Club History- 1904-1973


Club History by Mattie Joe Greville 


In the formative years of the GAA in the mid 1880's cricket was the predominant sport in the locality for many years. Raharney Hurling Club as it is known today was established initially as a football club and was known as Raharney Rovers Football Club . The first mention of Raharney Rovers been a football club is in a report of a match between themselves and Rathwire Rangers in 1886. Raharney Rovers along with another club in the parish Thomastown Rangers became the first two clubs affiliated to the GAA in Westmeath. Other clubs established around that time included Corbetstown Home Rulers, Rathwire Rangers, Killucan Emmetts, Clonlost Croppy Boys, Derrymore St Patricks, Scarden Home Rulers (Raharney) and Sir T.P Russell's (Rathwire). By the late 19th century the GAA organization was well and truly established in the area.

Elsewhere in Westmeath, the organisation was beginning to grow, as a numerous other clubs were quickly found throughout the county and thereafter the introduction of a senior championship. An interesting report, relates to the power struggle of local rivals Raharney Rovers F.C. and Corbetstown Home Rulers, in the Westmeath Examinerer dated 6th February 1892 Raharney Rovers - Fullam (Captain), Coughlin, Mooney, Gavisk, Neill, Harris, M Farrelly, Coyne, M Clone, Dunphy Keefe, Lynch, P Farrelly, Travers, Smith, P Fullam, Owens, Chr Owens, Slevin, Cunningham, Moran. Home Rulers - J Ward (Captain), Concannon, Chr Lynch, T Scally, P Flynn, D Flynn, T Flynn, C Flynn, P Lynch, A D'Arcy, Doyle, McCarty, M Ward, Rock, Doolin, A Keefe, D Keefe, McKeogh, Neill, P Flynn, junior, Fetherston. The result of the return match is featured in the Westmeath Nationalist on 18th of February 1892, and the Rover were victorious on a score line of eight points to one.
Five teams entered the inaugural championship of 1892, and that was played on a league basis of home and away. The five teams were, Kinnegad Slashers, Mullingar Football Club, Mullingar Shamrocks Thomastown Rangers and Raharney Rovers.

The beginning of the 1900s saw the formation of the mighty Riverstown Emmett's and the demise of Raharney Rovers FC.
However, the club's existence was revitalised during the renovations of St Bridget's Church in the village in 1904. During the reconstruction, there was a necessity for various tradesmen from the locality and beyond to work on the project. The workforce consisted of the Maher brothers Tom and Joe, who worked as stonemasons. They befriended a local man Peter Nea and their common interest in the Gaelic Athletic Association saw the rekindling of Raharney Rovers as a hurling club.
And over the past century and more this club has existed to its present-day status of being a leading hurling force within the county of Westmeath. The club today recognizes Joe and Tom Maher and Peter Nea as the clubs founding forefathers.

In the early 1900's Harris's field on the Ballivor road become the home ground for the club. Raharney participated in the junior hurling championship during these early years and in 1912 Raharney Rovers achieved victory in the Junior Final. In 1913 Raharney Rovers created history by winning the senior hurling title for the first time. When Raharney Rovers contest the final of 1913 their opponents were the representatives of the Crooketwood club, Raharney were victorious on a score line of 3-4 to 1-0 Raharney Rovers consisting of M Kellaghan, Harry and Thom Grattan, Peter Nea, Mattie White, Jim McKeogh, Ned Pettit Mick Pettit, Mick Smith, James Kiernan, Patrick Scally, John Reilly, Peter Ennis. (NB) Sadly a full list of players is not available as there are a number of names missing off that report.

In the county SH final of 1914 Raharney Rovers defeated Castlepollard Sarsfields on a score line Raharney Rovers 5-1 Castlepollard 0-0 to retain the senior hurling championship. The participating teams in 1914 SHC were as follows; Ringtown Myles Ó Reilly's v Raharney Rovers and Mullingar Shamrocks v Crookedwood, Simonstown O' Dwyer's v Athlone and the Castlepollard Sarsfields club getting a bye.
Success eluded Raharney until 1919 when the club won its third SHC crown by defeating champions Drumraney in the final. The team that represented Raharney in the 1919 final included P Nea, M White, P Lynch Snr, P Lynch Jnr, J Fagan, T Dargan, J Ennis, P Ennis, J Reilly, C Reilly, J Kiernan, J Gallagher, N White, and P Doyle. Remarkably that was to be the Raharney Rovers club's last participation in a Snr hurling county final for a staggering 37 years.

The 20's, 30's and 40's were lean years for the club and it wasn't until 1947 that a number of men namely Hughie Flanagan, Tommy Farrelly, Pat Price and Bill Raleigh revitalised the club's future. In the early 50's the process of rebuilding continued and the club moved to a new home ground at Joristown Park. In 1959 Raharney amalgamated with Turin and won the Intermediate championship. In 1960 Raharney won the junior championship and returned to senior ranks. In 1962 a young Raharney side contested the senior final against Pearses and lost out narrowly on a score line of 2-09 to 3-05. This was a bitter defeat as prior to the final a Raharney player was suspended for 5 years on spurious evidence. However Raharney gained revenge for the 62 defeat when they defeated Pearses in 1967 final. The successful Raharney team was, Mickey Carr, Matt Mullen, Seamus Holdwright, (Capt) Jack Shaw, Joe Moore, Kevin Lynch, Jimmy Nugent, Pat Croach, Tony Donoghue, Ray Smith and Jimmy Rooney and Mickey Flanagan, Jimmy Weir, Nicky Weir, Brendan Shiels. Replacements; not used were Sean Gaynor, Sean Greville, Kevin Carr, Ned McKeogh, Des McKeogh.

The next success at senior level was in 1973 when the Raharney overcame Castlepollard to claim their 6th SHC championship victory. The team was captained by Frank Sheils who was the first captain to receive the new Westmeath Examiner Cup. The successful Raharney senior team was, Sean Greville, Frank Sheils, Seamus Holdwright, Jack Shaw, Donie Smyth, Kevin Lynch, Jimmy Corroon, Peter Duignan, Pat Croach, Mick Flanagan, Jimmy Nugent, Matt McKeogh, Jimmy Weir, Brian Murtagh, Nicky Weir. Subs Tony Donoghue and Ray Smyth.

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