Williamstown G.A.A. Club has been playing a central role in our community for decades by providing a focal point for sporting activity in the parish. Gaelic Football has been played here since the game was formalised and has continued to thrive ever since with, naturally, the low periods and the high periods in terms of club successes intermingling with each other. Though players were drawn from all corners of the parish, certain areas, not surprisingly, were very much to the fore at different times in providing excellent players. For a time in the 1940s and 50s, our club amalgamated with our neighbours Glenamaddy and when we decided to go it on our own again in the 1950s, there were many lean years before successes started to come our way. However, we continued to enter teams in the various grades that were open to us, which were basically Junior, Minor and under 16. As other grades were introduced, the club entered teams in these also. Among the underage teams that stand out as being very talented was the under 16 team of 1967.
At Junior level, the big breakthrough was slow in coming but in the mid 1970s, a very good team was taking shape. A number of local tournaments were won and then in 1978, the team captured the North Board League title, beating St. Gabriel’s, Kilconnell in the final. Pat Kenny was the manager of the team and I had the honour of captaining the team myself. In 1979 we retained the North Board League title, this time defeating Corofin in the final. Pat Kenny was again the manager and Paddy Geraghty was now the captain. No major honours came the way of the club in 1980, but this was followed by the most successful year ever in the club’s history at adult level as in 1981, the team, now playing in the Intermediate grade, or Division 2 as it was then known, brought off a unique double, winning the North Board League title again, defeating neighbours Glinsk in the final and also capturing the county championship, beating Clifden in the final. Pat Kenny was still the manager in 1981 and the captain in this historic year was John Timothy. This successful team was honoured by the club in 2006, the 25th anniversary of this victory with a celebratory social in Morgans Function Room, Williamstown.
Though the club continued to participate in a competitive manner in the years that followed, no major honours came our way again until 1993 when once again, the club captured the North Board Junior League title, defeating neighbours Kilkerrin/Clonberne in the final. The team was managed by Kevin Boyle and the captain was John Connaughton. Then came another quiet period in the club’s fortunes until in the early years of the new century, another talented team was taking shape. After a number of near misses, this team made another historic breakthrough when it won the County Junior A league title of 2005, beating Salthill/Knocknacarra in the final, which was actually played in early 2006. The team was managed by one of our former players, John Geraghty and was captained by David Brandley. This brought the club up to the Intermediate grade once again, where we remain at present.
In the meantime, the club was enjoying wonderful success at underage level, and thanks to the combination of talented groups of players and dedicated, committed mentors, several well-deserved titles came to the club at under 12, under 14 and under 16 level.
In addition to on-the-field successes, the club has been very active in other areas also. The facilities in the Sportsfield and in the Sports Complex are second to none and these are currently being upgraded once again. The club continues to hold enjoyable functions and runs successful fundraising ventures, either on its own or, as is the case with the local lotto, along with our sister club, Williamstown Handball Club. With a young, dynamic and hard-working group of officers, with many talented players at all levels, with dedicated managers and mentors and with the wide support of the community at large, the future looks very community.
PRO Leo Finnegan