Laune Rangers – 1891

 JP O Sullivan became All-Round Champion Athlete of Ireland.

JP O Sullivan represented Kerry at the Special Convention of Central Council in Dublin in July.

Pat Teahan, Laune Rangers, was co-opted onto the Co. Board in the place of JP O Sullivan, who had resigned.


The one that got away:

Laune Rangers lost the Co. SFC semi-final to Keel on the score 0-6 to 0-5.

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Co. Senior Football Championship


24 teams entered for the Co. Senior Football Championship, Laune Rangers ‘A’ and ‘B’, Dr. Crokes ‘A’ and ‘B’, Tralee Mitchels ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’, Milltown ‘A’ and ‘B’, Keel ‘A’ and ‘B’, Listowel Feale Amateurs, Cahersiveen, Tuogh, Ballymacelligott, Ballyhar, Iremore, Duagh, Cordal, Castlegregory, Aunascaul, Camp, Foilmore and Dingle.


Rd. 1 on Sun. 15th March at Milltown: Killarney Crokes ‘A’ 2-6; Laune Rangers ‘B’ 0-0.


Quarter-final on Sun. 26th April at Milltown: Milltown 1-2; Laune Rangers ‘A’ 1-2.

With eight minutes to the call of time, the score stood at 1-2 to 0-2 in Milltown’s favour. Laune Rangers then added a goal but it was disputed by Milltown and disallowed by the referee, though the umpire voted it fair. Some outsider then whistled time-up and play was suspended. An objection was then lodged with the Co. Board. The game was ordered to be replayed.


Quarter-final replay on Sun. 10th May at Tralee: Laune Rangers 0-5; Milltown 0-3.

Notwithstanding the score on the previous occasion, the general public did not seem to have their faith in the ability of the Laune Rangers shaken in the least. As soon as the ball was thrown up, Milltown took it in hands and rushed it into Rangers’ territory. It was returned as quickly and, for a considerable time, play was confined to neutral ground. It was evident after the first five or ten minutes that the teams were evenly matched and that it would be a tough struggle. During the first half, Milltown scored two points and Killorglin, though there was a close shave or two, failed to draw blood.

When sides were changed, the general character of the play remained unaltered. The ball was sent backwards and forwards with the regularity of a pendulum. Killorglin notched a point or two and Milltown added one likewise. Towards the end, however, the Rangers seemed to be getting slightly the upper hand and increased their score to five points. Milltown put forward every endeavour to equalise matters but they could not succeed. An objection to the composition of the Killorglin team was handed in by Milltown after the match.

The Co. Board considered the matter at the meeting on Wed. 13th May. Laune Rangers club was represented by Pat Teahan and Milltown by James Murphy. The Milltown complaint was that a man named John O Reilly had played with the Killorglin second team against Killarney and played with the first team against Milltown on two occasions, at Milltown and Tralee. That was denied on the part of Killorglin. It having been ascertained by the Board that the Milltown men knew Reilly well and the Milltown representatives having stated that they did not see fit to object to the man previous to the last game, it was proposed by Maurice Moynihan, Secretary, that the match be awarded to Killorglin. He said that he thought that the Milltown club was trying to play hide-and-seek with the Co. Board. They knew Reilly and averred that he had played with the Killorglin second team, still, when both teams were lined up for the last game, they never uttered a word about him. Had they done so, the matter would have been investigated on the spot and a special meeting to consider it would have been unnecessary. The moment the match was over, and Milltown beaten, the objection was handed in and men had to be drawn from all parts of the county to consider it. He thought if such things were tolerated, the Association would not live eighteen months. Apart altogether from the question of whether Reilly had played with the two teams or not, he moved, on the above grounds, that the objection be not entertained. That was seconded and it was passed, James Murphy dissenting.


Co. Semi-final on Sun. 31st May at Tralee: Keel (Geraldine’s) 0-6; Laune Rangers 0-5.

The two semi-finals were to be played but Killarney Crokes wired in the morning that, in consequence of the heavy downpour of rain, the team would not be able to travel to Tralee. Ballymacelligott appeared on the field at the appointed time and, since Crokes failed to appear, the referee awarded the game to them.

Laune Rangers and Keel then took the field and two finer or more athletic looking crowds, it would be difficult to turn out. Playing with a strong wind, Killorglin scored a point within a few minutes but, with a splendid burst, the Geraldine’s equalised that shortly after. Play then settled down on the Keel side of the boundary and the Rangers added two points. Keel made an occasional dash, but it was of no avail. The ball was returned immediately and the Geraldine’s had to content themselves with defending their posts. There were a few very narrow shaves and Keel could heartily thank their backs that a goal was not registered for Killorglin. As it was, Keel yielded two forty yards kicks, but the Killorglin captain, forgetting the moral of the story about the boy and the jar of nuts, grasped at too much and, like the boy, lost all.

In a short time after, Laune Rangers were awarded a free kick for a foul, within a few yards of their opponents’ goal, but they again attempted the major score and lost, as in the previous cases. Up to the call of halftime, the play was of a most exciting character. Keel put forward every effort to force the ball into their opponents’ lines, but it scarcely ever went beyond the centre mark. Killorglin succeeded in adding two more points and, at the call of halftime, they led by 0-5 to 0-1.

After change of sides, Keel played with great dash and, in less than ten minutes, had scored three points. In five minutes more, the score was even and then the excitement began. Every man of the forty-two seemed to be working for dear life and the determination of the players was reflected in the enthusiasm of the spectators. Keel commenced to press and, after a most exciting tussle in the neighbourhood of the goal post, scored the sixth point, thus leading the Rangers by one. From that forward, the latter worked with a fierce spirit and determination to retrieve matters. They drove the ball and opponents before them in a headlong fashion and it looked very much like as if matters would again be made even, but a long lick from a Geraldine relieved Keel and the Rangers’ further chances of scoring looked rather blue. They had faith, however, as long as the time lasted but the opportunities they had got in the first half were not forthcoming then. The final whistle blew with Keel still ahead by that single point.

A very friendly spirit was displayed throughout the whole match and at the conclusion both teams loudly cheered one another.

Ref: Maurice Moynihan (Co. Secretary).


Ballymacelligott, captained by John O Neill, won the Co. Senior Football Championship by beating Keel Geraldine’s in the final on the score of 1-8 to 0-1.


Football Challenge/Tournament Games


Sun. 25th Jan. at the Athletic Grounds, Tralee: Laune Rangers 1-3; Killarney Crokes 0-2.

The tournament was played in aid of the library of the Tralee Young Ireland Society. Rangers and Crokes, old opponents, faced the referee at quarter to two. The Rangers had won the toss and played with a good breeze in their favour. For the first few minutes, play remained in neutral ground, but the Crokes, getting the better of it, sent the leather over the end-line. After kick-out, Rangers made a good rush and took the ball up in dangerous proximity to their opponents’ goal, but failed to score. Killarney, getting relieved, loose play followed, but the Rangers, again becoming aggressive, a well-directed kick sent the oval between the points-posts, after an ineffectual attempt by the goalkeeper to avert its danger.

After kick-out, Killarney rushed the ball to the vicinity of the Rangers’ goal and, after some very indifferent play, sent it over the end-line. After that there was some even play at midfield but Killarney, getting pressed, had to yield a second point, and, in a few minutes, yet another. The Crokes continued in trouble and, a few minutes before halftime, Patsy Begley added a cleverly made goal to the Rangers’ score.

After changing sides, the Crokes forced the fighting and, in less than a minute, were yielded a forty-yards’ free, which John Langford easily converted into a point. Killorglin then took up the running and attempted to score but sent the leather wide. Even play followed for some minutes, the Rangers being gradually forced to adopt defensive tactics. They soon gave a forty-yards’ free to their opponents, but no score resulted. However, a Ranger, in defending his posts, again sent the ball over his own goal-line and, although the kick from the forty yards mark fell short, the Crokes pressed forward and John Langford secured a point. Even play was the rule until the finish.

Ref: J. D. McMahon (Ashill).


Sun. 8th Feb. at Markets Field, Limerick: Kerry 2-6; Galway 0-0.

The weather was favourable and, as a consequence, the game was witnessed by an immense crowd, a great number of which had travelled to the city from Kerry and Galway by special excursion trains. The field was in pretty good condition, but the players were occasionally hampered by the crowd pressing in. It was plain to all when the oval was put in motion that the Galway men were not near an equal match for their opponents.

During the first half, the Galway men were kept busy at their posts, which, it must be said, were well defended. For a time, play was confined to neutral territory but J. P. O Sullivan, having got an opening, kicked a point. The Galway men again kicked out but the leather was quickly returned and another point shortly afterwards was recorded in favour of the Kerry men. During the remainder of the half, the Galway men were still confined to their own ground and the call of halftime, the score was 0-3 to 0-0 in favour of Kerry.

The ball was again started in the centre, the Kerry men quickly invading their opponents’ territory and scored a goal. Play was again resumed and Kerry, receiving a throw out, the ball was placed within a few yards of the goal and here the strength of both teams was tested. The Galway men did not prove equal to the occasion, with the result that their opponents forced them through the goal posts amidst the plaudits of their admirers. The Kerry team, during the remainder of the half, scored 3 points in quick succession, the Galway men never being able to force their opponents to their own ground. The final score was 2-6 to 0-0.

Kerry: J. P. O Sullivan, (Laune Rangers) capt., Patrick O Sullivan (do) goal, full-backs Jim Curran (Laune Rangers), Dick Langford (Keel) and Tom Looney (Crokes), halves Dan O Neill (Laune Rangers) and John Langford (Crokes), quarters M. McCarthy (Ballymacelligott) and Bill Brick (Mitchels), forwards Dan Sugrue (do), James J O Sullivan (Laune Rangers), James Murphy (Milltown), Pat Teahan (Laune Rangers), Thade O Connor (do) and Con Hickey (Rathmore), left-wing Pat Sugrue (Laune Rangers) and Denis Kelliher (Crokes), right-wing Michael Dowling (Mitchels) and Dan P. Murphy (Laune Rangers), charging goal Paddy O Regan (Laune Rangers) and John Murphy (Laune Rangers). Subs: M. Prendergast (Mitchels), Jeremiah Foley (Keel) and Pat O Brien (Keel).

Ref: John Sheehy. Umpires – Maurice Moynihan (Kerry) and M. Finnegan (Galway).

The team was helped in its training and placing by Tom Curran, Laune Rangers.




Peter J. Kelly (An Ghaillimh) was Uachtarán CLG.

The Parnell ‘split’ had a serious effect on the Association, which declined considerably as a result. Officially, the Association supported Parnell but, in the intense political atmosphere, which prevailed throughout the country, peoples’ minds were diverted from the playing of the games. Brothers went into opposite camps and bosom friends became enemies. Clubs declared for or against ‘The Chief’, and many were broken up in consequence. A special Convention of Central Council was held on Wed. 22nd July at the Rotunda, Dublin, at which Kerry was represented by J. P. O Sullivan. The meeting resolved ‘to support the policy of independent opposition and freedom of opinion under the leadership of Mr. Parnell.’


The Annual Convention of the Kerry Co. Board was held on Wed. 19th Nov. 1890. Thomas Slattery was re-elected as President and Maurice Moynihan as Secretary.


A meeting of the Kerry Co. Board was held on Thurs. 22nd Jan. Pat Teahan, Laune Rangers, was co-opted onto the Board, as J. P. O Sullivan had resigned. The question of the impending Galway v Kerry hurling and football matches was discussed and it was agreed that the matches should be played at Limerick on Sun. 8th Feb. It was decided that Kerry would wear white jerseys and the Board undertook to provide Marino vests for both teams.

A meeting of the Kerry Co. Board was held on Wed. 25th Feb. Laune Rangers were represented by Pat Teahan. The draws for the Co. Championships were made. Laune Rangers 2nd XX1 were drawn against Killarney 1st XX1 in Milltown on Sun. 15th March with John Murphy as referee. Two games were scheduled for Killorglin on Sun. 8th March, Milltown 2nd XX1 v Cahersiveen (Referee Dan P. Murphy) and Milltown 1st XX1 v Tuogh (Referee Pat Teahan).

A meeting of the Kerry Co. Board was held on Wed. 13th May. Pat Teahan represented Laune Rangers. Amongst the matters dealt with was an application from Laune Rangers that a player named Doherty, who had played with Tuogh at the commencement of the championship and had since been cut away from his club, Laune Rangers, be reinstated. That was accepted.

The Co. Board meeting of Sat 5th Sept. decided to organise a tournament between the four Gaelic divisions of Kerry as follows:

North-Kerry (Ballymacelligott, Tralee, Irremore, Lixnaw, Listowel etc.). Organisers – John O Neill and William O Connell.

West-Kerry (Keel, Annascaul, Castlegregory, Camp, Dingle). Organisers – R. J. Moriarty and Pat O Brien.

East-Kerry (Killarney, Rathmore, Ballyhar, Firies, Cordal, Brosna, Castleisland). Organisers – John Langford and James O Leary.

South-Kerry (Cahersiveen, Valentia, Foilmore, Tuogh, Killorglin, Milltown, Cromane, Glenbeigh, Glencar etc.). Organisers – Dan P. Murphy (Laune Rangers) and James Murphy (Milltown).


In a letter dated 27th Jan. 1942, which was printed in the Kerryman, Father John P. Devane sent this brief biographical sketch of J. P. O Sullivan, the athlete, by ‘Celt’: “The captain of the Laune Rangers was, moreover, an all-round athlete of exceptional brilliancy. It is true that we will not find his name frequently amongst our champions and never at all in the chronicles of records. He was a representative of the earlier school of native athletes, who were gifted with natural physical fitness, and preserved that gift by natural, healthy living.

O Sullivan was no specialist and had no taste for prize-hunting. When a meeting took place within a reasonable distance of his home, he competed, invariably with success. But the craft and lust for silverware, that characterised most sports, were repugnant to him, who would far prefer the hills with a hound to the mean contention of the roped enclosures call modern sports’ arenas. He was invited to join the Gaelic Invasion (of America) team in 1888 but he did not accept – a further proof of his distaste for the spectacular side of athletics, though this project had a much higher motive than mere display. The invitation was a tribute to his athletic repute even in 1888, though we have to wait until the succeeding year to hail him as a championship winner, when he captured the running hop, step and jump and the 16lb hammer throw. These were just good performances, but not noteworthy, following the years which had immediately preceded, when his prowess in the field events was at its zenith.

On these, or any other isolated feats alone, it would require explanation why we should designate the Killorglin man an ‘Irish athlete of renown.’ Yet his renown at this time was widely recognised and those, who have studied the achievements of that period, are disposed to endorse the contemporary verdict.

In the early nineties, all-round competitions were held annually and Ireland possessed a remarkable array of first-class individual exponents of our athletic programme – Bulger, Donovan, Farrelly succeeding Pat Davin and filling an interregnum until the arrival of the peerless Kiely and his opponents, Carey, the Ryans, Wood, Murray and a couple more. J. P. O Sullivan flourished during that interregnum and dominated it. He participated in two successive all-round contests (1890 and 1891). In the first, Tom Donovan of Queen’s College, Cork and the versatile Dan Bulger were his antagonists and both beat him. Each of them had experience of intensive competition, which O Sullivan lacked and both were exponents of the best characteristics of native athletic culture. Nevertheless, he was placed in seven out of the nine events and first in two – the running hop, step and jump and hammer, with good distances.

He came to the contest the following August much better equipped in every way for the ordeal. Donovan remained his most formidable opponent and was joined this time by P. Farrelly of Belfast, a wonderful man for his build. O Sullivan scored four firsts – high jump, long jump, shot and hammer – was second in three – the 56lb. sling, hurdles and mile – and third in the two remaining items – the hundred yards and quarter mile. He did better, therefore, than qualify in every item, an exceptional achievement, and the rigour of the contest is shown by the fact, which redounds to Donovan’s credit, that the Kerry man just won by a single point – 31 to 30. The merits of this display had best be appreciated intrinsically, since comparison with other victories is unseemly and largely impracticable.

While it may be possible to foretell the result of the meeting of two well-tried men in any particular event, it is almost impossible to foresee the outcome of a contest ranging over nine or ten items. O Sullivan accomplished stylish performances in that second essay for individual supremacy and its merits stand as enduring tribute to his abilities.

I doubt if J. P. O Sullivan ever trained in the sense we now use that term. His were the fundamental qualities of the typical Gaelic athlete to whom, as Dr. Croke observed, no test came amiss and who loved the open air, a dog or a horse, with all the fervour of Finn and his joyous company of old. O Sullivan made no parade of his endowments. He was more rapt and more happy with his Rangers by the banks of the Laune than in the formal arena of Ballsbridge, where he triumphed. Unaffected enjoyment of the qualities of body and heart, which Providence had given him, was the keynote of his existence and his lamented death brought genuine sorrow to all who had the privilege of his friendship, or who had known him on the field of sport.

The worth and example of this beloved Kerry Gael are easily commended. It is much more difficult to interpret the spirit and the ideals he embodied. He represented a fast disappearing type of young Irishman who took pride in manly vigour when it fitted him to lead his companions on the path of health, happiness and laudable distinction. To cast a stone or take three jumps in the exuberance of a jolly heart was as natural to such men as the laughter that burst forth when a ball was missed or an agile opponent adroitly threw them to the sod. Sport and self are irreconcilable in such temperaments and sport is its own reward with them. These types are few today.”


The following tribute to JP O Sullivan appeared in the 22nd Aug. edition of the Kerry Sentinel: “We join today with our sturdy friends, the Gaels of Kerry, in heartily congratulating JP O Sullivan on his splendid triumph at the All-Round Championships of Ireland, held in Dublin on Saturday last. The competition, which was last year confined to Irishmen, was this year thrown open to the world. Several Englishmen were expected and some Americans, but, as English athletes have more than enough to do on their own grounds to keep their laurels from the more athletic Gaels, they left the competition to the home athletes and the result was a contest between O Sullivan of Killorglin and Donovan of Cork, as exciting, as determined and as excellent in its records as might be expected in a struggle for the National honours. It is but barely giving honour where honour is due to say that the credit of JP O Sullivan’s victory is enhanced by several circumstances which, with his superior marks, stamp him as the best all-round athlete in Ireland, if not in the world. He is the only athlete, since the inception of the championships, who qualified and scored in every event on the programme. Another of these circumstances is the fact that, on account of the competition being thrown open to the world, the hop-step-and – jump, one of O Sullivan’s five mark events, was considered by the committee an exclusively Irish event and was chalked off out of regard to the international status of the tournament. Notwithstanding this weighty disadvantage to the representative of the Kingdom, he came out winner by a score three marks higher than the winner’s score of last year, and by records which show a higher degree of athletic excellence. O Sullivan’s victory is an honour to the Gaelic Association and we commend it especially as a stimulus to the Gaels of Kerry, who have so ably helped in putting their Association in a position in which it can successfully compete with the great athletic associations of any country in the world.”


The Co. Board of the GAA supported Parnell’s leadership. However, many of the clergy opposed his leadership on moral and political grounds. Nevertheless, many clubs passed resolutions supporting him. When he arrived in Tralee, during his whistle-stop tour of the country, on Sun. 18th July, the following Killorglin delegates attended, representing the National League and the GAA: Pat Teahan, William O Brien, James Cotter, J. O Neill, D. O Brien, M. Moriarty, J. O Brien, MJ O Sullivan, J. Heffernan, J. Healy and PP O Sullivan.


The population of Killorglin town in 1891 was 1,176.

The new Church of St. James, Killorglin, was dedicated on Sun. 3rd May. At eleven o’clock the ceremony of dedication commenced, after which High Mass was celebrated by Dr. Coffey, Bishop of Kerry. The foundation stone had been laid on the 6th Sept. 1888 and, as a place of worship had been so badly needed, the works were hurried on with all possible dispatch. The church was in the early Gothic style and cost about £10,000. The architect was Walter G. Doolin, M. A., Dublin.


The Annual Convention of the Kerry Co. Board was held on Wed. 25th Nov. 1891 in the rooms of the Tralee Young Ireland Society. Maurice Moynihan, Secretary, in his report said, “Gentlemen, in submitting to you our report of the working of the Gaelic Athletic Association for the past twelve months, we have every reason to congratulate ourselves upon our present position. The peaceable and orderly manner in which the championships were brought to a close was most satisfactory and creditable to all concerned. Though the champion footballers were unsuccessful, we confidently hope that the Central Council will consider the decision of Mr. Sheehy at Newcastle and give the hurlers an opportunity of defeating their much inferior opponents.

Not only has the Association held its own, but has been increased in as much as that some additional clubs have been affiliated for the coming year. The numerous attendance here today fully testifies to the fact that the coming season will be as fruitful and as enthusiastic as we earnestly wish it to be. We find that the greatest harmony prevails amongst the several clubs throughout the county and that the network, which has been formed through the medium of the Association, has demonstrated itself in the most potent manner.”


Athletics Meetings


The Co. Kerry Amateur Athletic and Cricket Club Sports were held on Wed. 17th June in Tralee. JP O Sullivan, Killorglin, was much in evidence and sustained his old repute. He finished as follows:

Putting the 16lb shot – 1st JP O Sullivan (36ft 11ins.).

Slinging the 56lb without follow – 2nd JP O Sullivan (17ft 11ins.).

Long Jump – 1st JP O Sullivan (20ft).

Hop, step and Jump – 1st JP O Sullivan (47ft 10ins.).

120 yards (Hurdle) handicap – 1st JP O Sullivan (17 secs).

He also competed in the two-mile Bicycle Race (Confined to Kerry).

James M. Coffey, Killorglin, competed in the Two-mile Bicycle Scratch Race for Novices.

Maurice O Sullivan, Killorglin, came in 2nd place in the one mile handicap race.


The 7th Annual Athletic Championship, under the auspices of the GAA, was held in Tralee on 5th Aug. The ground, owing to the heavy rainfall of the preceding days, was in a wretched condition, the attendance small and the performances all-round below average. J.P. O Sullivan did not distinguish himself, winning only the 120 yards hurdles in 17 seconds.


The contest for the All-round Championship of Ireland was held at the Ballsbridge grounds on Sat. 15th Aug., at the sports inaugurated by the Irish Amateur Athletic Association. The results were as follows:

(i) High Jump (standard 5ft.) – 1st J. P. O Sullivan (Laune Rangers) 5ft 5ins, 2nd P. Farrelly (Belfast) 5ft. 4ins, 3rd Tom Donovan (Queen’s College, Cork) 5ft. 3ins.

(ii) Slinging 56lbs. without follow (Standard 18ft.) – 1st Tom Donovan 23ft 41/2 ins. 2nd J. P. O Sullivan 20ft. P. Farrelly did not qualify. (Points – O Sullivan 8, Donovan 6, Farrelly 3).

(iii) 100 yards flat (Standard 11.25 seconds) – 1st P. Farrelly, 2nd Tom Donovan, 3rd J. P. O Sullivan.

(Points – O Sullivan 9, Donovan 9, Farrelly 8)

(iv) Long Jump (Standard 18ft. 6ins.) – 1st J. P. O Sullivan 20ft. 10ins, Tom Donovan 20ft. 6ins, P. Farrelly 18ft. 10ins). (Points – O Sullivan 14, Donovan 12, Farrelly 9).

(v) Putting 16lb shot (Standard 32ft.) – 1st J. P. O Sullivan 36ft 9ins, 2nd P. Farrelly 36ft 6ins. Donovan failed to qualify. (Points – O Sullivan 19, Donovan 12, Farrelly 12)

(vi) 120 yards hurdle (Standard 18.25 seconds) – 1st Tom Donovan, 2nd J. P. O Sullivan. O Donovan led the entire way and won very easily by five yards.

(Points O Sullivan 22, Donovan 17, Farrelly 12)

(vii) Throwing 56lbs. hammer, seven feet circle (Standard 80ft.) – 1st J. P. O Sullivan 100ft 8ins, 2nd Tom Donovan 97ft. 2ins, 3rd P. Farrelly 87ft. 7ins.

(Points – O Sullivan 27, Donovan 20, Farrelly 13)

(viii) Quarter Mile Flat race (Standard 58 seconds) – 1st Tom Donovan, 2nd P. Farrelly, 3rd J. P. O Sullivan. Donovan led the entire way and won easily by 15 yards. There was one yard between 2nd and 3rd. (Points – O Sullivan 28, Donovan 25, Farrelly 16)

(ix) One Mile Flat (Standard 6 mins.) – 1st Tom Donovan, 2nd J. P. O Sullivan, 3rd P. Farrelly. Tremendous interest was centred on this race, which was run at a rather slow pace, but turning the corner for home, Donovan came away and won as he liked. O Sullivan, by coming second and qualifying, won the championship. (Points – O Sullivan 31, Donovan 30, Farrelly 17).

Thereafter, J. P. O Sullivan was referred to locally as The Champion.