The Dr Crokes Club has entered it’s 3rd century of unbroken service to the Gaelic Athletic Association, Killarney District & County of Kerry. It is amazing that a Gaelic Club, founded in 1886, during English Rule, could have survived a time that is looked upon as poor & war torn, with risings against the establishment of the time – a civil war & two world wars.
During the early years the Dr Crokes had national heroes in politics and some prominent members spent time in English prisons. Also in those years, the Club was very much involved in the rise of football in Killarney & Kerry. John Langford, Club Captain, was one of the Committee members at the inaugural meeting of the Kerry County Board. The Club lost the first Kerry County final in 1892 to Laune Rangers in what was agreed by all “to be one of the finest matches ever witnessed”. We won the County Final in 1901 when Dick Fitzgerald made his appearance at 17 years of age, and with him in command the Club went on to win three more, in 1912, 1913, & 1914. But it was with the County team, that the Crokes really came into the National arena, with Dick Fitz & six club mates who backboned the team that brought the first All Ireland to the Kingdom in 1903. Former Club Captain & Chairman, Eugene O’Sullivan, took charge of backroom affairs as Chairman of the Kerry County Board 1903-1908 and this set up went on to capture four more titles(1904, 1909, 1913 & 1914) that gave the Kingdom a kick start that never slowed down again. Thinking back on these heroics is also a reminder of Club players who won All Ireland medals over our own 123 year history, having at least one player on the first 20 winning Kerry All Ireland teams, who were all household names all over the country in their own era e.g. Paul Russell, Dee O’Connor, Tim O’Donnell, Bill Landers, Billy Myers, Teddy O’Connor, Dan Kavanagh, Tadhgie Lyne, Tom Long, Donie O’Sullivan , Brian Clarke who when this futile exercise of picking “The Best Teams” is pursued – the only problem is, not who to select, but whom to leave out. Other Club players who may not have won an All Ireland medal but did the Club & County proud, such as All-Star Winner, Connie Murphy and in the new Millennium the Dr Crokes are still producing Kerry Senior Footballers - now we have what must be a clone of Dick Fitzgerald in Colm “Gooch” Cooper, and his team- mates Eoin Brosnan, Kieran Cremin, and Kieran O’Leary.
In addition to the Kerry players, the Dr Crokes Dr Eamonn O’Sullivan trained eight All-Ireland winning teams in 1924, 1926, 1937, 1946, 1953, 1955, 1959 & 1962. In more recent times, our own Pat O’Shea did the business again for the Kingdom, by winning a Munster Title (2007) and an All Ireland Title (2007) in his two year term. Add small Jer O’Leary, Chairman of the Kerry selectors through the 1920’s & 1930’s and famous G.A.A. historian; Michael O’Connor, County Development Officer who did so much for Club facilities around the County and went on to become Treasurer & Chairman of the Munster Council. During this time, he was also Secretary and Chairman of the Fitzgerald Stadium; Murt Galvin, Treasurer of the County Board for many years, and now Patrick “Tatler” O’Sullivan carried on the work as County Development Officer, and is presently a Financial Officer for the Fitzgerald Stadium Project and Vice Chairman of the Kerry County Board.
Dr Crokes have had four green playing fields – the first in the Cricket field, Flesk Bridge, up until the 1930’s. In 1936 the magnificent Fitzgerald Stadium was built by Dr Croke Club members in memory of Dr Croke & Kerry Legend, Dick Fitzgerald. In the past 20 years, two new playing complexes have been acquired and developed by the Club at Deerpark & Lewis Road. Lewis Road has in the past couple of years been developed into a state of the art facility to cater for our ever increasing number of teams.
Dr Crokes clubmen have published six books – Dick Fitzgerald’s “How to play Gaelic Football” (1914;, Dr Eamonn O’Sullivan’s “The Art & Science of Gaelic Football” (1958); the Club’s Histories – “Dr Crokes Gaelic Century” (1886-1986) and “Decade of Glory” (1986-1996); Pat O’Shea’s co-authored “Gaelic Football, Training Drills” (1996) & Fr Tom Looney's "King in a Kingdom of Kings 2008".
In the domestic scene, our Senior Team had lean times after the 3-in-a-row, which was surprising, as they had the pick of some top class players. Some years, they played on their own in the County Championship and other years they played in a divisional set up. The 1950’s saw a big improvement, when we became East Kerry Champions once again. Following on from Jackie Looney’s Juvenile structure of the 1960’s we were again becoming a strong Club in the County, going on to win Division 1 County Leagues, and two County Championships, 3 Munster Championships and the prestigious All Ireland Club title in 1992. This had been a good thirty year spell, but by missing out on more success by just a kick of a ball on numerous occasions, led many members to feel we had under achieved.
Looking back now in this new millennium, would the men who gathered together under a gas light on November 2, 1886 be proud of the achievements of their club and the way the Association has projected itself. Hopefully they would, and maybe aswell appreciate the additions to the one Senior Team that started it all. Now the Club has an “A” & “B” Senior Team, U-21, Minor, U-16, U-14, U-12 & coaching every Saturday morning for the U-6, U-8 & U-10’s. Camogie was a game the Dr Croke Ladies were very proficient in the 1920’s/1930’s. Now the ladies are very much into the football, showing the same expertise & skill and forging a name for themselves in the County and already Under Age players have gone on to represent Kerry and have won All Ireland medals U-14 & U 16. Of course, the ladies had always been in the administrative side through the years, playing a very important role in the social side of the Club. Hurling, which played such an important role within the Club in the 1920’ & ‘30’s has been revived and organised by a committed and dedicated group who are developing an underage nursery for the future of hurling in the Club. It is worth noting that all teams wearing the Black & Amber of the Crokes have brought honour & glory to the Club by putting Dr Crokes to the forefront of the GAA.
In the administration side, where on occasions through the years only one man was running affairs, the officers now have a number of sub-committees to help stream-line so many aspects of the Club today. In a time where mobile phones & computers are a necessity, life seems a long way from the men gathered around the gas-light, but we hope the ideals are still the same.
Dr Crokes I.T & Website Story
At the 2009 AGM of th Dr Crokes Club, held in the Clubhouse on January 20, 2010, the Secretary Áine McMahon made special mention in her report of the huge breakthrough the website had made during 2009, when our Club was the first in the country to show live matches on the site. The first transmission was the County League game v An Gaeltacht on September 5, 2010 and what a tremendous success this venture was.
But one must remember that this was just another phase in the Dr Croke I.T & Website story, which was founded in 2001 and was one of the first clubs to go on-line through Google.
Gerard Looney and Brian O'Callaghan were the main men behind the project - Gerard was the technician and Brian was the operator. They formed a Club Committee of Eamonn Fitzgerald, Jackie Looney & Paddy O'Shea and it all began in the Secretary's office with one small computer in September 2001. The following is the I.T report for the 2002 AGM, held on January 23rd, 2003.
Dr Croke World Wide Web
The Club Website celebrated its first birthday in style in the Clubhouse on September 2002. Over 1,000 people log on to the site each month. The Dr Croke diaspora sent messages to us from 41 countries.
Funded by local sponsors who advertise on-line, the website is self-supporting. Revenue earned in 2002 was used to open an office in the Clubhouse and purchase a whole new range of I.T equipment. We appeal to all members to email pictures, match reports, team news and other Club news to email@example.com. Some Croke person will be glad to read the news.
The work programme for 2003 will provide for updating the data-base and the possibility of online shopping for Club merchandise. I.T training has been organised for February for any Club members who wish to avail of the service - you can start from Ground zero! Contact Gerard Looney, Brian O'Callaghan or Eamonn Fitzgerald
A better I.T room was constructed by Gerard and Brian in the old store-room of the Main hall, which was fitted out with new shelves, worktops and the up to date I.T equipment. As the "Notice Board" was the big outside contact, having Club control on what was put on-line was very important and when this was secure things just took off.
The re-action from Crokes & non-Crokes around the world was really exciting and congratulations rolled in - especially from old members because it was the first time they had direct contact with their Club since they had left Killarney and for many this was a long time previously.
The I.T training for Club members duly went ahead in February 2003 - organised by Gerard & Brian, with the assistance of Course Co-ordinator James Cronin, which was held at night in the Community College and overseen by teacher Tom Looney. The first session covered:
1. Operating Systems and hardline terms
2. Using the Computer and file management
3. Introduction to Word Processing
4. Systems control and Software application
5. Email and Internet introduction
The Dr Crokes Website was involved in all aspects of the club through the first decade of the millenium. Screens were set up at AGM's and Socials showing items of interest such as Clubhouse and Ground development and football & hurling played such as remembering the first County Championship win of 1901, and celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the All-Ireland Club Final win of 1992, New members on the I.T Committee were Breeda Neeson and John Keogh, and Deborah Ann O'Shea was consulted with regard to making Club merchandise available online.
The following are extracts taken from I.T reports for our AGMs:
"All production work for the 1903 Centenary of Kerry's first All Ireland success and all presentations to the relatives of Croke men connected to that great occasion were instigated by the Club Website Committee members. The County Board did not see fit to celebrate this great occasion throughout 2003 - those who drink water should remember with gratitude those who dug the well!"
"937 visitors to the Croke Website on one day. Since we went on-line a total of 53,319 hits have been registered on site as of today, 22 December 2004."
"Google rates the Dr Croke Website as the 213th most popular website in Ireland. 18,963 logged on in 2005. Most unusual vistitor was from Easter Island, in the Pacific. The average visitor clicks on 3 pages on the website. John Keogh puts on the Lotto results every Monday and the Golf Society maximises the value of the site for competition entries and results."
So when the new extension to the Clubhouse was started in 2005, a fist class I.T room was in the plan, and with John C O'Shea's expertise on board, the Club was in a great position to know exactly what was required as regards cables and fittings, and a first class connection was assured - the Dr Croke Club enter another era in Website videos that take the Club forward into the 125th celebrations.
compiled by Paddy O'Shea
“Ar scath a cheile, a mhaireann na Crocaigh”