St. Patrick’s Camogie Club Come Together 35 Years Later

The Nationalist, The Tipperary Star, October 17, 2002


St. Patrick's camogie club, from the Littleton-Glengoole-Ballingarry area, came together on Friday. September 27, 2002 at Cloneen Community Hall to catch up on the lost years. Twenty-four mature women, out of twenty-four, collected to recall the days they were girls and achieved glory on the camogie fields of Tipperary and Ireland.

The notion of a get-together started simply enough. Ann Carroll, one of the star forwards in her day, who is now living in Donegal visited Tipperary during the summer. She called on Annie Langton, one of the stalwarts of St. Patrick's and, over a cup of tea the idea of a reunion was born. No time was lost. The girls were tracked down. The date was fixed and everyone turned up.
And, they had an awful lot to remember and celebrate. The club was founded at the end of 1963. Fr. Cross (R.I.P.) was elected president, Alice Graham, chairman, Statia Dunne, vice-chairman, Annie Langton, secretary, and Ann Carroll, treasurer. (There was no such thing as chairperson in those days!) The club recruited experienced players like the four Graham girls from Littleton, Alice, Peggy. Mary and Ann, Joyce Kiely, Statia Dunne, Margaret Gleeson and Ann Carroll. All had played for Cahir during the preceding seasons and the idea of having a local club for the girls was attractive.

Ann Carroll was a kind of child prodigy. Born in London to Bill Carroll from Tipperary and Agnes Kernan from Donegal, the family came to live in Ballingarry in the early sixties. Ann went to Callan Convent to school and excelled at camogie, helping her school to a number of Leinster titles - there were no All-Irelands in these days. In the meantime her father had set up a successful joinery business.

Among the reminiscences in Cloneen the most important one to come across was the role of Bill Carroll in the success of the club. He was a scouter of talent and although the finances were good he made sure there was never a money problem. For instance, Maura Maher from Clonoulty had shown her talent on the Tipperary team. When the Clonoulty camogie club went out of existence in 1963 she was approached by Bill Carroll to play for St. Patrick's. And, the players were treated very well. The girls recalled how buses or cars were sent to collect them in their widely scattered homes for training sessions and matches, and how they were returned there afterwards. Thomas Gleeson, who used to drive the team bus, was present on the night.

One trip that was recalled was one to Belfast in 1966 to play Deirdre in the All-Ireland club final. The team were brought up to Belfast by coach, put up in a hotel on the Malone Road, fed and found for the weekend and brought to the Las Vegas ballroom at Templemore for a dance on the way home.

The achievements of the club over the three years were outstanding. They won county finals in 1964, 1965, 1966, and two All-Ireland club championships - the first two to be played - in 1965 and 1966. Many of them played with distinction for Tipperary before, during and after that period. No club in Tipperary has succeeded in winning a club championship since.

And then, just as quickly as the club came into existence, it disappeared from the firmament. The girls couldn't remember rightly how that happened. A deciding factor was the move of the Carroll family to live in Kilkenny in October 1966. Ann went on to win three All-Ireland club championships with St. Paul's in 1968, 1969 and 1974 bringing her total to five. She also won an All-Ireland championship with Kilkenny in 1974.

There was no sign of St. Patrick's in the affiliations in 1967. Three senior teams affiliated, St. Dominic's (a new Roscrea/Littleton combination), Fethard and Elmville. Every one of the teams included some former St. Patrick's players.

Anyhow, it was a great reunion and the talk was why it hadn't happened earlier. The event was hosted by the Slievenamon camogie club, with Annie Langton's nephew, John, mainly responsible for the organisation. Presentations of engraved crystal were presented to each player by one of the young Slievenamon players. There were a few short speeches and tea and sandwiches for all present.

Meeting after such a long period of absence, chat and reminiscence were the order of the night. Unfortunately this was no longer possible once the band started up, filled the place with amplified sound and blasted conversation out the door.

The members of St. Patrick's who attended were as follows: Alice, Mary, Ann and Peggy Graham, Littleton, Alice and Sally Long, Gortnahoe, Statia Dunne, Glengoole, Annie Langton, Glengoole, Margaret Gleeson, Earlshill, Ann Carroll, Ballintaggert, Lucy and Rita Scott, Ballintaggart, Judy Fitzpatrick, Ballintaggart, Joyce Kiely, Glengoole, Margaret McBride, Ballysloe, Monica and Joan Ryan, Drom-lnch, Maura Maher, Clonoulty, Eileen Cronin, Thurles, May and Catherine Brennan, Ballingarry, Catherine Heaphy, Coolbrook, Mairead Heffernan, Littleton, Chris Burke, Ballintaggart. Margaret Cashin, who was also on the panel, could not be tracked down. She is thought to be in England.