Causeway GAA Club History
The parish of Causeway is situated roughly 15 miles north of Tralee, 6 miles east of Ballyheigue and 6 miles west of Ballyduff. For the people of this tiny parish, the main focus of their sporting lives revolves around the game of Hurling and the following of their team in Maroon. In a football mad county like Kerry, Hurling takes precedence in North Kerry and at the centre of this is Causeway G.A.A. Club. Causeway G.A.A. Club has a proud and distinguished History, from exploits on the field, to our fine facilities and to the building up of camadarie within the club.
Early records indicate that Causeway fielded teams sporadically around the late 19th and early 20th century. Causeway first entered the County Senior Hurling championship in 1892 and were defeated by the then All-Ireland Champions, Ballyduff. Causeways first victory of note came in the 1930 North Kerry Senior Hurling League where Abbeydorney were defeated on a score of 1-02 to 0-02. This win was followed 2 years later by Causeways historic 1st Championship success. Led by the Legendary Neilus Flynn, Causeway defeated Kilflynn, Kenmare, Kilgarven and Rathmore on their way to the 1932 title.
As there was no sportsfield in Causeway until the mid-70's training and games were held at the Fair Green and Sandford lawn to the east of the Village, Diggins field in Drumnacurra, Lyons in Meenogahane and Flynns in Foxfort. Another interesting aspect is that up to the mid-30's Causeway played in Black & Amber and Blue & Gold Jerseys. The Maroon jersey arrived on the scene when Gaelinn presented the Parish with a set of jerseys as reward for the selling of tickets around the parish and at the carnivals held at the time.
While the 1932 victory should have acted as a springboard to further success the opposite was the case. From the Mid-30's to the early 60's Causeway found it difficult to field teams but this didn't stop players from the parish leaving their mark on the hurling scene. During this Period Championships were won with a St Brendans Amalgamation (1936), Ballyheigue (1946) and Ballyduff (1955).
The aforementioned Neilus Flynn had the honour of captaining 2 different teams to Championship success, Causeway in 1932 and St Brendans in 1936. He also captained a Shannon Rovers amalgamation in the 1939 County Final defeat to Crotta.
Neilus Flynn, Sonny Fitzgerald, Jack O'Connell, Tommy 'Fox' Diggin, Ml Connor and Paddy Casey were members of the 1936 St Brendans outfit while Ml John Dineen, Timmy Leahy, Gerald Lawlor and John Kearney were part of the successful 1946 Ballyheigue team. In 1955 Ballyduff won their 1st County Championship since their All-Ireland winning year of 1891 with the help of Jerry Fitzgerald, Johnny Connor, Francis Cantillon, Damian Hanrahan, John Lawlor and Harry Joe O'Connor. Harry Joe had further success with Ballyduff in '57, '59 and '60 while Neilus Carmody was also a member of the 1959 side. The 1960's saw a revival in the fortunes of Causeway Hurling. Players returned from the neighbouring clubs to throw in their lot with their home parish again and more importantly an underage structure was put in place. Even though championship success eluded the parish a vital North Kerry Junior Championship was won in 1962 which was Causeways 1st victory of any description since 1932. This together with the work of men like Andrew Diggin, Gerry Fitzgerald, Paddy Sean O'Connell and Francis Cantillon with the youth of the parish ensured Causeway would go into the future knowing they would be able to compete on their own. A Minor Co Championship Victory in 1968 was the 1st County Title since 1932 and sowed the seeds for future success.
While the 60's saw a revival, the 70's announced Causeway back with the big boys, on and off the field. A Championship defeat in the 1973 County Final to Ballyduff didn't hinder the progress of the club. Under-age success was plentiful and Causeway players were gaining valuable experience representing and winning with their county while Causeway Comprehensive was also providing an opportunity for players to test their abilities against other teams around Munster.
Another important development occurred in the Mid-70's with the acquirement of a Sportsfield. Causeway G.A.A. club entered into agreement with Causeway Comprehensive and Kerry V.E.C. and developed a field, bought from the late Bart Costello, to the south of village. Causeway G.A.A club now had a place they could call Home.
Under-age success came in a Feile (1975) U-15 Co ('76 & '77) U-16 Co ('76 & '77) and various North Kerry titles. An Intermediate Championship, senior County League and a 2nd Minor Co Championship Success in 1977 under the Captaincy of Joseph Lyons meant Causeway were really knocking at the door. Following another County Final defeat to Ballyduff in 1978 Causeway finally reached the Holy Grail in 1979. Crotta were defeated in one of the most dramatic County Finals ever with a last minute goal from Ger Clifford and Roger Hussey became the 1st Causeway man since Neilus Flynn to lift the County Championship trophy. This win was the start of the great four in row team that achieved further success in 1980, 1981 and 1982. Roy Dineen in 1980, Maurice Leahy in 1981 and Gerald O'Grady in 1982 were the men who led Causeway to victory in those years and a place in the History books. 1979 was also special in that the Minor (Gerard Diggin) and U-21 (Patrick Bunyan) county crowns were captured and an historic treble was achieved.
The club still prospered at Under-age through out the '80's with a U-12 Co ('87), 3 Feiles ('82, '88 & '89), U-14 Co ('82 & '89), U-16 Co ('82) and a minor co league in 1984. A centenary Final defeat to Ballyduff in 1984 was followed by another County Title in 1987. This was a very poignant day for the club as it was it was the first year that the new Neilus Flynn Trophy was being played for. Sadly in August of that year Neilus passed away but his memory and name will forever be associated with hurling in Kerry thanks to the magnificent trophy donated by the Flynn Families of Drumnacurra and Foxfort. The club paid him the ultimate tribute by winning the trophy in its premier year and Anthony O'Connor had the honour of hoisting it aloft. 1984 saw the commencement of work on the dressing-rooms which also led to the building of a handball alley, scoreboard and Stand. Then in June 1988 amid great Fanfare, Causeway G.A.A. club proudly opened their facilities. Over a great weekend, proceedings got under way on the Friday evening with an exhibition match between the Causeway Senior teams of 1979 and 1987. On Saturday evening an U-12 game took place between Causeway and Ballyheigue which was followed by the launch of the Official Programme. Then on the Sunday evening while Ray Houghton was putting the ball in the back of the English Net, John Dowling, then president of the G.A.A, and the Dubs were flying into Town.
On a glorious summers evening, Kerry and Dublin played out a highly competitive challenge game which was preceded by Causeway Vs Newtownshandrum senior hurlers. The Dubs had flown in specifically to Farranfore for the match while John Dowling landed by helicopter in the centre of the G.A.A. field to officially open the facilities following the blessing by Fr. John B Daly. A car was then raffled off at half-time of the senior football match. It was a wonderful occasion and the crowd of 3½ / 4 thousand didn't seem bothered by what was happening in Stuttgart.
From having no field pre mid-70's Causeway now had one of the top facilities in the county and this was reflected in the number of Inter-county and County Championships games held. Another proud moment for the club was the hosting of the 1990 County Final between Ballyduff and St Brendans. One of the main reasons for the fine standard of pitch and good upkeep of the premises was the endless hours put in by the late Johnny O'Connor. It was like his second home and never was a stone left unturned in his preparation and maintenance of the facilities. Following his retirement, Andrew Diggin and more recently John Sheehan have carried on this unselfish work.
Early success in the 90's in U-16 Co ('90), Junior Co ('92) and Senior Co League ('92) was offset by the lack of senior success and most disappointing of all, 3 Minor Co Finals were lost in a row, ('90, '91 & '92). In the Mid-nineties a strong emphasis was placed on the youth of the parish and today Causeway has one of the Strongest Under-age set-ups in the county. The decade finished on a high for the club with a Co Final appearance in 1997 followed by victory in the '98 decider. After a gap of 11 years a Maurice O'Carroll led Causeway defeated Crotta in a repeat of the '79 final. In 1999 Causeway U-16's won the Club All-Ireland Shield held in Carlow.
The new millennium has seen Causeway battle strongly at under age with Victories at U-12 Co ('03 & '06) U-13 Co ('06) U-14 Co ('05) & U-15 ('06). The Introduction of new competitions at U-10 & U-11 level has seen Causeway figure strongly with, in 2006 the U-10's winning 2 of the 4 competitions and defeated in a 3rd Final while the U-11's completely dominated their age group. Defeat in the Feile Final of 2005 was a disappointment but this team then captured the County U-14 and North Kerry Championships Their performances in the All-Irelands Feile Finals in Cork were a joy to behold and they were unlucky to taste defeat in the All-Ireland Final against Fermoy.
In 2004 Causeway G.A.A. celebrated 25 years since the beginning of the great 4 in a row team. A banquet was held in their honour in the Listowel Arms where each playing, managerial and committee member were presented with a specially engraved plaque marking their achievements.
While Causeway players have figured prominently with successful school & county teams other notable achievements which the club are proud of include Pat Moriarty, D.J. Leahy and Ml Burke representing Munster with D.J. winning a Railway Cup medal in 1985. Pat Moriaty is the sole Kerry hurler to ever be nominated for an All-Star and that honour was bestowed on him in 1977. Tadgh Flynn was selected on the Fitzgibbon Team of the year in 2005. John Mike Dooley has represented Ireland twice in the Shinty series in 2004 & 2005. He has also won the GPA player of the month for Feb '05 and he became the 1st Kerry Hurler to receive a Christy Ring All-Star in 2005.
Causeway G.A.A. also enters Scor competitions and in 1992 the Novelty Act under the guidance of Pat Joe O'Connor won The All-Ireland having reached the decider the year before as well. Camoige is another area that was strong in the parish. In the Early '70's under the tutelage of Ms. Mai O'Connell Causeway had a very strong camogie team and were County Champions on 3 occasions ('71, '73 & '77). Following it disbandment in the '80's, a new camogie club has started up in 2006 with great success to cater for the young female Hurlers of our parish. Weekly training sessions and competitive blitz are held and there is great interest being shown.
While there was Senior Co Final defeats in '04 & '06 there is still great optimism and spirit about the club. The Lotto is our main source of Income while occasionally a fund raiser like a Dog night or Golf Classic might take place and these add to the spirit of the club. On any summers evening from the Month of May till September Causeway Sportsfield is a buzz of activity. Juveniles ageing from 6 to 16, boys and girls, cover the field from 5 o'clock until 7.30 where the Seniors, Minors & Intermediates then take centre stage. On any given evening Causeway sportsfield could be used by up to 120 people. Spectators arrive to pass away the evening by watching proceedings or chatting away. There is no shortage of mentors for the under-age and support at all matches is fantastic. All to see the young heroes of today become the senior heroes of tomorrow, for the love of the game and to try and bring Neilus Home.