Kilkenny man Donie Butler joined us on Scoreline to talk about his recent journey where he has embarked on a huge challenge. Butler is in the process of compiling the History of Soccer in Kilkenny & District dating from its formation of Kilkenny AFC, who entered the Leinster Football Association Junior Cup competition in 1893.
Kilkenny has been the very proud base of soccer in the South East region for 127 years now. It has had many incarnations with various Leagues and clubs been formed over many years. It has had Leagues formed in 1912, 1926, 1942 and 1948. 1926 was the first ‘native’ League formed under the banner of the Irish Free State. With the exception of a brief spell in 1969-69 there has been a continuous League in the area to the present day.
The history will recall the trials and tribulations experienced by the ‘soccer’ men -or the ‘little lads in the lanes’ as they were so described by a Corporation Councillor in the second decade of the 20th century- and their clubs over the course of the first 30 years or so. It will also look at the foundation of Kilkenny Celtic in 1911 where the repurcussions of the set up of that team still felt throughout the district today.
The League enjoyed a relatively trouble-free journey through the late forties, fifties and up to the mid-sixties. The ‘modern’ era really arrived with huge growth and spread of the game to the rural towns and villages in Kilkenny, Laois and Carlow in the 1970’s and ‘80’s. The affinity with those counties was easy to understand because Carlow/Kilkenny is the political constituency of the area and South Laois has always strongly identified with Kilkenny due to it being part of the Diocese of Ossory. It will also cover teams from Tipperary & Wexford who have had membership in the League.
The game has performed on the highest stage of soccer in this country with the advent of Kilkenny City FC playing in the League of Ireland. Many of its players have played with a variety of League of Ireland clubs. All strands of the game including schoolboys/girls, women’s soccer, youths, junior, schools and senior soccer catered for. There has been a whole army of volunteers, players, administrators, sponsors and a soccer public involved in driving the game forward over the period of time.
Players have been honoured at every level of the game with pride of place going to the likes of Seanie Maguire (Preston North End) presently being a full Republic of Ireland Senior International player, the first Kilkenny man to do so since Matt O’Mahoney from Mullinavat in the 1930’s. We all know the story of Michael Reddy leading the way with his move to Sunderland. Mikey Drennan spent five years at Aston Villa. Others have now followed. Jimmy Donnelly & Dave Mulcahy had long careers in the League of Ireland. While Ellen Molloy and Tom O’Connor are part of the new crop of Irish internationals from the county.
Donie is now looking for clubs or individuals who a have a history of their club, old photographs, memorabilia, stories to impart of their club to get in touch. All material will be logged, scanned and safely returned to donors. The former FAI Commercial Director would love to hear the growth story of your club at all levels, the growth of your ground and facilities development and the people involved. He is also making a special appeal to ‘old soccer men’ who may have old photographs, match programmes or publications that can be added to the history of the game.