Tuam Stars of Galway...... All Ireland Hall Of Fame Club Profile @
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In Galway’s club history of gaelic football, one name that is renowned all over Ireland for its outstanding achievements, is the Tuam
Stars club. Founded just five years after the Gaelic Athletic Association itself was founded in 1884, a group of enterprising sportsmen in
Tuam gathered for a meeting, with an agenda to establish the birth of Tuam Stars in February 1888. However the year 1889 is credited
in history, as the founding year and the famous club played its first ever match, on St. Patrick’s Day 1889.
The name the founders adopted carrying the inscription “STARS” as an important component of their title, was well founded, and now some 130 years later, Tuam Stars are very much a rich club, when counting Galway senior football titles is the business of the day.
Briefing through the clubs early history of the 19th century, it seems football scribes working for the Tuam Herald newspaper in the 1880’s, were none too happy that the local pioneers setting up the new club, were prepared to play under the new rules associated with gaelic football.
These rules, recently adopted by the G.A.A. were established for clubs all over Ireland by the G.A.A. pioneers of 1884, but the Tuam Herald newspaper expressed grave concerns, that the rules were far from satisfactory and unsuitable for their Tuam Stars footballers.
The newspaper columnist wrote as follows.... "There can be no doubt that the hit-or-miss, smashing, dashing, rough and tumble game, played under the name 'Gaelic' is not football".
The writer recommended there should have been a campaign by newspapers to insist on a proper code of rules. However such opposition did not stop the club founders and in February 1889,Tuam Stars was born. They ignored the trend for naming clubs after political heroes of the day. And in hindsight, one can only configure, how those same sports writers would view the 2019 nomadic version of gaelic football rules.
Names synomonous with the foundation of the club include Messrs. W. and J. Silke, P. Byrne and Patk.Kelly, who was deemed to be the main driving force behind the formation of the towns first ever G.A.A. club.
UPS AND DOWNS THROUGH THE DECADES and SEVEN SENIOR TITLES IN A ROW................
The legacy inherited by the current caretakers of the name, Tuam Stars, was created by the winning of 25 county senior football titles, albeit success at senior level has not been achieved as frequently, since the halcyon era of the mid 20th century. The title count began in 1892 when Tuam Stars annexed 6 titles in the 1890’s; and followed up with three titles at the commencement of the 20th century; and then entered a famine period from 1911 to 1942.
The 1940’s brought two county titles and then Tuam Stars reigned supreme for seven glorious years in the 1950’s, and this era brought the famous club to the attention of gaelic football fans all over Ireland. From 1959 onwards, claiming Galway senior football titles became a more difficult assignment, and the decade of the 1960’s added two more titles to the honours list, but the 1970’s decade brought little success at senior level.
When the 1980’s crop of players donned the famous club jersey, great joy came once again with the winning of three senior titles. And then, as happened in so many famous G.A.A. clubs all over the Emerald Isle, the early pace setters of the 20th century, could not sustain their momentum.
The arrival of the 1990’s rewarded Tuam Stars with their very last claim to senior glory, and that came in 1994. The interim years at senior football level in Galway, have not yielded a continuity of titles in the premier grade, but it is fair to say, that the footballers of Tuam Stars, down all the years since their foundation in 1889, are mighty proud of the generations that preceded them. These were the Tuam Stars footballers who made the club famous throughout the land and built a reputation for the club, that still leads the way in the 21st century, in the honours list of Galway senior football champions.
STOCKWELL; PURCELL; FALLON....
Although Tuam Stars were formed in 1888, there was no Galway county championship at that time and also in many other counties in 1888 due to the Unites States invasion, when an Irish team travelled to the United States to play a series of exhibition matches. Instead Tuam Stars travelled to play all the outlying teams, Ballyhaunis, Ballaghaderreen, Dunmore, and even to far off Tipperary town, to play Waterford. The Decies of Waterford were amongst the top football teams of that era. That long journey resulted in Tuam Stars becoming the first Connacht team to play on a Munster ground, and they went on to beat Waterford by three points to nil.
Around Ireland, in major towns especially, at the time the new association was nosing its way forward, other clubs sought membership and in Tuam, Tuam Krugers was the most prominent club confronting the Stars in their own town. Tuam Stars in the early years, contributed several players to the Galway team up to the mid-20th century, most notably Jimmy O'Rourke, Martin Mannion, Tom Sloyan, Mick Stewart, Bill Birrell & Paddy Walsh.
Tuam Stars minor success of 1945 was notable for the presence of two young players, Frank Stockwell and Seán Purcell. The two wizards would become famously known as the "Terrible Twins". These historic players would become a major influence on the fortunes of Tuam Stars, and also in the history of G.A.A. folklore. Stockwell also played with Louth whilst living in the wee county in the early 1950's.
1950’s BROUGHT UNPRECEDENTED SUCCESS.....
From the barren spells of the 1930s and 1940s, Tuam Stars swept all before them in a golden era and the 1950s were unquestionably the greatest and most successful, in the history of Tuam Stars. Having won the Minor title in 1950 and 1951, Tuam Stars again commanded the senior county title in 1952, winning the County Championship for the 13th time. After losing in 1953, the Stars returned to win the Championship again in 1954. It would be the starting post to a record seven county titles in a row, from 1954 to 1960.
As primary school football students way down in Cork, we all adopted the names Seán Purcell and Frank Stockwell, when kicking ball in the school yard, and these two All Stars inflicted a fair amount of misery on Cork fans during their illustrious reigns of the 1950’s. Purcell and Stockwell, along with other Tuam players, Jack Mangan, Seamus Colleran and Cyril Kelly, would go on to win the 1956 All Ireland Football Championship with Galway,defeating my own county, Cork 2-13 to 3-7 in the final at Croke Park.
YOUTH COMING THROUGH.....
The production lines at Tuam Stars prevailed with juvenile and minor victories in 1970, 1971, 1973, 1978 and 1979 and Under-21 triumphs in 1972 and 1975. These titles maintained the flow of silverware heading to Tuam and would yield greater dividends shortly after. In 1971 Tuam had the honour of two All Stars being selected on the first "All Star" football team - Goalkeeper, P.J. Smyth and right full back, Johnny Carey of Mayo and also of Connacht fame. For a club with such a proud tradition, the Connacht club title eluded all of their senior winning teams since the competitions inception.
In 1994, when the club regained county honours, a determination crept into Tuam Stars to rectify their record at provincial and national levels. Joining up with their Under 21 successful team, who were crowned county champions in 1994, the new squad were now determined to go beyond their county title success.
NATIONAL TITLE SOUGHT....
After winning the Connacht title in 1994, the club now set their sights on going all the way to Croke Park. However, Derry & Ulster champions, Bellaghy, a powerhouse team at that time, ended Tuam's hopes in the All-Ireland Semi Final. For Tuam Stars, the success of the provincial title in 1994, was the beacon for the emergence of Ja Fallon, whose displays in the All Ireland senior football championship of 1998, especially in the second half of the final, marked him out, as one of the greatest footballers ever to come out of Tuam and Galway.
A drought set in after the 1994 halycon year and Tuam Stars have not secured another Galway county title in the interim whilst inn 1995 Corofin succeeded Tuam Stars and took the honours in the county senior football final.
BACK IN COUNTY SENIOR FINALS WITHOUT SUCCESS............
The year 2000 saw the Under 16 juvenile team capture the county double, i.e. league and championship. In a majestic run, this team went three years undefeated and the crowning glory came in 2000, when Tuam Stars were awarded the Co. Galway Juvenile Club of the Year.
In 2001 a prestige All Ireland trophy was claimed by Tuam Stars, when the club triumphed in the Kilmacud seven a side national tournament, run annually on the eve of the All Ireland senior football final. To claim outright victory, seven matches took place, and in the final, Castleblaney Faughs were their losing opponents .
Following the 1995 county final defeat, 2011 once again became a fruitful year, despite losing out to Corofin again in the senior final, but the brave hearts of Tuam Stars finally overcame Corofin in the 2012 county semi final. The final was against Salthill-Knocknacarra, but the title went to the seasiders.
Over many years Radio Eireann listeners to Miceál O’Hehir on Connacht final days, heard the famous broadcaster announce, Tuam Stadium is in excellent condition for the Connacht final. The north Galway sports ground hosted many provincial finals and on one of my rare visits to the famous old ground some years ago, I could only envisage the carnival atmosphere captured on Connacht final days.
Tuam Stadium, was officially opened on 21st May 1950 and was blessed by the Archbishop of Tuam, Rev. Dr. Walsh. To celebrate the occasion two games were played with Mayo playing Cavan and Galway hosting Dublin. Up to that point, Tuam Stars headquarters were at Parkmore on the Dublin Road, which the club now uses as a training ground and plays some of its games there also.
Tuam Stadium, located just off the town centre, created a real hustle and bustle in Tuam town on big match days. It must have been pure magic, and especially so, when Galway were one of the Connacht finalists.
I haven’t yet embraced the current facilities located on the Dublin Road since 2006, and reports suggest, this facility is highly commended, as one of the best G.A.A. club grounds in Ireland. I plan on being on the beat with my camera very soon in 2019.
MAJOR CLUB HONOURS SINCE FOUNDATION.................
- County Senior Football Championship Titles: 25
- 1892, 1893, 1894, 1895, 1896, 1897, 1908, 1909, 1911, 1942, 1943, 1947, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1962, 1984, 1988, 1989, 1994
- Connacht Senior Football Championship Title 1 1994
- County Senior Football Leagues: 14 1952, 1954, 1955, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1964, 1967, 1969, 1971, 1975, 1976, 1979, 1980
- County Minor Football Club Championships: 11 1945,1950,1957, 1970,1971, 1972,1978, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983
- County Under-21 County Championship: 7 1972, 1975, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1994, 2003, 2008
- County Junior Football Championships: 15 1907, 1911,1915, 1916, 1930, 1932, 1933, 1984, 2004
- North Board Junior Championship Finals: 8
- 1915, 1916, 1930, 1932, 1933, 1984,2000, 2004
- Kilmacud All-Ireland 7 a Side: 1 2001
TUAM STARS.... CLUB & COUNTY PLAYERS OF DISTINCTION
- Seán Purcell - All-Ireland medal winner with Galway in 1956 and member of the GAA Team of the Century in 1984 and also a member of the G.A.A. and Galway Teams of the Millennium in 2000.
- Frank Stockwell - All-Ireland medal winner with Galway in 1956 and member of the Galway Team of the Millennium in 2000.
- Jack Mangan - Captain of the Galway All-Ireland winning team of 1956
- Cyril Kelly - All-Ireland medal winner with Galway in 1956 and current Vice-President of the club
- Séamus Colleran - All-Ireland medal winner with Galway in 1956
- Mick Garret - All-Ireland medal winner with Galway in 1964 and 1965
- P.J. Smith - 1971 All-Star winner
- Johnny Carey - 1971 All-Star winner
- Pat O'Neill - All-Ireland runner-up with Galway in 1983
- Jarlath Fallon - All-Ireland medal winner with Galway in 1998 and 2001 and Footballer of the Year in 1998.
- Paul Doherty - former Inter-County goalkeeper with Galway
- Conor Doherty - minor All Ireland winner 2007, U-21 All Ireland winner 2011.
OTHER NOTABLE ASSETS OF TUAM STARS.....
Whilst Pearse Stadium in Galway city, is now the fortress for inter county games, Tuam still retains favour with memorable days ever present, when discussing Connacht football final days. And of course Tuam Cathedral, The Sawdoctors and St. Jarlath’s College, not to mention the former Beet factory, will always hold a special relevance with people around Ireland.
The town is further embellished with glorious memories of the “Terrible twins” of Tuam Stars, Frank Stockwell and Seán Purcell, both now deceased. Then along came Ja Fallon with his two All Ireland senor football medals and the Stars footballer further enriched the football tradition that prevails in Tuam.
Several years ago whilst researching a Boxing Hall of Fame presentation, I came across an Irish boxing legend with Tuam roots.
PETER MAHER of TUAM FAME: You will also enjoy reading a browse on the profile of one of Ireland's most historic boxers, Peter Maher, of Gunnode, Tuam, Co. Galway. Peter was born in 1869 and became a famous Irish American heavyweight boxer of renown.
Peter is Inducted Online as a famous Irish boxer.
Go to Peter Maher; Irish Boxer @ www.ScoreBoardMemories.com
All Ireland Hall of Fame Club Tribute/Profile of Tuam Stars
Derry JF Doody; Editor/Promoter
NOTE! Both Seán Purcell and Frank Stockwell are incorporated as Irish Sports Legends in our All Ireland Hall of Fame category for several years.
Go www.ScoreBoardMemories.com (This website)
PETER MAHER of TUAM FAME: You will also enjoy a browse on the profile of one of Ireland's most historic boxers, Peter Maher, of Gunnode, Tuam, Co. Galway. Peter was born in 1869 and became a famous Irish American heavyweight boxer of renown.
Peter is Online Inducted as a famous Irish boxer.
Go to Peter Maher; Irish Boxer @ www.ScoreBoardMemories.com