Birr were unstoppable at times during their great run of success from 1995 to 2008.
IT is hard to believe that 2020 marked the 25th anniversary of Birr's big breakthrough when they captured the All-Ireland Club Senior Hurling Championship for the first time.
Their 1995 All-Ireland final victory over Antrim's Dunloy Cuchulainn's sparked off a run of mind boggling success as Birr became a dominant force in Irish club hurling.
They went on to capture four All-Ireland titles, while they won their provincial title on seven occasions and they were always the team to beat in Offaly hurling during their glorious heyday from 1991 to 2008.
Offaly senior hurling champions on 22 occasions, Birr won the Sean Robbins Cup for 12 years between 1991 and 2008, when they were last at the pinnacle. They didn't have everything their own way in the 1990s as the rivalry between them Seir Kieran and St Rynagh's lit up the local scene like never before and certainly not afterwards.
In the 2000s, however, they were nearly unbeatable in Offaly as they won five in a row from 1999 to 2003 and then four on the trot from 2005 to 2008 – they would have won an incredible ten in a row only for Coolderry's 2004 triumph.
They were a powerful force of nature in those years and while there was signs of decline as the 2000s wore on, this were really only apparent with the benefit of hindsight and were not glaringly obvious at that time.
They have easily been Offaly's most successful hurling club – Coolderry might have won more county titles but have yet to make the top outside the county and it is their achievements here that set Birr apart.
Coolderry have won the local senior championship on 30 occasions and Birr are in second place on 22. Before the 1990s/2000s, Birr's previous golden era had been in the 1940s when they won the title in 1940, 1943-1944, 1946 and 1948.
After that they were a peripheral figure as Drumcullen and Coolderry dominated – their rivalry and the toughess of club hurling in Offaly in the 1940s, '50s and '60s is part of GAA folklore in the county. The emergence of St Rynagh's in 1965 was absolutely pivotal to the subsequent development of Offaly hurling. They significantly ended the dominance of Coolderry and Drumcullen – Drumcullen won the last of their seventeen county titles in 1960 and while Coolderry have continued to pick off titles at regular intervals, they haven't dominated like the past and didn't win one in the 1990s.
St Rynagh's were powerful, all embracing force in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s – they have won 18 championships in all and thirtreen of those came in those three decades. They have provided some of the county's greatest hurlers, their first All-Star in Damien Martin and they were the first Offaly club to make their presence felt beyond county boundaries. They won the first Leinster club hurling championship in 1970-1971, going on to reach the All-Ireland final where they were beaten by Roscrea. They have won the Leinster title on four occasions – 1970, 1972, 1982 and 1993 – and were beaten in three All-Ireland finals. They were beaten by Cork's Glen Rovers in 1973 while their 1983 defeat by Antrim's Loughgiel remains one of their greatest regrets – they were beaten by 2-12 to 1-12 in a replay.
They were the trend settters that all other Offaly clubs attempted to follow and while Birr's achievements eventually transcended them, their contribution to hurling in the county bears some sort of comparison. Offaly's only other Leinster club champions were Coolderry (2011) and Kilcormac/Killoughey (2012) and both went on to reach the All-Ireland final – Loughgiel again broke Offaly hearts when beating Coolderry while K/K were a lot closer in their defeat by Galway's St Thomas's the following year.
The only other Offaly clubs to reach the Leinster final were Kinnitty and Tullamore – Kinnitty lost three finals in a row in 1983, 1984 and 1985 while Tullamore were beaten by Kilkenny's Ballyhale Shamrocks in 2009.
As St Rynagh's enjoyed their fantastic run and Kinnitty went so close to a provincial breakthrough, Birr were envious bystanders. They ended a long 23 year famine when winning in Offaly in 1971 and then immediately launched into another long barren spell – it was 1991 before they won another one and that was a drama packed day as they edged Seir Kieran by a point, 1-12 to 1-11 with goalkeeper Paddy Kirwan scoring the winner from a long range free.
Birr followed that up with their first provincial title, destroying Ballyhale Shamrocks in the final and they went onto reach the All-Ireland decider where Galway's Kiltormer proved a bridge too long.
That was the precursor to a sustained period of the most incredible success. From 1991, they won twelve Offaly titles (1991, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008), seven Leinster ones (1991, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2007) and four All-Irelands (1995, 1998. 2002 and 2003).
When they won the Offaly title, they were instantly serious contenders at national level – they lost three Leinster club finals in 2003, 2006 and 2008 and were twice beaten in the All-Ireland final, 1992 and 2008. They were at their brilliant peak in 2002/2003 when they won back to back All-Ireland titles and that was arguably their greatest achievement.
Their success is better than most can dream about. Only Ballyhale Shamrocks have won more Leinster (10) and All-Irelands (8) than them while Portumna have also won four All-Ireland clubs and great names such as Galway's Athenry and Sarsfields, Cork's Blackrock and Glen Rovers and Kilkenny's James Stephens trail behind them in the roll of honour.
Birr's 1990s run co-incided with a fantastic decade for Offaly as they won the All-Ireland in 1994 and 1998 as well as losing a final to Clare in 1995. That run was the product of great minor success in the 1980s as the All-Ireland title was won in 1986, 1987 and 1989 and it is no co-incidence that players from Birr were instrumental in those wins.
Brian Whelahan and Johnny Pilkington were household names during the 1990s with Whelahan amassing an incredible array of individual honours. Joe Errity was a powerful performer in some of those years, Daithi Regan made a huge contribution in 1994 and 1995 and Declan Pilkington was a lively, dangerous forward in 1994 and 1995. By 1998, Gary Hanniffy and Darren Hanniffy had emerged onto the scene and they all played in the All-Ireland final win over Kilkenny with Gary Hanniffy having a great season as a starter and Darren Hanniffy coming on as a sub.
Brian Whelahan, Johnny Pilkington, Joe Errity (goalkeeper in 1986), Daithi Regan and Declan Pilkington all won All-Ireland minor medals in the 1980s as did other Birr players – Michael Hogan was the 1986 captain, Damien Geoghegan was brimful of talent and potential that year, the late Adrian Cahill had the stars in his reach in 1987 and 1989 while Gary Cahill, Brian Hennessy, Declan Sherlock and Donal Franks (then Ballyskenagh and later Birr) are among the other Birr players with All-Ireland minor medals.
Joe Errity, Gary Cahill, Brian Whelahan, Johnny Pilkington, Declan Pilkington and Simon Whelahan played in all four All-Ireland finals that Birr won and all bar Simon Whelahan also played on the first Leinster club winning side in 1991. They were the backbone of Birr's great success, their star names and leaders on and off the field but Birr had a lot more arrows in their arsenal.
Brian Mullins was too young when Birr won their first All-Ireland in 1995 and Robbie Sheils was the netminder then but by 1998, he was between the posts and his contribution has been sensational. An ultra safe goalkeeper, Mullins' has displayed incredible longevity and he was still in goals for them last year.
Just as Offaly's success story in the 1990s was spawned by underage success, Birr reaped the benefits of a very bountiful period in the 1980s and 1990s. The parish underage side of St Brendan's won U-21 hurling titles in 1980, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1993, 2003, 2006 and 2007 (they won as Birr in 1982) and Birr won minor hurling in 1981, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989, 2003, 2004, U-16 hurling in 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, U-14 hurling in 1982, 1983, 1985, 1992, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2008 and U-12 in 1989, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2005.
Their underage success led directly to their adult odyssey – it included four U-21 titles in six years, four minor in five years, five U-16s in a row and four U-14s in both the 1980s and '90s. It was a serious run and they were the target for every other club.
A perusal of Birr's underage teams in the 1980s throws up a host of familiar names in all grades – for example, Brian Whelahan, Joe Errity, Declan Pilkington, Brian Hennessy, Gary Cahill, Johnny Pilkington, Daithi Regan, Michael Hogan and Damien Geoghegan all won U-14 hurling medals in 1982.
The 1985 minor hurling champions included Errity, Cahill, Johnny and Declan Pilkington, Whelahan, Noel Hogan, Martin Errity, Geoghegan, Michael Hogan and Regan – they all featured in Birr successes in the 1990s. A young Adrian Cahill was a multiple winner of underage medals in the 1980s, often playing a couple of years ahead of himself. Robbie Shiels and Frankie Pilkington won minor hurling medals in 1988, a younger generation of future adult winners, Conor McClone, Robbie Shiels, Conor Hanniffy, Liam Power won minor hurling ones in 1989. The 1995 All-Ireland U-16 hurling champions included future senior winners in John Paul O'Meara and Paul Molloy; in 1996, Neil Rogers, Dylan Hayden, Paul Cleary and Michael Dwane won U-12 hurling medals.
Most of those players were inspired by the exploits of the great Offaly team that won Leinster and All-Ireland senior hurling titles in the early to mid 1980s, and they in turn helped inspire a younger generation of Birr hurler. Successes by Presentation Brothers College and later St Brendan's Community School in the 1970s and 1980s also inspired young hurlers throughout south Offaly.
When Birr reached their first All-Ireland final in 1995, the manager was St Rynagh's folk hero, Padraig Horan, captain of the Offaly side that won the All-Ireland senior hurling title in 1981.
Pat Joe Whelahan, also a former Rynagh's hurler, but living in Birr for several years, was the surpremo for the remainder of their national and provincial titles. His input was crucial. Father of Brian, Barry and Simon Whelahan, his role was not contaminated by the conflict of interests that can arise when managers have sons involved in teams - Brian was arguably the best hurler in Ireland during his heyday and Barry and Simon were automatic starters when they burst onto the scene in the second half of the 1990s.
There were great hurlers that did not enjoy the long careers that might have been expected. Damien Geoghegan was an excellent minor and he played very well at full back as Birr reached the All-Ireland final in 1992 but he was not there in 1995 when the ultimate breakthrough was made as he quickly drifted away from the game.
In the early days, there were key players who didn't achieve the national fame of many of their colleagues. Two that spring to mind are Paul Murphy and Ray Landy and they did a lot of excellent hurling for Birr as the big breakthroughs were made – Murphy never played a competitive game for Offaly while Landy's four league appearances came in 1989 yet both got several crucial scores as Birr were striving to fulfill their potential. Landy got 2-2 in the first Leinster final win against Ballyhale Shamrocks in 1991 while Murphy netted two goals in the All-Ireland final replay rout of Dunloy in 1995 and they were always a handful for defences with their physical presence and work rate in those years. Brian Hennessy, a very effective defender, Conor McClone and Oisin O'Neill were three others who did a lot of very good hurling for them in the 1990s.
A key part of Birr's success was the introduction of young players as the years wore on. Simon Whelahan was very young when he lined out in the 1995 All-Ireland win but within three years, he was one of their main figures, an All-Ireland medal winner with Offaly as well as Birr and an All-Star nominee.The four Hanniffy brothers, Conor, Darren, Gary and Rory were all on the team by the end of the 1990s and the contribution of Gary and Rory was particularly profound throughout the 2000s. John Paul O'Meara, Niall Claffey, Stephen Brown and Donal Franks were important figures in their last All-Ireland wins in 2001 and/or 2003 while a talented younger generation of Michael Verney, Brian Watkins, Paul Cleary, Dylan Hayden and Sean Ryan were key men as they reached their last All-Ireland final in 2008, losing to Portumna – Verney, Watkins, Cleary and Ryan are still playing and lined out for Birr in their semi-final defeat by St Rynagh's this year.
Pat Joe Whelahan displayed great management acumen throughout their successes. There was a campaign for him to get the Offaly job during some of those years but he never got the chance as other candidates were always selected ahead of him – he had done one year earlier on, having managed Offaly to the minor successes in 1986, 1987 and 1989 while he served as Limerick manager from 2003 to 2005. He had a touchline ban for the 2003 final when former player Paul Murphy stood in as manager on the day – Whelahan's passion from the sideline was a feature of those Birr years and he was no stranger to encroachments onto the pitch.
Whelahan had incredible talent in Birr at his disposal but a good manager was needed to gel some very strong individuals together as a team. In particular, he displayed a great ability to mould players into positions where they could contribute most for Birr. His own son Simon for example was most at home at corner back and it was here that he played most of his hurling for Offaly – he did play in attack towards the end of his county career but was better in defence at county level. However, he excelled as a forward for Birr, taking frees and also scoring from play – he was corner back on the Birr team that won the All-Ireland in 1998 but was in the full forward line for the other three – Brian Whelahan also spent time in attack towards the end of his career.
There was a fairly fraught relationship between Birr GAA Club and the Offaly County Board in those decades – there was an ongoing border row between Birr and Crinkle GAA Clubs that consumed huge energy from the individuals leading both clubs and the County Board who had to adjudicate with several mediation processes before a deal was eventually agreed some years ago. And downright acrimony exploded as Birr GAA pitch was closed for repair work and O'Connor Park in Tullamore became the established venue for senior hurling finals and home county hurling games.
Some times, Birr's most difficult task was to win the Offaly title and that was an indication of the strength of hurling in the county at that time. They had some fierce battles with Seir Kieran and St Rynagh's in particular and lost big games to both those clubs in the 1990s. They had lucky escapes on the way to ultimate success – Birr won the All-Ireland in 2002 but drew with Coolderry in the county semi-final the previous year before demolishing them in the replay, 5-20 to 1-8. They won their last All-Ireland in 2003 having drawn their county semi-final with St Rynagh's – they won the replay by 0-16 to 1-5.
We didn't know it at the time but Birr were entering decline from the early 2000s onwards. They were completely dominant in Offaly but looking back on it now, that was part of the problem and Birr's decline co-incided with a corresponding one at county level. Only Coolderry in 2004 stopped Birr from winning ten in a row from 1999 to 2008 and they were way too strong for every club in this spell apart from that defeat to Coolderry and the occasional scare. It is ironic that Birr were so dominant in the 2000s – they won their back to back All-Irelands in 2002/2003 but as the decade wore on and some of their heroic stars declined or went, they weren't as good as they had been but the standard of opposition in Offaly was much less than it had been in the 1990s.
As key players entered their 30s and years of hard mileage on the road took its toll, Birr found that the replacements were not as good – the newcomers were very fine hurlers, really dedicated and motivated individuals but the likes of Johnny Pilkington, Brian Whelahan, Joe Errity etc were always unlikely to be replaced by men of similar ability.
Only Brian Whelahan was still playing from the 1995 breakthrough team when Birr won their last provincial title in 2008 and his best days were past him as he chased Damien Martin's record haul of club medals – he didn't make it as their 2008 win has proven to be Birr's last one (he was sent off in the 2008 All-Ireland club final mauling by Portumna) and they are now in the midst of another long famine.
There are very encouraging signs of a corner being turned. Birr's success at underage level has dried up spectacularly but they are getting competitive again while they were very close to winning the Sean Robbins Cup in 2019 when a late St Rynagh's rally denied them. St Brendan's Community School in Birr won a Leinster colleges “B” title last year. They are working extrmely hard and may be ready to become a force again. Offaly needs a strong Birr but they can also reflect very proudly on what they have done for the game and for almost two decades in the 1990s/2000s, they were a source of great pride to every hurling supporter in the county.
Offaly SHC final, October 13 1991: Birr 1-12, Seir Kieran 1-11.
Leinster SHC final, November 24 1991 – Birr 2-14, Ballyhale Shamrocks (Kilkenny) 0-3
BIRR: Paddy Kirwan; Michael Hogan, Damien Geoghegan, Brian Hennessy; Brian Whelahan (Captain), Joe Errity, Gary Cahill; Johnny Pilkington, Matt Feenane (0-1); Declan Pilkington (0-9), Paul Murphy (0-1), Adrian Cahill; Noel Hogan, Ray Landy (2-2), Oisin O'Neill 0-1.
All-Ireland SHC semi-final, March 8 1992: Birr 2-9, Ruari Og Cushendall (Antrim) 1-6.
All-Ireland SHC final, March 17 1992: Kiltormer (Galway) 0-15, Birr 1-8
BIRR: Paddy Kirwan; Michael Hogan, Damien Geoghegan, Brian Hennessy; Brian Whelahan (captain), Joe Errity (0-2, 65s), Gary Cahill (0-2); Johnny Pilkington, Matt Feenane; Declan Pilkington (0-2, 2f), Daithi Regan (0-1), Oisin O'Neill; Paul Murphy, Ray Landy (1-0), Martin Errity. Subs – Noel Hogan for M Errity, John Carroll for Feenane.
Offaly SHC final, October 30 1994: Birr 0-8, Seir Kieran 0-6.
Leinster SHC final replay, December 4 1994: Birr 3-7, Oulart the Ballagh (Wexford) 2-5
BIRR: Robbie Sheils; Noel Hogan, Joe Errity, Brian Hennessy; Gary Cahill (0-1), Brian Whelahan (0-1), Matt Feenane; Johnny Pilkington (captain), Conor McClone; Oisin O'Neill, Paul Murphy (2-0), Declan Pilkington (1-1); Simon Whelahan (0-2), Daithi Regan (0-2), Frankie Pilkington. Sub – Liam Power for O'Neill.
All-Ireland SHC S/F, February 19 1995: Birr 2-8, Kilmallock (Limerick) 0-9.
All-Ireland SHC final replay, April 2 1995: Birr 3-13, Dunloy 2-3
BIRR: Robbie Sheils; Michael Hogan, Joe Errity, Brian Hennessy; Brian Whelahan (0-4), Gary Cahill, Noel Hogan; Johnny Pilkington, Daithi Regan; Oisin O'Neill, Conor McClone (0-1), Declan Pilkington (1-2); Simon Whelahan, Paul Murphy (2-0), Adrian Cahill (0-6). Subs – Matt Feenane for O'Neill, Ray Landy for McClone, Louis Vaughan for M Hogan.
Offaly SHC final, October 5 1997: Birr 0-14, Seir Kieran 2-4.
Leinster SHC final, November 30 1997: Birr 0-11, Castletown (Laois) 0-5
BIRR: Brian Mullins; Simon Whelahan, Joe Errity (captain), Brian Hennessy; Barry Whelahan, Brian Whelahan, Niall Claffey; Johnny Pilkington, Conor Hanniffy (0-1); Paul Carroll (0-1), Conor McClone, Gary Cahill (0-4); Liam Power (0-1), Darren Hanniffy (0-2), Declan Pilkington (0-2). Sub – Oisin O'Neill for Power.
All-Ireland SHC S/F replay, February 28 1998: Birr 1-15, Clarecastle (Clare) 0-11
All-Ireland SHC final, March 17 1998: Birr 1-13, Sarsfields (Galway) 0-9
BIRR: Brian Mullins; Simon Whelahan, Joe Errity (captain), Gareth Doorley; Barry Whelahan (0-1), Brian Whelahan, Niall Claffey; Johnny Pilkington (0-2), Conor Hanniffy; Darren Hanniffy (1-3), Conor McClone (0-1), Declan Pilkington (0-2); Gary Cahill (0-3), Daithi Regan (0-1), Paul Carroll. Subs – Oisin O'Neill for Carroll, Liam Power for McClone).
Offaly SHC final, October 3 1999: Birr 3-15, St Rynagh's 1-11.
Leinster SHC final, November 28 1999: Birr 1-16, Castletown (Laois) 0-11.
BIRR: Brian Mullins; Gary Cahill, Joe Errity, Donal Franks; Barry Whelahan, Brian Whelahan (0-4), Niall Claffey; Johnny Pilkington (0-1), Barry Milne (0-1); Darren Hanniffy, Liam Power, Gary Hanniffy (0-3); Rory Hanniffy, Declan Pilkington (captain, 1-1), Simon Whelahan (0-5). Subs – Paul Molloy (0-1) for Power, Oisin O'Neill for Darren Hanniffy).
All-Ireland SHC S/F, February 13 2000: Athenry (Galway) 2-9, Birr 1-10.
Offaly SHC final, October 7 2001: Birr 0-11, St Rynagh's 0-10
Leinster SHC final replay, December 16 2001, Birr 2-10, Castletown (Laois) 0-5
BIRR: Brian Mullins; Donal Franks, Joe Errity, JP O'Meara; Niall Claffey, Brian Whelahan, Gary Cahill; Johnny Pilkington, Stephen Brown (1-1); Liam Power, Barry Whelahan (0-1), Declan Pilkington; Gary Hanniffy, Simon Whelahan (captain, 1-8), Rory Hanniffy. Subs – Paul Molloy for Power), Dylan Hayden for Declan Pilkington, Paul Carroll for Gary Hanniffy, Conor Hanniffy for Simon Whelahan.
All-Ireland SHC S/F, February 17 2002: Birr 2-12, Dunloy (Antrim) 1-11
All-Ireland SHC final, March 17 2001: Birr 2-10, Clarinbridge (Galway) 1-5
BIRR: Brian Mullins; Gary Cahill, Joe Errity, JP O'Meara; Niall Claffey, Brian Whelahan (0-1), Donal Franks; Rory Hanniffy (0-1), Barry Whelahan; Johnny Pilkington (1-0), Gary Hanniffy (0-2), Liam Power; Stephen Brown (0-2), Simon Whelahan (captain, 0-4), Declan Pilkington (1-0). Subs – Paul Molloy for Power.
Offaly SHC final, September 29 2002: Birr 3-12, Kilcormac/Killoughey 2-7.
Leinster SHC final, December 1 2002: Birr 2-5, Young Ireland's (Kilkenny) 1-2
BIRR: Brian Mullins; Gary Cahill, Joe Errity, JP O'Meara; Niall Claffey, Brian Whelahan, Donal Franks; Johnny Pilkington, Barry Whelahan (0-1); Declan Pilkington, Gary Hanniffy (captain), Rory Hanniffy (1-2); Paul Molloy, Stephen Brown, Simon Whelahan (1-2). Sub – Liam Power for Brown.
All-Ireland SHC S/F, February 16 2003: Birr 0-15, Athenry (Galway) 0-6
All-Ireland SHC final, March 17 2003: Birr 1-19, Dunloy (Antrim) 0-11
BIRR: Brian Mullins; Gary Cahill, Joe Errity, JP O'Meara; Niall Claffey, Brian Whelahan (0-1), Donal Franks; Barry Whelahan, Johnny Pilkington; Rory Hanniffy (0-2), Gary Hanniffy (captain, 0-2), Liam Power; Paul Molloy (0-2), Simon Whelahan (0-8), Declan Pilkington (1-2). Subs Stephen Brown (0-2) for Power.
Offaly SHC final, October 5 2003: Birr 1-18, Ballyskenagh 1-11.
Leinster SHC final, November 30 2003: O'Loughlin Gaels (Kilkenny) 0-15, Birr 0-9
BIRR: Brian Mullins; Gary Cahill, Joe Errity, JP O'Meara; Niall Claffey (captain), Brian Whelahan (0-1), Donal Franks; Stephen Brown, Rory Hanniffy; Paul O'Meara, Gary Hanniffy (0-5), Dylan Hayden; Michael Dwane, Johnny Pilkington (0-2), Declan Pilkington. Subs – Barry Whelahan for Dwane, Paul Carroll (0-1) for Barry Whelahan).
Offaly SHC final replay, October 7: Birr 2-9, Coolderry 1-11
Leinster SHC final, November 26: Ballyhale Shamrocks (Kilkenny) 1-20, Birr 1-8
BIRR: Brian Mullins; JP O'Meara, Paul Cleary, Michael Verney; Brian Whelahan (0-1), Rory Hanniffy, Niall Claffey; Barry Whelahan, Neil Rogers; Paul O'Meara (0-2), Gary Hanniffy, Dylan Hayden; Sean Ryan, Stephen Brown (0-2), Simon Whelahan (0-3). Subs – Joe Errity (1-0) for Rogers, Paul Molloy for Barry Whelahan, Aaron Whelahan for Brown, Michael Dwane for Ryan.
Offaly SHC final, October 21 2007: Birr 0-15, Kilcormac/Killoughey 0-10
Leinster SHC final, December 2 2007: Birr 1-11, Ballyboden St Enda's (Dublin) 0-13
BIRR: Brian Mullins; JP O'Meara, Niall Claffey, Michael Verney; Brian Watkins, Paul Cleary, Dylan Hayden; Barry Whelahan (0-1), Rory Hanniffy (0-2); Gary Hanniffy, Brian Whelahan (captain, 0-2), Simon Whelahan (0-2); Stephen Brown, Paul O'Meara (1-4), Keith Hehir. Subs – Sean Ryan for Brown), Michael Dwane for Hehir.
All-Ireland SHC S/F, February 28 2008: Birr 0-17, Dunloy (Antrim) 0-9
All-Ireland SHC final, March 17 2008: Portumna (Galway) 3-19, Birr 3-9
BIRR: Brian Mullins; JP O'Meara, Niall Claffey, Michael Verney; Brian Watkins, Paul Cleary, Dylan Hayden; Barry Whelahan, Rory Hanniffy (0-1); Gary Hanniffy, Brian Whelahan (captain, 0-1), Sean Ryan; Paul O'Meara (1-0), Simon Whelahan (1-7), Stephen Brown (1-0). Subs – Michael Dwane for Ryan, Paul Molloy for O'Meara, Barry Harding for Hayden.
Offaly SHC final, October 12 2008: Birr 1-15, Kinnitty 0-15.
Leinster SHC final, November 30 2008: Ballyhale Shamrocks (Kilkenny) 2-13, Birr 1-11
BIRR: Brian Mullins; JP O'Meara, Niall Claffey, Michael Verney; Rory Hanniffy (captain), Paul Cleary, Brian Watkins; Gary Hanniffy, Barry Whelahan; Dylan Hayden (0-1), Brian Whelahan (1-1), Simon Whelahan (0-7); Sean Ryan, Paul O'Meara (0-2), Brian Lonergan. Subs – Barry Harding for Gary Hanniffy, Paul Molloy for Watkins, Stephen Brown for Lonergan.
Birr GAA Club Roll of Honour:
All-Ireland Club Champions (4): 1995, 1998, 2002, 2003
Leinster Club Champions (7): 1991, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2007
County Champions (22): 1912, 1913, 1915, 1938, 1940, 1943, 1944, 1946, 1948, 1971, 1991, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
Intermediate: (4) 1997, 1998, 1999, 2007
Junior: (1) 1985
U-21 (12): 1966, 1979, 1980, 1982 (Birr), 1988, 1990, 1991, 1993, 2003 2006, 2007, 2017
Minor: (18) 1929, 1931, 1932, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1954, 1964, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989, 2003, 2004
Under 16: (29) 1927, 1928, 1930, 1931, 1934, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1953, 1960, 1963, 1967, 1972, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005
Under 14: (16) 1972, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1992, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2008
Under 12: (5) 1989, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2005
Junior: (5) 1918, 1946, 1992, 2001, 2005
Under 14: (2) 1982, 1984.