The earliest recollection of Gaelic Games being played in the Parish of Magheralin is of a team called “The Harps” which played football on Mc Donald’s farm, just off the
At that time, the house of the Timothy Gracey, of
From 1918, there was a wait of 6 years until the next club was formed. Under the guidance of Master McCreanor, Jimmy Devlin, Johnnie McCreanor and Jack Kavanagh, this new club, Magheralin Celtic, was formed in 1924 and operated until 1930.
Football was also known to have been played in Kilwarlin during these era’s mentioned above. However in 1948, the Kilwarlin club was reformed due to the initiative of newly appointed curate, Fr. Frank Treanor, who was already highly regarded for his coaching ability. Fr Treanor recruited young players and trained them himself.
Backboned by the McClure, Heaney, Catney and Lavery families, each of whom had three or four members in the squad, the team entered the Lurgan and district league, winning it twice, as well as the Conor Cup, Cafolla and Davitt trophies. Considered too strong for the Junior Championship, they were promoted to Senior ranks, and in 1955 and ’56 won the North Armagh Senior League, but were beaten in the All- County decider, first by Armagh Harps and then by Crossmaglen Rangers.
Although playing in the Armagh League, Kilwarlin were also entitled to a draw in the Down Senior Championship, thought they had never won the Junior title. In 1956, they reached the Down Senior final, only to be beaten by Newry Shamrocks.
THE DASHING FIFTEEN (AIR MASTER MC GRATH)
Nineteen fifty five been the date of the year,
At the top of the ladder our lads did appear,
At the top of the ladder our brave boys were seen
when the league it was won by the dashing fifteen.
Now lets say a word for these mem of the Gael,
who proved themselves masters in every detail,
their methods are perfect, their tactics are clean,
They're the pride of Kilwarlin, the dashing fifteen.
There's the great Geordie Lavery, the County Down star
His fame on the field is well known near and far,
for tackling and catching he stands out supreme,
he plays centre full back for the dashing fifteen.
Now there's Sean and Dessie and Raymond also,
theres Robbie McClure and his big brother Joe
theres the great Hughie Wilson who played at midfield
and when they're hard pressed sure they never will yield.
And now let me mention Jim Heaney and Dick
theres Noel and Bill, John-Eddie and Mick
and their opposite equals have yet to be seen
theres a tower of strength in the dashing fifteen.
And now theres Bill Kearney plays top of the right
theres Brendan and Gerry their future is bright
Yet theres another from the land of the Foyle
that evergreen veteran Jimmy O' Boyle
Now they've played up at Lurgan, they've played at the Bann
won medals and tropheys in every townland
and their watchword is forward and let us not fail
and they proved they were champions when they beat Clan Na Gael
And now the leagues over their task is well done
but let us look back on the games they have won
for their speed and persistence has carried the day
from the steep slopes of Mourne to the shores of Lough Neagh
And now heres good health to these glorious men
they've done what they can and they'll do it again
and when next season opens its plain to be seen
there'll be fame and more laurels for the dashing fifteen.
The 1960’s witnessed a new era for Gaelic Games in Down, with the Senior County team winning 3 All-Ireland Titles, aided by Kilwarlin’s own Geordie Lavery for two of these successes.
Football was also to change in the Parish. First of all, with Jack McCool as Chairman, Phil Goodfellow as Secretary and Hugh Byrne as Treasurer, St. Patrick’s Magheralin came into being in 1960. The committee at this time then began to rent the present playing field for a sum of £31 and 10 shillings per annum.
However in 1961/62, the biggest decision to date was made. It was decided that the two clubs in the Parish, St. Colman’s Kilwarlin and St. Patrick’s Magheralin were to amalgamate. The new club formed was that of St. Michael’s, the name being proposed by the then Curate Fr. Tom McConville.
The decision was to prove dividends as in 1966 the newly formed St. Michael’s club was to reach the Down Senior Championship Final, only to be beaten in controversial circumstances by Burren.
In 1969, the current playing field on
Although further success was not forthcoming on the club scene, various St. Michael’s players did have success at inter-county level.
In 1977, Adrian McCaufield, Martin McCann and Brian Robinson won All-Ireland Minor Medals with Down. In the same year, Sean Lavery was a County selector.
Two years later, Adrian and Martin also won All-Ireland Under 21 Medals with Down.
In 1985, members of the club from the Kilwarlin area, decided once again to have two clubs in the Parish. From 1985 to 1988 the
At the Magheralin end of the parish, things looked bleak. However, the never say die attitude of various committees under the guidance of Charlie McCullough, James Furphey and Damien Furphey helped the Magheralin club back on its feet. The never ending fund raising of Eamon Wright put them back on an even keel and the appointment of Adrian McAufield as player/manager kept things going culminating in the winning of the Down Junior Championship in 1987.
As already stated, the St. Colman’s club only survived until 1988 and since then only the one club has served the whole of the Parish.
Football in the Parish was given a lift in 1991, when not only did Down win the All-Ireland title again, but just a week earlier the club had won the Down Junior Championship for a second time.
Under the guidance of Laurence Austin and Mickey Lavery, the club also won the Division 4 League Title a year later (1992).
During the mid-1990’s, the club opened up its new clubrooms and maintained Division 3 status for a number of seasons. In 1995, after finishing second in the table, promotion to Division 2 of the All-County League looked to be on the cards. However, due to the new play-off structure introduced by the
This seemed to put the club back a peg as the following season, St. Michael’s were relegated back to the fourth division.
With a shortage of under age players coming through the ranks, St. Michael’s amalgamated with Tullylish at underage level in 1997. This proved to be successful as in 1998 the South Down Minor and U-14 Leagues were both won. This amalgamation still exists to the present day.
In 1999, current goalkeeper, Peter Cunningham, won an All-Ireland Minor medal with Down.
Into the new millennium things now seem to be on the up for St. Michael’s. In 2001, the club won the Division 4 League again. However due to some inexperience, the club was relegated a year later. 2001 also seen the formation of the St. Michael’s Ladies team.
The club won the Down Junior Championship for a third time in 2004 under the management of Pat McDade, John Hamill and George Hanna, and for the first time in the clubs history, they took part in the Ulster Football Championships only to be beaten by Stewartstown of Co. Tyrone.
2005 seen Declan Lavery win the All-Ireland Minor Championship with Down when they beat Mayo in the final at Croke Park.
The Senior Team obtained promotion to Division Three of the All County League in 2008, only to be relegated again a year later. On the Ladies football front, the ladies team reached two County Junior finals within a five year period (2006 and 2011) only to be defeated on both occasions by Carryduff.
Since 2008, the underage scene has really taken off again at St. Michael's, with club fielding teams in U12, U10 and U8 competitions. The club also started to host the annual Andrew McCabe Memorial Blitz.
The club also got involved in a lot of community events such as the Magherlain Music Festival, Magheralin Duck Derby and the St. Michael's Golf Classic which have all proved to be successes. The club, like all other clubs in Ireland and beyond celebrated the GAA 125 anniversary in 2009 with different events throughout the year including an exhibition of the clubs history.
2010 seen Eamon Lynch Jnr win the Macrory and Hogan Cups as part of the St. Colman's team.
2012 sees the club celebrating it's 50th anniversary.