If there’s one person, one name that dominated the sports news throughout 2011, not just in Ballon/Rathoe, County Carlow or Ireland but in the rugby playing nations of the world, then that name is Sean O’Brien. Not content with becoming a household name in his country in his chosen sport of rugby, Sean went on to ply his trade in the World Cup in New Zealand and here, too, he succeeded in making his mark.

In the spring Sean’s was one of the first names to be pencilled in on the team sheet for the Six Nations Championship and he then went on to win his second Heineken Cup medal as Leinster defeated Northampton in the final.  In May he received the ultimate accolade when he was named the ERC European Player of the Year.

He was an automatic choice to travel to the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and having been rested for the opening match against the USA he went on to play a pivotal role for Ireland as they won their group. He was voted Man of the Match as Ireland defeated Australia and Italy and scored a try as the men in green demolished Russia 62-12. His (and our hopes) of a World Cup appearance were dashed when Wales defeated Ireland in the quarter finals and one but wonders what would have happened if Sean had got over the line on two occasions when Wales just held him off.   


Ballon Ladies GAA team made their own little bit of history on Sunday, 21 August when they defeated Palatine by 5-19 to 0-2 to win the County Carlow Ladies junior football championship for the very first time. The game was played at Dr. Cullen Park and, as the score suggests, Ballon were in command throughout in this decider having had a difficult ‘semi’ against St. Mullins where they got the verdict by a single point on a 4-5 to 4-4 scoreline.

Team and scorers in the final were Anne Marie Brennan, Mag Byrne, Alex O’Brien, Amanda Doyle, Marian Dowling, Fiona Kennedy, Laura Murphy, Carl Brady (0-7), Grace Fanning (1-3), Hillary Griffin (2-5), Bridget Kenny (0-2), Lisa Byrne (0-1), Haley O’Shea (1-0), Doreen Foley (1-1), and Cherl Keogh. Substitutes were Rachel Savage, Ellie Hegarty, Lisa Rooney, Christine Dowling and Miriam Teehan.


The Fighting Cocks were first to name their top players doing so in late December 2010. The Player of the Year Award was won by Gary Nolan, Mark Hutton got the Junior Player Award and Eoin O’Byrne picked up the Young Player Award.

John Nolan received the Clubman of the Year Award and the very popular recipient of the Hall of Fame Award was Paddy Roche.

Down Kilbride way the Senior Player of the Year Award went to Eoin Nolan, Carrigslaney for his outstanding displays at centre half back while Paddy Doyle, Kilbride picked up the Junior Player of the Year Award.  One of the club’s, and indeed the counties, brightest young stars, Mark Curry, Ardattin, was the recipient of the Young Player Award.

A special award was presented to Anthony Curry to mark his retirement as trainer. During his four years in charge Anthony had brought the club from being a good junior team to winning the intermediate championship and then going on to be a big force in the top flight of Carlow football.

In Ballon, Pat Gittens, Ballylean was the popular winner of the Hall of Fame Award. Pat has been associated with the club since its formation both as a player and official. Former player, Michael O’Toole, Boggan received the Clubman of the Year Award and Seamus Byrne, Connaberry, was the popular choice for the Special Award. The Senior Player of the Year Award went to ‘keeper Declan Kealy, Dinny Maher walked away with the Junior Player Award and Conor Kearney was the choice as Best Young Player.

The Carlow FL Div 4 medals for 2010 were presented at the Ballon function and recipients were – Billy Fanning, Patrick Abbey, Kieran Abbey, Brendan Barry, Shane Brennan, John Brennan, Stephen Brennan, Jamie Carroll, Brendan Corrigan, Ken Deacon, James Doyle, Liam Doyle, Brendan Fanning, Frank Fanning, Dan Fanning, Eddie Fitzgerald, Conor Kearney, Padraig Lalor, Danny Lewis, Niall Mc Caffrey, Darren Maher, Dinny Maher, Donnacha Murphy, John Murphy, Thomas Murphy, Ross Nolan, and Jimmy Nolan.



Ballon and The Fighting Cocks both got off to winning starts to their 2011 FL Div 2 campaigns in March, Ballon defeating Rathvilly by 0-9 to 0-6 while The ‘Cocks had a single point, 2-7 to 2-6, win over Grange. Some indifferent results followed before the sides met in the first of two local derby games in April with Ballon defeating their parish rivals by 2-11 to 1-10 in a very close game. Following that defeat The Cocks went into decline and fell away while Ballon made it through to the semi-finals where  they lost to St. Andrews on a scoreline of 1-14 to 2-6. Ballon lost their two-year grip on the FL Div. 4 when they were defeated by Ballinabranna by 0-12 to 1-10 in the semi-final.

The Club’s intermediate teams had mixed luck in their first round IFC games, The Cocks defeating Asca by 1-9 to 1-7 while Ballon lost to Ballinabranna on a scoreline of 0-14 to 0-4. Both teams won second time out and when they met in round 3 it was ‘do or die’.

The game was billed  as ‘the match of Round 3’  but it turned out to be a damp squib as Ballon recorded one of their biggest victories over their parish rivals. Leading by only 1-6 to 1-3 at the break Ballon turned on the style in the second half and ran out winner by 2-15 to 1-6 to do their championship challenge a power of good and severely dent The Cocks’ chances of progressing to the knock-out stages.  Alan Kelly scored 2-4 of Ballon’s tally while others on target were Michael O’Leary 0-4, Jimmy Maher and Jimmy O’Brien 0-2 each and Frank Fanning, Brendan Fanning and Peter Zerafa 0-1 each.  The Cocks’ marksmen were Robert Davis 1-1, Alan Quigley 0-3 and Colm Quigley and Eoin O’Byrne 0-1 each.

Ballon claimed a place in the quarter finals of the competition with an emphatic 2-19 to 1-5 win over Asca and easily defeated Eire Og by 4-9 to 1-8 to advance to the last four. That proved a step too far as St. Andrews defeated them in a semi-final for the second time in the season, this time by a massive 2-11 to 0-4.  


Kilbride put the disappointment of losing to neighbours Myshall in their opening FL Div 1 game behind them to record a massive 3-18 to 1-1 win over a very poor O’Hanranans side second time out. Further losses to Kildavin/Clonegal and Eire Og put them out of contention in this competition having contested the final and semi-final the previous two years.

In the SFC the club had in indifferent competition losing to Tinryland and Old Leighlin but easily defeating Tullow to finish in a mid-table position without feat of relegation but out of contention for a semi final place.


Just two years ago it was decided that all juvenile teams, football, hurling, girls football and camogie, would play under the umbrella of Burren Rangers and in that short space the success has been phenomenal. N 2011 the young boys and girls won five county trophies, two in camogie, two in football and one in hurling.

The U-12 camogie team were the toast of the parish in June when they defeated Myshall in the Carlow ‘B’ League final. The final score was Burren Rangers 1-0, Myshall 0-0.Grace Donald got the all important goal in the first half allowing Danielle Flood, team captain, to collected the award on behalf of the panel.

The U-10 Camogie team also got amongst the honours by winning the Carlow Camogie ‘D’ League final against a gallant Setanta team at Dr. Cullen Park also in June.

Burrin’s under-14 hurlers won the Carlow Div. 2 Cup which was presented to captain, Josh Meaney.

There was good news for the juvenile footballers in August as Burrin Rangers defeated Eire Og ‘2’ by 3-9 to 2-2 to win the Under-14B football final at Dr. Cullen Park. The trophy was presented to captain, Glen Pullin.

Anything the boys could do could be matched by the girls. The under-12 team lifted the Carlow ‘C’ championship in October defeating Eire Og by 6-7 to 0-1. Nicole Kehoe Dowling, team captain collected the cup on behalf of the winners.

Burren Rangers U-16 footballers were unlucky to lose the Coiste na nOg U-16 Div 2 football final against neighbours, Fenagh on a scoreline of 2-9 to 0-14 while the girls lost the U-14 ‘B’ Championship final to Clonmore.


It was a night of nostalgia, memories and recollections in Leinster Hills Golf Club on Easter Sunday, 24 April as about seventy members of The Fighting Cocks GFC gathered to fete the players and panel of their Junior Football Championship winning team of 1971. The special guest was Rugby International, Sean O’Brien, a former player with the club, and who made the presentations.

Present to receive their mementos of that memorable day in the club’s history were Paddy Roche (captain), Joe Byrne, John McDonald Snr., Pat Bermingham, Lar Doyle, Tony Donoghue, Joe Stynes, Hugh O’Byrne, Pat Doyle, Pat Hogan, John Donoghue, Paudie Donoghue, Kevin Halligan, Austin Donoghue, Seamus Hogan and John Joe Clarke. Four members, Frank Blanche, Owen Cummins, Declan Donohoe and Michael Shanahan, were unable to attend while three others, William Byrne, Jimmy Meaney and Denis Nolan have sadly passed away. Declan Donohoe has since gone to his eternal rest.

A presentation was also made to Michael and Mary Murphy of Linkardstown, the proprietors of The Fighting Cocks Pub at the time of the club’s success. All present had an enjoyable meal and listened or danced to the music of Pat Bermingham.


Friday, 13 proved lucky for Ballon/Rathoe athletes who won five gold, two silver and three bronze medals at the Carlow Track and Field Championships in May. Jason Kelly was the local star collecting two gold and a silver while local athletes filled all three podium places in the boy’s under-13 High Jump. Gold medal winners were Anna Tracey (U12 Ball Throw), Dean Tracey (U12 Ball Throw), Nick Mullins (U13 High Jump) and Jason Kelly (U15 Hurdles and U15 Long Jump).

Adam Dowling, Kilbride had double success at the National Track & Field championships held in Tullamore in July. He won the silver medal in the 200 metres under-19 and followed up by taking the bronze medal in the 100 metres. Over the years Adam has been one of the area’s most prominent athletes, competing with success at various age groups.

In February, Laura Ward (fifth class) took part in the 600 metres event at the Leinster Indoor Athletics finals in Nenagh, Co Tipperary and after successfully negotiating the heats went on to win the gold medal in the final.