At a meeting held in the old Bann Primary School, Laurencetown, on Monday 17th July 1944 marked the founding of Tullylish Gaelic Football Club. Initially known as St Patricks, the playing field was based on Chapel Hill and was named Shamrock Park. The new club was fortunate in having the use of premises in Barrack Yard (where O’Hagan’s tyres are situated now) for changing facilities and irrespective of weather conditions the players changed and walked 500 yards to the ‘park’ on Chapel Hill.
Team selections were recorded on very few occasions and the first one recorded was for a match against Kilclief, on 5th October 1947, it read as follows
J. Murphy, J. Gorman, D. Maley, G.McCartan, B. Murphy, J. Conlon, L. McCartan, M. Byrne, D. McCartan , E. Geoghegan, T. Curran, J.J. Monaghan, P. Feeney. Subs: W. Byrne, C. Murphy, W. Phoenix.
Success came early to the new club for in November 1947 St Patrick’s defeated Kilclief to win the County Junior Championship. Two years later in 1949 St. Patrick’s again won the Junior Championship defeating Ballynahinch 0-3 to 0-2. It is interesting that the chairman of the Ballynahinch club in that year was Paddy McFlynn now president of Tullylish G.A.C.
St Patrick’s was to change its name to Tullylish in 1961 when it amalgamated with another club in the parish, Geraldines of Gilford. The following year the minor team won the Down Minor Championship defeating Downpatrick in the final. The minor team of 1966 also reached the county final only to be beaten by Castlewellan. However the club soon enjoyed success again in 1968 when the Senior team clinched the Down Junior Championship overcoming Drumaness in a very close encounter in Newcastle.
Within a few years, Tullylish was to have its most successful period on the playing field. In the early 70’s Bryansford were at the height of their power and dominated the county in football. In 1973, in a very exciting and nail biting Senior Championship Final, they defeated Tullylish. However, in January 1974 Tullylish turned the tables on this famous Bryansford team. In a league match, played in Tullylish, it what was considered to be one of the best games of club football ever witnessed in the county, the home team won by a single point. A subsequent victory over Downpatrick 2-8 to 1-5 gave Tullylish the 1973/74 Senior A League title, an achievement that has eluded them ever since. In 1973 the same team won the Fr. Davies Shield for the third consecutive year and so were entitled to retain this coveted trophy.
In recent years success hasn’t came as easy for the club, in 1999 the minor team contested the All County Minor League Final only to lose out to a Mayobridge side that had no fewer than five All Ireland winners in their team having achieved national glory the same year in Croke Park.
Pairc na nOg
The club moved in 1973 to its present location on the School Road to property purchased by the parish, and this became the clubs permanent home in 1979 when they purchased the grounds from the new Parish Priest Rev Fr. J. Treanor. Since then the club complex has been built in two stages, with function room, kitchen, committee rooms, toilets and showers. These were completed in 1988, then in 1992 the impressive entrance was completed. The fence enclosing the playing area was replaced with a modern and more attractive appearance. Further development took place in 2000 when all weather training area was developed. The provision of a modern training area with lights has proved to be a great asset providing the club with its own training facilities. Lights on the main playing area have been installed. Finally, in the Spring of 2001 the area around the complex has been made into a spacious car park.
13th May 2001 was an important milestone in the history of Tullylish G.A.C. The club complex was officially opened by GAA Director General Liam Mulvihill. The grounds were officially named Pairc na nOg, highlighting the importance of the youth within the club.
Credit is due to committee members for their voluntary efforts on behalf of the club throughout the years and the complex is a memorial for all their effort.