Birdhill FC was founded with the intention of providing a social and recreational outlet for the youth and older age groups of the area. It was established formally as a Club in 1983 as Mick Redmond Founder Member and Manager recalls “Wixted’s Paddock was where Birdhill Soccer Club started with the young lads of the area kicking about on the summer evenings. Damian Ryan invited me to have a look at the lads playing one evening. I was very impressed with the number of decent players with raw promise. One person who really impressed me with his skill was John Wixted, who unfortunately hurt his ankle in an accident and never actually played for Birdhill. I remember the evening well when Damian Ryan and Anthony Floyd approached me to start the Club. They arrived on a summer’s evening on their bicycles while I was clipping the hedge at home. I was reluctant at first due to other commitments and knowing from previous experience how much work was involved. Due to their sheer persistence, enthusiasm and a touch of charm, Damian and Anthony persuaded me to give it a go. At the meeting I gave them an ultimatum that if I was to be involved there was one thing guaranteed: – No player would play for the club who did not train. One young man’s expression will always stay in my mind, a look of utter horror. At the meeting it was agreed to go ahead and join the Limerick League. We were accepted into this League but the North Tipperary League objected, because of the fact that our pitch was situated in North Tipperary. Subsequently we met with the North Tipp League and duly agreed to join them. As a result of some good results achieved in the Inter Pub Competition run each year by the Nenagh Celtic Club we were entered in the 2nd Division.”
The Club had significant successes in its early years as this roll of honour demonstrates:
SEASON 84/85 3rd Division Champions, Fast Food Cup Winners, Youths Shield Winners
SEASON 85/86 2nd Division Champions, Barry Cup Semi-Finalists
SEASON 86/87 1st Division Runners Up
SEASON 87/88 1st Division Runners Up, Barry Cup Winners
SEASON 88/89 Super Cup Finalists, Barry Cup Semi-Finalists
SEASON 89/90 Barry Cup Finalists
SEASON 90/91 1st Division Runners Up, Barry Cup Winners, Munster Junior Cup Finalists
SEASON 91/92 Shield Final Winners, Munster Junior Cup Semi-Finalists
SEASON 92/93 Shield Finalists, Munster Junior Cup Finalists
Birdhill fielded three teams in the North Tipperary and District League during the 1994/95 season. They had a team in the minor grade and an A and B team playing in the Junior League. In the 1995/ 96 season, the Junior Team had a very poor season with the biggest disappointment being losing the Shield Final 5-4 to Ardcroney having led 3-0 after 20 minutes. In the League Birdhill had to win their last game to avoid relegation. For the Club to survive in a small area like Birdhill, it has to rely on players joining its squads from other areas. 1995 was one such season when a very strong squad of players came together for our U16 team that year. Players from Killaloe, Ballina, Birdhill, Newport and Castleconnell represented Birdhill and went through the season unbeaten winning the league at the end of April, beating Nenagh 2-1 in Nenagh. They also won the Cup and this is how the Nenagh Guardian reported that win. “The Birdhill under 16 team brought their season to a great climax when they defeated Nenagh Town by 2-0 in the U/16 Cup Final having clinched the Roscrea Credit Union U/16 League title a few weeks previously. They were unbeaten in the League campaign and Cup competition.
The hero of their great Cup campaign was undoubtedly striker Paul Coleman who scored a hat trick in an earlier round against Templemore and was on the mark again scoring both goals – the first 5 minutes before half time and the insurance goal in the 55th minute – an overhead kick. Again there were great celebrations at the final whistle and a big support was there to cheer the lads on. Robert Seymour was a great leader and a great Captain of this team and always led by example.”
The following year this team at U17 level got to the semi final of the FAI Cup, losing to Athlone Town. The Club found the transition into the noughties difficult, but maintained a position in either the Premier or 1st Division of the Junior Men’s League. However in the 2004/05 the team was relegated to Division 2 but ended the season with a great run in the Barry Cup getting to the final on May 14th. Birdhill played in Rearcross against Kilcommon. Some of the Birdhill players turned back the clock and used their experience to win the final 3-1 and finish the season on a high with a resolve to move back up through the leagues.
The Club was now building an underage team structure and in 2006/2007 season it won the 2nd Division Under 14 Boys League. The following year marked Birdhill’s first season in girl’s soccer with an U12 team. The Club’s varying degrees of success at Junior Men’s level in North Tipperary finally and controversially came to an end in 2008 when it was suspended from the League.
Unfortunately, the Club has not since been able to field a Junior men’s team despite a couple of failed attempts.The Club instead has concentrated its efforts on underage soccer and the Junior Women’s Team. In July 2015, the Junior Women’s team brought FAI Cup soccer back to the Dublin Road winning their home quarter final against Kilmore of Mayo. The Club is very active at underage competitive level with over 100 registered players and this year fielded teams at U10, 11, 12, 14, 16 Boys and U11, 12, 13, 14 and 16 Girls. The Girls have been particularly successful over the past few years and this year 2015/16 was no different. They won the U14 League and the U13 and 16 Cup Competitions. The U16 Girls team has won no fewer than 3 Premier League titles plus numerous Cup and Shield competitions since coming together at U10 level.
Our U16 Boys had a significant win over Nenagh in the Cup this and the U12 team were unlucky not to take League honours this year. The Club also runs during the winter a weekly coaching session for boys/girls U9 and below. It is held in the gym Newport and is very successful. Birdhill has had great difficulty finding a home for itself and in the first decade moved up to ten times around the local area before settling in its current premises on the old Dublin Road courtesy of local man Willie Floyd.
The Club recently through its sister organisation Birdhill Community and Recreation Association has purchased a local field within the Village and obtained planning permission for a playing field and dressing rooms. It has been fundraising significantly over the past couple of years and will soon have paid off the loan it got to purchase the field It is currently seeking to develop that field and has obtained a Department of Sport grant of €70,000 for that purpose although the cost of development will be significantly in excess of that so our fundraising efforts will be continuing for some time to come.
Birdhill FC has certainly lived up to the objective it set for itself when it was established 33 years ago. It continues to play an important role in the local area promoting participative sport and active community living for all.
Written by Joe Delaney (June 2016)