historic win over Culloville late on in November. In spite of St Pauls and Blackwatertown being no shows to matches it was ruled that the matches had to be refixed and Clonmore not awarded the points, Clonmore dropped the points in the St Paul’s match with a scoreline of 1-4 to 2-2 in the Taghnevan side’s favour.
In 1982 with Brendan Daly at the helm, former Tyrone and Ulster county star, Gerry Taggert was taken on as the first official trainer for the team. Despite the build up and an air of confidence, Clonmore were defeated in the championship final by a team in their first year of competition, Corrinshigo. In a match played in Ballymacnab, the score ended up Corrinshigo 2-9 to Clonmore 1-3.
With a month gap in play, the second last league game of the season heralded victory fielding a full strength team against Madden, the desire to win was obvious in the 5-14 to 1-4 final score. It was early November before promotion was secured with a victory of 0-13 to 0-4 over league winners Ballymacnab, the Emmets ensured that other promotion candidates Mullabrack could reach the points needed.
In 1984, John Donaghy and John Gerard Grimley went to the administration of the AOH of the Board of Erin and purchased the hall for a sum of £1200, the late Jim McAlinden is said to have been responsible for setting the wheels in motion for the transaction. This was the first property owned by the club and replaced social activities at “Clarke’s Shop”.
Through the nineties while off the pitch the decade commenced with much hope with the rededication and opening of the hall in 1990, less success could be mentioned on the pitch. As the results in the club performance section suggest, the club suffered unbelievable blows to the spirit by running two seasons, 1993 and 1994 with no wins recorded and only one draw. The club almost folded but for a rally by a few stalwart members to ensure that Gaelic football would survive in Clonmore.
Having several homes throughout its lifespan, the club had spent many years at the Riverside pitch. In 2001, Robert emmet Park, a new ground for the club was officially opened. To the rear of the hall purchased by the club in the early 80s, the ground was provided by the Donaghy family and much of the organisation of the work carried out by Kieran Conlon. It was 2001 that Mary O’Hagan and James McBennett also sought to start a girls football team for the area.
It had taken 21 years for the team to reach the final of the Junior Championship again and at 4pm on Sunday 7th of September in Maghery, the Emmets faced old derby rivals Annaghmore Pearses. In a tightly fought contest, it was to be the Emmet’s rivals who would lift the title in a 0-11 to 0-9 victory.
Moving on from the disappointment t wo years previous, Tyrone’s Joe Mallon led the team to a double victory with the club’s first championship titles clenched from Port Mór in a last minute goal. The team went on to reach the Ulster Junior final in this year—the first Armagh club to ever achieve this. The club was awarded “Club of the Year” and also gained the league title.
Brendan Donaghy makes his debut for Armagh Senior team in Ballybofey against Donegal in the championship and is named Star Player by the Irish News.
The new clubrooms built and funded by members and supporters is officially opened in a celebration day that included an intercounty match between Armagh and Galway. The club held a major fundraiser, “A Wedding in the West” on the football field at Robert emmet Park.
The team were to reach the county Junior final in 2011, 2013 and 2015 suffering defeats in each final.
League and Junior Championship titles were secured for the men’s team under Paudge Quinn, championship and league runners up titles for the Clonmore under 16s ladies under Kieran Conlon and shield titles for Naomh Eoin Under 16s and Minors. A great year of silverware for the club.
The club has celebrated its centenary year with a number of key events and activities. It looks forward to the further development of the club so it continues to provide joy and identity for the many members and supporters.