Our History

The GAA was approaching its 80th birthday when the Dunsany club was founded. There was little or no tradition of Gaelic Games activity in the area although Kilmessan had a rich tradition of involvement in both the playing and administrative aspects from the outset.

And it wasn’t only in hurling that the Kilmessan club was successful…their footballers won the Senior Championship in 1939 but there was no knock-on effect for the parish…the winning team soon broke up and football subsequently declined in the area.

A football team representing Killeen existed for a brief period in the 1940s and early 1950s but cricket remained as the major past-time for any Dunsany person with an interest in sport. The Dunsany cricket team was quite successful but its existence was directly related to the numbers employed by its patron Lord Dunsany and interest started to decline in the late 1950s. The last game of cricket played in Dunsany was in 1962.

It was at this stage that talk of forming a football club began. There were a number of background factors that helped to generate the interest. The arrival of a number of families from Connemara to the divided Killeen Estate in the 1950s…a ‘Street League’ organised in Kilmessan in which a Dunsany team participated, also in the late 1950s…and a slowdown in emigration…the great curse of that decade.

The Club was officially formed at a meeting in Dunsany Hall on Sunday January 27th 1963. Jimmy Flynn was elected as Chairman with Dessie Collier as Vice-Chairman and Pat Cummins as Secretary. Peadar Donohoe was chosen as captain. The ‘Cricket Field’ became the Headquarters and a second-hand set of jerseys (green and gold), was purchased from the then dormant Kiltale Hurling club.

The first Championship game (at Junior ‘B’ level) resulted in a narrow defeat by Dunshaughlin at Skryne…the team lined out as follows…Paddy Walsh, Paddy Allen, Peadar Donohoe (Capt), John Harrington, Tom McDonagh, Teddy Mulligan, Pat Gill, Mal Loughran, Michael Flaherty, Paddy Cummins, Michael Smyth, Dicky Donohoe, Pat Cummins, Noel Reilly (Grange), and Rory O’Rourke. David Doyle was the substitute used.

In the following year, Dunsany qualified for the Junior ‘B’ semi-final but lost out to Boardsmill and in 1966, in a nod to the old Killeen team, it was decided to change the club colours from green and gold to red and white.

The early years were much more about survival than actually winning…but in 1972 the team won its way to the Junior Championship final in which they lost to Ballinabrackey. This achievement saw Dunsany climb to the Intermediate ranks where the highest point reached was the quarter-final in 1979.  

A few years later, it was back down to the Junior ranks and it is at this level that the club has remained for close on 40 years. There have been 5 further  final appearances…but, disappointingly, they have all ended in defeat…to Nobber in 2002, Ratoath in 2004, Longwood in 2009, Curraha in 2015 and Bective in 2016. The sole Championship success at adult level was in the Junior ‘D’ in 2011.

Apart from survival itself, the outstanding achievement of Dunsany GFC has been to supply players to All-Ireland winning Meath teams at all levels…Jimmy McGuinness (Senior 1996 and Under-21 1993), Nicky Horan (Junior 2003 captain) and Declan Maguire (Minor 1992). Jimmy McGuinness also won a National League medal in 1994. Michael Smith of the 1963 team, was the first to represent the club at county level (Minor 1963) while Michael Costello was a member of the Meath panel that contested the 1970 All-Ireland SFC final.

Perhaps the biggest day in the club’s history was in May 2000 when Pairc na nGaeil was officially opened. In previous years, Chairman Liam Ferguson, Secretary Noel Smyth and their fellow committee members had worked extremely hard to acquire the lease that enabled the club to build a fine Clubhouse and to enclose the pitch. The reigning All-Ireland Champions Meath and their predecessors Galway marked the occasion in a challenge match and the venue is currently one of the best, and one of the most popular in Meath.

It’s a long way from the ‘3-goals-in’ that was played at the Crossroads in the early 1960s…the club has had its ups and downs but it has provided a focal point for the Community and a facility which welcomes and encourages local children to participate in a healthy and rewarding past-time.

And isn’t that what the GAA all about? ​