Round Towers A Brief History
“Kildare Shamrocks” were the team representing Kildare Town at the start of the century. This was the third change of name in Kildare Town’s G.A.A. history. Starting off as “St. John’s” in 1888, they changed their name to “Sons of St. Brigid” a year later. An amalgamation with Tully Shamrocks in the early 1900s gave them the name “Kildare Shamrocks”. The club then had sixty members, led by J. T. Heffernan, Jack Twitchen and Patrick Talbot.
The name changed again in 1906 – 1907, this time to its present name, “Round Towers”. This name was to last into the 1920s when Round Towers won a junior championship in 1911, having defeated Eyrefield by 0-6 to 1-0, their only recorded achievement.
The nineties was a decade of firsts for Round Towers. Ladies football was introduced for the first time in 1998; underage teams were involved in competitions for the first time; the senior team won the Herbert Cup, the Keogh Cup, the National Sevens and the County Senior Championship in a two-year period (1995-96), under Manager Paddy Byrne.
Voted Club of the Year in 1996, they received Best Ground of the Year in 1997, mainly because of the opening of the new clubhouse. The Leinster Club Championship was a new venture for Towers in 1996. They defeated Fr. Manning Gaels (Longford) and St. Joseph’s (Laois) on their way to a semi-final defeat by Eire Og (Carlow).
Glen Ryan became the first Towers man to receive an All-Stars award in 1997.
Kildare won the Leinster Championship in 1998, captained by Glen Ryan. The Kildare team had top players in Brian Lacy, Noel Donlon and Derek Maher. Those players also helped Round Towers to a second County Championship win in two years in 1998 by defeating Clane in the final. Brian Lacy and Glen Ryan’s All-Star awards in 1998 made it a total of three for Round Towers.
Glen Ryan’s part in the Irish teams win over Australia in the Compromise Rules two years in a row (1998/99) completed a very eventful one hundred years in Kildare Town’s G.A.A. history.
1963 proved to be the end of an era for Round Towers, who were defeated in that years final by Clane. It was to be Towers last appearance in a senior final for thirty-three years. However, Towers had some successes in those barren years; 1981 Junior “C” Champions, 1984 Senior “B” Champions, 1988 Intermediate Champions, and 1990 U.21 Champions. Also, some very good Towers men made it into the county team during those years – John O’Loughlin, John Aston, Pat White and Peter McConnon.
Peter was part of another golden spell for Round Towers in the nineties, and again it coincided with another good era for the county team. Mick O’Dwyer’s managership brought a number of Round Towers players onto his team. Along with Peter, there was Glen Ryan, Noel Donlon, Kieran Moran, Leonard Donlon, Brian Lacy, Lorcan Bardon, Shane Daly and Derek Maher.
Round Towers, or Kildare Round Towers had a very successful period in the 1920s which also coincided with the county team’s best period in history. Kildare Round Towers won the Leader Cup in 1923, 1924, 1926 and 1927, and were senior championship winners in 1927, 1928, 1929 and 1930.
The most famous name from that era was Bill “Squires” Gannon, who led Round Towers to a championship win in 1927 and then led Kildare to win the All-Ireland title and the very first Sam Maguire Trophy in 1928.
Other famous footballers to don the Round Towers and Kildare colours in the twenties were Bertie Graham, Tom Keogh, Albert O’Neill, Jack Hayes, Martin Walshe, Paul Doyle and Billy Mangan. Chairman and Secretary during that successful period were Mick Jones from Cleamore Terrace and Robert Byrne from Claregate Street.
An amalgamation between Kildare and Rathangan in 1932 meant a change in the name to “St. Brigid’s”. Also in 1932 Michael McEnerney of the Harp Bar formed a famous minor team made up of Ellistown and Round Towers players and they called themselves the Harps. They won the County Minor Championship in 1933. St. Brigid’s reached the county final in 1935 but lost out to Raheens.
A little bit of Croke Park came to Kildare in 1936 when the famous stadium railings were transported there to be erected for the opening of Kildare’s new football pitch, St. Brigid’s Park.
A change of name again in 1938, this time to St. Patrick’s. They defeated top teams of that year, Clane and The Curragh, on the way to the controversial county final where they received a walk-over against Ellistown. St. Patrick’s then reached the county final again in 1939, but this time went down to Ellistown in the decider.
St. Patrick’s were on their own in 1942 when Rathangan formed their own club. It was Rathangan who defeated St. Patrick’s in their last senior outing in 1944.
Famous Kildare Town men to don the Lilywhite jersey in the thirties and forties were Paddy Hopkins and Jim Mackey. Mickey Byrne was a legend in his own time and a regular on the Kildare team in the fifties.
A team called Kildare won the County U. 14 Championship five years in a row from 1945 – 1949. They produced players who were later to star for Round Towers in the fifties, Jim Daly, Seamus Aldridge, Michael McWey, Eddie Treacy and the O’Loughlin brothers.
In 1953 the name changed from St. Patrick’s to Round Towers; this change brought good fortune and the fifties proved to be the best era since the 1920s. The people behind that successful period were Jim Mackey, Frank O’Connor, Billy Fitzpatrick, Charlie Heffernan, Bro. Gerald Jack Hayes and John Breen.
Towers won their first county championship for twenty-five years in 1954 when they defeated Carbury by 0 – 3 to 0 – 2. The minor team made it a double when they won two in a row in 1953 and 1954.
Famous Round Towers men who helped Kildare to a Leinster title in 1956 were Eddie Loughlin, Paddy Loughlin, Eddie Treacy, Seamus Aldridge and Jackie Fitzsimons. Kildare also won a junior Leinster title in 1956 when they defeated Wexford by 2 – 8 to 2 – 3. Mick Leavy was Round Tower’s representative on that team and he went on to captain Towers to another senior championship title in 1959, when they defeated Kilcock in the final.
In 1960, Towers were defeated in the final by Carbury, but got revenge in 1961 when Paddy Loughlin captained the black and amber men to victory over Carbury by 3 – 8 to 1 – 11.