While St. Martin’s GAA Club dates back to 1932 an earlier club bearing that name, and playing in black in white, was established in Murrintown in 1912. It lost the county junior football final of 1913 and then, in 1914, it changed jerseys to green and yellow and its name to Michael Dwyers. Fast forward a single generation and, at a meeting in Piercestown National School in 1932 the Club we have today was formed. Jim Cousins of Knockingall became the Club’s first Chairman while Jim Whelan of Piercestown was the first secretary.
Teams in both codes were created from day 1 and the first titles to come to the Club were minor hurling and junior football in 1937 and 1938. Over the years, we partnered to some success with other clubs such as St. Mary’s of Rosslare and Glynn-Barntown at underage and under 21 levels but since the 1980s we have been able to maintain single club teams in all grades. Today St. Martin’s is among the most successful underage clubs in the county as evidenced regular success in recent years at minor and Under 20 / 21 in both hurling and football. Rackard League titles have been regular occurrences too in recent years with great work done in Murrintown and Piercestown schools.
A most momentous day in our history fell in October 1999 when the senior hurling team, captained by Mark Murphy, won the county senior hurling title for the very first time, beating Rathnure in the final. The trick was repeated in 2008 when Daithí “Bear” Hayes led the team to victory over Oulart-The Ballagh. Then in 2013, the club won its first senior football title, led by captain Daithi Waters, with victory over Fethard. Two more senior hurling titles have followed in 2017 and 2019.
The Club is proud of its steady supply of players to senior county teams in both codes and we’re honoured to have had two of our hurlers awarded All Stars: George O’Connor (1981 and 1988) and Rory McCarthy (1996).
The club only realised its ambition of securing a pitch in a central location in the parish in 1962 when part of the Johnstown Castle Estate was made available to us. However, the grounds could not be fully developed as they were not owned by the Club so, in 1980, an Act of the Oireachtas was passed to allow the sale of the ground to the Club. This meant that in the Club’s jubilee year of 1982 we finally acquired our own grounds. The physical, financial and emotional investment in developing the grounds since then has been immense. The field was prepared and the clubhouse was opened in 1983 at a combined cost of £280,000. This served us well for a generation but then, between 1998 and 2004, an additional 10 acres was purchased from Johnstown Castle, two additional pitches and a hurling wall were added, the bar was renovated, additional dressing rooms and a new reception area were installed and floodlit tennis courts were installed. While the overall cost was in the region of €1 million it has provided us with a platform to enable more teams and continued sporting success. Since then the laying of astroturf on both sides of the hurling wall and the installation of floodlights has made this a critical part of our infrastructure.
Camogie and ladies’ football are integral parts of the Club with the camogie club starting in 1983 while the ladies’ football started in 2002 with their underage section beginning in 2009. The year 2017 was a big one for the club as the senior camogie team won its first-ever county title and our ladies’ footballers won intermediate to gain promotion to senior. Both codes have achieved significant underage success, at both county and Rackard League level, and players from those teams are now backboning our adult teams. The camogie team has since gone on to win 3 county titles in a row, 2017 – 2019, with a Leinster title annexed in 2018 after beating Thomastown in Nowlan Park. Gallant defeat to Slaughtneil of Derry was to be our lot in the All Ireland final on a bitterly cold March day in 2019 but it was an amazing day for the entire parish to see the maroon and white of St. Martin’s flying high in Croke Park.
The support that the parish has given to the Club over the generations cannot be overstated and the generosity of response to the exhaustive fundraising needed for the turn of the millennium development work is hugely appreciated. Grants from the GAA and the National Lottery, plus Sports Capital grant aid from the Government, have been vital. We are blessed to have continued support from our sponsors, the Pettitt family in particular and we are proud to wear the Pettitt’s SuperValu logo on all our jersies.