Kilcommon FC was formed in 1995 by a large group of enthusiastic young men who decided that the time was right to take their footballing skills from the school yard to the length and breadth of North Tipperary. Funds were raised and structures were quickly put in place and we played our first games in the old Reiska Rovers pitch kindly donated by our greatest ever supporter the Late P.L Ryan. Thus began this youthful team’s footballing odyssey in August of that year. We then moved to our new pitch which would be the location of many great games and battles to come with the late Paddy McLoughney kindly offering the field fondly known as “Bushy Park”. So began the first of twenty consecutive seasons in the North Tipperary District League. Led by Manager Martin Ryan Kilcommon FC emerged victorious on a 3-2 score line in their first ever match versus Shannon Rangers coming behind twice before snatching the winner in the dying moments. This was the first game in a cup-run which would eventually see Kilcommon capture their first trophy with a victory over Shinrone in the Shield final In December.
The first league campaign also proved to be a successful one with the Club gaining promotion to the Second Division. The Club also won the 3rd division cup with victories over Cloughjordan, Kinnity and Newtown, coming from behind in the final to win their second cup on a 2-1 scoreline. Nicky Carroll led the way with 30 goals as the goals flowed throughout the squad. Little could anyone believe that in the first season the team would be so successful, but the results on the pitch certainly proved to be the catalyst that would ensure the Club would go from strength to strength in the remaining years to the turn of the century.
As we reached 1997, Kilcommon now had two teams competing week in week out in the League as well as an U16 boys’ team. From far flung places such as Kinnity and Knock to Ballingarry and Bouladuff the convoys of cars left the Village every Sunday in a quest for the elusive three points. The year proved memorable as Kilcommon’s first team upset the form book by winning their way to a Tipperary Cup final, taking the scalp of teams from the higher divisions along the way. In the final Kilcommon met raging-hot favourites Nenagh AFC who were flying high in the Premier Division. In the ‘David versus Goliath’ contest we were unlucky not to claim the victory, ending up losing out in a replay by three goals to one. In July of the same year the U16 team and management travelled to Lansdowne Road, Dublin, for a soccer tournament featuring Newcastle United, Derry City, Celtic and PSV Eindoven. The trip continues to live in the memory of all who attended!
In the 1997/98 season the first team won the Second Division league and also contested another Tipperary Cup final, but victory was again to escape them as Holycross took the spoils on the day. Football certainly proved to be “a funny old game” in 1999 as after a consistent league campaign, Kilcommon were within thirty seconds of winning the First Division league when a late goal by Nenagh AFC consigned the team to a playoff which would be ultimately lost to Birdhill United. The Club did however make great strides this year in improving facilities on match day with dressing rooms for both teams and also the installation of flood lights which has made it possible to train throughout the winter months, although the training could never be described as anything but “light”. Friday evening the 12th of May 2000 in Thurles Greyhound Stadium was a highlight for the Club this year as memories of past disappointments at the venue were put aside when Kilcommon A swept to victory in the Barry Cup Final. Neighbours Clodiagh were the opposition on the night and a storming second half display saw the team come from a goal down to net four goals in what was a memorable occasion as Captain Tommy Carroll picked up the trophy. After five successful years at the helm, Club Manager Martin Ryan decided to step aside in 2000 (for a few years at least) after leading the first team to two League promotions, a League Title, 2 Divisional Cup victories, a Divisional Shield and numerous memorable victories on route to two Tipperary Cup finals.
The Club continued to play an active part in the parish in the first decade of the new century providing a great social outlet for many young men in the community. Our first team would spend the entire period in the First Division League while or second team continued to grow, not in the least by securing their first ever clean sheet in Jan 2001 Philip O’ Connell owning the honour as the first net minder to be the safest pair of hands between the posts for the team. As part of our fundraising events the Club, with the help of generous sponsorship from businesses in the locality, hosted a number of events in the intervening years. The popular show “Who wants to be a Thousandaire” was held in Upperchurch as well as “A night at the dogs” in Thurles in separate years. These events proved to be a great success as well as providing an opportunity for the community to interact.
As the years ticked on the drama on the field continued. In the 2003/04 season, the League honours were not decided until the final round of fixtures. Kilcommon were defeated by League winners Nenagh Celtic and also then narrowly missed out on the second promotion spot to Toomevara on the penultimate day of the league season.
2004 saw the return of Martin Ryan as manager of Kilcommon ‘A’, the maestro was back seeking to return the glory days to Kilcommon once again. The Club had an excellent start to the season with only two defeats in the first thirteen games. However, three straight league defeats finished the push for promotion. At either side of this run of defeats were two high scoring draws against Ardcroney and Ballinahinch that will live long in the memory for all the wrong reasons! Kilcommon accounted for Clonmore and Thurles Town in the Shield competition before meeting Templetouhy in the Final played at the Rearcross FC Grounds. 2005 saw the introduction of the first Ladies team to represent the Club. The Club now had three adult teams in all and under the watchful eye of Mike Carr the Ladies team competed admirably against clubs from North and South Tipperary as well as trips to take on sides from Waterford and Kilkenny.
Kilcommon ‘A’ had a sluggish start to their 2006/2007 league campaign with only two wins registered after eight games. However, a run involving two defeats in the remaining fourteen games saw a remarkable rise up the table. This run of form was largely down to the impressive form of the front-two, Ger O’Toole and Shane Ryan who, notched up over 40 goals between them for the year. Indeed, a promotion push to the Premier League looked to be on the cards until another epic 5-all draw in Boher would ensure that the promotion thought would only be a pipe dream.
Other novelty events would take place throughout the decade. Reiska Rovers versus Cummer Celtic on St Stephens day was a permanent fixture for many years, while the annual Christmas five a side tournament in Rearcross was to kick off in 2010 and remains in the calendar today.
In 2011 and now with one adult team on display, it was proving more difficult with a much smaller pool of younger players being available. By now the Club had moved location and now had the fantastic pitch facilities in the village. The team would spend most of these years in the Second Division League and competed competitively, gaining promotion on one occasion back to the First Division in 2013.
The 2014/2015 season would however prove to be the final season where we were had sufficient numbers to enter an adult team. Remarkably, many of those who togged out in the first season in 1995 continued to be playing in the final season in 2015, proving how much the existence of the Club had meant to them. Indeed, a league game in 2014 was won with an entire outfield selection that were over the age of thirty-five!
At the turn of the decade, the Club started underage soccer training for young boys and girls in the locality and continues today to develop its juvenile setup. The numbers of youngsters getting involved in soccer in the community continues to grow with three competing underage teams in the North Tipperary 2015-16 league at U8, U9 and U11 levels and U6s competing in local blitzes. We’re getting a great response from the children and great support from parents, and some are also getting involved in the coaching side which is great to see.
Off the field our juvenile club continue to support the running of the Kilcommon Festival Fun Day and is always and enjoyable day out. Kilcommon National School now also use the soccer pitch as a space to hold coaching in different sports, sports days etc. and also help to meet the commitments in relation to the upkeep of the pitch. It should a great addition to the school to have the facility.
Our thanks to everyone who has taken part in the club and those who continue to take part and all our supporters throughout the years, and we remember fondly our past players and supporters who are no longer with us. Best wishes to Rearcross FC on this publication and celebration of 50 years of soccer.
Written by Matt Carr & Club Colleagues (July 2016)