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Club History - The Early Years

The Early Years

Sean McDermotts rose from the ashes of the old Shamrocks Club who were based in the Small Heath area of Birmingham, the area from which the club drew its first members. And so it began in April 1957, the club was founded by the four original officers. Chairman Eddie Brady, Vice Chairman Hughie Reel, Treasurer Jimmy Smith and Mick Healy the first secretary. Little did they realise at the time, that they had laid the foundations for what was to become one of the most successful clubs in G.A.A circles.

The first meeting took place at St. Anne's Parish Hall with the aim of choosing the name of the club and also deciding the club's playing colours. The outcome was to name the club Sean McDermotts after the well known Dublin Team that bore the same name. The club colours were to be, the now famed, green and white and the original membership fee was 5 shillings.

The club first fielded a team in junior football with a hurling team being formed in the following year. Early success was soon to follow and the first title, a junior football league, was won in 1958. 

 

Continuing into the 60's, slowly but surely the club was built in to one of the up and coming clubs in Warwickshire by the efforts of committee members Jimmy Smith, Tony Jordan, Mick Healy, Andy Boland, Jack McIlory and John Reilly, the all aforementioned all being present in the photograph below. 

The hard work contiued, progression through to Senior grade followed and a senior football championship final defeat in 1961 failed to dampen the spirit. The tide of immigration continued and the club went from strength to strength with an array of junior titles until the first success at senior level, the 1966 senior football league. A championship final that same year would have secured a senior double. Despite the defeat, a clear message of intent was made that there was soon to be a new order in the traditional Warwickshire establishment. 

 

Completing the decade, the club continued its success; however it would have to wait until the next decade to notch up its first Senior championship honours in either code, despite a Senior Football league and Fr. Forde Cup in 1969. 

 

With the domestic scene tied up, the Senior footballers looked further afield than Glebe Farm to the Club Championship of Britain. At their third attempt in 1972 they achieved their goal, taking the trophy out of London for the first time beating Parnells in the final. The trophy was retained in '73, without the assistance of the highly respected clubmen Paddy Reilly and John and Ted Steed who had returned to Ireland in the previous year. 

 

In 1975, after retaining the Club Championship against their great adversaries the Kingdom of London, history was made when Sean McDermotts became the first British based club to compete in the Club Championship of Ireland. The date was February of the following year, the opponents were Roscommon Gaels and many nights of preparation and hard training were put in at Highbury Park. Sadly, it was not to be. In a classic football encounter, a solitary point separated the sides at the final whistle after the Mac's had missed a penalty in the closing minutes. 

 

There were also some personal achievments of note in the 70's. In 1973 Noel McLean and Mick Behan represented Great Britain against Donegal at Webley Stadium with the latter being awarded the coveted Footballer of the Year in Britain for 1976. The greatest of all though was that of Ollie Brady. Having returned to his native Cavan, he was honoured with a Carols All Star Award in 1977. 

It was in this period that the strong tradition of under age development was founded. Jimmy Smith, a pioneer of the underage structure began fielding underage teams to help develop the clubs youth structure and was visionary in realising that continued immigration could not be the only source of players for the club. In a environment where soccer was a first choice game, it was a credit to their their hard efforts that the underage structure began to flourish and is still as strong today. 

 

On the hurling front, '71 saw Sean's break the resolve of a great Mitchell's hurling side, capturing their first senior hurling title and then going on to win another five titles in that decade. However, that all important club  championship hurling title eluded them. This was not for the want of trying with narrow defeats in 1977 (1 point to St. Gabriels - London) and 1978 (after extra time to St. Gabriels). During this time, the stylish Larry Moore received the 1976 Hurler of the Year award in Britain. 

 

If we were to look back at the calibre of players that graced the field over this great era, the clubs' alumni would stand scrutiny with many of the great clubs in Ireland. With many players returning to Ireland to represent their counties in both codes, such as:

Joe Kiernan (Armagh), Des Kerrins (Sligo), Ollie Brady (Cavan), Mick Behan (Westmeath), Finbarr Conroy (Mayo), Jack Neville (Wexford), Ciaran O'Keefe (Cavan) to name but a few. 

 


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