Killarney Athletic A.F.C. History
Killarney Athletic A.F.C. was founded in 1965 by Don Harrington, a young Garda who hailed from Cork City and was stationed in town. This came after Don had observed youngsters from various parts of Killarney playing soccer on the streets at that time.
The club played its first competitive game in the Desmond League as a youth team and entered a junior team at the start of 1966.
When Don Harrington left Killarney in 1969, the late Brian Gilhooley took over as manager with Big Jim O’ Sullivan, Sean O’Donoghue, Joe Grant and Donagh Gleeson as officers of the Club.
In the early 70s, a fresh and vibrant young club emerged, becoming a founding Club of the Kerry District League (KDL). The nucleus of the team was formed with some of the old guard and a large number of the Franciscan Youth Club team under the guidance of Brian Gilhooley and Fr. Vivian Molloy (RIP).
The club entered its first youth and B teams into the KDL in 1975 and presently has two senior teams and a youth team competing in the league.
The club was also a founding member of the Kerry Schoolboys League in 1984 and currently fields teams across the age groups from under 10s to under 16s boys and girls.
The club has actively contributed to Kerry soccer providing officers for both leagues.
In response to the growth, particularly at underage level, due in part to the relative success of the Irish team in the 1990 World Cup, the club set up its first coaching academy in 1992 which focused on individual technique and skill development for under 10 year olds. The present academy under the guidance of Jerry Doyle and regional development officer Darren Aherne continues to progress the development of players of the future.
The club has a proud history of promoting soccer in Killarney and is very proud to have produced numerous talented players who have excelled at higher levels of the game. 1990 saw Michael Moloney of High St. become the first Kerry player to win a schoolboy international cap in 1990 (central midfield). He was also part of the Irish under 17 squad which won a bronze medal in the Youth Olympics in 1990. Bryan Murphy (Beaufort) was part of the Irish universities squad (keeper) that competed in the World University Games in 1997, while a student of Boston University. Diarmuid O’ Carroll began his professional career with Glasgow Celtic in 2003 and now plies his trade with Glenavon in the Irish League. Michael “Smiler” Moloney was capped on 5 occasions for the Irish under 16 team in 2004. Brendan Moloney also signed a four-year professional contract with Nottingham Forest in August 2005 and is currently at the City Ground. An up and coming star for the future is Ronan Murphy from Beaufort who is heading also heading for the City Ground and it won’t be long before he wears the Irish shirt.
Our home at Woodlawn is of much pride to the club and with the Flesk river as a picturesque backdrop, it is a place where dreams have and will be made.
In 1965, John McShain, a wealthy American benefactor, provided the use of a pitch in his Demesne estate known as the Half Moon Field. The club moved from the original Half Moon in 1988 to the Knockreer area and continues to use this pitch today. At this point the club purchased a 6½ acre site in Woodlawn from Tom Lyne (formerly of The Vintage Bar) and development of the ground heralded a new era in the club’s history.
Since 1993 the club has continued to develop the ground to the present day facilities that now includes two full size pitches.
It is no overstatement to say that the tournament has been the greatest promoter of soccer in Killarney and beyond over the past three decades, with the roots of a number of clubs in the area stemming from the 7-a-side. The club ran the first 7-a-side with two objectives, firstly to promote and encourage participation of the game and also to contribute a portion of the revenue raised to local charities.
1977 saw the club host its first tournament with 19 teams competing. A Killarney Athletic based team, the Laurels, overcame a youthful Killarney Albion team in the final, and, incidentally, the bulk of that Albion team joined with Killarney Rangers later to form Killarney Celtic. 2011 will mark the 35th consecutive year of the tournament which was run from 1977 to 1999 in Aras Phadraig and then to the present day in Killarney Athletic Park.