On Tuesday night, November 2nd 1886, nineteen local men gathered in candlelight secrecy to found the Killarney Gaelic Athletic Association. Straight away they looked for and received permission from the Bishop of Thurles and Emly to name the new Club the Dr. Crokes and the Bishop also honoured the club when he accepted the position of first Patron.

It seems amazing now that a Gaelic Club taking its first steps during English rule could have survived a time that is looked upon as war-torn, with risings against the establishment, a civil war, two World Wars and the ups and downs of Irish lifestyle over the years, could give unbroken service to the Killarney district, the county of Kerry and the Gaelic Athletic Association for so many years.

During the early years, the Dr. Crokes had national heroes in politics and some prominent members spent time in English prisons. One of the highlights of those times was when the Club hosted a Reception and open air town meeting in June of 1894 to welcome back the distinguished Fenian O'Donovan Rossa after 30 years of imprisonment and exile. Reading the Address by the Club Chairman and O'Donovan Rossa's reply on page 21 of the clubs history book, "Dr Crokes Gaelic Century", one can get a clear insight into the thinking of those times.

Humphrey Murphy, Winner of a Junior All-Ireland medal with Kerry in 1914 and star mid-fielder for the Dr. Crokes in that period was later to become the famous O.C. of the Kerry No.1 Brigade during the War of Independence and the Civil War.

John Joe Rice who played & fostered the game of hurling in the Club in the 1920's and early 1930's served as O.C. of the Kerry No.2 Brigade.

The Club was very much involved in the rise of football in Killarney and Kerry. John Langford, the first Club Captain in 1887, represented the the Dr. Croke club at the inaugural meeting of the Kerry Co. Board in 1888. 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”. They won the County Final in 1901 when Dick Fitzgerald made his appearance at 17 years of age, and by keeping that form for more then a  decade, 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 and six club mates, Dinny Kissane, Jack Myers, Flor O'Sullivan, Paddy Dillon, Willy Lynch and Dan McCarthy 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. Other Dr. Crokes players to represent  the county on those winning  teams were - Con Murphy, Tom O'Sullivan, Ned Spillane, Johnny Skinner, Denis Doyle, Johnny O'Mahony, Paddy Healy, Paddy Breen and Jim O'Connell.

The Dr. Crokes affair with the County team carried on right through the decades, having players on the first 20 winning All-Ireland teams, who were all household legends in their own era - In the 20s/30s we had Paul Russell, Bill Landers, Tim O' Donnell, Dee O'Connor, in the 30s/40s Billy Myers (1937, '39, '40,'41), Teddy O'Connor (1946), Dan Kavanagh (1946) and in later years Tadhgie Lyne ('53, '55 & '59), Tom Long ('59 &'62) and Donie O'Sullivan (1962). It also shows that when this futile exercise of  picking  the Best Teams is pursued the only problem is, not who to select but whom to leave out.

Dr. Eamonn O 'Sullivan who trained eight of those All-Ireland winning teams - 1924, '26, '37, '46, '53, '55, '59 and 1962 played and held the positions of Chairman and President of the Croke Club.

Add in Small Jer O' Leary to this company through his involvement as Chairman of the Kerry Team selection committee in the early years, a delegate to the Munster Council,being present when the deal was struck to purchase Jones Road, and as a G.A.A. Historian. Jer played and held most positions within the Croke Club finishing up as Patron.

After the death of the great Dick Fitzgerald in 1930, the club officers and members put their full focus and attention into erecting a suitable memorial in his honour and in the process the football side had some lean years. The Secretary, John Moynihan, kept the show on the road  until the arrival of Michael O'Connor in the mid-'50s and under his stewardship as secretary, the Dr. Crokes once again became a strong force in East Kerry and the County.

Michael played and was club captain in those years, but it was as an administrator he really excelled going on to become Chairman of the Munster Council.

A slight hiccup in the '70s, but lessons had been learned  and decisions were made and with a great youth policy in place the Club went on to succeed in the District, County, Province and to win the ultimate prize - the All-Ireland Club Title in 1992.

In the Kerry football scene during that period, Eamonn Fitzgerald and Donal Kavanagh won National League medals ('72-'73 & '73-'74), Connie Murphy was awarded an All-Star (1989), Brian Clarke won an All-Ireland medal (1997).

Pat O'Shea followed in Dr. Eamonn O'Sullivan's footsteps when he managed the County Team to win a Munster and an All-Ireland title in his two year term (2007- 2008).

But the wheel of life really turned full circle from 2000 on when the Club had what must be a clone of Dick Fitzgerald in Colm "Gooch" Cooper, All-Ireland winning medalists in Colm, Eoin Brosnan, Kieran Cremin, Kieran O'Leary, Johnny Buckley and Fionn Fitzgerald and 4 County Championships in a row (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013).

Patrick "Tatler" O'Sullivan was appointed Chairman of the Kerry County Board in 2012, the first Dr. Croke Chairman since Eugene O'Sullivan who held the position from 1903-1908.  During Patrick's term, in 2014, the Sam Maguire returned to the Kingdom and Kerry's Winning Captain, Fionn Fitzgerald was the first Dr. Croke captain since Dick Fitzgerald's Winning Captaincy of the Kerry Team in 1914.

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. Over the years, two new playing complexes have been acquired and developed by the Club at Deerpark & Lewis Road. Lewis Road has 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) and Fr. Tom Looney's "King in a Kingdom of Kings" (2008).

Looking back now in this new millenium, 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 as well appreciate the additions to the one Senior Team that started it all. Now the Club has 'A', 'B' and 'C' Senior Teams, U-21, Minor, U-16, U-14, U-12 & coaching every Saturday morning for the U-6, U-8 & U-10’s.

Hurling, which played such an important role within the club in the early years, has been revived and re-organised by a committed and dedicated group who are devoloping an underage nursery for the future of the game in the club. This work is apparent with our success in both management and field of play at club and county level.

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 the county. It is worth noting that all teams - men and women - wearing the Black and Amber of the Dr. Crokes have brought honour and glory to the club by keeping the Crokes to the forefront of the G.A.A.

Of course, through the years the ladies have also had a strong involvement in both the administrative side as well as the social side of the Club.

In the administration side where on occasions only one man was running all the affairs of the club, 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 and computers are a necessity, it seems a long way  from men gathered around a gaslight but we hope the ideals and dreams are still the same.

Compiled by Paddy O'Shea RIP 

“Ar scath a cheile, a mhaireann na Crocaigh”

Dr Crokes I.T. & Website Story

At the 2009 AGM of the Dr. Crokes GAA 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 against 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. Crokes I.T. and 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. Crokes 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. Crokes 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 Some Crokes 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 reaction from Crokes and 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 millennium. Screens were set up at AGM's and Socials showing items of interest such as Clubhouse and Ground development and football and 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. Crokes Website as the 213th most popular website in Ireland.  18,963 logged on in 2005.  Most unusual visitor 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 first 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. Crokes Club entered another era in Website videos that took the Club forward into the 125th celebrations.


Compiled by Paddy O'Shea RIP

"Ar scath a cheile, a mhaireann na Crocaighâ"

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