The following is a brief history of the Geraldine O’Hanrahans GAA Club from its inception to present day. This is the first time that this history has been compiled and a big thank you has to been given to Liam Roche, GOH GAA Club secretary, for the time and the research that went into it.
The Gaa in New Ross has been represented by many sections. As far back as the 1800′s New Ross Gymnasiums were the representatives winning a senior football title in 1899, beating Mulgannon Harriers from Wexford 1-8 to 0-0 at New Ross. Two more clubs were formed following on from this, namely the New Ross “Geraldines” and the “O’Hanrahans”.
Formed in the early 1900s, the Geraldines won a junior hurling championship in 1910 and a senior football title in 1915. Two Geraldine players from that era, namely Sean Kennedy and Paddy Mackey won All Ireland hurling medals with Wexford in 1910. Both were dual players and were part of the great Wexford 4 in a row All Ireland football winners 1915-1918 along with Sean’s brother Gus Kennedy. Other Geraldines men included Tom Mernagh and Jim Byrne( capt 1918). Sean Kennedy was captain the other three years, 1915,’16 &’17. They captured junior football titles in 1903, 1911 & 1933 along with an intermediate football title in 1934.
The O’Hanrahans were formed after the 1916 Rising with the club taking its name from the executed New Ross born Michael O’Hanrahan. The O’Hanrahans won a county junior hurling title in 1920 adding an intermediate hurling title in 1933 and a senior hurling title in 1939. They also claimed a minor hurling title in 1940. The Civil War in Ireland caused much bitterness and division between these two clubs with the Geraldines being pro-treaty and the O’Hanrahans being anti-treaty. But an amalgamation of the two clubs brought an end to this and hence the Geraldine O’Hanrahans was formed in 1941.
The unanimous choice for club chairman was John Ronan. He was the father of Willie Ronan who would later train the Geraldine O’Hanrahans to win a senior hurling title in 1966. Joint secretaries were appointed to the new club, namely Billy Kielthy of the old Geraldines and Tom Kehoe of the old O’Hanrahans. Andy Barron and Dominic Whelan would become the first joint treasurersof the club while Tom Doyle, Matty O’Neill, Pat Bailey and Vincie Freeman would serve on the committee. They decided to enter minor, junior and senior hurling teams along with minor and junior football teams in the local competitions. A marvellous 3 in a row of senior hurling titles followed in 1943, ’44 & ’45. Great names from this era included Billy Kielthy, Joe Bailey, Thomas Murphy, Mick O’Brien and John Maddock.
A team called The Insurgents were also formed around this time and they won a junior hurling title in 1950 beating Caim/Kiltealy 4-7 to 3-1 in Wexford Park. Players on their team included Nicky Hammond, Padge Purcell, John “Hocks” Wall, Jimmy Deegan, Jimmy Callaghan, Tom Furness and Willie Ronan.
The Geraldine O’Hanrahans were beaten by Faythe Harriers in the 1956 intermediate hurling final 7-3 to 4-8 but returned tgo Bellefield again in 1957 this time against Shelmaliers and winning on a scoreline of 6-7 to 5-6. Players from this team included Micky Somers, John O’Brien, Jim Sutton, Mick Morrissey, Martin Lyng, Ben Cleary and Jimmy O’Brien. Nine years later in 1966 the Geraldine O’Hanrahans won the senior hurling championship beating a star studded Shamrocks team in Wexford Park after a replay winning 2-10 to 3-4. The drawn game had ended 3-14 a side. Captained by Christy Martin this team had some great players like Pat Nolan in goal, Ned Colfer, Tom Neville, Martin Lyng, Jimmy O’Brien and Micky Gardiner. Also achieved in the 1960s were a junior football title(1963) and special junior football and hurling titles(1967). The 1963 junior football team beat Kilanerin 2-5 to 0-4 in St Patricks Park, Enniscorthy. Players on the day included Barney McGuinness, Tom Neville, Ned Colfer, Phil O’Kennedy, Jimmy O’Brien, Jim Kissane and Larry Larkin.
In the 1970s, a brilliant minor football team won back to back Jim Byrne Cup titles and championship titles in 1971/72. In 1971 they beat Horeswood/Ramsgrange 3-6 to 2-1 in Wexford Park and in 1972 they beat Kilmore 2-8 to 1-6 in Bellefield. The Geraldine O’Hanrahans won a second intermediate hurling title in 1975, captained by goalie John Nolan, beating Oylegate 3-9 to 2-8 in a replay in Wexford Park. The drawn game had been a very low scoring 0-6 each. Part of the set up was player/manager Tom Neville, Ger St Ledger, Mick “Skipper” Dalton, Micky Gardiner, Mick Malone and Johnny Purcell. Promotion back to the senior ranks followed but after that a lean period ensued. Relegation from senior came in the mid ’80s and then down to junior a few years later.
The formation of an underage section in the club began in 1981spearheaded by its first chairman Dick Bailey along with Ollie Roche and Mick Murphy. Immediate impact was made winning an U16 Div 2 title in 1982 followed by a minor hurling Div 2 title in 1985. In between these victories an U14 Div 2 hurling title was captured in 1984. There was also two U12 Premier titles won in the ’80s. In 1987 the Geraldine O’Hanrahans defeated Rathnure on a scoreline of 6-9 to 3-3 while in 1989 victory was had over Horeswood, 5-6 to 1-2, both times in Wexford Park. In 1993 and 1996 the Geraldine O’Hanrahans won the Premier U14 hurling beating Rathnure in ’93 and Bunclody in ’96.
In the 1990s the Geraldine O’Hanrahans bounced back to win a junior hurling title in 1995 beating St Anne’s 2-9 to 0-7 at Bellefield. The team, captained by Mick Cleere Snr, included some stalwarts with John Nolan in goal, Noel Rellis, brothers Liam and Eamonn Donovan, Martin Morrissey, Anthony Tobin, Mick Cleere Jnr and John Rellis up front. In 2000 the Geraldine O’Hanrahans captured a junior B hurling title in Bellefield defeating Oylegate 1-9 to 0-3. Captained by Johnny Purcell the team included players like Jimmy Smith, Mark Rellis, Eoin Bailey, James Ryan, Brendan Furlong and Michael Fenlon. Another junior B hurling title was won in 2007, defeating Shelmaliers2-18 to 1-15 in Bellefield. Managed by Eddie Haberlin and captained by Mick Walsh, the team also included Keith Purcell, Niall Merrigan, Dave McCarthy, Matt Crowdle and Jimmy Smith to name a few. A Div 2 U21 football title was won in 2004 at Wexford Park. Captained by Jimmy Smith they beat Craanford after extra time with Sean Purcell scoring an equalising free towards the end of the game. Others that starred that day included Anthony Purcell, Sean Culleton and Shane Roche.
2011 brought a second junior football title to the club. Trained and coached by the highly rated Aidan O’Brien, along with manager Dara Kissane and selector Mick Cleere Jnr, they beat Cloughbawn in a very entertaining final at Wexford Park by 1-10 to 1-4. Inspired by captain and full forward Mark Rellis, others that stood out that day included Mick Kelliher, Jason Purcell, Kevin Burke, James Ryan, Sean Culleton, Anthony Purcell and goal scorer Derek Butler ( who earlier in the year was right half back on the first ever Wexford U21 football team to win the Leinster championship when they defeated Longford 1-9 to 0-10). After winning the junior football title further history was made in the club when the Geraldine O’Hanrahans played its first ever Leinster championship game. The first two rounds were played on home soil in O’Kennedy Park, New Ross where the Geraldines had great victories over first St Pauls of Westmeath and then Kilmacanogue of Wicklow. This brought them to a Leinster semi-final in Pairc Tailteann in Navan against the Meath champions Ballivor. This proved to be a step too far and they went down galliantly on the day by 1-12 to 1-7