The Dundalk Democrat of January 12th 1946 contained the following sports news:
“The big parish of Magheracloone, divided for some years for football, is now making noteworthy efforts as a unit to advance in three grades and hurling. A senior, junior and minor club have elected the following: President, Rev. A.H. Boylan P.P.; Vice-President, Mr. Thomas Martin; Chairman, Mr. P.V. Hoey; Vice-Chairman, Patrick Mc Kenna; Treasurer, Mr. Laurence Mc Dermott; Secretary, Mr. Frank Bellew. Committee: Messrs. Thomas Mc Enteggart, Thomas Gardiner, Sean Martin, Edward Carolan.”
This event brought to an end a period in which there was much division in Magheracloone where football was concerned, with two teams from the parish competing in county competitions one year and none the next.
At the above reported meeting the chairman proposed that the new club be called the John Mitchels in memory of the Irish patriot who, whilst on the run, had according to local legend received shelter from the people of Magheracloone.
Kevin O’ Reilly Park
Back in 1983 it was decided to name our grounds the Kevin O’ ReillyPark.
There was a good reason for this. Kevin O’ Reilly was one of the great Gaels of our parish. Unfortunately his untimely death in 1971 at the age of 49 ended a lifetime of work for the GAA in Magheracloone. From the time he started playing football in 1939 he gave full commitment to the club serving at all levels first as a player then later as chairman, secretary and vice-president, positions which he filled with distinction. Kevin’s van was a well known sight going around the parish to collect players for games. He was instrumental with a few others in ensuring that the new grounds were vested in the GAA.
Kevin, together with Patsy Marron and Master Jim Drury first organised juvenile football in the parish in the early fifties.
One of his last wishes to his good friend Gerry Boyle, before his death, was to ensure the continuing development of facilities and to encourage the youth of our parish to play our game. We believe he would be very proud of the grounds that are named after him.
Kevin O’ ReillyPark was officially opened on 4th May 1997.
The Story So Far
On February 4th 1888, The Dundalk Democrat made the first reference to a football team in Magheracloone. It described a match between Magheracloone Faugh-a-Ballaghs and Carrickmacross Sextons.
Down through the years, teams sprung up in different corners of the parish, from Drumboory Geraldines to Enagh Sarsfields to Diamond Strollers. These teams competed separately in county competitions.
By 1930 these various teams had come together and Magheracloone won the Junior Championship in 1936. The early forties saw the parish divided again with teams representing Upper and Lower Magheracloone. 1946 saw common sense prevail and Magheracloone Mitchells came into being. The team colours at that time were blue and gold, the now familiar black and white did not figure until 1962. The new colours seemed to bring luck for Magheracloone won the coveted Junior Double in 1966.
This was the beginning of a new era for football in the parish with more numbers than ever playing the game. The club drifted between Senior and the newly formed Intermediate grade for the next twenty years without making the breakthrough of winning major honours. Not that we had no success, with several Junior B Championships and Junior Leagues culminating in a first Intermediate Championship in 1979. Relegation to Junior in 1985 was followed by a Junior Championship and promotion in 1987. Two more Intermediate Championships in 1989 and 1992 were followed by a Hackett Cup win in 1997. Our first Senior trophy, the Owen Ward Cup in 1999, was followed by another in 2001.
We finally reached the Promised Land in 2004, when a 1-10 to 0-5 victory over Scotstown gave us our only Senior Championship to date.
On the non-playing side, the club purchased its own grounds in 1962 and a major development was completed in 1970. The success of the Lotto, started in 1994, raised the necessary capital to embark on an ambitious re-development which included a new stand, new dressing rooms, a separate juvenile pitch, a special facility area for special needs persons, the enclosure of the grounds and turnstiles. An electronic scoreboard was also installed. Trees and shrubs were planted to improve the aesthetics of the grounds.
Kevin O’ ReillyPark, named after one of the great Gaels of the parish who was instrumental with others in the acquisition of the grounds, was officially opened on 4th May 1997.
Throughout the years various pitches were used for club and parish league matches.
The following list of townlands where matches were played was compiled in 1997 by the late Jay Duffy, Killygally.