After many months of hoping, guessing and anticipating, the Westmeath football championships are finally set to begin next weekend and there are some major games down for decision in the new-look Westmeath Senior Football Championship.
During his 21 years at St Joseph’s Secondary School, Luke Dempsey must have thought he’d seen it all, but last Friday’s historic victory in the Br Bosco Cup final at Bord na Móna O’Connor Park, Tullamore represents a new milestone.
It has been in existence for less than four decades, but already the Garrycastle GAA Club has left an indelible mark on Westmeath GAA, producing some very talented footballers and enjoying much success in the process.
Hurling has been alive and well in Mullingar since the early 1900s but the present St Oliver Plunkett’s Hurling Club was formed as recently as 1976, following the demise of the previous stand bearers, Pearses.
Over the years, many may have laid claim to the title of the most successful football club in Westmeath, but there is absolutely no arguing that it belongs to the Athlone GAA Club, who have won a record 20 Senior Football Championships in their time.
Certainly, one of the most outstanding GAA clubs in Westmeath over the decades has been the Castlepollard Hurling Club and they have a long and proud tradition, dating back to their formation in 1899.
The Cullion Hurling Club, located on the outskirts of Mullingar, has a proud tradition dating back to the late 1940s and the community it serves benefits greatly from a strong, passionate organisation.
The growth and development of the GAA in rural Westmeath is a truly fantastic story and nowhere is it more evident than in Tyrrellspass, where Gaelic games were recorded in the early part of the 20th century.
GAA clubs are the heartbeat of the local community and this is very evident in Kinnegad where the Coralstown/Kinnegad GAA Club have been carrying the torch, so to speak, for over a century.
One of the undoubted benefits of Gaelic games is its ability to instill a great sense of pride in a local community and no where is this more evident than in Collinstown, Co Westmeath, where the Lough Lene Gaels Hurling Club has been operating since 1969.
There were the inevitable breaks and interludes that seem to have affected most rural GAA clubs, but Shandonagh, like a phoenix, rose to win that precious Junior title in ’79 and from there things developed as more and more dedicated people got involved.
For the past 109 years, Castletown-Geoghegan has had a proud association with the GAA and the game of hurling has flourished in that part of Westmeath, where many great memories have been made and numerous successes enjoyed.
Tradition is a very popular word in the GAA world and the 47 clubs in Westmeath, plus the numerous others around the country pride themselves in their great history and how they have grown and developed to become pivotal parts of the parish they serve.
When one thinks of pride, passion and desire to succeed, one club that springs to mind is the Raharney Hurling Club, where people with an unquenchable desire to achieve the best have led a wonderful local organisation to many great occasions.
After some truly outstanding achievements over the course of their proud history, Clonkill have become the most successful hurling club in Westmeath and their victory in the 2019 Senior hurling final was their 16th in all.
There was a time when the St Loman’s GAA Club, Mullingar was in danger of fading into the abyss, but the spirit and determination of hugely committed and determined volunteers ensured it survived. The rest, as they say, is history.