The club was founded in 1982. The first officers were Maurice O’Connell as Chairman, Michael Wren as Secretary and Tom Cosgrave as Treasurer whose drive and energy gathered support for the establishment of the Club. On 7th May 1982 a notice was read from the altar at all masses in the area announcing the clubs arrival. Notices were also placed in local shops seeking mentors and players.
At the request of Mick Wren, the Club was registered as St Johns Ballinteer with the Dublin County Board on 19th July 1982. The request was dated 1st July 1982 and noted a meeting in May 1982 with the County Board and subsequent telephone conversations. In its correspondence on the matter, the Dublin County Board noted that “a group of eight people have come together and are prepared to get Gaelic games going in the area. They have formed a Club and called it St Johns Ballinteer”. This group were Mick Wren, Maurice O’Connell, Tom Cosgrave, Eamon Coleman, John Kelly, Michael Donlan, Ollie Quinlan and Jerry McEvoy.
The First Team..
The first competitive match was U.10 football in Marlay Park versus Thomas Davis, who supplied the jerseys for both teams. Ballinteer won the match by 5-2 to 4-1 and the team was awarded the “Team of the Week” prize by the Evening Herald.
Initial Teams and Mentors..
Under-10a Football – Paddy O’Rourke, Brian Goggins, Frank Maguire
Under-10b Football – Mick Wren, Tony Quinn, George Walker
Under-11 Football – Tom Cosgrave, Eamonn Coleman, Edan Cosgrave
Under-12 Football – John Kelly, Maurice O’Connell, Gerry McEvoy
Under-10a Hurling – Tony Quinn, Eamonn Hayes, Tom Mahony
Under-10b Hurling – Paddy Lawlor RIP, Ollie Quinlan RIP
Under-12 Hurling – Chris Grace, Pat Morris, Tom Kennedy RIP, Eamonn Mannion, Eamonn Lawlor, Henry Darcy RIP
The club was initially called Ballinteer Gaels but the name was changed to St. Johns Ballinteer before formal registration. It was later changed to Ballinteer St. Johns in order to secure first place alphabetically in the Club Notes in the Evening Herald and Evening Press.
The crest was designed by Michael Wren. It depicts a combination of the Three Castles (Dublin Crest), Eagle (emblem of St. John the Evangelist) and the Celtic cross (GAA emblem).
The club colours were initially registered as the saffron and white of Antrim. When the first order for the jerseys was placed; there was a three month waiting period with O’Neills. Tom Cosgrave was tasked with achieving a faster delivery. He visited various sports shops in the city and came across a spare set of jerseys in tangerine and black at a bargain price as money was tight at the time, the newly elected treasurer settled on the bargain and received a frosty reception on his return to Ballinteer. But soon, the colours were accepted and the tangerine and black became our much loved club colours.
Marlay Park was the initial venue for home matches. The then Dublin County Council agreed to make the two juvenile pitches at Broadford available to the club in 1983. The club also had the use of a private pitch for adult teams from 1984 in Woodpark, called Pairc Ó Loinsigh after the late Barney Lynch. It was to become known among the members as “Iodine Park” due to the risk represented by the deposits from the grazing cattle that had to vacate the field for matches. It cost £30 to have the grass occasionally cut and a weekly collection of “grass money” was made from adult players to fund this.
Pairc Ó Loinsigh was lost to the Kingston housing development and the clubs premier team moved back to Marlay. However, the Loreto Park pitch became available, with its adjacent dressing rooms and the club adopted it as new home for adult matches. This was to remain the case until we moved to our new senior pitch in Marlay in 2005 to complement the new clubhouse.
For the first few years, club meetings were held in the Beavers pub and later in the back lounge of the Coach House. AGM’s were held in the conference room of St. Johns Parish Church. Following renovations in the Coach House, meetings were moved to “Phill’s-Loft”. The club then moved to Ballinteer Community School for a period before moving to Áras na nÓg in 1996. The 21st AGM was held in our own Áras Naomh Eoin in December 2003 and all our meetings have been held there since.
Áras na nÓg..
In the early days, togging out was “au natural” with the only shelter being provided by available trees and bushes. When we moved our juvenile teams to Broadford Park, the Council provided a pre-fabricated building with two small dressing rooms. However, during the winter storm of 1985, the entire building was blown across the road into the grounds of Ballinteer Community School. The various bits and pieces were gathered by club members and stored until the council agreed to their re-assembly. This time they added concrete corner anchors for stability. However, in March 1993 another storm had the drsssing rooms on the move again, crossing the road and ending up on the trees opposite. Enough was enough and exasperated club officials decided to pressure the Council for permission to build a permanent structure. In November 1994, Gerry Murphy announced to the delighted Executive Committee that he had secured permission from the then Dublin County Council to contrast what is now known as Áras na nÓg. The estimated cost of the building was IR£40K and the club decided to employ the “meitheal” principle utilising the skills available within the club membership while cutting costs to the minimum necessary for materials and service connections. The building was completed in Spring 1995. One of the 4 dressing rooms were reserved as a meeting room for club meetings.
With the growth in playing numbers and ambition to win at the highest level, there was a need for a dedicated winter training facility as we were not allowed to train on Council pitches. After numerous false dawns, an agreement was reached in 1997 to construct an 80m by 40m floodlit whinstone pitch on the grounds of the Ballinteer Community School. The agreement included for club usage of the facility outside club hours in return for the club constructing the facility. The pitch was completed with significant voluntary club effort and was officially opened by Joe Mc Donagh, GAA President, in 1998.
The club’s biggest undertaking was undoubtedly the completion of our very own clubhouse on the Grange Rd. The planning for this project commenced in the early 1990s with an approach to Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council seeking their agreement sliver of new road cut-off land to the club for use as a clubhouse site. When first mooted, the site was part of the old Grange Road but protracted negotiations resulted in Council agreement. Planning permission for the 11,000 m² building was secured in 2002 but work could not proceed until the land became available on construction of the Green Route. The time was used for active fundraising and construction commenced in 2002. Even though construction was completed and the building brought into use at the end of 2003, the official opening by An Taoiseach, Mr Bertie Ahern, TD did not happen until 8th May 2005. The €2.4 million project cost was funded in equal measure by fundraising, membership contributions, National Lottery funding / GAA Grants and bank borrowing.
All Weather Pitch..
The training pitch at Ballinteer Community School served the Club well but the growth in the number of players and the increasing standard in all codes meant that a much larger facility was required for winter training. The redevelopment of the Ballinteer Community School Campus and the construction of a new state of the art school presented an opportunity to extend the successful training pitch partnership model to a full size flood lit all weather synthetic pitch. The Club duly prepared a detailed proposal which was presented to the School Authorities in 2006. It was subsequently approved by the school and the Department of Education and Science. The Club got the necessary Planning Permission in 2007 but construction was delayed until Summer 2009 due to delays in completing the new school. The new facility was finally completed in early 2010 and Officially Opened by Mr Christy Cooney, GAA President on 13th February 2010. The Club fundraised over 50% of the €1m cost with the remainder coming from grants from the National Lottery, the Leinster Council of the GAA and the Department of Education and Science.
By the end of its founding year, the club membership had reached 100. A total of 4 Juvenile Football teams competed in that season in the Dublin South East Football League. Hurling was soon to follow, as was Camogie in 1987, and Ladies Football in 1998. Club growth is shown in the table below.