PEARSE ÓG HAS OVERCOME ALL THE ADVERSARIES FACING IT OVER THE YEARS TO BECOME A TRUE FOOTBALLING SUCCESS STORY.
From its foundation in Dougan's Loft in 1950 it has provided a positive focus for both the young men and their families in the Cathedral city of Armagh. The success on the field of it's teams stems mainly from the emphasis placed on the development of Youth, from under 6 level upwards. While off the pitch the dedicated efforts of it's members have kept the ardent community spirt of the club alive and prospering.
ORIGINS OF THE CLUB NAME?
Na Piarsaigh Óga translates as the Young Pearses, proudly take their name from the 1916 Irish Republicans Padraig and Willie Pearse. The Club's crest features 'The Flaming Sword', the symbol generally associated with Pearse and his newspaper, surrounded with the Club colours green and gold, with an outline of Armagh City.
FOUNDATION OF THE 'ÓGS'.
The Ógs, as they became commonly known as, were founded in 1950 with the purpose of providing football for the young men of Armagh who were not being catered for by the city's sole club the Harps. The founding members present in Dougan's Loft, Navan Street included Charlie Mc Quade, Felix Mc Stravick, Sam Johnson, Eugene Mc Kinney, Gerry Cushe, Eugene Mc Kenna and the legendary Ulster footballer Big Jim Mc Cullough, who became the Club's inaugural Chairman. Their home pitch became the Athletic Grounds at Drumarg in the heart of the west of the city.
The Ógs met with immediate early success by becoming the Co. Junior Champions of 1952. Captain of this historic team was Eugene Mc Kenna and it featured Ben Mc Ardle who became the first Ógs player to wear the County colours. (A prominent forward was Pat Campbell who switched allegiance the following season to the Harps.) A long lean period was to follow with emigration playing a important and sorry role.
It was in 1967 that the Ógs had to wait to taste success again, gaining silverware with the winning of the County Intermediate Championship. That team was led by the inspirational Micky D Donnelly and included players of the calibre of Aiden and Dermot Kelly, Mick Duffy, Harry Mc Geough and Cathal Mc Quade.
Another Intermediate crown was annexed in 1973 with Joe Harney as the team captain. Young players like Eamon Donaldson, Joe Gordon, Malachy Mc Sorley and Marty Oliver had now established themselves in this team.
The backbone of these Intermediate successes was from the Club's first County underage winning team the 1959 County Minor Champions, captained by Frank Mallon and managed by Sam Johnson.
FIRST SENIOR SUCCESS 1985.
Pearse Óg won their first Senior Championship in 1985, defeating old rivals Armagh Harps 0-7 to 0-3 in an Athletic Grounds venue. Captain of this triumph was Sean Gordon and the team featured dedicated players such as Pat Cullen, Tom D Donnelly, Aiden Corvan, Colin Harney and Gerry Cullen. This team in the main had evolved out of a youth policy initiated in 1970 by among others Jim Turley, Kevin Mc Quade, Kevin Vallely and John Mc Gleenan, when a Streets League was inaugurated. It's purpose was to provide a Gaelic sporting outlet away from the Civil Strife that seen young people heavily involved in the eruption of violence that followed. Young players that joined the Ógs then were the bedrock of the team that were victorious in the inaugural County U-21 Championship and the '85 Senior. That U-21 side was captained by Brian Mc Camley and included notable players Paddy Devlin, Keiran 'Maxi' O'Connor, Franko Pattison, Gerard Devlin and Redmond Scullion.
MINOR THREE-IN-A-ROW 1981-83.
The 1981 Minor Champions bridged the long gap back to the'59 team. Captained by Paul 'Nobby' O'Callaghan, it included players like Seamus Duffy, Adrian Trainor, Sean Óg O'Callaghan, Paul Doyle and Colin Harney. It was the first in a glorious run that seen success in Minor and u21 Co Finals in the 1980s. That year also seen the Club winning it's first ever Co Juvenile Championship, with future All Star Ger Houlahan the captain and later Senior players Martin Carson, Tony and Ian Donnelly, Fergal Harney and Ronan Bradley prominent.
The Co Minor was retained in 1982 with Sean Óg Mc Avinchey as captain and the third added in 1983, led by Ger Houlahan.
ULSTER CLUB FINAL 1988.
After losing the 1986 Co Final to Crossmaglen Rangers, the Ógs returned to winning ways by defeating Killeavy in 1988. Once again Sean Gordon was the captain and into the team had come Down player Declan Strain. His impetuous, along with others like Paul Grimley, Paul Houlahan, Tony Donnelly and John Carson led to a fantastic Ulster Club campaign that only saw us defeated by the great Burren team. Who knows what might have been if Ger Houlahan had not had the misfortune to break his leg while playing for Armagh the previous Sunday?
END OF BRO ENNIS' REIGN
Bro Lawrence Ennis had been at the helm of the Pearse Óg Senior team from 1984 to 1990. As well as winning two Senior Championships he had guided the team to two Senior League titles in 1984 and in 1990. Added to this was the Club's achievement of winning the Centenary Cup in 1984 also. Prominent players in Bro Ennis's team had been Jimmy Mc Kee, Paul Grimley and Tommy Martin and these three formed the successful triumvirate that brought the Ógs their third Championship title in 1992. This team was captained by John 'Mico' Mc Aleavey and introduced new young players into it like Aiden Sutton, Gary and Pearse Harney, Tom Lavery, John Óg O'Kane and Kevin Mc Auley.
PEARSE OG GREATS
The Ógs have been blessed indeed with many great footballers down through the years. From Pat Campbell in '52 to Harry Mc Geough in the '60s, to Brian Hughes in the '70s and '80s, Ger Houlahan in the '90s and on to Ronan Clarke and Andy Mallon in the present, they along with many more have shown great skills and flair in the Ógs colours. But no matter who the player was down through the years, once the Club jersey was adorned, their all was given for it.
Brian won two Ulster Championships with Armagh and was nominated for an All Star in 1980 for his robust full-forward performances. His strength and skill in front of goal made him a handful for any defence but it was at midfield that he was most effective for the Ógs.
Through out the 1980s and '90s the cry of "Houly,Houly!' often rang out from the Armagh terraces in appreciation of his silky skills. Hooly had been a great servant of club and county. In 1993 he was made an All Star and was a great role model for the Club's youth to follow.
'Hughsie' as he is popularly known as, played for more than 20 years as a Senior Ógs footballer. He was an integral part of Armagh's glory years as a half-back, winning the coveted All Ireland medal in 2002. He provided the strength and experience in leading us in 2009 to lift the Gerry Fagan Cup.
Seen by many as the Ógs greatest player, no one could doubt his extraordinary talent. Winner of 4 Co Minor medals, he was only 19 when full-forward in Armagh's '02 All Ireland win. Winner of two All Star awards, he was brillant in our '09 Championship win. Unfortunately he was blighted by injury that stopped his footballing career.
One of the Ógs greatest defenders. In 2003 he played corner-back in that year's All Ireland Final. In '05 he won a National League medal and was awarded an All Star. He was the rock in the Ógs defence in '09. Family and work commitments have seen Andy transfer to Parnells in Dublin, a mighty loss to the Club.
Paul was the midfield general of the Ógs Seniors in the 1980s. He hung up his boots in '91 but did not choose the quiet life, being in the Senior management of our '92 Championship. In 2000 he coached our Minors to their Ulster Club triumph. With Armagh he coached them to All Ireland and Nat League success. In 2013 he was appointed manager of Armagh.
MICKEY D DONNELLY
The lionhearted Micky D was one of the old school Gaelic footballers but immensely talented with it. His Ógs career seen him play from the mid-60s right through to 1980. He was captain of the '67 Intermediate Champs and centre-back in '73. Solid and dependable, Micky's experience was most valuable in helping in the development of many a younger player.
ALL IRELAND HERO'S
In 2002 we had four fine footballers on the Armagh panel - Ronan Clarke, Simon Maxwell, Pauraic Duffy and Keiran Hughes. A further source of pride that year was having Cathy Kelly as the team physio and former Senior player Eamon Mackle as liaison officer. Paul Grimley was assistant manager. Noteworthy was in '03 Andy Mallon and Ciaran Mc Kinney were involved in that year's All Ireland Final loss to Tyrone.
DEVELOPEMENT OF BALLYCRUMMY
Pearse Ógs original footballing home had always been in the Athletic Grounds in Drumarg. In 1984 the Club, under the expert guidance of Donal Mackle, Joey Breen and Jim Turley, completed a major upgrade of the facilities. However the deteriorating economic conditions of the late '80s put enormous pressures on Club finances to the effect that control of the grounds was ceded to the County Board. This left the Ógs in the unfortunate position of being at a serious disadvantage playing wise.
However efforts were made in the mid-90s by Tommy Martin to try to rectify this situation. He pushed the local Council regarding the Club taking a long term lease on the Council owned Ballycrummy Playing Fields and was successful.
Under Club chairman Gerry Davidson and hardworking committees this site has now been transformed. A magnificent main playing pitch was laid, the equal of any in Ulster. The practice pitch is floodlit. A state of the art changing pavilion has been constructed that provides for all the needs of modern day teams. The complex has been tarmaced and landscaped. The official opening in 2007 was performed by Cardinal Brady with Govt Ministers Conor Murphy and Mageret Richie in attendance. Hopefully in the near future we can incorporate a spectators stand, funding permitting.
SOCIAL CLUB BURNT DOWN
In 1996 the Social Club building that had been built at Drumarg back in 1974 was burnt down in an accidental fire. With Co Board plans in place for the old site the new development was to be rebuilt at Dalton. Under the hard work put in by Club chairman Gerard Barton a new structure was officially opened by Jack Boothman, former GAA President, in 1999. The Clubrooms at Dalton, combined with the Pavilion at Ballycrummy, continue to cater for all the members needs.
FURTHER UNDERAGE SUCCESS
In the mid-90s a new Youth Development Strategy was put in place under Adrian Clarke, Paul Turley and Louis O'Neill which had immediate results. In 1995 the first of a 5-in-a-row Co Juvenile Championships was won, with Kieran 'Maxi' O'Connor and Paul Jackson as managers and Tomas Dougan team captain. In 1997 Paul Mc Kernan captained the successful Minor Championship winning squad, with Kevin Mc Auley and Paul Grimley providing the management. This was the start of a 4-in-a-row run and culminated in a Ulster Club Minor title in 2000 under captain Pauraic Duffy. A notable fact here was that Mark Slevin, Ronan Toner, Brian Óg Hughes, Gary Gorman and Ciaran Mc Kinney won 3-in-a-row medals with both Robbie Mc Cague and Ronan Clarke collecting a fourth.
In 2001 this group of players went on to win the Co u21Championship with Micky Toner team captain and John Carson and Pat Cullen in charge.
This development policy continued throughout the 2000s with many Club members like Louis O'Neill, Pat and Micheal Cullen,Tony Fields, Jimmy Mc Kee, John Carson and Paul Turley giving freely of their time to youth affairs.
In 2003/4 our u16s contested the County Juvenile Finals and in 2005/6 the same panels as u18s the Co Minor Finals but only to be defeated by Crossmaglen. However many fine young Senior footballers emerged from their ranks, like Mark Cullen , Gerard Barton, D.D. Parkinson, Sean Moore, Deckie Mc Manus and JJ Clarke. These lads were to go on and help the Ógs achieve victory in 2009.
In 2009 we were successful in winning the County Juvenile Championship, our first in 10 years, Gerry Davidson, John Carson and John Óg O'Kane managing the boys and Micheal Carson the captain.With young players like Shea Freeman, Stevie Mc Manus and Sean Hughes coming into Senior football from this squad the future is looking bright indeed.
To ensure continued success our underage football is now structured through a Youth Committee under the diligent Tony Davidson with many members and ex-players working to instruct and guide their young charges from u6 level upwards. With due care and attention we can hopefully ensue that the next 30 years will be just as glorious and rewarding as the previous had been. Our motto should be " Mol An Oige agus Tiofaidh Si".
Special praise is due to the late Donal Powell, a Pearse Óg Senior footballer and captain of the 'B team who tragically died in 1993. He is still fondly remembered by all who knew him and for the tireless work he put in to develop our underage teams. Today u10 teams gather from near and far to play in the prestigious Donal Powell Tournament. In 2013 a 20th Anniversary Quiz was organised in his memory and the Social Club was packed, with a large sum raised for charity. His late father Tommy was likewise a dedicated member putting in enormous service in promoting the Club Lotto and supporting the teams.
SENIOR FOOTBALL IN THE 21st CENTURY
The new millennium seen the Ógs Seniors once again become a footballing force to be reckoned with. After the breakup of the '92 Champions we experienced a quiet period, even dropping into Div2 in 1996. But with the successful youth teams garnering players into Senior grade we were again able to contest the Co Final in 1999. However the mighty Crossmaglen stood in our path, as they did the following season of 2000 and proved to be too strong for us.
Now under the management structures of John Carson and then Adrian Clarke, innovative training and match preparation were introduced. Players of the calibre of the Clarke brothers Ronan, Conor, JJ and Ross, JP Donnelly,Andy Mallon, Chris Rafferty and Paul and Anto Duffy were not going to accept defeat indefinitely. But before victory they would suffer further disappointment with defeat in the 2008/9 Co Senior Finals against that old foe Cross.
2009 - VICTORY AT LAST
That year 2009 was to witness all the ten seasons of hard work put in finally vindicated with the Ógs winning our fourth Co Senior Championship. Brendan Hughes, a nephew of Club founding father Sam Johnson, took on the mantel of Senior manager with the able assistance of the experienced Kieran Hughes. Crossmaglen were in hot pursuit of their fourteenth title in a row but in the quater-final the Ógs produced a controlled and powerful display to beat them. The lads then went on to power past Clann Éireann and in the final showed their undoubted class to beat city rivals Harps 0-8 to 0-4 in a rain drenched affair at the Athletic Grounds. In scenes reminiscent of the first Senior victory of 1985, captain Ciaran Mc Kinney and Deckie Mc Auley lofted high the Gerry Fagan Cup.
Unfortunately with numerous injuries, not least to Ronan Clarke,we were unable to retain the crown the following year. Yet in 2012, under the new management of Louis O'Neill and Paul Turley, the Club returned to contest the Final but this time Cross got their revenge on us.
Hopefully in the years ahead we can return to winning ways and that our great Club will prosper on all fronts.