Castleblayney Hurling Club – A Brief History
Hurling was formally organised and revived in Castleblayney in April 1906 when Fr. Clinton arranged a meeting at the Schoolroom to start a Hurling Club in Castleblayney. Hurling had a sporadic history in the town until the 1940s when the club became a sub branch of the Gaelic League. The club won their first senior hurling championship in 1943 defeating Carrickmacross who reversed the score in 1945. Eamon O’ Toole and Joe Butler represented Ulster in the Railway Cup in 1945 and 1947.
The club reformed in 1954 at the Town Hall and won senior hurling championships in 1955, 1957, 1958 and 1959 as well as Mid-Ulster Leagues in 1958 and 1959.
In 1960, the club affiliated a 2nd club, Castleblayney Eire Og which affiliated for county and provincial competitions until 1965. This 2nd club was established to give the many young players in the town an opportunity to play competitively and to set an example to the rest of the county. The two Blayney teams (Blayney Faughs and Blayney Eire Og) met in the 1962 senior hurling final with the Blayney Eire Og team as underdogs winning the game with a late flurry of scores.
The club had 6 players selected on the Ulster team for Railway Cup action in the 1960s, Tommy Nolan, Mossy O’Riordan, Frank Cullinane, Paddy Denny, Terry Connolly and Jimmy Holohan.
In the late 1960s, Frank McQuaid established hurling in Our Lady’s Secondary School and these young players under Frank’s tutelage were the backbone of the juvenile teams in the club. The U14s played in the first Féile in Tipperary in 1971 and this representation at Féile has continued to the present day with highlighted wins in 1992, 2016 and 2019.
Also in 1971, Frank Marron and Terry Connolly played key roles in Monaghan winning the Ulster Junior Hurling Championship for the first time. The club won senior hurling championships in 1974, 1977 and 1979.
In the 1980’s, the club won the senior hurling championship in 1988 and 1989. The county team won the National Hurling League in 1986 and 3 Ulster Hurling Championships in 1986, 1987 and 1988 with Blayney players to the fore.
The 1990s saw senior hurling championship wins in 1992, 1994 and 1999 along with 7 senior hurling league wins in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997 and 1999. The Club along with the Blayney Faughs achieved Monaghan AIB Club of the year in 1996. The county won the Ulster Junior Hurling Championship in 1997 and 1998 backboned by Blayney players with Ciaran Syd Connolly also captaining the team to the All-Ireland Junior Hurling Championship in 1997.
The 2000’s saw senior championship wins in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 along with 6 senior hurling leagues in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2009. A first Ulster Junior Hurling Championship in 2005 and an Ulster Division 2 league in 2006 were achieved. The Kilmacud 7’s Shield was won by the club in 2000 and 2008. The club also travelled, competed and won the Dubai 7’s in 2008. Mickey McHugh, Jim McHugh, Rory Woods, Stephen Lambe and Declan Crowe represented Ulster in this decade. Mickey McHugh and Stephen Lambe represented Ireland at Shinty. The Club along with the Faughs achieved Monaghan AIB Club of the year in 2000. In 2008 and 2010, the county won the National Hurling League with Blayney players the back bone of the team.
2010 saw the club lease Concra field for training and matches due to the development of St. Mary’s Park. The 2010s saw senior hurling championship wins in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019 along with 8 senior hurling league wins in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 and 3 Development leagues in 2012, 2015 and 2016. Ulster Junior Hurling Championships were annexed in 2014 and 2018, with the seniors becoming the first team from Castleblayney to play in Croke Park when they closely contested the All-Ireland Junior Hurling Club Championship Final against Dunamaggin from Kilkenny. This was a truly memorable occasion for the club. Ronan McAteer represented Ireland at the U21 Shinty International against Scotland in 2012. The Club achieved Monaghan AIB Club of the year in 2012 and 2018. Also, the Youth Achievement Award for Hurling was presented to the club in 2010, 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2019.
Blayney started the new decade as they finished the last one by winning the senior hurling championship in 2020.
Culturally, the club have participated successfully at Scor winning county titles and hosted many drama and musical performances over the years. Club members have refereed at all levels for the association and club officials have played key roles on the Coiste Iomana, County Board and North Eastern League committee.
Blayney players and officials have garnered individual honours including County Young Hurler of the Year, County Juvenile Hurler of the Year, County Senior Hurler of the Year, Monaghan GAA Club All-Stars, Gaelic Life Ulster All-Stars, Gaelic Life Young Hurler of the Year, Nicky Rackard Cup Champions, Balls.ie Hurling Championship Team of the Year, GAA.ie Hurler of the Year, Monaghan GAA Volunteer Appreciation Award, Annual Awards Referee of the Year and Monaghan GAA Juvenile Achievement.
The club owes its endurance and success to the volunteers who have enjoyed their association with this great club and have carried on the baton of promoting our ancient game.