The committee responsible for completing the arrangements for the inaugural All -Ireland decider on April 1st 1888 in Hoare's Field, Birr are regarded as the founding members of Birr GAA Club.
In 1889 three hurling teams from Birr fielded in the Offaly senior championship - Birr; Allen, Larkin & O'Brien's and St Brendan's. Despite the spectre of division, hurling continued to thrive and in 1898, Fortal, in Birr parish, won the Offaly senior hurling title. The club, as it exists today, wasn't formally founded until 1909.
The appointment of Fr. Michael Crowe as Chaplain to Birr Workhouse in 1911 had a profound effect on Birr GAA Club . His patience and guidance with the assistance of Jim Mulrooney, Jim Byrne, Paddy Delahunty, Johnny O Meara, Fran Sylvester and Jack McCormack moulded a winning team from Birr parish which created history by winning Birr's first county senior hurling crown in 1912. This team retained the title again in 1913 and 1915 while losing the 1914 final.
St. Brendan's Park is the home of Birr GAA Club and Offaly hurling was purchased in 1928 under the chairmanship of Sean Robbins after whom the Offaly Senior hurling Cup is named.
The Presentation Brothers are synonomous with the promotion and development of hurling in Birr.
Work at underage level bore much fruit with titles won at all levels progressing to adult level.
Surprisingly Birr experienced a barren period from 1971 to 1990 on the senior front. However, in recent years Birr has certainly made amends with numerous victories at County, Provincial and National level.
To date Birr has 22 Offaly Senior, 7 Leinster and 4 AIB All Ireland Club Titles. In addition, the club has 4 Intermediates, 1 Junior, 10 under 21 and 19 Minor Titles .While Birr is traditionally a hurling club, gaelic football and handball have been accommodated over the years with some success.
Birr GAA Club fields adult hurling teams at Senior , Intermediate and Junior level. At under 21 level the club amalgamates with Carrig and Riverstown and Crinkle playing under the name St. Brendan's, with good success.
On the Football front Birr achieved Intermediate status by winning the Junior A title in 2005. At under 21 level Birr amalgamate with Ferbane and play under the name Wheery.
Birr minor club plays a significant role in the promotion of gaelic games in Birr and provides new blood annually to their senior counterparts. The minor club fields teams from under 8 to 18 in both hurling and football, Off the field activities involve support of Scor competitions at both junior and senior level. In addition club delegates are regularly involved at county board level committees and as coaches , selectors with various teams.
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BIRR - VENUE FOR FIRST ALL IRELAND
ALL-lreland Final Day … colourful fans crowding the streets of Dublin ... the cheering and swaying ....tens of thousands in Croke Park.... the ecstasy and excitement of the supreme moment the victors lifting the Liam McCarthy Cup to the adulation of their supporters.
And all from a very humble beginning in a field on the edge of Birr town, where the first All-Ireland hurling final was played on April 1st, 1888, between Meelick (Galway) and Thurles (Tipperary) for the 1887 title. This is commonly known today, and is oft referred to by Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh in his match commentaries, as “Hoare’s Field”
Tipperary won by one goal, one point and one forfeit point to nil after leading by one point to nil at half-time. It was a hard fought game throughout, and the honour of scoring the first goal in an All-Ireland Final went to Tipperary's Tommy Healy. It was this second half score which put the Premier County on the threshold of future greatness. Today, the site of that historic final is almost forgotten, but the field, which lies behind a low stone wall on the right hand side of the road leading out of Birr towards Roscrea, was until recently much the same as it was 121 years ago, except for a garage and a few houses along its frontage. A Tesco store was built on the site in 2008. A plaque erected in 1988 above the gates of the present GAA Grounds in Birr, St. Brendan’s Park, records it's place in GAA history.
Indeed, the first time the historic game itself was commemorated was in August 1969 when Birr GAA. Club staged a period-costumed "replay " between teams drawn from the same clubs that contested the 1888 match as part of the town's annual Vintage Week.
In the early days of the Association , teams played 21-a -side and lined out with three sets of backs, three in each row in front of the goalkeeper; two sets of centrefield, each with two players; two sets of forwards, each with three players and an "extreme forward" spearheading the attack.
Even in those far off days, Tipperary was famous for it's hurling and stepping out on the Birr field for the first official championship final they were already something like champions in their own right, for on February 16th, 1886, North Tipperary had defeated South Galway in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, in the first big hurling match played under the newly formulated rules. Only five teams competed in the first All-Ireland series and on their way to the final Tipperary defeated Clare ( Smith-O'Briens) and Kilkenny (Tullaroan), while Galway disposed of Wexford. For the final there was a crowd of 3000 spectators, which was a sizeable attendance considering transportation difficulties of the period and that hurling hadn't the wide , popular appeal which it enjoys today.
Prior to the game the teams togged out in Cunningham's Hotel (The Old Stand) in Main Street before parading to the field and only a short time before the throw-in a crux over the referee was resolved.
It was a very honourable point made by the selected referee himself, Mr. Patrick J. White, an assistant in Treacy's Drapery, Main Street, Birr, who informed the teams that since he was a native of Blakefield, Toomevara, Co. Tipperary, he would rather not take charge of the game.
Players from both sides pleaded with him to carry on with the job and when the Meelick team assured him of their confidence in his impartiality he took the whistle and refereed the match.
The rest, as they say , is history.
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Birr Senior Hurling Championship Winning Teams
October 12th in O'Connor Park, Tullamore:
Birr 1-15, Kinnitty 0-15.
SCORERS: R Hanniffy (0-1), D Hayden (0-4), S Whelahan (0-5, three frees), G Hanniffy (0-3); B Lonergan (1-1), P O'Meara (0-1).
BIRR: B Mullins; JP O'Meara, N Claffey, M Verney; B Watkins, P Cleary, B Harding; R Hanniffy, Barry Whelahan; D Hayden, S Whelahan, G Hanniffy; S Ryan, Brian Whelahan, B Lonergan. Subs: S Browne for Harding (46 mins), P O'Meara for Brian Whelahan (52 mins).
October 21st in O'Connor Park, Tullamore:
Birr 0-15, Kilcormac 0-10
SCORERS: Birr: Brian Whelahan 0-10 (7f), G Hanniffy 0-2, S Brown, P O'Meara and K Hehir 0-1 each.
BIRR: B Mullins; , JP O'Meara, N Claffey, M Verney; R Hanniffy, P Cleary, D Hayden; Barry Whelahan,N Rogers; G Hanniffy, Brian Whelahan, S Brown; P Molloy, M Dwane, S Whelahan. Subs: P O'Meara for Molloy, B Watkins for Rogers (Both 23m), K Hehir for S Whelahan (H/T), S Ryan for Dwane (40m), D Molloy for Brown (62m).
October 8th in St. Brendan's Park:
Birr 2-9, Coolderry 1-11.
SCORERS: Brian Whelahan 0-3 (2f), G Hanniffy, S Ryan 1-0, S Brown, D Hayden 0-2, P O'Meara, M Dwane (f) 0-1.
BIRR: M Mulrooney; JP O'Meara, P Cleary, M Verney; Brian Whelahan, R Hanniffy, N Claffey; Barry Whelahan, N Rogers; P O'Meara, G Hanniffy, S Brown; S Ryan, D Hayden, M Dwane. Subs: P Molloy for Rogers (45), S Whelahan for Dwane (53), D Franks for Brian Whelahan inj (59).
October 16th in St. Brendan's Park:
Birr 0-20, Coolderry 0-5.
SCORERS: S Whelahan and R Hanniffy 0-4 each, S Brown, M Dwane, P Malloy and G Hanniffy 0-2 each. Brian Whelahan, Barry Whelahan, D Hayden and D Pilkington 0-1 each.
BIRR: B Mullins; JP O'Mara, P Cleary, N Rogers; Brian Whelahan, J Errity, N Claffey; Barry Whelahan, P Malloy; R Hanniffy, G Hanniffy, S Brown; D Hayden, S Whelahan, M Dwane. Subs: M Verney for B Whelahan, D Pilkington to Dwane, S Ryan for Hayden, L Power for Simon Whelahan.
October 5th in St. Brendan's Park:
Birr 1-18, Ballyskenach 1-11.
SCORERS: R Hannify 0-6 (4f), G Hannify 0-5, J Pilkington 1-1, Brian Whelahan 0-3 (1f), D Hayden, Barry Whelahan, S Whelahan 0-1 each
BIRR: B Mullins; G Cahill, J Errity, J P O'Meara; P Molloy, Brian Whelahan, N Claffey; S Browne, Barry Whelahan; R Hannify, G Hannify, D Hayden; D Pilkington, J Pilkington, S Whelahan.
September 29th in St. Brendan's Park:
Birr 3-12, Kilcormac/Killoughey 2-7.
SCORERS: S Whelahan 2-5, R Hanniffy 1-0, G Hanniffy 0-2, J Pilkington, P Molloy, Brian Whelahan, D Hayden, M Dwane 0-1 each.
BIRR: B Mullins; G Cahill, J Errity, JP O'Meara; D Franks, Brian Whelahan, N Claffey; Barry Whelahan, R Hanniffy; P Molloy, J Pilkington, G Hanniffy; L Power, D Pilkington, S Whelahan. Subs: M Dwane for D Pilkington, D Hayden for Power.
October 7th in St. Brendan's Park :
Birr 0-11, St Rynagh’s 0-10.
SCORERS: S Whelahan 0-4 (3f), G Hanniffy, Barry Whelahan 0-2, N Claffey, J Pilkington, D Pilkington 0-1.
BIRR: B Mullins; G Cahill, J Errity, J P O'Meara; D Franks, Brian Whelahan, N Claffey; J Pilkington, Barry Whelahan; D Pilkington; S Whelahan, P Molloy; S Brown, G Hanniffy, R Hanniffy. Subs: L Power for Brown 42.
March 25th 2001 in St. Brendan's Park
Birr 3-21, Seir Kieran 1-9BIRR 3-21.
SCORERS: G Hanniffy 1-5 (1f), P Molloy 1-4, R Hanniffy 1-2, S Whelahan 0-4 (4f), L Power 0-3, D Pilkington 0-2, S Browne 0-1.
BIRR: B Mullins; G Cahill, J Errity, D Franks; JP O'Meara, Brian Whelahan, N Claffey; J Pilkington, Barry Whelahan; D Pilkington, L Power, R Hanniffy; P Molloy, G Hanniffy, S Whelahan. Subs: S Browne for Barry Whelahan (40), B Hennessy for Franks (57), P Murphy for S Whelahan (57), G Doorley for O'Meara (59), C Hanniffy for Power (59).
October 3th in St. Brendan's Park :
Birr 3-15, St Rynagh’s 1-11.
SCORERS: S Whelahan 2-2, O O'Neill 1-4 (0-3 fs), G Hannify 0-4, D Pilkington 0-3, C McClone 0-1, Brian Whelahan 0-1 (f).
BIRR: B Mullins; Barry Whelahan, J Errity, B Hennessy; D Franks, Brian Whelahan, N Claffey; J Pilkington, G Cahill; L Power, C McClone, G Hannify; O O'Neill, D Pilkington, S Whelahan. Subs: D Regan for McClone (51 mins.), P Murphy for Power (60 mins.), K Spillane for O'Neill (60 mins).
October 5th in St. Brendan's Park :
Birr 0-14, Seir Kieran 2-4.
BIRR: B. Mullins, S. Whelahan, J. Errity.(capt) B. Hennessy, B. Whelahan, B. Whelahan, N. Claffey, J. Pilkington, O. 0 Neill, G. Cahill, C. McGlone, G. Hanniffy, P. Murphy, D. Pilkington, P. Carroll, Subs : D. HAnniffy for O.O Neill, D. Regan for P. Murphy.
October 30th in St. Brendan's Park Birr:
Birr 0-8, Seir Kieran 0-6.
BIRR: R. Shiels, M. Hogan, J. Errity, B. Hennessy, G. Cahill, B. Whelahan, N. Hogan, D. Regan, J. Pilkington (capt), C. McGlone, P. Murphy, D. Pilkington, O. O Neill, R. Landy, A. Cahill. Sub: F. Pilkington for A. Cahill.
October 13th in St Brendan's Park:
Birr 1-12, Sier Kieran 1-11.
BIRR: P. Kirwan; M. Hogan; D. Geoghegan, B. Hennessey; N. Hogan; J. Errity, G. Cahill;
B. Whelehan (capt.), M. Feenane; D. Pilkington; J. Pilkington; A. Cahill; P. Murphy; D.
Regan; 0. O'Neill;. Subs: R. Landy for Hogan and N. Tierney for Landy
November 27th in St. Brendan'sPark:
Birr 2-10, St. Rynaghs 2-9.
BIRR: M. Hennessey, G. O'Meara, M. Spain, H. Hennessey, B. Colohan, S. Purcell, J.
Cleary, J. Hernon, M. Harrington, M. Gleeson, D. Hennessey(capt), M. Loughnane, S.
Hanniffy, P. Goonan. T. O'Shea, M. Sammon. Subs (used): J. Wrafter, E. Nevin and D.
August 22nd in O'Connor Park, Tullamore:
Birr 4-6, Coolderry 1-3.
BIRR: P. Kennedy, P. Grogan, P. King, J. Carroll, J. Delaney, S. Purcell, C. Lyndon, D.
Grogan, W. Nevin, P. Wycks, D. Dooley, P. Purcell, M. Pardy, S. Hanniffy and J. Hogan.
October 13th in St. Brendans Park:
Birr 6-9, Tullamore 2-3.
BIRR: P. Kennedy, M. Wall, S. Purcell, J. Carroll, W. Nevin, J. Butler, S. Gavin, P. Grogan, D. Dooley(capt.) C. Lyndon, D. Dillon, D. Grogan, P. King, M. Pardy and P. Purcell.
October 8th in O'Connor Park, Tullamore:
Birr 4-4, Tullamore 4-0.
BIRR: M. Kenneally, P. King, D. Dooley, S. Purcell, D. Dillon, S. Gavin, W. Nevin, J. Dooley, M. Pardy, W. Winters, W. Purcell, J. Cloonan, M. Wall, V. Hoctor and P. Wall.
October 24 in O'Connor Park, Tullamore:
Birr 4-2, Tullamore 3-5.
Replay - November 28 in St. Brendan's Park:
Birr 2-8, Tullamore 2-4.
BIRR: P. King, S. Purcell, M. Kenneally, J. Carroll, V. Hoctor, J. Cloonan, W. Winters, M. Wall, W. Purcell, S. Gavin, D. Hoctor, D. Dooley, J. Dooley, P. Wall and W. Nevin.
September 29 in O'Connor Park, Tullamore
Birr: 4-8, Edenderry 2-1.
BIRR: G. Pilkington, W. Nevin, C. Leonard, W. Purcell, P. Kennedy, M. Wall, P. Wall, M. Kenneally, D. Hoctor, J. Cloonan, J. Dooley (capt..), D. Dooley, F. Ryan, J. Verney and J. Carroll.
September 18 in St. Brendan's Park:
Birr 1-6, Coolderry 2-1.
BIRR: D. Hoctor (capt..), P. Kennedy, M. Brien, J. Brien, M. Wall, P. Wall, J. Cloonan, J. Dooley, D. Dooley, P. Breen, J. Carroll, F. Ryan, J. Verney, M. Sammon and J. Hoctor.
Birr w/o Rahan scr.
Semi-final team: J. Corrigan(capt..), H. Corrigan, J. Corrigan P. Delahunty, J. Heenan, M. Dolan, P. Sullivan, T. Sullivan, J. Lehane, J. Carroll (goalie), M. Kenny, D. Molloy, F. Sylvester, J. O'Meara and M. Whelan.
August 9, 1914 in O'Connor Park, Tullamore:
Birr 4-2, Edenderry 1-3.
BIRR: J. Mulrooney(Capt.), J. Hegarty(Goalie), J. McCormack, J. Carroll, J. Murphy, M. Cashin, P. Delahunty, P. Robbins, J. Robbins, J. O'Meara, James Cashin, F. Sylvester, W. Byrne, M. Molloy and P.. Sullivan.
October 26, 1913 in Kilcormac:
Birr 0-2, Killoughey 0-2.
Replay - November 16, 1913 in Kinnitty;
Birr 2-3. Killoughey 0-2.
BIRR: J, Mulrooney (Capt.), J. Dooley, P. Robbins, J. Robbins, M. Molloy, F. Sylvester, W. Sylvester, J. McCormack, J. Murphy, P. Delahunty, P. Sullivan, P. Cleary, J. Hegarty (Goalie), J. Carroll, W. Byrne.
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Brothers In Arms
The various sets of brothers who have played for Birr include:-
Cahills - Adrian and Gary
Clearys - Jimmy and Johnny
Clearys - Johnny and Timmy
Dooley - Des and Joe
Erritys - Joe and Martin
Hanniffys - Conor, Darren, Gary and Rory
Hanniffys - Declan and Sean
Hennessys - Alan and Brian
Hennessys - Declan, Herbert and Michael
Hernons - Gene and Joe
Hoctors - Denis and Jimmy
Molloys - Darragh and Paul
O'Mearas - Eamon, Gerry and Peter
O'Mearas - Gary and John Paul
Molloys - Jackie and Michael
Pilkingtons - Declan, Frankie and Johnny
Purcells - Paddy, Phil and Seamus
Robbins - J. and P.
Ryans - Barry and Patrick
Sullivans - P. and T.
Sylvesters - Willie and F.
Walls - M. and P.
Whelahans - Barry, Brian and Simon
Players from Birr Parish who have played for Birr GAA Club
Eamon Cashin, Jack Cashin, Jim Cashin, M. Cashin, Martin Cashin, Johnny Cleary, Johnny Cleary, Jimmy Cleary, Jimmy Cleary, Timmy Cleary, Frankie Connolly, Paddy Delahunty, Martin Errity, Joe Errity, Matt Feenane, Brendan Finnerty, Michael Gleeson, Padraig Goonan, Adrian Guinan, Conor Hanniffy, Darren Hanniffy, Gary Hanniffy, Rory Hanniffy, Denis Hoctor, Brendan Kennedy, John Kennedy, Peter King, Christy Leonard, Mick Maher, Barry Milne, Ger Milne, Gerry Murray, Liam O'Brien, Eamon O'Meara, Garry O'Meara, Gerry O'Meara, John Paul O'Meara, Paul O'Meara, Donal Ryan, Sean Ryan, Mick Sammon, Dermot Sullivan, P. Sullivan, T. Sullivan, Aaron Whelahan, Jack Verney, Michael Verney.
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