This Saturday Walsh Island Shamrocks celebrate their 20th anniversary and they are hoping that past and present players and supporters will share in this very proud night for the club.
The eagerly anticipated event takes place in the Bridge House Hotel, Tullamore and will kick off at 7.30 pm. Music on the night by DJ Dan.
The long road to a 20th anniversary started in a field of weeds in 1992 and peaked in a field of dreams in 1997. Walsh Island Shamrocks was reborn on June 26, 1992 with the name taken from the original Shamrocks team that was in existence in the early 1970’s.
They were the team that brought the first soccer trophies to the Island and also had a player that went on to play for League of Ireland side Bohemians, and Ireland. The second coming was brought about by the desire of a few local lads to play competitive association football while they were still young enough to do so, but for a team that was their own and not one from an adjoining town that they had little or no allegiance to.
It was decided to enter the Leinster Football League and endeavour to make a mark on the local soccer scene. Little did they know that in the space of five years, the team would surpass all expectations and find themelves playing in the home of Irish soccer, Dalymount Park.
Those first few years were predominantly a survival exercise but after a lot of hard work from a relatively small committee, got the club off the ground.
From those humble beginings, the club grounds now boast an immaculately prepared pitch used exclusively for competitive games, a second pitch surrounded by 9000 watts of floodlight power to facilitate winter training, new spacious home and away dressing rooms equipped with showers and toilets, Ladies and Gents public toilets and a Referees changing room.
These and other developments were made possible by the Club Lotto, which was initiated in 1993 and which was the lifeblood of the club thanks to the tremenduous support of the locality and the committment and dedication of some outstanding ticket sellers. A major factor also has been the generosity of the business community in the local towns and villages, who have been very forthcoming with sponsorship.
The off the field achievements have been matched by on field success. The inaugural season, 1992/93 was a success in itself, merely by the club’s participation and survival but it was the 1994/95 season which suggested the little club would soon make a breakthrough.
The 1995/96 season put the club on the map. Scoring over eighty goals, the Shamrocks stormed to an unprecedented treble of League Championship, Division 3 Cup and Division 3 Shield titles. The league culminated in a playoff decider against Templevilla in Dalton Park, Mullingar, and after a tight encounter fraught with tension and drama , the Shamrocks emerged with a 1-0 victory.
The following Sunday in the Division 3 Cup Final they defeated Athy side Bridge United 4-2 after extra-time. This had been a phenomenal cup run through seven games, in which they scored thirty goals and conceded only four. To round off an incredible fortnight, the Shamrocks saw off Division 3A champions, Cill Beara Rovers in the Shield Final.
The 1996/97 season saw them in Division 2 but inconsistent form in the league resulted in the Shamrocks being pipped at the post for runner’s up spot and promotion to Division One, in a championship that they really could, and probably should, have won but it was in the Giffney Cup still alive that their greatest day was beckoning.
A superb semi-final victory over Longford Town, secured an outing to one of the most famous soccer grounds in the country, Dalymount Park, for the final of Tom Giffney Memorial Cup. A huge travelling support accompanied Walsh Island Shamrocks to the home of Bohemians Football Club on May 14, 1997, for what was undoubtedly the biggest day in their short history.
One goal proved enough against Finglas side, Cardiff Inn. It was a night that will live forever in the memory of every player and supporter that entered that famous ground to witness the club’s greatest moment, and the conclusion of an incredible journey, from dandelions to Dalymount in five short years.
The following season 1998/99 the club again went on to compete in the Tom Giffney cup final only to be beaten on penalties after a wonderful hard fought game v Longford Wanders.
Season 1999/2000 was again to end in agony for the club as we ended up on the losing side in the Watkins cup final v Arlington FC. The result was again to be decided on penalties.
It was not long before the Shamrocks were back in the winning groove again and in some style creating history along the way, The went on to win the very first OWL league Division 2 title in the 2001-2002 season, the also went on to be defeated in the Challenge Cup final by local neighbors Arlington on penalties. Because the club made such a great impression on the OWL league they were awarded the coveted Club of the Year Award for outstand achievements throughout the season.
The following six years proved hard for the Shamrocks to achieve anything like the success of the previous years.
The 2008-09 season seemed to get the club back to the heady heights winning the Division 3 league title and they reached two cup finals along the way, losing both one to Kilcormac and the other to Clara Town. As always the club was run to a very high standard which the CCFL acknowledged with the award of the club’s second Club of the Year award.
The following four years were quiet for the club in winning terms but they are planning a big celebration for there 20th anniversary with a dinner dance in the Bridge House, Tullamore. The club is also working in close conjunction with the Temple Street Children’s hospital on the night and proceeds from the raffle on the night will be donated to the hospital.
Ticket Price is a very reasonable €25 per person so please come out and support your local club and their fantastic chosen charity.
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