Croughlahan Rovers

From acorns: In the summer of 1971, a new Cappamore football  Club had just been formed and would soon be entered in the Limerick Desmond League. As with all football clubs, fundraising is essential, and with that in mind the new club decided to hold a football tournament in John Madden’s field (now Aherne’s Field on the edge of Cappamore village heading for Pallasgreen).
At that time both Tom O’Donoghue (Doon Road) and Paddy Kennedy (then Lackabeg) were working for Michael Madden & Sons Building Contractors in Cappamore. Tom O’Donoghue was a member of the new Cappamore football club and was entering his own team from the Doon Road area in the aforementioned football tournament. Whilst at work, Tom O’Donoghue asked Paddy Kennedy whether he would be interested in entering a team from the Croughlahan area in the Cappamore football tournament. Later that same evening on the way home from work Paddy Kennedy met Tomás Ryan (aka Mossy Luke) and mentioned the Cappamore football tournament to him. Both agreed that they should try to get a team together and enter the football tournament. Mossy Luke took upon himself to sign up the required number of players from the Croughlahan/Lackabeg and neighbouring  townlands or ‘Crough Road’ area. The Crough Rovers team made their competitive debut in the Cappamore football tournament of 1971, on that team were:

Tomás Ryan (Mossy Luke)
Paddy Kennedy
Mickey Hickey
Pat Beary
J. Lackey
Willie Duggan
Tommy Duggan
Tommy Grady
Seamus Grady
Robbie Hammersley
Neil Deere
Tom Deere
Pat McGonagle

The introduction of Crough Rovers to the competitive side of association football proved to be a very harsh lesson indeed. Each game they played in the Cappamore football tournament ended with a heavy defeat. In retrospect this should have been expected as Crough Rovers had up to that point only completed limited training and had a poor knowledge when it came to the laws and nuances of the beautiful game. Whilst the team did not lack for effort their

Croughlahan Rovers – circa 1974: Back Row (L to R): Tommy Duggan, Jimmy McKenna, Mike O’Brien, Joe O’Donoghue Pat McGonigle, Johnny Ryan (B). Front Row (L to R): Paddy Kennedy, Mickey Hickey, Tommy Howard, Pat Barry, Davy Charles, Mossie Ryan Luke

application was found to be well short. The Cappamore football tournament had proven to be a steep learning curve, however the results were immaterial as the one major positive which came from the Cappamore football tournament was that the Crough Rovers’ players had caught the ‘football bug’.

Onwards and Upwards: During the following years, under the meticulous stewardship of Mossy Luke, the Crough Rovers team made a few additions,  trained eagerly and eventually began to compete in the league, cup and tournament competitions. This achievement was in no small part testament to the organisational skills, dedication and vision of Mossy Luke. He had in the matter of a few years, some might say miraculously, managed to create a team that played the game hard, fair and well. Whilst they had some skilful players, the Crough Rovers game was built mainly on speed, physicality and work-rate. In modern terms they were more akin to Atletico Madrid than Real Madrid. This approach would pay dividends as Crough Rovers would go on to dominate the football scene in the Sliabh Feilim Hills area for the remainder of the 1970s; culminating in their most successful season when they won the Western League, the Western Cup and the Bridge Rovers tournament.

On the shoulders of giants: After many reincarnations the Crough Rovers team, their dominance and achievements faded into history. The attributes that had made them great however were still worn with pride; play hard, play fair and play well. To many of the players, having donned the black and green stripes of the Crough Rovers team is still viewed as a source of pride and seen by others as a mark of respect. The legacy of the Crough Rovers team still lives on, apart from the life-long friendships that were forged and marriages made, many of their children would become heavily involved in other football teams and clubs in the Sliabh Feilim Hills area.

Written by Mark Kennedy & Paddy Kennedy (June 2016)