Around this time the Club had a burning ambition to own their own pitch. The opportunity arose when they purchased eight acres from William Stokes for the sum of £337 15s. Many fundraising methods were used to acquire this sum while voluntary help was readily available to get the pitch in order. It was a proud day for the Club when the pitch was opened by the then President of the GAA Mr Vincent O’Donoghue on the 31st August 1952 . Throughout the 50’s the Club continued to affiliate in all grades but without any great success.
In 1955 handball took a grip in Ballypatrick. A number of local enthusiasts got together and with the help of voluntary labour a Handball Alley was built. It was one of the leading venues in the country and on many occasions it was packed to capacity to witness the skills of the country’s leading players. In later year’s interest declined. However, there was a brief revival in the mid 70’s when Tony Ryan came on the scene. He went on to win many national titles and accompanied by his brother Noel they also won numerous doubles titles.
First Kilsheelan Player to Win All Ireland Senior Hurling Medal
As the decade wore on hurling activity was increasing. 1957 proved to be a special year for the Club when Tom Larkin brought the first ever All Ireland Senior Hurling medal to the parish when Tipperary defeated Galway in the Final. Until 1963 the Club continued to figure prominently. The Club reached the South Junior Hurling Final in 1960 but lost to Newcastle.
For the record the team was: Billy Stokes, Denis Keyes, Dick Strang, Johnny O’Halloran, Frank Burke, Liam Larkin, Dick O’Gorman, Paddy Hennessy, John Donovan, Philly O’Halloran, Tom Larkin, Noel O’Halloran, Jim Morrissey, Percy Larkin, Paddy Kearney, Philly Cahill and John Keyes.
With the arrival of 1964 , few would have realised that this was the start of a very successful period on the playing fields for the Club. Hurling which had gradually been gaining momentum achieved its first honour when they beat Coolmoyne in the Junior Final by 4-10 to 3-5 in Clonmel.
TEAM: Billy Stokes, Liam Larkin, Tom Larkin, Denis Keyes, Johnny O’Halloran, Dick O’Gorman, Pat Commins, Dick Strang, John Donovan, Philly O’Halloran, Frank Coffey, Leo Collins, Noel O’Halloran, Jim Morrissey and Mick Morrissey
In the County Semi Final they lost to the Donie Nealon led Burgess by 3-5 to 3-3.
The Junior Football team also enjoyed success in the South Final when they defeated Commercials by 2-13 to 0-3 in Kilsheelan.
TEAM: Johnny Dempsey, Martin O’Gorman, Tom Larkin, Johnny O’Halloran, Frankie Coffey, Dick O’Gorman, John Donovan, Dick Strang, John Cullinane, Leo Collins 0-2, Philly O’Halloran 0-5, Liam Larkin 1-1, Jim Morrissey, Dick Crotty 1-0 and Noel O’Halloran 0-5.
In the County Semi Final Kilsheelan defeated Moyne Templetuohy by 2-4 to 0-3 in Golden. The County Final against Moneygall took place in Thurles. A last minute point by Liam Larkin made it a draw on 0-4 each. In the replay Moneygall won by 1-7 to 1-4. The team were now promoted to Senior status but made little impression in the next few years.
In 1967 the Intermediate Hurling team defeated Carrick Swan in the Final by 2-7 to 1-6. Additions to the team from the 1964 success were Cyril Robinson, Sean Nugent and Martin O’Gorman. In the County Semi Final they defeated Arravale Rovers by a point. In the Final against Clonakenny at Cashel nothing went right for Kilsheelan as they lost 8-6 to 2-2 .
County Champions after a 33 year wait
In 1968 , the Senior Football championship was played on an open draw basis. Playing their best football in a long time they defeated Moneygall by 1-7 to 0-8 in Thurles. In the second round at Cahir they defeated Lattin Cullen by 1-10 to 1-8. A County Semi Final appearance was now new territory for that generation and at Clonmel they had a narrow win over Moyle Rovers. In the County Final they were paired against Ardfinnan. Neutral opinion was that Kilsheelan would not be able to keep the ball kicked out to a “Babs” Keating led Ardfinnan. In one of the greatest days in the Club’s history they upset the form book and came from behind to win by 1-11 to 2-7. There were joyous scenes as William Robinson accepted the Cup bringing tears of joy to many of the old timers present.
TEAM: Johnny Dempsey, Johnny Driscoll, Johnny O’Halloran, Frankie Coffey, Mick Morrissey, Martin O’Gorman, Dick O’Gorman, Jonathon Moriarty, Donie Fitzpatrick, Dick Strang 0-1, Liam Larkin 0-6, Sean Nugent, Cyril Robinson, William Robinson 1-2 and Philly O’Halloran.
This put Kilsheelan into the Munster Club championship but they came up against a star studded East Kerry side who won by 3-12 to 0-3. As already stated the Hurling team, having won the Intermediate title, were promoted to Senior ranks for the first time ever. They lost to Ballybacon-Grange by 7-6 to 2-16. Scorers were: Philly O’Halloran 0-6, Cyril Robinson 0-5, Dick Strang 0-4, Sean Nugent 1-1 and Mick Morrissey 1- 0.
The following year Ardfinnan turned the tables when they defeated Kilsheelan by 2-1 to 0-5 in the County Semi Final. Babs Keating scored the two goals for Ardfinnan.
In 1970 , in the first round of the Senior Football championship Kilsheelan made a tame exit to Eire Og-Annacarty. However, they fared much better in the South championship. A last minute goal by Jim Kehoe gave them a one point win over Fethard. In the Semi Final an outstanding display gave them a victory of 3-9 to 1-2 over Ardfinnan. The Final against Commercials was played in Kilsheelan. An early goal by Jim Kehoe set the tone and Kilsheelan went on to win by 1-8 to 0-8. Additions from the 1968 team were Jim Kehoe and Tommy Power.
To crown a successful year the Intermediate Hurling team took South honours when they defeated Cahir in the Final. Jim Kehoe was outstanding and was seen as an Inter County prospect. Kilsheelan also had the assistance of Paddy Hennessey who was at home from Amercia at the time.
TEAM: Billy Stokes, Liam Larkin, Denis Keyes, Mick Morrissey, Pat Commins, Paddy Hennessey, Dick O’Gorman, John Donovan (Capt.), Jim Kehoe, Michael Kehoe, Dick Strang, Cyril Robinson, Philly O’Halloran, Jim Morrissey and Sean Nugent.
The football team continued to be a force to be reckoned with in 1972 defeating all comers. Victory over Fethard in the Semi Final ensured another encounter with Ardfinnan. Again Jim Kehoe was the outstanding performer as Kilsheelan held on for a 1-11 to 1-9 victory.
TEAM: Johnny Dempsey, Johnny Driscoll, Johnny O’Halloran, Mick Morrissey, Jim Cahill, Martin O’Gorman, Dick O’Gorman, Jonathon Moriarty, Dick Strang, Liam Murphy, Jim Kehoe 1-5, Cyril Robinson 0-2, Philly O’Halloran 0-1, James Holohan and Sean Nugent 0-1.
SUB: William Robinson 0-2, Sean Connolly and Liam Larkin.
On the Ardfinnan team that day was Jim Healy who later came to live in the parish and involve himself in our Club. In the Munster Club championship in Kilsheelan, Doonbeg from Clare came out on top by 0-6 to 0-3. In the UCD 7-a-side competition for County champions at Belfield Kilsheelan defeated teams from Detroit and Longford. In the Quarter Final they were defeated by Kerry champions Shannon Gaels.
In 1973 the Club reached the County Senior Football Semi Final but lost to Ardfinnan by seven points. The Junior Hurling team created somewhat of a record by scoring 9-2 and were still beaten by 42 points. This unusual scoreline occurred in a first round match against St Mary’s. The game was played in an absolute downpour and conditions were terrible. The final score was 23-1 to 9-2 reminiscent of the 1959 Munster Hurling championship match when Waterford led Tipperary by 8-2 to 0-0 at half time.
In 1975 the Club celebrated its 50th anniversary (although one year late). It was honoured in style with a Dinner in Hearns Hotel in Clonmel and a presentation was made to the surviving members of the first Club team to win a championship. Also that year the Football team had a hard earned 2-14 to 1-8 win over Lattin-Cullen in the County Senior Football championship. The next match against Kilruane proved very controversial. Kilsheelan supporters were very angry at decisions made by the referee and umpire and they also had a goal disallowed before going down by 2-5 to 1-5.
In the Railway Cup Final of that year Jim Kehoe won a Railway Cup medal with Munster in Hurling and the following year he won a Railway Cup Football medal with Munster .
In 1976 Kilsheelan reached the South Senior Football Final only for their bogey team Fethard beating them 2-5 to 0-7.
TEAM: Johnny Dempsey, Johnny Driscoll, Johnny O’Halloran, Mick Morrissey, Pat Larkin, Martin O’Gorman, Jim Cahill, Dick Strang, Michael Kehoe 0-5, Johnny Ormonde, Jim Kehoe 0-1, Cyril Robinson, Liam Murphy, Tommy Ryan and Sean Nugent 0-1.
SUBS: Dick O’Gorman for Martin O’Gorman and Jonathon Moriarty for Tommy Ryan.
In 1977 the 25th anniversary of the opening of the field was celebrated. In order to mark the occasion the South Final between Commercials and Kilsheelan took place there. The Portlaw Pipe Band attended and a special souvenir programme was issued to mark the event. P J Marron who was Chairman of the Club when the field was opened attended and threw in the ball to commence the game. Unfortunately, it was not a day to remember for the team when they were well beaten.
In 1978 Kilsheelan again reached the Final. Along the way they got their revenge on Commercials but once again Fethard came out on top by 1-14 to 2-4. Over the previous number of years the Club was not as prominent in hurling and sought regarding to Junior. They reached the Final in Clonmel but a last minute point by Fethard resulted in a 2-5 to 2-4 defeat.
TEAM: Peter Moore, Pat Keyes, Pat Larkin, Matt Cahill, Brian Mc Nally, Sean Nugent 0-2, Pat O’Neill, Kevin Geraghty, James Holohan 0-1, Cyril Robinson 0-1, Dick Strang, Jim Kehoe, William Robinson 1-0, Tommy Ryan 1-0 and Liam Murphy.
SUB: Mick Morrissey.
In 1979 the Club had no success on the playing front. However, the highlight of the year was when Jim Kehoe helped Tipperary to victory over Galway in the National Hurling League Final. Later that year Fr Ray Reidy arrived as curate to the Parish. He was a former Tipperary minor hurling star and he immediately got involved with the Club and also made a major contribution to the Juvenile Club.
In 1980 the football teams had little luck but success for the Junior Hurling team was just around the corner. They had easy wins over Ballylooby and Cahir and qualified for the Final against Marlfield. Scoring 1-4 without reply late in the game, Kilsheelan came from behind to win by 2-10 to 2-6. With the game slipping away from them Marlfield called on the services of that great veteran Theo English but he was unable to stem the tide.
TEAM: Peter Moore, Pat Keyes, Pat Larkin, Matt Cahill, Pat O’Neill, Sean Nugent, John Kehoe, Michael Kehoe 0-3, Gerry Kehoe 1-2, Liam Murphy, Jim Kehoe 0-4, William Robinson, Cyril Robinson, Dick Strang 0-1 and Kevin Geraghty 1-0.
SUB: James Holohan for William Robinson.
In the County Semi Final at Cashel Kilsheelan triumphed over Holycross. In the Final at Semple Stadium Ballinahinch proved much too strong and won by 2-15 to 3-1.
1981 began with the opening of new facilities when two dressing-rooms were added to the existing building. In fact, that year the Club was a prize winner in the National Club of the Year Awards. Tipperary played Clare in a Tournament game to mark the occasion. The Senior Football team reached the South Semi Final only to be beaten by Fethard. In the County championship they had wins over Cappawhite, Templemore and Cashel. In the Semi Final, played at Kilsheelan, the home side ran out winners by 0-11 to 0-9 over Commercials. The Final against Galtee Rovers took place in Clonmel, but ended in disappointment as Kilsheelan were beaten by 1-9 to 1-4
TEAM: Tommy Lonergan, Liam Murphy, Pat Larkin, Johnny Fitzpatrick, Sonny Kennedy, John Kehoe, Johnny Ormonde, Tom London, Michael Kehoe, Jerry Kehoe 0-3, Jim Kehoe 0-1 Martin Ormonde, Kevin Geraghty 1-0, Dick Strang and Liam Corcoran.
SUBS: Willie Smyth and William Robinson.
Having won the previous year’s Junior Hurling title the team had to step up to Intermediate level. Three goals in the last couple of minutes gave Kilsheelan a 4-6 to 1-9 win over Ballybacon. This was followed by an easy win over Fethard. Cahir then easily defeated Kilsheelan. Having finished level on points with Cahir after the league stages Kilsheelan again were paired with Cahir and this time ran out winners by 3-9 to 1-6. In the Semi Final they had a three point win over Ballybacon-Grange. A fine first half performance helped Kilsheelan to a 3-6 to 2-4 win over Killenaule in the Final.
TEAM: Brian Mc Nally, Pat Keyes, Pat Larkin, Pat O’Neill, Jerry Kehoe, Sean Nugent, Matt Cahill, John Kehoe, Michael Kehoe 1-1, William Robinson 0-1 Jim Kehoe 1-3, Liam Corcoran, Cyril Robinson, Willie Whelan 1-0 and Liam Stokes 0-1.
SUBS: John Larkin for Matt Cahill and James Holohan for Cyril Robinson.
In the County Semi Final at Littleton Kilsheelan played their best hurling of the year but lost out to Portroe by 1-9 to 0-10.