Clann Eireann’s origins can be traced back to the birth of the St. Una’s Camogie Club (Tannaghmore) in November 1931, early mentors being Tommy McKavanagh and Johnny Haughey. Some outstanding players of that era were Lena Ferris, Annie & Nell McCorry, Mattie Ferris, Isene Murray, Kathleen Doran, Maggie Barbour, May Hill, Nan Murray, Jeanie Heaney, Maggie Fox, Mary Burns and Madeline Lavery. It is recorded that the Tannaghmore cailini won the 1933 Mid-Armagh League. Gretta Murray, a St. Una’s Player, was the efficient Co. Board Secretary for some years in the 1930 period – a decade during which St. Una’swon their fair share of medals until camogie interest waned somewhat in the immediate pre-war days.
When an attempt was made in 1943toform a Lurgan & District Camogie League, the girls of Tannaghmore – now bearing the name of St- lta’s – answered the call, but it was a short lived revival. The St. Ita’s line-out included Eileen Walsh, Peggy McRoberts, May Wilson, Lena Ferris, May Casey, Isene Murray, Marie McRoberts, Nell McMullan, Elizabeth McKavanagh, Lily McCrory, Sadie Lavery, Eileen McAlinden and Bernadette McKavanagh. St. Ita’s were back in business in 1949, when a Lurgan League was established. Elizabeth McKavanagh, Lily McCrory, Mary Duff, Mena Lavery, Bernadette Lavery, Joan Fagan, Philomena Graham and Marjorie Murray were some of the Tannaghmore players who helped to keep the St. lta’s flag at top mast throughout the “fifties”. Three of these – Eliz McKavanagh, Mary Duff and Lily McCrory – were on the touring Lurgan League selection, – which defeated Lancashire and London at Manchester and New Eltham.
In 1961, Clann Eireann -successors to the earlier St. Una’s and St. Ita’s – were showing their prowess on the camogie fields. The various teams, which included some great young players from the St. Michael’s School teams, finished high up in the Leagues and Championships that year. Clann Eireann contested the Senior and Intermediate Co. Championship finals in 1961 but were narrowly defeated in both matches. Marian McCrory was the Co. Registrar in the 1962 season and Clann Eireann teams were active in several competitions during the 1962-65 period. Some prominent players of that era included, Bridie Gallery, Patsy Gallery, Sheena Heaney, Ann Barbour, Lily Heaney, Isene Patterson, Elizabeth Scullion, Carmel Haughey and Rosaleen Heaney. Many Clann Eireann girls were drafted on to the County teams and in 1964, Sheena Heaney was selected on the Ulster side against Munster at Roscrea, Co. Tipperary.
Clann Eireann cailiniwere absent from the camogie scene in 1966 and 1967 but in January 1968, Joe McCrory and Brendan Lavery plotted a Clann Eireann comeback. Some experienced players – Carmel Haughey, Ann Barbour, Aideen McCrory, Linda Magill, Moira Kane, Niamh Murray and Angela Lavery and promising youngsters from the Youth Club, managed to win the Special Junior League in that 1968 season.
With Annual success in all grades since 1968, sights were fixed in 1973 on the Senior Co. Championship, and through training and match practice, team manager, Joe McCrory, blended together a winning side which captured the Fr. Tom Soraghan Memorial Shield for 3 consecutive years in 1973, 1974 and 1975. Patricia Crangle, played a big part in that treble accomplishment. Ann McCone, Jean and Valerie McCreanor, Anna Brown, Margaret Moriarty, Aideen and Maureen McCrory, Patricia and Paula McAlinden, Paula and Catherine Towe, Kathleen Moore, Eileen Fitzpatrick, Bernadette McGleenan, Jennifer McSherry and Mary Loughran excelled in many classes in those memorable years.
Clann Eireann won the 1970 Minor County Championship with the following selection, Maire Scullion, Paula Towe, Linda Marshall, Maureen McCrory, Valerie McCreanor, Bernadette Tom an, Geraldine McCready, Marie Filbin, Caroline Clendinning, Aideen McCrory, Moira Kane, Mary Drainey and Geraldine Barbour and our Juvenile Co. Champions were – Denise Marshall, Geraldine Gray, Connie Green, Carmel Cooper, Ann Locke, Colette Larkin, Angela Moore, Alice McGeown, Elaine Hesketh, Siobhan Hanna, Ann Loughran and Shareen Bell. During the latter 70’s and early 80’s Clann Eireann’s efforts were concentrated on Minor and Juvenile teams with such young budding players as Fra Marshall, Dympna McCann and Ursula McGivern emerging under the guidance of Patricia Crangle and Angela Toal, Aideen McCrory and Maire McKavanagh and Maura Lavery.
It is interesting to notethat from 1968to the end of the `Seventies’ Clann Eireann’s name appeared in every honours’ list. Aideen McCrory was voted `Club Player of the Year’ in 1969 and Linda Marshall gained the same Co. Board Recognition in 1971. Clann Eireann’s Maura McStay was the 1976 `County Player of the Year’ but without doubt Paula Brown (nee Towe) has done more than any other player of the 80’s in keeping the name of Clann Eireann Camogie alive, not only at Club and County level, but Provincewide throughout Ireland.
She is undoubtedly a shining example for the young up and coming players of today – Julie Wilson, Mary Fearon, Grainne McCluskey and Jackie Maguire – to mention but a few of the 82 current registered Clann Eireann players, who, under the dedicated guidance of Linda and Fra Marshall and Aideen Lavery, may strive to emulate the cailini of every decade and generation who played their hearts out for the honour (and glory) of St. Una’s, St. lta’s and Clann Eireann.
Slan beo leis na blianta.