CLUB FOCUS – Ballina GAA
In 1885, Ballina G.A.A. club was formally established. Indeed, at the North Convention in 1887, 35 affiliated clubs were represented, including two from the parish, Ballina and Boher. In 1902 Michael Minihan of Boher became North Tipperary Chairman.
The club started out in senior hurling and reached the North final of 1912 but lost heavily to Toomevara. In the following 20 years, there is very little mention of the club, but in 1932 success came as the North junior hurling championship was annexed, beating Lahorna DeWets in the final.
Prior to the one-club parish rule, in 1939-1941 there is mention of Boher reaching two North minor hurling finals and a junior hurling final, while Ballina lost the 1943 North intermediate hurling final. In 1947, Ballina were successful in the North minor football championship, beating Saint Mary’s (Nenagh) in the final. In 1967, Ballina were again North junior hurling champions.A juvenile hurling title was won shortly after that.
Ballina reached north intermediate hurling championship finals in 1972 & 1973, but unfortunately lost both.
In the GAA’s centenary year of 1984, Ballina were again North junior hurling champions and on this occasion a county title was added, beating Cashel King Cormacs in the final. In 1985, Ballina lost to Éire Óg Nenagh in the North junior football final. Ballina won its first county football title (with Ballinahinch) in 1990 in under-16 ‘B’.
Players were now going through the juvenile club with success behind them and Boher NS were winning county schools titles on a regular basis. Ballina again won the North and County junior hurling championship in 1996 and this was followed by a very competitive team at intermediate level.
In 2000, Ballina won the North minor ‘A’ double and followed it up with County minor football championship success. The club also won north honours in Under-21 ‘B’ hurling and football and junior ‘A’ football. For the first time in their history, Ballina were crowned North Tipperary Club of the Year. In 2003 most of the minor team of 2000, were involved in a North Under-21 ‘A’ hurling and football double. The club won the County junior ‘A’ football championship that year and represented Tipperary in one of the first official Munster junior football championship’s hosting Carbery Rangers of Cork in Ballina.
In 2013, Ballina finally made the breakthrough at intermediate level, capturing North and County honours. Indeed, they made it all the way to a Munster final, losing narrowly to Youghal of Cork. The club also won north and county minor ‘B’ hurling titles that year.
In 1982, the GAA pitch was officially opened and featured an inter-county game between Tipperary and Limerick. For many years after efforts were concentrated on draining, improving the pitch, and keeping the clubhouse as up to date as possible. A covered and uncovered standing area was developed and barrier fencing was also erected around the field. The club field has hosted many important games and was also used to play host to an East Clare junior football final in the 1980’s.
In the early 2000’s attention turned to purchasing a second field. At the top end of the main field, 4.5 acres of land was purchased in 2008 and the second field was developed with a sand base pitch. This field has been used by the North Bórd on numerous occasions for games & finals when other fields have been unavailable. Land is at a premium in Ballina and with that, the club had to pay a handsome price for this field. This was achieved through fundraising, grants, and bank loans. The Club also converted part of the Complex into a gym.
The club are now looking at building a Ball Wall and the extras that go with it. Our dressing rooms and club complex also need upgrading, while other areas like scoreboards, ground upkeep and maintenance, painting and general tidiness are continuously under review. A planning permission application has been submitted to Tipperary County Council for the ball wall and we have also applied for Sports Capital funding for this project. Other projects will be completed on a phased basis.
Ballina has supplied many players to Tipperary hurling and football teams at all levels and this representation has notably increased in recent years. Two of our most famous players at operating at the top level on the national stage and hopefully they are and will continue to be an inspiration for future generations.
Michael Breen was recently chosen as Tipperary Supporters Club Senior Player of the Year for 2020. A very deserving award for a great year. Mikey has 2 All-Ireland Senior Hurling Medals to his name (2016 & 2019) and a Minor All-Ireland Medal from 2012. Mikey is also a very committed club player. He is a member of the Ballina Club Executive as the players rep and led the players on the field and off-the-field as chief organiser of the Virtual Lap of Ireland in 2020.
Steven O’Brien was a pivotal member of the Tipperary Senior Football team in 2020 and vice-captain. His Munster medal marks him out as one of the few players in the county or probably province that has won 5 of the 6 main medals available. Senior Football (2020); Senior Hurling (2016); Under-21 Football (2015); Minor Football (2011 & 2012) & Minor Hurling (2012). Steven added All-Ireland Medals in Senior Hurling, Minor Hurling and Football. is also very involved with the club as Coach/Selector to their successful Minor and Under-21 teams in 2020.
Ballina GAA club is indebted to so many of the past and present generations for keeping our club alive and financially secure. We had the Marquee’s of the 70’s, held in early summer and drew some major acts of the day. To more recently “Strictly come dancing” and “20k drop.”
The Club is lucky to have a loyal band of promoters for the Tipperary Draw and maintains numbers around 170.
The club also has a Weekly Lotto in conjunction with Ballina/Boher parish. The jackpot has often gone to €20,000. They don’t allow it to go any higher and instead €200 each week goes into a back-up fund.
The club is presently in year 5 of its Investors Draw. This draw has been primarily used to service its bank loans to cover the purchase and development of the second field. Each month a lucky Investor wins €1,000. The draw costs just €15 per month to enter.
The latest fundraiser is a EuroMillions Syndicate. For just €20 a person can join the syndicate. The syndicate will purchase 6 lines in the EuroMillions draw from 30th March to 31st December inclusive and will make a donation to Milford Care Centre from winnings/ticket sales. The rest of the winnings will be shared out amongst the Syndicate members. The money raised will be used exclusively towards the Ball Wall.
More details and purchase options for the Lotto, Investors Draw and the EuroMillions Syndicate can be found on http://ballina.tipperary.gaa.ie.