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How A Tiny Offaly GAA Club Achieved A Historic Quadruple

How A Tiny Offaly GAA Club Achieved A Historic Quadruple
By Nathan Molloy Updated
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Co. Offaly club Ballinagar won the club's fourth trophy of 2022 after winning the Junior Football Championship C Final against Edenderry 4-11 to 1-6 last Saturday.

From Famine To Feast

The Offaly club is situated in a rural village with just one shop, church and pub with a population of around 500. The club were founded in 1891. In 1918, the club got the nickname the Dreadnoughts for refusing to leave the field after being ordered by the Black & Tans. Before this year, the club have only won 2 trophies in their history, the last being the Junior A Championship back in 1988. However, they ended their famine in style this year, winning four trophies. They won the Division 4 and 5 league titles and won both the Junior A and C championships.

Main Players Out

The most impressive aspect of their quadruple is that they won the Junior A championship without 2 of their best players. Their captain Morgan Tynan who was part of the Offaly team that won the U20 All Ireland Championship last year, got injured before the semifinal. They were also without Ryan Strong, another midfielder for the side. However, Ballinagar managed to power through the semi beating Edenderry and setting up a showdown with Kilcormac-Killoughey.

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For arguably the club's most important game in decades, Ryan's brother Adam flew in from Texas where he was on college placement. He came on in the second half and settled the midfield. Kilcormac-Killoughey were favourites for the game due to their previous successes. However, the rural Offaly club wasn't fazed by the occasion and went in at half time 0-6 to 0-5 up.

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Brewing with confidence, Ballinagar started the second half in the same fashion. After their opponents went down to 14, the club capitalised on it, leading by 0-12 to 0-8 with 12 minutes left. The tide turned quickly after with Killoughey scoring 3 on the spin. With the gap down to just one, Ballingar were beginning to get nervous. Nevertheless, they responded in emphatic fashion scoring a goal to kill the game off completely.

Nearly Amalgamated

Their fantastic achievement comes a few years after the club was nearly amalgamated with neighbouring club Raheen. Ballingar agreed for the two clubs to combine but Raheen's votes fell short of the 75% threshold needed so the proposal was abandoned. Chairman Ciaran Darcy believes their quick turnaround in fortunes is down to their underage success.

In 2019, Na Fianna, the club their younger players play for, won the minor county championship. Ballingar had 12 players that started the final. These 12 players have stuck with the club and have provided the success that came to them this year.

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After their huge success this year, it looks unlikely that they'll have to wait another 34 years for their next trophy.

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