By 1905 Young Islanders GAA Club was formally established. In the same year, Cahirsiveen were awarded the county title when the final against Tralee Mitchels was delayed – the South was rising, and Valentia was rising with them.
In 1907 Valentia Young Islanders faced Tralee Mitchels in the County semi-final. A contemporary account of the game says that “The play, on the whole, was greatly above the average, the footwork at times being really brilliant. In the latter respect, it seemed to us that Valentia excelled, and they used their feet with the precision and accuracy of men had more than a bowing acquaintance with the ‘soccer’ code.” A year later they played Dingle again in the semi-final, but again to no avail.
In 1933, there were three separate teams on the island. Derarcas split from Young Islanders. The third team was the Spring Hallows. Your address on the Island mainly dictated what team you played for. By the end of the decade there was an united front. In 1939 they beat St. Marys to take their first South Kerry Championship. In 1945 they added a second and a third in 1950.
In 1955 South Kerry reached the Co final and Valentia’s brightest son was ready to shine. A Kerry minor lined out, O’Connell from Valentia. Observers were impressed. “For his intelligent kicking and wonderful all round ability, Mick O’Connell will be the toast of Valentia for many a long day.”
Between 1957 and 1964 Valentia won seven South Kerry Senior Championship titles (they lost the ’63 final to Waterville) and were South Kerry minor and senior champions in 1958 and 1961. The 1958 final went to a four-game saga before Valentia beat St. Marys by 2-12 to 1-4 in the third replay. In 1959 the Sam Maguire and Munster Cup (Mick O’Connell being Kerry Senior captain), the Munster Junior Championship Cup (John ’Dasher’ O’Connor captained the Kerry Juniors) and the Jack Murphy Cup all came to the island.
Valentia won the inaugural Kerry club championship (played between divisional champions) in 1964, beating Ballymacelligott in the final. They would undoubtedly have won more but the island was rocked by tragedy when three talented young footballers, brothers Jerry and Jas. Lynch and Tony Murphy, were drowned in 1963.
The closing of The Western Union Cable in 1966 would result in a dwindling of success and numbers in the club. As a result many families were forced to leave the island to take up employment elsewhere. Valentia GAA lost many fine footballers, among them, John Dasher O’ Connor, Raphael Greene, Owen McCrohan and Mick O’Connell. In 1968, the club was forced to declare the island an ‘open area’, as they could no longer field a team.
Have no fear, Valentia were to taste success again and in 1975, a beginning of a new era was among them when they won the Novice Football Championship Final defeating Scartaglin by 1-10 to 2-4 in Killarney. The period from 1979 to 1993 can certainly be considered as the golden era of Valentia football. After losing five consecutive South Kerry Finals (‘73 to ’77) the tide turned in 1979. Mick O’Connell made a comeback in 1979 and helped Valentia to another South Kerry title. Between 1979 and 1993, Valentia won nine South Kerry Championship titles, seven South Kerry League titles, the County Junior (1981) and Intermediate Championships (1993) and the County Club Championship.
Bord na nÓg
Valentia thankfully at present can field a team on their own at U8,10 & 12 level but sadly due to dwindling population they are joined with near neighbours Skellig Rangers at U14,16 & minor level. The Youth are our future stars and many volunteers are on hand to develop and nurture these young stars into future footballers. Mark Lynch was awarded the Denis Lynch Youth Volunteer of the year recently for his work with under age football.
Valentia have always supported and promoted young players and reaped the rewards. The U12 South Kerry Championship win in 2000 had a special significance for the club – the cup was named after Gearoid Lyne, who had been a stalwart of that talented team until passing away four years earlier. No club or community is measured by cups or medals, but that faithful day in Portmagee when that talented under 12 team beat Waterville in the final, with the help of a Brendan O’Sullivan goal in the dying minutes was Valentia’s day. The Gearoid Lyne cup was to cross the bridge for the first & sadly only time since it was first introduced by the Lyne family. Gearoid was smiling down from heaven when his cousin Mark Lynch accepted the cup from Micheal Lyne. Many tears were shed that evening with fond remembrance of the Island’s boy Gearoid!
In 2004 the U14s won the Paddy Gallagher South Kerry U14 Cup – Paddy was a Valentia stalwart and a great advocate for underage football on the Island.
Roll of Honour
Munster Junior B Football Champions 2015
Kerry Intermediate Football Championships: 1986, 1995
Kerry Junior Football Championships: 1981
Kerry Novice Football Championships: 1975, 2014
South Kerry Championships: 1939, 1945, 1950, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1993, 2000, 2005