- Ilen Rovers
Ilen Rovers is a
Gaelic footballclub in County Cork, Ireland. The club is affiliated to Cork GAAand Carbery GAAdivisional boards.The farming and fishing community of Ilen Rovers hails from the estuary of the River Ilen, the West Cork river that flows through Skibbereenbefore entering the sea near the fishing port of Baltimore, the gateway to the islands of Sherkin, Cape Clear and Heir. The club crest depicts this rural geographical area showing the Beacon to the south and Kilcoe castle to the west with the Ilen flowing between and the sea beyond.
The Club was founded in
1973and so comprises players from the parish of Rath and the Islands and the parish of Aughadown, the two parishes that bound the river estuary.In the club's first year, three teams were affiliated under 14, under16 & minor. Success was instant, winning the SW minor B championship, in that first year. This prompted the club to enter under 21 and junior B teams in 1974, with the under 21's losing the SW championship final. They were runners up in the same competition in 1975, before winning this championship at the third attempt in 1976. However the promising start failed to transfer itself to the junior team. In fact the club lost the first round of the junior B championship every year from 1974 - 1982. Finally their championship jinx was broken in 1983, and the team went all the way to championship success. Four fruitless years followed in junior A, before the club re-graded for the only time in their history in 1988. The Junior B championship was won again that year and history was made when the team reached its first county final, only to lose to Abbey Rovers after a replay.
The early 1990s were barren years for the club, at all grades, until 1995, when the minor team won league and championship double, and followed this with county honours, beating Newtownshandrum in both league and championship finals. These remain the club's only county titles at under age level to date. The achievement sparked new enthusiasm within the club and in the following year,
1996, the club won its first junior A championship in its first final appearance.
A second junior A title was won in 1999, sparking off a remarkable period of success for the club. Three SW junior A titles were won in a row, 1999, 2000 & 2001. It was a setback to lose the
Cork Junior Football Championshipfinal in 1999by a point to Youghal, but 2001yielded dividends capturing the title by overcoming Kinsale. The first year up in the intermediate grade, 2002, was a successful one, winning the county league title and also the All Ireland junior 7 a-side. They returned the following year to win the Cork Intermediate Football Championship, beating Carrigaline in the final. This was followed up by winning the inaugural Munster Intermediate Club Football Championshipin this grade, beating St Senan's of Limerick in the provincial decider and the first All-Ireland Intermediate Club Football Championshiptitle by defeating St Michael's of Donegal.
Since then, pride of place must go to the under 16s who won the club's first ever SW championship at this grade in 2005, and followed it up with victories in 2006 & 2007, to complete the club's second three in a row. The under 16’s reached the county final in 2005, losing out to
Valley Roversand again in 2006, losing to Glenville in the final. The club has also introduced Hurling at underage level in recent years.
Meanwhile the club made its senior championship debut in 2004 and the appearance in a county final at the grade so soon would seem an improbable dream to the founders of the club.
In those early years of the club, they had no proper pitch of their own and depended on the generosity of local farmers to provide fields. In the late 1970s the club, in tandem with Aughadown Community Council, started to develop a playing pitch in Church Cross which was completed in 1982. More recently, a second pitch has been completed in Rath and was opened in 2005. This is hugely important for the club as the number of participating teams has risen from eight in 2004 to thirteen in 2007.
From its humble beginnings, in 1973, the commitment shown by the people of the community to develop our native games has given the club its current status culminating in reaching the County Senior Football final. The dedication shown by all both on and off the field has provided a rich harvest. Everyone associated with this young club over the past 34 years is proud of what has been achieved.
[http://www.ilenrovers.cork.gaa.ie/ Ilen Rovers website]
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