A Brief Club History

 

The Beginning

 

O’Neill’s GFC Blackwatertown were formed in 1934 under the influence of Canon McGuone and Rev. Francis Terry. Local men involved included Willie Colgan, Frank Kelly, James Daly, Joe Donnelly, and Frank McAvinchey. Many of the players of that era had surnames still synonymous with the club today such as Hughes, Donnelly, McGleenan, Casey, and Curran.

 

The club was soon in its first Final, The MacOscar Cup, unfortunately losing it to Clady in 1936. However a year later the club was to achieve its first major playing success, winning the Trodden Cup in 1937.

 

1940 was a sad year for the club as it was disbanded at the out break of World War 2 and the old O’Neill Park was ploughed up.

 

The war ended and although times were tough the club was up and running again in 1946. Frank Hughes aided by James Daly held a meeting and funds were gathered and passed to treasurer James Hagan who soon had the boys kitted out in jerseys and boots.

 

1954 – First Championship

 

Like many teams in Port Mor’s history it would take a defeat to make the team stronger. A narrow loss to Newtownhamilton in the 1952 Junior Championship Semi Final awakened a passion for the club to achieve success. In 1954 the men from the banks of the Blackwater were back and they wouldn’t be denied again.

 

1954 saw a band of brothers become legends and win the Junior championship for the first time. Wins over Granemore and Poyntzpass set up a mouth watering mid Armagh final against local rivals Collegeland. After two replays the men from Blackwater finally came out on top; the games were tight and tense; with no quarter given or asked. The final saw O’Neill’s Blackwatertown come out on top 2-4 to no score. A remarkable feat keeping their opponents scoreless. This team is being honoured tonight and these men will always be remembered.

 

1961 – Minor Champions

 

Major Success avoided the club until 1961; when managed by Sean Valelly; the club won the County Minor Championship for the one and only time in its history. On the way to the final they beat the Armagh Harps, Pearse Og’s and Keady on the way to the final. In the final they defeated St Patrick’s Lurgan holding them scoreless in the process.

 

In the same year the teams star forward Fr. Sean Hegarty would star for Armagh minors in Croke Park in the All Ireland Semi Final against Cork. Unfortunately Armagh were defeated but legendary commentator Michael O’Hehir nicknamed Fr Hegarty ‘The Mighty Atom.’

 

The Lean Years

 

1967 would see O’Neill’s GFC Blackwatertown reach the Armagh Junior Final. Unfortunately 67 was to see O’Neill’s lose to St Peters Lurgan; who gained revenge for the 1954 defeat.

 

The 70’s were lean years but were too see the club grow and develop. Although no trophies were won Port Mor produced some mighty football players, the Casey’s, the Jordans, the McGleenans, Vivian Lavery, Brendan McKenna to name a few. However, one of  the Greatest Port Mor players of all would emerge. John ‘Joey’ Donnelly cemented his place in Port Mor history winning a provincial medal and playing for Armagh in the 1977 All Ireland Final. Joey would go on to be stalwart for club, county and university. A brilliant left half back Joey’s medal haul includes three Anglo Celts won for Armagh and a Sigerson medal but also a Division 4 medal won in 1986, a Division 3 medal won in 1991 and a Junior Championship medal won in 1991.

 

The New O’Neill Park

 

The new O’Neill Park opened in 1978 with Armagh playing Tyrone in the opening fixture. John Donnelly led out Armagh in a proud and historic day. A new hall followed in 1982 and Port Mor’s facilities were the envy of the county and beyond. It took copious amounts of time, energy and fundraising by men such as Jim McGrail, Eamonn Mallon, Mick Quinn, Pat Grimley, Frankie Donnelly, to name a few to pull off these developments.

 

It would be wrong in this very brief history of the club not to mention the Clubs Famous Discos. Many here tonight will have remembered them fondly for the craic and the banter, for the fights and the romancing but most importantly these discos gave the club very important financial stability.

 

1989 saw the hunger for the Mac Oscar cup grow and although defeated by Annaghmore in the final the men in amber and black would regroup and return.

 

1991 – Junior Champions

 

With many faces from the 1989 team and a few younger names added, the 1991 Port Mor hit the championship trail. Against Madden in the final Port Mor were younger, stronger and fitter than their opponents and came out on top. Port Mor captain Noel Valelly lifted the MacOscar cup and the celebrations began.

 

The late 80’s and early 90’s saw Port Mor join with neighbours Grange and Tullysaran to form St.Enda’s. A huge amount of success was achieved with the highlight being the 1990 county Under 16 Championship.

 

Two Port Mor players form that team went on to represent Armagh minors; Kieran Hagan and Neil McGleenan. Armagh did reach the All Ireland Final that year but were pipped at the post by Meath. Both players would go on to be considered club greats wearing the amber and black for many years.

 

The 90’s

 

The 1990’s also saw the clubs underage blitzes start and stars of the future were born. These blitzes were the brainchild of Tony Casey and continue today. With St. Enda’s now consigned to history the club would field at every underage level on its own and with success; regularly winning mid Armagh competitions. These players would form the backbone of the next Port Mor team to win a championship.

 

Port Mor’s B Specials came to the fore in the late 1990’s winning several top four competitions and the club used this team to harness young players for the future.

 

2001 – Intermediate Finalists

 

The Intermediate Final of 2001 was the culmination of many years hard work, efforts of coaches and mentors as well as the players themselves. Many great Port Mor players such as Neil McGleenan and Niall Gorman had played for well over ten years at senior level deserved this opportunity. However on the day Tir Na Og were too strong and Port Mor were defeated.

 

Just a year later Sam Maguire arrived in Port Mor; a great day for many Port Mor Gaels who could only dream of Armagh winning Sam Maguire. Port Mor was thronged on the night with men like Sean Valelly and Philip Jordan smiling from ear to ear as Joe Kernan spoke to the crowds.

 

The Millennium also saw Port Mor’s training ground completed. Another innovative idea using up the waste ground at the back of the main playing field. This fully floodlit training area has been of tremendous use for all teams and for the clubs annual mid night football competition.

 

2006 – Junior Champions

 

We all know what happened in 2005 but it just made 2006 that much sweeter. Victory over Collegeland in a pulsating final that will never be forgotten, Port Mor then defeated Swanlinbar before bowing out of the Ulster Junior Championship at the hands of Drumhowan.

 

In recent years the club has embarked on an ambitious development programme. Two state of the art catch nets have been erected, and to compliment them a new perimeter fence has also been erected.

 

2012 – Champions Again

 

2012 will be remembered as the greatest year in the clubs history. Port Mór’s seniors had last annexed the Armagh Junior Championship back in 2006 after a fifteen year wait going back to 1991. In 2012 the title of “Armagh Junior Champions” returned after a six year absence and for the first time the title of “Ulster Junior Champions” was added.

 

Niall Gorman was appointed manager in January and he soon enlisted Terry O’Connor and Colin Holmes to fill his backroom team.

The championship started with a win comfortable win over South Armagh side Phelim Brady’s, tougher tests lay ahead. Crossmaglen II’s awaited Port Mór in the next round and it took a replay in Granemore to separate the sides with Port Mór coming out on top on a score line of Port Mór of 2-15 to 1-14. Port Mór came from seven points down in the replay to win a thrilling encounter in which Gary Tray was the top scorer registering a goal and three points.

 

Near neighbours Collegeland were next up with the game fixed for Grange. In front of a large crowd Port Mór out played their division two opponents and were justified victors on a score line of 0-14 to Collegeland 1-9. Captain Shane Nugent top scored with six points in a man of the match performance.

 

Fancied South Armagh side Forkhill were Port Mór’s semi final opponents. This was to be Port Mór’s best performance of the season. Forkhill were favourites going into the game having defeated Port Mór earlier in the season. However Port Mór blew their fellow division three side apart with some scintillating football. Christopher Lennon scored 1-2 while Port Mór’s dead ball specialist kicked five points in a majestic display.

 

The final was against Annaghmore; a replay of the 1989 final which Annaghmore won. Again Port Mór underdogs against a team from a higher division. However Port Mor built an early lead with Christopher Lennon finding the back of the Annaghmore net. Port Mór looked in a comfortable position entering the closing stages but a late Annaghmore goal left the Port Mór contingent nervous. It took a late David Curran penalty to seal a fantastic win for Port Mór. Final score Port Mór 2-11 Annaghmore 2-8.

 

Shane Nugent kicked four points in the final while David Curran kicked an impressive 1-4. For many of the team it was their fourth county final going back to the 2001 intermediate final and including the junior finals of 2005 and 2006. Captain Shane Nugent received the Sean Quinn Cup from County Chairman Paul Dougan in front of a large Port Mor support. The party continued late into the night.

 

Better was to follow for Port Mór’s trail blazing seniors as they set their sights on an Ulster Title. First up was Down Champions Dundrum who had been unbeaten in all competitions in 2012. In a scrappy game Port Mór did enough to win on a score line of Port Mór 2-5 Dundrum 1-4. Michael Casey impressing with a goal and a point point while David Curran hit three points. Monaghan Champions Drumhowan lay in waiting in the semi final.

 

The Monaghan Champions had beat Port Mór in 2006 at the quarter final stage. Port Mór lay that ghost to rest with a convincing 1-17 to 0-8 win. A win made all the more remarkable as Port Mór played most of the second half with fourteen men. David Curran hit seven points while Gary Traynor scored a goal and three points.

 

The final saw Port Mór pitted against Competition favourites and Tyrone Champions Brackaville. Port Mór were on top for most of the game and ran out four point winners, Port Mór 2-9 Brackaville 0-11. Captain Shane Nugent kicked a goal and three points, Gary Traynor hit three points all from play but man of the match was Port Mór’s centre half forward David Curran who was the fulcrum of Port Mór’s play. Alas Connaght champions Ballinasloe ended Port Mór’s hopes of a trip to Croke Park, but it was still a year we will never forget.