The origins of Manortown Utd FC can be traced back to 1967 when a group of residents got together and started what they called the local leagues in the summer of 1967. These games were played on the greens of Mountdown Park and Hillsbrook Crescent. Two wooden poles were used as posts and a piece of string was used as the crossbar. No nets in those days.
Teams had names such as Tiger Tails, The Braves, The Mini Minors, The Villa to name a few. If anyone has recollections of any other names please let us know. These leagues were organised by Arthur Worrell, Jim Smith, Jim Dunne and Paddy O Sullivan among others. In the summer of 1969, a larger committee came together with the intention of entering the areas of Perrystown and Manor Estate into the schoolboy football leagues. This committee took the “Manor” from Manor Estate and the “Town” from Perrystown to come up with the name “Manortown United”.
The first official games in the schoolboy league kicked off on Saturday August 23rd 1969. Two teams played that day, an under 12 team managed by Mick Genocchi and an under 14 team managed by Brendan Roberts. A third team (under 16) played their first match the next day on Sunday August 24th (which just happens to be the date of our 50th anniversary night). Only kids from the Perrystown/Manor Estate area were allowed play for Manortown in those days.
The club started their home matches in a field beside St Peter’s School up on Limekiln Road, then moving down to the eight acres after a few years. The eight acres was a former quarry and had been filled in. However, it was full of stones and some of the committee, along with a lot of the players, spent many summer evenings picking the stones from the field until eventually it was playable. The first dressing rooms used for matches on the eight acres were Paddy Walsh’s garage at the top of Muckross Avenue and Maura Nolan’s garage on Greentrees Park.
The club had two sets of jerseys at the time, blue and purple, and they were swapped around between the three teams that season. The following summer a committee meeting was held to write the constitution for the club and it was at this meeting that the new official club colours were decided. The meeting was held in July 1970 about a week after the most famous Brazilian team of all time (Pele, Jairzinho, Rivelino, Tostao etc) had won the world cup. A suggestion was made and passed that the Brazilian colours be adapted and the yellow and blue was born. The colours survive to this day. The number of teams increased annually and in the mid nineties we had 21 teams representing the club every season. We currently have 10 schoolboy teams, 2 schoolgirl teams and a very popular academy for the 4, 5 and 6 year olds.
At this point we must mention the names of these founding fathers who are responsible for beginning this journey that left so many happy memories and forged so many friendships for so many kids and adults alike in the last 50 years.
On the original committee we had Arthur Worrell and John Kane. After some research it has come to light that Arthur Worrell was the first chairman of the local leagues but John Kane was the first chairman of Manortown Utd, formed two years after the local leagues.
The first secretary was Pat Herlihy and the first treasurer was Jim Dunne. Other founders included Brendan Roberts, Christopher (Bunny) Masterson, Jack Hughes, Paddy O’Sullivan, Tommy Kiernan, Victor Kinlan, Paddy Hendricks, Shay Barnwell, Joe Perry, Jim Dunne, Shay Doyle, Christy Brennan, Mick Genocchi, Paddy Walsh, Tommy Gavin, Brian Moran, John Courtney, Sonny Duignan. Brian Moran was the manager of the first Manortown team to enter the mini Olympics. Shay Doyle became chairman in the early seventies and remained there for many years. He proved to be a great inspiration and motivator of players. At the start of every season Shay would give a team talk to every team. He made us all feel proud to play for Manortown and he put all the emphasis on fair play and respect rather than winning at all costs.
The two main sponsors of the club at the beginning and for many years were Gerry Reynolds and Eamon Maguire. Gerry owned The Laurels public house and Eamon owned the newsagents beside it which is now the Spar.
After a couple of years new people got involved at committee and management level and made a huge impact on the club over many years. Their tireless work and commitment to the club has to be recognised and we will name some of them here.
Jimmy Swords and Luke Byrne spent the summers looking after the mini-leagues for many years. Thanks to Jimmy, Luke and others the mini leagues have survived to this day and are as popular as ever. Other volunteers who became Manortown legends were people like Gerry Murphy, Stephen Brady, Harry Cruise, Mick Fox, Freddy Carr, Paddy Brennan, Dave O’ Brien, John O’Brien, Paul Cullen, Brian Doyle, Mick Ryder, Wally Meehan, Joey Byrne, Don McMorrow, Freddie Stapleton, Tony Crosbie, Paddy Allen, Joe Betts, Michael Doyle, Myles O’Reilly, Noel Murray and Philip Quinn.
The Noel Murray Cup was a very popular annual match between Manortown and Greenhills boys at under 14 level. Philip Quinn became president of the club in the late 90’s and still holds that position today. Of all the names mentioned above, no one has given more of his time to the club than Dave O’Brien. Dave was with the club at the very beginning and was still working for Manortown up until a few years ago when he retired to Wexford. He is still involved in football down in the sunny south east. Manortown’s loss is Wexford’s gain. We would like to wish him all the best in his retirement.
Mick Fox is another legend who spent many years as secretary for Senior football. It’s no coincidence that senior football was at its’ height during the Mick Fox era. Not forgetting the contribution of Jack O’Byrne, Bobby Lynch and Freddie Stapleton who were responsible for refereeing many great Manortown matches, tournaments and charity games down the years.
As we moved through the years there are so many more names that made great contributions to the club. Most notably Ciaran Flaherty, Bobby Rogers and Martin Spears who, between them, occupied the chairman position for many years. Other people from the latter era that need to be acknowledged are Perry Haughton, Brian O’Connor, Brian Masterson, Eddie and Timmy McGill. Also deserving of a special mention for their work on the committee, managing teams, cutting the pitch, marking the pitch, putting up and taking down goalposts etc over a long period of time were Alan Kavanagh and Shane Doherty. Benny O’Byrne is another who won more Clubman of the Year awards than anyone else before moving to the U.S.
We have had many successes down the years which are mentioned elsewhere, however a, special mention has to be given to Brian Smith, Ciaran Flaherty and Mick Hayes who played a large part as managers in our most famous achievements. Ciaran Flaherty, with help from Greg McQuierns, managed our under 17 team to win the all-Ireland cup in 1984 along with the very prestigious Tab Cup. They beat Home Farm in the final in St James Gate by 1 goal to nil, with the winning goal scored by David O Donoghue. This is despite the fact that Niall Quinn had left the team that year to go to Arsenal. Ciaran, Greg and David were all from a little place in Perrystown called Muckross Park, the home of many a great player to play for the Town (too numerous to mention here).
The same year Brian Smith joined Manortown’s senior team as a player and shortly after became manager. Brian won the Premier League three years in a row and also the Lynch Cup twice. Brian was probably one of the most popular figures ever to play for the club. Sadly, Brian passed away not too long ago and is still missed by so many at the club.
Mick Hayes won the All Ireland Cup and the Paul McGrath Cup in 1995 at under 16 level. His team included one player who went on to represent the Republic of Ireland senior team, Barry Quinn.
Marty Reynolds deserves a mention. In his first year as player-manager of the senior team, he won the Intermediate Division 1A title finishing ahead of second- place Crumlin United. The following season (Div 1) they just needed a point in their last game to finish second and get promoted to the Senior division of the LSL. However, they played the game with lots of injuries, went down to ten men and lost 2-1 in the last minute to miss out by a point. In those days it was two up and two down. Also, we cannot forget Paddy Brennan’s fantastic Under 19 team who came from behind to beat Cherry Orchard 3-2 on a memorable night in Tolka Park.
Bringing us up to the present day, current Chairman Joey Palmer and Vice Chairman Barry Walsh have done more than anyone to keep the club afloat and, since their involvement, the club is moving forward in great strides again. Other people involved now include Mick Noonan (secretary), Paul Roberts (treasurer), Dave Behan, Brian Masterson, Ian Farrell and Aaron Farrell plus a host of managers, assistant managers, coaches and helpers too numerous to mention here.
The space I have left doesn’t allow me to write much more but there is so much more to be written to complete the 50-year history of the club. We could write a full chapter on every person mentioned above. Maybe sometime in the future a few people from different eras can get together to fill in the gaps and write a full history of the club.
I will just touch on a few more events that have made our club unique.
The Manortown senior 7-a-side that ran for 16 summers from 1981 to 1997 is just one example. At its height it was the biggest in the country and teams containing League of Ireland, Premiership and International players arrived to compete.
The Christy Brennan 5-a-side tournament that was played every Christmas in Three Rock Rovers. Players had to be current or former Manortown players to play. It was always a great opportunity for ex-players to meet up again.
Another very popular charity match that was played at Christmas for many years was the Sonny Knowles Cup. This was a match between the married v the singles from the Manortown senior teams. This match drew huge crowds every year and was the highlight of the Christmas holidays. The cup was donated by Sonny and presented by him in the Laurels after the game. The sing-songs and the sessions afterwards were legendry.
Sonny of course played a huge part in the history of the club. Most fundraisers in the early days were cabaret shows held at various venues. Sonny never turned down a request to play and he brought with him many other entertainers who made these nights very memorable and also raised a lot of much needed funds to keep the club afloat. Unfortunately, Sonny passed away less than a year ago, and like Brian Smith, a very popular figure not just locally, but nationally, a true gentleman, he is also sadly missed by all who knew him.
This is a very brief history of the club. We apologise if we have left some people out who deserve a mention.
Here’s to another 50 years of our great local club, Manortown United.