History - Hurling, the early years

Hurling has become a major element of Bredagh’s activities and identity,

but its taken time and a huge amount of effort to bring it to this point. Read on to hear the story of humble beginnings, and decades of effort, commitment and energy culminating in victory and promise for the future!

By Liam Quinn, November 2011

Where it all began, back to the 80s!

In the lead up to GAA Centenary Year, 1984, the Down Hurling Board launched an initiative to try to get more football clubs playing hurling. A league and Special Junior Championship were launched and several football clubs started hurling teams. The decision to start an adult hurling team on the Ormeau Road was made towards the end of 1984 after Dermot Lynch (who had played for Rossa) approached the Bredagh Committee. Training started the following Spring with Dermot Lynch as player manager.

The standard of hurling in Divisionision 4 at this time was poor enough, but new players were attracted throughout the first season and with regular training the hurling improved.

In 1986 Bredagh performed well in the league, finishing second to Kilcoo. In the championship we were drawn at home to Drumaness who were now playing in Divisionision 3 and were strong favourites to win the competition. The game was played at Bredagh on Sunday 22 June, the same day of Maradona’s famous "Hand of God” Goal.

Unfortunately for Bredagh, veteran goalkeeper, the late Patsy Owens, failed a late fitness test, having enjoyed refreshments in Newcastle after the Down v Monaghan match earlier in the day. Always keen to help out, Patsy offered to act as linesman and went on to play an important part in Bredagh’s victory.  With Bredagh leading by a single point and the game entering the final minutes the ball was knocked out for a sideline cut to Drumaness. The ball couldn’t be found in the long grass at the side of the pitch, despite most of the Drumaness team searching for it. It was eventually found – under Patsy’s foot! The line ball was quickly taken and almost immediately the final whistle sounded. Bredagh had secured victory thanks to the foot of Patsy Owens!

A win over Bryansford secured a place in the final where they lost to Kilcoo at Kilclief.

During 1987 the team benefited from the coaching of Antrim Great Eddie Donnelly who was working in Belfast and regularly trained Bredagh. The team went through the league unbeaten and won Division 4 with victory over Killyleagh in Cherryvale. Other teams competing in the league at this time were Glenn, Clonduff, Drumnaquoile, Bryansford, Saul and Warrenpoint.

Bredagh reached the championship final again in 1988 where they faced Bryansford in Ballygalget. The match was played before the Senior final and once again Bredagh tasted defeat. Bryansford won 0-10 to 0-6.

With manager Dermot Lynch now based in Derry, no youth teams and older lads retiring, the team was struggling to field. On one occasion we managed to gather up 15 to travel to Ballygalget by recruiting several young lads from Cherryvale.

Unfortunately one of them got knocked out with a blow to the head (there were very few helmets in those days). With no manager, or first aid kit, it was left to Ballygalget manager, Paddy Braniff, to bring him round with smelling salts. The young lad had no idea who he was and when Paddy asked the Bredagh players none of them knew his name either!

The last match was a Championship semi final defeat to Warrenpoint at Castlewellan in August 1989. It was Warrenpoint’s first win over Bredagh.  Over the following couple of years there was talk about fielding a team again but it came to nothing, and Bredagh hurling would lie fallow for some time to come.