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BALLINURE GAA:

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A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF BALLINURE HURLING & FOOTBALL CLUB by Catherine Ahern Malhi.

BALLINURE G.A.A. Club Cork! Founded In 1959 In The Heart Of The Famed Rockies Hurling Club.

Establishing A New Hurling Club Was An Awesome Journey:

Often overlooked, as many small clubs are, Ballinure and its members fought a battle for survival both on and off the pitch. Playing for Ballinure isn’t something to take lightly.

Ballinure or the “town of the yew tree” had its GAA club established in 1959 in a small corner of the Mahon Peninsula by men such as Andy Murphy, Paddy Ahern, Tommy Beale, Otto Cuffe, Tommy Furlong and Miah Hegarty.Ballinure Hurling club played their very first match on the green in Ballyphehane in March 1960. A year later they added a football team and became Ballinure Hurling and Football Club, despite not yet having a clubhouse or a pitch to call their own.

Ballinure won their first hurling trophy, the McCurtain Cup, in 1962 by beating St. Finbarrs in the final. Ballinure also had the honour of playing the opening match in Ballinlough GAA pitch against Glenville. Ballinlough G.A.A. pitch is the homeland of Cork's City Division G.A.A. Board (Seandún) and remarkaby Seandún is probably the only county regional division to have its own grounds. 

In 1969 the Ballinure club added its first underage team and in 1974 the under 16 football team reached the county junior football final. They were, according to the late Finbarr O’Brien, “Robbed of Victory” that day, losing to Buttevant. In 1975 Ballinure won the All-Ireland under 14 Feile na nGael, defeating Longford in the final.Ballinure as a club showed extreme resilience in the first decades of their existence. The problems of little money and trying to field a team with a very small population to draw from, (that was long before the extensive development of the new township of Mahon in the 1970's/80's) did not stop the club from flourishing.

The 1980’s were the golden era of Ballinure. In 1981 they defeated Redmonds at Ballinlough in the Cork City Junior Hurling “B” League Final. Also in 1981 Ballinure were the first team to win the treble of the Junior “B” Hurling League, the Hurling 'B' Championship (defeating Delaneys) and the Craobh Rua Cup (defeating Whites Cross). This successful and talented team were coached by John O’Driscoll and in 1985 the club won seven out of eight competitions. In hurling they won; the Craobh Rua Cup, Junior 'B' Hurling Championship and the County Qualifier.

In football Ballinure won; The Junior League, Junior Championship, Seandun Cup and the Junior Football County Qualifier. In 1986 Ballinure won the Junior County Football 'B' final and the prestigious McSweeney Cup. In the 1980’s Ballinure had over 200 members and despite this they did not have a pitch or a clubhouse to call home. Ballinure was once described as a nomadic club, moving from pitch to pitch, often having to tog-off in their cars before matches. During this time Ballinure made frequent presentations to City Hall officials and Cork Corporation requesting they be provided with a permanent local pitch. Ballinure even offered to buy land from the Corporation so they could build their own clubhouse. Land in Mahon at that time was at a premium and Cork Corporation did not wish to sell land to individual sporting clubs, instead preferring to sell the land for new developments.

Ballinure faced many obstacles and objections in their quest for a permanent home, but under the drive of men like Andy Murphy and Billy Kenny, Ballinure continued to push for the development of a clubhouse. As a result of this tenacity, Ballinure approached St. Michael's Credit Union in Blackrock and became the first club to get a loan to facilitate building a sports complex. The Ballinure clubhouse was officially opened in August 1987. 1987 also saw the establishment of Ballinure's first camogie team and four different underage teams, ensuring the future and longevity of the club. The 1990s brought many new players to the club, including the local priest and a local Garda, as many people were drawn to play for Ballinure by the successes of the previous decade.

The 1990s were however, a lean decade for the  club and Ballinure during this time were unable to replicate their successes of the 1980s and often failing to make the finals of various competitions. While the 1990s was uneventful as regards trophies, it wasn’t without its ups and downs. The very existence of the club was threatened in 1993 when Mahon and Ballinure were chosen as the site for the soon to be built Jack Lynch Tunnel and subsequent road developments. After much tense negotiation with Cork Corporation officials, a new proposal was agreed upon. Ballinure would not lose its home, it would however lose reclaimed land that was its camogie pitch.

The recent 21st century decades hasn’t been an easy one for Ballinure. The great victories achieved by the club in the 1980’s have not been repeated to the same scale. However Ballinure are not a team to be dismissed and in 2008 they won the Junior Hurling 'B' League. In 2010 they beat Brian Dillons in the final of the 'B' Hurling League at Ballinlough. In 2011 the club also won the Junior ‘B’ Football Championship and the 'B' Junior Football League. At the end of the season of 2011, Ballinure added the Flor McCarthy Cup to its trophy cabinet. 

The history of Ballinure Hurling and Football Club is not a long one. Neither is it a history of easy victories. Instead the story of Ballinure is one that shows the determination, the tenacity, the passion and the rags to riches tale of a small club on the boundaries of Cork city that carved for itself, a corner of Cork G.A.A. history. Often overlooked, as many small clubs are, Ballinure and its members fought a battle for survival both on and off the pitch. When one becomes a Ballinure member, you are a member for life. Ballinure gets in the blood. The grassroots passion of the people involved is inspiring. They worked and still work tirelessly to promote their beloved Ballinure. 

CLUB COLOURS: GREEN/WHITE

This historic editorial was compiled by Catherin Ahern Malhi, auhor of Pride & Spirit 'A History Of Ballinure Hurling & Football Club'

Blackrock Online editor: Derry JF Doody

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