Ballinhassig A.F.C. was founded in 1979 from the nucleus of some informal (keenly contested) kick arounds in the mid 1970's. In those early years, local lads from the Ballinhassig and Ballygarvan areas organised games in Ballinphelic, Meadstown, Ballygarvan and Ballinhassig. As the games became a little bit more organised, the seeds of a new soccer club in the parish were sown when some players from Ballinhassig decided to enter a team into the West Cork League. In that first season the club won promotion to the First Division, as well as contesting the final of the Flor Crowley Cup. Unfortunately Ballinhassig lost that first cup final 1-0 to Killeady in front of a large attendance (in Killeady). The following season saw Ballinhassig again through to another cup final again only to loose out to Our Lady’s Hospital in the League Cup on another 1–0 score line. The clubs first cup success however was to follow the following season when the Flor Crowley Cup found a resting place in Ballinhassig after Kilbrittain had to give way to two golden goals from Sean Quinlan. Ballinhassig went on to make this Cup something of a speciality, they contested 13 semi-finals in the 14 seasons they competed. Cup Winners on three occasions, many other West Cork titles came to Ballinhassig in those early years.
Home games during those early years were played on the fields of local farmers, who gave their lands free of charge for the club use. The first pitch was at Dermot O'Mahonys field adjacent to the church in Goggins Hill. The club spent another few years in Nealie Riordans in Lisfehill and at Con Donovans "up the lane" in Ballyheada. In 1989 the club moved its base to Crossbarry Village and stayed there until the club aquired their own facility with the purchase of 7 acres in Gortnaglough. This magnificent facility was opened in 2003 by Pat Dolan then manager of Cork City and it is still home to the club who now play in the Munster Senior League, Cork Schoolboys League, Cork Youths League and the Cork Women and Schoolgirls Soccer League. Check out the story of that opening day on the program further below (can you spot any Irish Internationals who might have played in Gortnaglough on that day in 2003?)
Some interesting articles from the press...
Evening Echo 1988: In the past season in the West Cork League… Kevin Cullinane was Ballinhassig AFC leading goal scorer with 10 goals, Finbar Alexander from Ballygarvan coming up close behind with 6 goals. Three players received red cards this year Finbar Alexander, Benji Keohane and Eddie Joe Cosgrove. Ballinhassig scored 49 goals, left in 37 goals, played a total of 23 games, won 12, lost 6 and drew 5. Player of the year for the season was Seanie McCarthy. Previous winners of this aware were Joe Kennifick 1985, Kevin Cullinane 1986 and Ger Spillane 1987. The club captain this season was Pat Desmond, vice Captain Kevin Cullinane
Squad was a follows; Bunny Dunne, Gerard Spillane, Sean McCarthy, Denis McCarthy, Peter Brennan, Finbar Alexander, Ollie Jordan, Kevin Cullinane, Benji Keohane, Eddie Joe Cosgrove, Joe Kennefick, Pat Desmond, Malachy Allen, Tom Brennan, Liam O’Halloran, Sammy Moynihan, Donnie Donovan, John L O’Sullivan, Mick Cronin, Barry Sullivan, Sean Donovan, Tom Desmond, Keith Keohane, Dave Kidney and Tom Allen, Adrian O’Mahony, Noel O’Mahony, Dennis Cullinane, Ken Jordan, Brendan O’Mahony and Michael Murphy.
Evening Echo 1995: Ballinhassig are AUL Division 3 Champions... after moving from the West Cork League Ballinhassig didn’t waste any time in making their mark in AUL competitions. They joined the league this season and ended up as champions in Division 3, bringing back memories of their first year in football. That initial season, 1979/80, they won Division Two of the West Cork League. Present officers Denis Cullinane and Donal O’Donovan were among the founders. Eddie Joe Cosgrave has been a player from day one and Ger Spillane, another current performer, was also there that first season. West Cork was a happy hunting ground for the Ballinhassig lads. They brought off a cup and league double in 1988/89. In all they won the Cup four times, the First Division title four times. Nowadays, they run three teams. Two, the juniors and youths, play in the AUL, while they also field a team at Under 11 in the Cork Schoolboys League. They get quite a deal of support locally, the main sponsor being John O’Callaghan (PVC Fabrications). John Crowley and Liam O’Halloran manage the minor side while the schoolboy mentors are Billy Mackessy, Donal O’Donovan, and Tom Ashman. Denis Cullinane is the junior manager. The newly crowned champions were captained by Gerard Spillane and the rest of the panel was: Rowan Clayton, Malachy Allen, Eddie Joe Cosgrave, Denis McCarthy, Ger Murphy, Kevin Cullinane, Michael Brady, Noel Connolly (vice-captain), Ger Cummins, Damien McCarthy, Dave Mullany (leading scorer with 24 for the season), Alan Bateman, John Connolly, Wesley Bateman, Liam O’Halloran, and Tom Ashman. The Ballinhassig officers for 1994/95 were: Donal O’Donovan (chairman), Denis Cullinane (vice chairman), John Crowley (secretary), Sean Spillane (Treasurer), John O’Callaghan (assistant treasurer), and John Connolly (PRO). Other committee members are; T. J. O’Riordan, Ger Desmond, Tom Ashman, and Liam O’Halloran.
Evening Echo 1999: Ballinhassig AFC have new horizons… founded twenty years back Ballinhassig AFC are bulldozing their way to a brighter future, not that the past has been that bad. The heavy machinery has moved into their newly acquired lands at Gortalough and two full sized pitches have been laid which should be ready for the end of next season. According to PRO Anthony O’Donovan, there will enough space left over for dressing rooms, a car park, and a good sized decent training pitch. The new grounds will see their ten year tenure in Crossbarry come to an end. Naturally enough, they are delighted with the development even though it is putting a big strain on the fund-raising activities and O’Donovan would dearly love some help in this area. Existing sponsors include: PVC Fabrications, Five Mile Inn, Red Abbey Motors, and O’Riordan Insurances. Ballinhassig AFC was founded in 1979 and among the founder members were Donal Donovan, Denis Cullinane, Billy O’Brien, Michael Murphy, John Joe O’Brien, Ollie Jordan and Pat Desmond. Playing on their first pitch at Goggins Hill, Ballinhassig, the club entered the West Cork League and won promotion in their first season. The club left the West Cork League after 16 seasons to join the AUL in the summer of 1994, at that time leading the West Cork League Roll of Honour with 11 titles. Unusually the first team is managed by a trio of experienced players in Declan Bowen, Noel Connolly and Ger Spillane, doing the job for a second term following the success they had with the County Cup last season. Ger Spillane has played in every cup final that the club has won since it was founded up to the County Cup final, which he was ruled out of through injury.Once again, Mick Brady leads in the scoring stakes. Mick has been a prolific striker and has been the club’s top scorer for 3 of the last 4 years. He also has the distinction of scoring in every round of last season’s County Cup, including the winner in Turner’s Cross. Jason McCarthy captains the first team for the second year in succession. Jason, who is one of the youngest on the first team, leads by example. He is a tireless worker and is never willing to accept defeat. Former goalkeeper Wesley Bateman, who had a spell in the AUL inter-league panel three years ago, is perhaps the best known of the Ballinhassig players but not because of his considerable soccer skills. Wesley is now concentrating on hockey in which he has been capped for Ireland, also playing in goal. Another man to leave the club recently is second team manager Pat Rocks. He too is doing well for himself and has taken up a coaching position with Boston University. Billy Mackessy has taken over the managership role for the B team. The awards for players of the year and top scorers for each junior team, sponsored by O’Mahony Packaging, went as follows: First Team Player of the Year – Pat Clancy; First Team Top Scorer – Mick Brady; Second Team Player of the Year – Alan Coughlan; Second Team Top Scorer – Jerry Coleman. Despite a terrible start to the season, the first team have climbed the table into the top half after a run of wins in the league. The second team got off to a great start this season but has lost nearly half the panel through emigration, players studying abroad, or changes in work commitments, and have slid down to third from bottom in AUL 3. This year’s first team panel is almost identical to last year’s having lost only one player from the cup winning squad. But it is stronger with all the younger players showing improvements. Tadgh Coleman has been added to the front line and he has already caused problems for opposing defenders. The busy PRO spoke about their main aim for the season: “Obviously we would love to retain the County Cup and won’t be giving up our grip on it easily. While promotion now looks beyond the first team, we would like to be thereabouts. The second team would be realistically aiming for a top-half finish in AUL 3”. In the longer term, Ballinhassig intend to gain promotion to the Premier divisions, and to increase the numbers involved in coaching schoolboy, Under 17 and youths teams, and to keep up their record of first team players winning medals every season as they have done since joining the AUL. Sean Spillane is the club President, and the officers are Denis Cullinane (Chairman), Ger Desmond (Secretary), John O’Callaghan (Treasurer), Anthony O’Donovan (PRO), Noel Connolly (Registrar), John Crowley (Vice-Chairman), Donal Donovan (Vice-Secretary), Ger McCarthy, T.J. Reardon, John Goulding and Pio Lane. The first side’s most recent encounter saw them in action against visitors College Corinthians in the AUL 1 League and it was quite an exciting affair according to O’Donovan: “We were comfortably ahead in the first half, going 2-0 up at half time, however we let Corinthians back into the game, seeing them equalise before Jason McCarthy was brought down inside the box. However the winner was not direct from the spot, and the ‘keeper managed to stop the penalty and two shots from the rebounds before McCarthy shook the net with the fourth bite of the cherry”. On Friday next, at 11.00am, Ballinhassig B travel to take on Grangevale in AUL 3. The first team have an interesting league game in AUL 1 on Sunday next (10.45am) when they entertain Pearse Celtic.
Evening Echo 2001: Ballinhassig AFC Moving To Gortnaglough... Ballinhassig, moving into their 22nd year in football, intend to move into new headquarters by the season’s end. Already, much work has been done at their new base at Gortnaglough and club spokesman Denis Cullinane, one of the founder members, says that two full sized pitches are now laid out and should be ready for next season. Work is also underway at present on a training pitch. They currently play at Crossbarry and it was here that they laid the foundations for this season’s successes in the St Michael’s Cup and in AUL 1, a double that earned them the Murphy’s Stout AUL Team of the Year. Manager John Donovan inspired that success but now steps down to take a well-earned rest. His replacement is Aidan Hartnett, another experienced manager. Chairman Donal Donovan, also a founder member, was full of praise for the outgoing boss and promised Hartnett that he’d have the same cooperation from the panel. The squad will be much the same as that of last season. There are a couple of changes: Shane Fitzgerald has returned to the Ballinhassig ranks, which have been further increased by the signing of Romanian Ovidiu Prostean. Declan Bowen will again do the honours as captain. Cullinane is taking a bit of a break from committee duties but has taken over as manager of the B side. They are skippered by Alan Coughlan and play in AUL 3. For the first time ever, Ballinhassig will field an Under 17 team and they are in the capable hands of Kieran Rogers, Tom Ashman, and Denis Cogan. Sean Spillane continues as club president and the committee consists of Donal Donovan (chairman), John O’Callaghan (vice chairman), Gerard Maguire (secretary), Ger Desmond (treasurer), Pio Lane (PRO), T.J. O’Riordan (registrar), Anthony O’Donovan, John Crowley, Gerry McCarthy, Noel Connolly, John Bowen, and Denis Ahern. Roll of Honour West Cork League Division II Winners: 79-80 Division I Winners: 82-83, 88-89, 90-91, 93-94 League Cup Winners: 93-94 Division I Cup Winners: 85-86 Flor Crowley Cup Winners: 81-82, 85-86, 88-89 Beamish Cup Winners: 92-93 Cork AUL Division 3 Winners: 94-95 Division 2 Runners-up: 95-96 Division 1 Runners-up: 96-97, 97-98 County Cup Winners: 98-99 AUL 1 winners and St Michael’s Cup winners: 2000/01.
Evening Echo 2003: Ballinhassig Are Expanding… Ballinhassig AFC has a record number of eight teams competing this year in the Munster Senior League, Athletic Union League, Cork Schoolboys League and Cork Schoolgirls League. For the first time an underage boys section has been developed along with a schoolgirls team which is entered into the Cork Women’s and Schoolgirls Soccer League. The girls won the first ever competitive fixture for a Ballinhassig girls team with goals from Vicki Hurley, Aimee O'Riordon (pen), Catriona Collins (3), Katie McCarthy (3), Sinead O'Callaghan, Majella Walsh and Jessie Barrett seeing Ballinhassig beat Ballincollig 11-0 on the clubs new home grounds in Gortnaglough, Ballinhassig.**
This years club Commitee compromises of President Sean Spillane: Chairperson Donal Donovan: Vice Chairperson John O'Callaghan: Secretary Gerry Maguire: Assistant Secretary John Bowen: Treasurer Ger Desmond: Public Relations Officer Anthony O'Donovan: Registrar John Bowen: Committee Members Jer McCarthy, Denis Ahern, Tom Ashman and T.J. Reardon. Coaching Staff Senior Team Manager Kevin O'Sullivan: MSL Junior Team Manager Denis Ahern: AUL Junior Team Manager Kieran Rodgers & Tom Ashman: U15 Manager Kieran Rodgers: U14 Girls Manager Margaret O'Riordan: U13 Boys Manager Denis Cullinane: U12 Girls Manager Margaret O'Riordan: U11 Boys Manager Donie Donovan
** as a footnote that girls team were runners-up in the League in that first season and the same team went on to win the League and Cup at every age in the CWSSL reaching the National Cup Finals at U14 and U16 level. They competed in the Manchester Cup and won both the Super Cup and Challenge Cup at the Welsh Super Cup Tournament.
The Ballinhassig Youths U15 team which played Dunbar
in April 2003, with Kieran Rodgers their coach
Going back in time...
2003 - Opening of Gortnaglough Facility