Easkey Sea Blues GAA Club

Club History

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On Sunday 15th January 1888, just four years after the foundation of the GAA, an informal meeting was held for the purpose of starting a branch of the GAA in Easkey parish. Just two weeks later, following another meeting, a club was formed. Thirty men were enrolled to the club and a football match was played afterwards.

The first county Sligo Senior Football Championship was played in 1888 and Easkey were one of the few teams to partake in the competition. Easkey’s first competitive match was against St John’s on Sunday 11th March 1888 in Collooney, with a 3.30pm throw-in and Mr Thomas Gorevin acting as referee. The game ended in a low-scoring draw, 0-1 to each side.

The first competitive Easkey team was: P. Devanny (capt.), J. Mooney, T. Burke, W. Connor, W. Burke, Tom Duffy, William Missett, Eugene Clarke, James Rolston, James Moloney, David Rolston, P. Feeney, Pat Callaghan, James Sheridan, Thomas Rolston and Owen Casey. Easkey were under the management of Michael B. Doherty and J. J. Brennan.

Easkey were granted the victors of the replay against St John’s (in Templeboy on Sunday 25th March), as the St John’s team failed to turn up. Easkey defeated Dromore West in the quarter-final by 3-0 to 0-0, played in Killeenduff on Sunday 1st April. In the semi-finals of the 1888 competition, Easkey were defeated by Sligo Emmets in Templeboy by 0-3 to 0-0.

The first records of an Easkey Junior football team are in ‘the Sligo champion’ June 16th 1888 edition. Easkey played in a challenge match against Dromore West and won out on a score-line of 2-2 to 0-0. The following players lined out for Easkey (all of whom were under 15 years of age): J. Skeffington (capt.), F. Harte, P. Hynes, J. Missett, O. Connolly, M. Moloney, P. Lenehan, J. Mohan, J. Boland, P. Conlon, James Collery and Edward Rolston.

 The rivalry between Easkey and Dromore West was well established at this time, the clubs played out a further 3 challenge matches over the next few weeks of June 1888. Easkey won all four matches on an aggregate score of 7-5 to 0-1. After a club meeting on Sunday 16th December 1888, it was resolved to officially name the club the ‘Easkey Sexton Club’, in honour of the former Minister of Parliament in the House of Commons for County Sligo, Thomas Sexton (1848-1932). Sexton was an outspoken advocate for tenant-farmers in the area and served as M. P for County Sligo from 1880 to 1885 and south Sligo from 1885 to 1886.

In the 1889 senior championship, Easkey Sextons played Templeboy in Dromore West, winning out by 1-1 to 0-0. However, the game was ordered by the County Board to be replayed due to unsporting behaviour by some Easkey players. On St Patrick’s Day, the teams played again, Easkey were victors once more by the same score-line, 1-1 to 0-0. Easkey Sextons defeated Dromore West in the next round of the competition by 1-0 to 0-0, Tom Duffy scoring the crucial goal. In the semi-final of the 1889 competition, Easkey Sextons played against Curry in Dromard. It was a controversial game, Easkey were declared the winners by 0-1 to 0-0, only after the Curry players left the field of play, complaining of vicious play from Easkey. Curry appealed to the county board, whom awarded them a replay. The replay was played in Dromard, on Sunday 5th May 1889, again this proved a controversial affair. This time around, Michael Doherty the Easkey manager, ordered his players off the field, after an ‘own-goal’ was scored by an Easkey defender, J. Skeffington. The Easkey players stated to the referee that the goal should not stand on the grounds of it being an ‘own goal’ and Mr Doherty complained that there was a foul on an Easkey player in the lead up to the goal. The referee, however, allowed the goal to stand and the Easkey players left the field and Curry proceeded to the county final, winning by 1-0 to 0-0. The Easkey team who lined out in the 1889 county semi-final replay against curry was: P. Devanny (capt.) J. Sheridan, J. Skeffington, M. Burke, J. Kelly, O. Missett, Tom Duffy, William Rolston, P. Gallagher, P. Feeney, Thomas Rolston, Owen Casey, David Rolston, J. Moloney, Patrick Rolston and W. Higgins. This would prove to be the last competitive Easkey team for many years unfortunately, due to the major political instability of the time, there followed a long period of inactivity in Easkey GAA.

From 1890-1907, the GAA in County Sligo suffered badly, an opinion piece in the November 26th 1892 edition of ‘The Sligo Champion’ stated that “there are few counties in Ireland which can boast of a prouder record in the Gaelic movement than Sligo but the championship of the present year [1892] showed an evident decline, West Sligo [clubs from Tireragh] not being at all represented in 1892”. The county Sligo Senior Football Championship of 1893 was the last Easkey GAA would be involved competitively again until 1907, when the club got to the 1907 Senior Football Championship Final, losing to Coolera. Easkey however did taste success in 1907 by winning the Junior Football Championship that year. The senior team were also in the county senior final of 1910 but tasted defeat once more. From 1910 up to 1920 there was no success as the 1916 rising caused a lot of disruption in the parish. Again the Civil War of 1921-23 caused a lot of division in the parish. The club held Junior status between 1920 and 1930, reaching the county semi-final in 1927. Football was at a low ebb up to 1932 when the team was reorganised with a new committee. The club adopted the traditional blue colours, which remain to the present day (prior to this the club colours were green and orange) and became officially known as Easkey Sea Blues. Some players from Dromore West also joined the club, at this time.

Steady progress was made and in 1935 success was at hand. Easkey won the County Senior Championship for the next three years 1935-37. These were often referred to as the golden years. The club won their fourth County title in 1941. 1947 saw the club win the Senior League title. In the same year Easkey played Skreen in the County Final, a dispute arose in the closing minutes of the game which was then called off, with the County Board then awarding the match to Skreen .In 1949 Easkey were beaten in the County Senior Championship final by Sooey. Easkey won the Senior League in 1951 and again in 1952 beating Ballymote on both occasions. In 1953 a dispute arose with Keash in the County Semi-Final. 1954 saw Easkey withdrawing from the Championship before the club reorganised in the Junior division.

Between 1957 and 1960,  3 West Divisional Championships were won. 1960 saw Easkey winning our second county Junior Championship, the first win in Junior Championship since 1907. They then played Senior for two years after which the club were re-graded in 1962. Easkey won the West Divisional Championship in 1963, but were beaten by Cliffoney in the County Semi-Final. In 1964 the club was beaten by St Patricks in the County Junior Final. 1965 saw the club winning our third junior championship beating Grange in the county final. We regained senior status in 1966 and won our fifth County Senior title by beating Ballymote in the final which is still the last time we won a Senior Championship. The 1966 panel was: Murie Kerrigan, Fr.Marty Keveney, TJ Lyons, Sean Weir, Vincent Cuffe, JP Maguire, Peter Brady, Janie (Eugene) Ferguson, Sean Rolston, Fr.Val Keveney, Sean Calleary, Ray Tully, Peter Kivlehan, Michael McHugh, Eugene Mullen (Capt.), Francie Lyons, Mikey Kenny, PJ Sloyan, Tom Roddy, Leo Wall, Gerard Sloyan, Michael McNamara, Thomas Regan, Fr.Ollie McHugh

In 1967, Easkey represented Sligo in the Connacht Club Championship but lost out to Ballina Stephanites in the Semi Final on a score of 3-07 to 1-06. Newspaper report of the game can be found
here. The club also lost the County Final in 1967 after a replay to Collooney by 1 point. They got some compensation by winning the County Senior League. In 1968 the club were again beaten in the county senior final by St Patrick's.

In 1975, the club were re-graded to Junior status, however we still managed to win the West Division Championship in the same year. In 1976, they lost the County Junior Final to Calry Gaels. In 1977, Easkey won the County Junior Title by beating Tourlestrane in the final. The Club also won the Junior league title in the same year. In 1980, the club won their first County Minor championship since 1931, by beating St Mary’s in the County Final. 1981 brought more success with Easkey winning the Intermediate league, beating Collooney in the final. Easkey also reached the Intermediate Championship Semi-Finals, whether they beat Castleconnor, however Castleconnor objected to the result based on the eligibility of one of the Easkey players which the County Board up held and awarded the game to Castleconnor, who subsequently lost the final. Easkey were to get some revenge in 1982 however, beating Castleconnor in the Intermediate final and giving the club their first Intermediate Championship. Easkey were unable to maintain their senior status for too long however as they were relegated again in 1983 as the club struggled again with emigration. Easkey G.A.A. was the focus of a segment of the popular RTE series Reeling in the Years. In the 1986 episode, it was highlighted that the club had lost 15 players (a full-team) due to immigration to Britain and the USA. Easkey GAA was also the highlight of a news report from 9th of January 1989, where an exile match was held between Easkey and Shannon Blues club in Boston, highlighting the ongoing emigration crisis. The news report can be watched at 
http://www.rte.ie/archives/2014/0109/496603-emigrant-gaa-match-in-sligo-1989/ 

However despite struggling for numbers, the Intermediate Championship was won in 1987 by beating Owenmore Gaels and again in 1990, beating Calry/St Joseph’s. After 1990’s success, Easkey maintained senior status for 19 years until emigration hit the team again and were relegated in 2009.

Easkey throughout the 1990’s were consistent, reaching the Senior Championship Semi Finals in 1993, 1996 and 1997,  however losing out all 3 times to Eastern Harps before finally beating them in the 1999 semi-final, where Easkey went onto the final to play Tourlestrane. The 1999 final was a tight affair however Tourlestrane came out victors on a score line of 1-11 to 1-09. The team for the 1999 final was as follows: Gene Curley, David Rolston, Eamon Sweeney, Michael Rolston, James Rolston, James Cawley, Patrick Clarke, Dermot Keaveney (Capt.), Noel McGuire (0-03), Brendan Rolston, (0-01), Dessie Sloyan (0-03), Shane Feeney, Padraig Hallinan, Fintan Feeney (1-02), Michael Kelly, Subs used: Vincent Cuffe, Manager Padraig Gibson.

Easkey did have league success however, winning the Senior Division 1 league in 1994 and 1998, while also being runners up in 1990, 1995 and 1997. Also during the 1990’s the club had underage success with the U13 team winning the county 9-a-side winter league. The club amalgamated with St. Farnans at U21 level, winning the A championship in 1995 and 1997, and losing out in the 1998 final.

Easkey’s consistentency continued throughout the 2000’s reaching the Semi Final in 2003 and 2007 but were beaten by Tourlestane and Eastern Harps (after a replay) respectively. The team were also runners up in the 2006 Division 2 league. In 2007, Easkey’s Noel Mcguire captained Sligo to their first Connacht final title in 32 years. In 2009 the club lost its Senior Championship status, but quickly regained it again winning the Intermediate Championship the following year beating Drumcliffe / Rosses Point in the final. The last few years have been a real rollercoaster, with Easkey being relegated to Intermediate again in 2011 before going on to win the Intermediate championship again in 2015 against local rivals Castleconnor. While many young players started to come through, the gap left between many retirees after the 2015 Intermediate success, led the team to back to back relegations, in 2016 from Senior to Intermediate (after the team took Calry/St Joseph’s to a third relegation-playoff game, after finishing a draw in the 2 previous ties) and subsequently relegated from Intermediate down to Junior in 2017 before winning our 5th Junior title in 2018, beating Owenmore Gaels in the final on a scoreline of 1-11 to 1-04 and promotion back to Intermediate. Easkey also went on to win Connacht Club Junior Championship in 2018 beating Glefarne/Kiltyclogher of Leitrim, Balla of Mayo and Clonbur of Galway in the final. They then beat Red Hughs of Donegal (Ulster Champions) in the All Ireland Junior Semi Final which set up an All Ireland Junior Final against Beaufort of Kerry, becoming the first Sligo club to play a club final in Croke Park. Unfortunately the Sea Blues failed to perform in the final and were well beaten by a very good Beaufort team but the 2018 season was another great year in the long history of the Sea Blues.


The club’s underage success has continued in recent years, as the U14’s won the league and were championship runners up in 2012, while the Minors won “B” league titles in 2013 and 2015. In 2016, Easkey amalgamated with Enniscrone and won the Minor A Championship for the first time since 1980, and also won the U16 Div 2 league and B Championship titles along with Minor Championship Shield as Easkey / Enniscrone in 2018.


Hurling

The first known organised hurling games in the parish of Easkey, started back in the 1950′s.The club won 2 Senior Hurling Championships in 1961 and 1962. There was no organised Juvenile hurling in the county at this time. The then vocational school (now Colaiste Iascaigh) was very proactive in the 70′s, and produced many fine hurlers such as Gabe Calpin who went on to win an U16 All-Ireland title. Unfortunately, this talent was not tapped into at the time, and the club did not continue the tradition. In the first half of the 80s, hurling made a brief recovery in the club, when we contested the county final in 1983, where we lost to Craobh Rua, (now Naomh Eoin.in the last few years).

Underage hurling has gone from strength to strength, with 10 clubs now partaking in competition in most age groups. To the forefront of these is our own club, Easkey / St. Farnans, who won Six U14 Sligo Championships from 2011 - 2016, Six U16 Sligo Championship titles in a row from 2013 - 2018, Four Sligo Minor Championship titles 2015 - 2018, while also winning U16 Connacht Club titles in 2013 and 2015 and coveted All Ireland Féile Div 4 and Div 5 titles in 2013 and 2012 respectively.

In 2018 saw the club enter it's first Adult Senior hurling team in 35 years, with the club having a very successful year, reaching the county Semi Final only to lose out by a point after a replay to eventual winners Coolera/Strandhill and winning the League Title (Dermot Molloy League) beating Coolera/Strandhill in the final on a scoreline of 1-14 to 2-09.