As It Was In The Beginning

As it was in the beginning
From an historical perspective, the present club can trace its origin back to 1896, when the fist club was founded in Downpatrick. The club, known as Clan Na Gael at the time, was primarily a hurling club and it formation was documented in Shan Van Vocht Vol.2 on 7th February 1896. Hurling was the predominant game on those early years, and remained so up to 1916 when football started to gain in popularity.

Lecale Hurling team 1905

A temporary cessation of Gaelic games followed between 1918 and 1922, when the games were outlawed. This set back curtailed development, but in 1924 resurgence took place, the games now attracted greater support and a second team was formed.

A Downpatrick team in the 1920’s

Back Row: J. Breen, W. Fitzsimmons, W. Byrne, H. Smyth, P. McCarthy, T. Gracey, P. Perry, J. McCarthy, J. Wallace, W. Quinn, E. Fitzsimmons.
Front Row: T. Cunningham, P. McKeating, Brother Brendan, J.McKeating, J. Quinn, B. Fitzsimmons.

In 1926 the first officially affiliated club was formed. The founders of the new club, St. Patrick, were Willie Byrne from Downpatrick, Willie King from Gloucester England and a Glasweigan Alex McDowell

Alex McDowell || Willie Byrne || Willie King

A unique situation was created whereby an Irishman, an Englishman and a Scotsman became founder members of the first affiliated club in Downpatrick.

Football continued to flourish and in the 1930-31 season, Brother Brendan from the De La Salle community, actively promoted schoolboy’s football. His influence was immense, and his John’s Street Elementary schools team was undefeated that season. Their reward was a trip to the 1932 All Ireland final between Mayo and Kerry.

Many of Brother Brendan’s protégés won the East Down Minor League in 1932 and ’33, and went on to represent the club at senior level.

Brother Brendan’s promotion of schoolboy football in the 1930/31 season earmarked the beginning of a long association between club and the community.

Brother Justinian Downey’s arrival in 1937 helped maintain the momentum of his predecessors. On September 3rd 1938 Brother Justinian was succeeded by Brother Olteran Power, and in the same year Brother Edmund Murphy became principal of St. Patrick’s High School. Both men were intensely interested in all things Gaelic, and their combined efforts helped to keep both hurling and football alive during the dark war years. Their promotion of Gaelic games was greatly boosted by the return of Brother Augustine Lynch from Strawberry Hill, London in 1943. Brother Augustine, who had previously taught religious knowledge in the High school during the thirties, was a great motivator and had succeeded in developing a greater interest in Gaelic games in his pupils. Brother Olteran together with Brother John revived hurling in the early 40s, and Downpatrick won the County Junior Hurling Championship in 1945.

Back Row: Jim Doyle, Joe McGrady, Tom Bohill, Malachy Moore, Paud Starkey, Paddy Fitzsimmons, Bob Bradly.
Middle Row: Mel McGrady, Tom Connolly, Paddy Bohill, Bro. Brendan, Willie Kelly, Johnny Mahon, John Cusack,.
Front: D. Bradley, D. McGrady.