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The Boys from Ballyduff
Just a mile or thereabouts,

From the lordly Shannon mouth,

There's a spot to which none other I'd compare;

It's a village, not a town,

Though her sons have gained renown,

For the Boys from Ballyduff are always there.


The Founding of Ballyduff GAA Club

The exact date of the founding of Ballyduff GAA Club is not known. It was either at the end of 1887 or the beginning of 1888. It was one of the first hurling clubs in the county. The club was represented at the first County Board meeting which was held in Tralee on November 17th, 1888. The club delegates were Jack Callaghan and Jim McDonnell. Martin O'Sullivan, a native of Rattoo, represented Listowel and was elected to represent North Kerry at future meetings of the County Board.

1889 - the first Championship

The first ever County Senior Hurling Championship was played for in 1889. Five teams participated - Abbeydorney, Ballyduff, Kenmare, Kilgarvan and Kilmoyley.

In the very first game on March 10th, Abbeydorney defeated Ballyduff on a scoreline of 1-1 to 0-1. Kenmare became the first holders of the championship when they defeated Kilmoyley 1-0 to 0-1. (A goal outweighed any number of points at the time). Each team was made up of twenty one players a side.


The 1890 Championship again had an entry of five teams - Kilmoyley, Abbeydorney, Kenmare, Ballyduff and Lerrig, who had replaced Kilgarvan.

In the first round Kilmoyley defeated Abbeydorney 0-6 to 0-2. The semi-finals saw Ballyduff prove too good for Lerrig and winning on a scoreline of 3-5 to 0-1. Kilmoyley got a walk-over in the other semi-final from Kenmare in a replay. The first game was a fairly tough encounter - a repeat of the previous county final. Kenmare refused to line out in the second game.

Ballyduff and Kilmoyley met in their first county final on June 15, 1890 with Kilmoyley emerging as victors on a scoreline of 2-2 to 0-0.

So, Ballyduff were in at the start in fact reached three county finals in a row 1890, 1891 and 1892. John O'Mahony, who captained the team in those days, and Jim McDonnell were the two main men behind the Ballyduff hurling club at the time. Glory was to come Ballyduff's way with the winning of the 1891 All-Ireland senior hurling championship. From the humble beginnings of 1888 to an All-Ireland three years afterwards was Ballyduff's reward for promoting our native game.

1891 - A Year of Glory

After the disappointment of their 1890 County Championship final defeat, Ballyduff set about the task of capturing the '91 title. The County final was a repeat of the previous year, Kilmoyley V Ballyduff, and was preceeded by two football games. The Kerry reporter noted that both teams suffered from emigration but were still eager to wrest the mantle of County Champions. There was some falling off in form by Kilmoyley with a marked improvement by Ballyduff who were expert at overhead play. At half-time Ballyduff lead by 1-0 to 0-2. There were no further scores in the second half so Ballyduff won their first County title. The report continued: "if they are careful to keep practising there is little fear that they will render a good account of the All-Ireland Championship".

Munster Semi-Final

The first round of the Munster hurling championship which was also the semi-final, was Ballyduff's next assignment. This game was played in Killarney on Sunday, September 20, and Blackrock, Cork, provided the opposition.At the call of time in this game, Ballyduff were victorious with a score of Ballyduff 2-7, Blackrock 0-3.

Munster Final

It was then to the Munster final for the meeting of Treaty Stone, Limerick, and Ballyduff, Kerry. The teams were destined to meet on two occasions. Treaty Stone were awarded the first game played in Newcastle West on November 1, 1891 on a scoreline of 1-2 to 1-1. Ballyduff claimed that a point scored by them was disallowed by the referee on the grounds that time had expired. Ballyduff appealed the decision and were granted a replay which took place in Abbeyfeale on January 31, 1892. Ballyduff ran out easy winners on a scoreline of 2-4 to 0-1.

Team: J Mahony (Capt), J Pierce, M Kelly, P Carroll, P Flanagan, P Wynne, M O'Sullivan, R Kissane, J Crowley, P County, D Doolan, J O'Sullivan, T Dunne, J Murphy, J J Murphy, M Fitzmaurice, J McDonnell, D Boyle, J Nolan, J Crowley, P Crowley.

All-Ireland Final

The stage was now set for the All-Ireland between Ballyduff and Crossabeg, Wexford. Crossabeg had come through in Leinster by defeating Dublin Raparees. This game also proved to be the All-Ireland semi-final as neither Connaught or Ulster participated in the hurling championship.

Rule changes came into being on January 13, 1892 at the annual congress. One of these changes was that for inter-county contests, champion clubs were allowed select players from other clubs in the county in order to strengthen their team. Ballyduff called on players from Kilmoyley and Ardfert to strengthen their squad which already had some Lixnaw players on it. Crossabeg called on the services of eleven players from neighbouring Castlebridge. This was the last All-Ireland final to be played with 21 players a-side. (Teams were reduced to 17 a-side in the 1892 championship). It was also the only All-Ireland final to have extra time played.

The All-Ireland final was played on Sunday, Febuary 27 in Clonturk Park. This game resulted in Ballyduff running out victors on a scoreline of 2-4 to 1-5. The result was received with vociferous cheering, the victorious team being taken on the shoulders of the crowd and carried triumphantly off the field amidst a scene of the wildest enthusiasm.

1891 was indeed a year of glory - Ballyduff won their first County Senior Hurling Championship and went on to win for Kerry, its only Munster and All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship to date.

All-Ireland Winning Team

John Mahony, Ballyduff (Capt.); Maurice Fitzmaurice; Ahabeg; Maurice Kelly, Ahabeg; John Murphy, Ahabeg; Jack O'Sullivan, Ballyduff; Paddy Carr Carroll, Ballyduff; Pat Wynne, Ballyduff; Jim McDonnell, Ballyduff; Michael O'Sullivan, Ballyduff; James Crowley, Ballyduff; Frank Crowley, Ballyduff; Pat O'Rourke, Kilmoyley; Thade Eugene McCarthy, Kilmoyley; Thade Donal McCarthy, Ardfert; Michael McCarthy, Ardfert; Michael Riordan, Ardfert; Richard Kissane, Ballyduff; Pat Quane, Kilmoyley; Jackeen Quane, Kilmoyley; Michael Kirby, Kilmoyley; Tom Dunne, Ballyduff.

Subs: J Murphy, Dromartin; Pat Flanagan, Ballyduff; Willie O'Connell, Ballinorig; James Pierce, Rahela was unable to travel.