The Early Years:-
In 1888 Clonoulty won the first ever county hurling title. Clonoulty were the only West Tipperary side to affiliate for the county hurling championship. They were called the ''botheen men'' which was apparently a reference to the shape of their hurleys and Canon Fogarty had an interesting quip that the ''botheen men'' was outlawed 'lest Clonoulty should smash every hurley'.
In there opening game Clonoulty defeated Gortnahoe and then put out Upperchurch in the second round. Silvermines were the next to fall to the ''botheen'' and that set up a final between Clonoulty and their neighbours Boherlahan. The sides apparently had met twice already in tournament games with Clonoulty winning at Nodstown and Boherlahan prevailing at Moheragh. Now they were to decide the championship of Tipperary in a game to be played at Thurles.
''The coveted laurels of the hurling championship of the magnificent Tipperary have alighted on the brows of the lucky Mountaineers of Clonoulty''. Thus began 'The Cashel Sentinel'' report on the second ever county final which Clonoulty won on the score 1-1 to 0-1. It was, according to canon Fogarty, 'fierce hurling' but the 'Sentinel' had a more scathing comment on Clonoulty's win. 'Questionable victory', announced their heading and the reporter certainly didn't mince his words as Clonoulty's tactics found disfavour.
There is no by-line to identify the 'Sentinel' reporter, which may be as well when you read the content. ''As far as the score is concerned Clonoulty won but certainly not through superior hurling. Neither can they boast of such honest play, such even temper and unreserved impartiality as the men of Boherlahan. On one had was the temper, most vicious which even the presence of the clergy could not control while on the other hand was a quiet determination and an exalted courageousness which won the admiration of every one present''. The report concludes; ''Clonoulty won the match but irretrievably lost their character as honest hurlers and even-tempered men while Boherlahan splendidly maintained the reputation which their character all round and honesty earned for them''.
Perhaps the reporter was a Boherlahan
man!. Anyway as county champions Clonoulty went forward to the Munster championship
where they played Tower street of Cork at Buttevent. According to Canon Fogarty
the Tipp champions won by 2-1 to nil but the game was unfinished and when
the Cork side was granted a refixture at Chairmee Clonoulty refused to travel
and there ended their bid to emulate the Thurles side of 1887.
It would be 101 years before Clonoulty again played Munster championship hurling following their second title in 1989.
The Clonoulty panel of 1888 :- Thady and John Ryan (Derrymore), Pat Butler (Cloneyharp), Tom and Pat Harney (Cloneyross), John Dwyer, Patsy Hennessy, Will Kennedy (Milltown), martin Condon, Ned and Patsy Kennedy (Clogher), John Murphy and Joe Gould (Clonoulty), Jimmy and Tom Byrne (Coolanga), James and Tom Dwyer, James Garrett, Dan and Pat Ryan (Ballagh), Con Ahearne (Glenough). Subs: Will Ryan, James English, Jim Quirke, James Ferncombe, Tom Hennessy.
For some unexplained reason, Clonoulty, the county hurling champions of 1888, did not defend their title the following year. Curiously the Clonoulty hurlers were not seen in the County Championship since their winning year of 1888, but there is encouraging mention of them in 1897. early in March of that year they played a challenge game against Holycross at the foot of Clogher Hill. Clonoulty won the game, which was refereed by Owen Davern, by 2-10 to 1-2 and ,according to Canon Fogarty, at the County Convention, Pat McGrath, chairman of the county board, congratulated Holycross and Clonoulty for returning to the limelight.
In the inaugural football championships Rossmore were the sole representatives from West Tipperary , they eventually bowed out to the ultimate winners, Fethard, but not before they had beaten Upperchurch, a team, according to Cannon Fogarty, who ''had a reputation for bursting footballs!''. Rossmore incidentally, called themselves 'John Dillons' and were managed by Tom English.
In 1919 the most significant West Tipp achievement was Clonoulty's victory in the Mid Junior championship. In the final, which wasn't played until 1920, Clonoulty defeated Dundrum with the following team: Matt Morrissey, Denis McGrath, John and Paddy English, Jerry Gould, Pat Kennedy, Tom Casey, Mick Stapleton and Stephen Farrell. The county championship in junior hurling also went to the mid but it involved a Mid selection defeating the North by 7-2 to 0-1. Clonoulty was represented on that team by Jack Ryan (Thady), Pake Mahony, Dave and Ned Carew, Jack Hayes and Willie Quirke.
In 1924,in the Mid junior hurling championship there were fourteen affiliations, an indication of the resurgence of club activity now that the troubled times were over. There were entries from Cappawhite and Dundrum but the honours went to Ballagh -Dan B. English's flock, according to Canon Fogarty. They defeated Boherlahan, 6-0 to 3-3, in the final played in Cashel. The Ballagh team was:- Dave and Ned Carew, Mick Ryan (Fox), Joe Gould, Jack Hayes, Willie Dwyer, Pake Mahony, Tom Duggan, Jim Browne, jack and Jim Ryan, Lar Doyle, Denis McGrath, Matt Morrissey, John Ryan, Jim Garrett, Ned Coman. In the county semi-final Ballagh's Mid selection defeated North division by 3-3 to 2-4 and they went on to defeat the South (Cashel selection) in the final. Ballagh was represented on that Mid selection side by Dave Carew, Jack Hayes and Denis McGrath.
In 1936 the Clonoulty G.A.A grounds were given to the club by the Land Commission.Clonoulty won the West Junior hurling final in this year but were defeated by Boherlahan in the County Final, played in 1937. Clonoulty went senior in 1937 and were beaten in the west final by Cashel who also beat them in the 1940 fianl.Clonoulty returned to the junior grade in 1944 and won the west final. Having returned to Senior hurling they were victorious in the west senior league in 1945 and 1950. In 1951 Clonoulty won the West senior hurling final but were beaten by Holycross in the County final,5-15 to 1-4. Rossmore broke away from Clonoulty in 1953 and went Junior while Clonoulty remained Senior grade.In 1957 the G.A.A pavillion in Clonoulty was completed by voluntary labour under the direction of Rev. P.Cooney C.C - J.J Kennedy