Club History

St Patricks Portaferry GAC Hurling Club

Portaferry GAC (Irish: Port An Pheire) is a GAA Club in the East of Down in the Ards Peninsula. It is one of three Senior Hurling Clubs in Down, the other two being Ballygalget GAA and Ballycran GAA.


The depth of the hurling tradition in the Ards can be gauged from the fact that the game was first played on the Peninsula as early as 1900 by Portaferry Carraig Uladh.

But it was Ned Purcell, an agricultural inspector from Tipperary, who laid the real foundations between 1912 and 1917. His influence not only left Portaferry with the Tipp colours, but also Tipperary skills and love of the game.

Locals such as John Emerson, John McCullough, John and Eddie Dumigan and Fr Toal carried on where Ned left off and such was the interest that 4 teams from Portaferry competed in the Ards Gaelic Association during the early Twenties. Thiswas rewarded with Carraig Uladh's first S.H.C. title in 1926 and their winning of the Antrim League title in 1929.

The tradition was sustained, in both Antrim and Down leagues in theThirties, but the war years, with travel curtailed, saw the Ards thrown once more back on its own resources, and the formation of clubs in Ballycran and Ballygalget with wholehearted assistance from Portaferry.

The club's modern period date from 1948 when it was reformed as St. Patrick's under the guidance of the Very Rev. George Watson and by 1950 had moved into its new pitch at St. Patrick's Park.

Progress was slow but steady through the Fifties. In 1960 Portaferry gained entry into the Antrim League Division II, won promotion and won its first Down S.H.C. title as St. Patrick's. Many more County titles have been added since and the club have produced many players of inter-county and inter-provincial calibre.

In 2002 Portaferry won their third Down County Hurling Senior Championship in a row as well as lifting the Antrim Division one league title.


Recent Times

Portaferry Hurling club have still competed at the highest level of Ulster Hurling in both Senior, Intermediate and Junior. They are still in the Division 1 Antrim League and last won the county Championship in 2014 and won their first ever Ulster Senior Club Championship on 2nd November 2014.

Notable players

•Gerard McGrattan - Down's only Hurling Allstar

•Noel Sands

•Paul McMullan

•Paud Braniff

•Paul Braniff

•Chris Mageean


Current Hurling Squad (2014 Year Ulster Championship Final - Winners)

No.      Player                         Position 

1          Karol Keating            Goalkeeper 

2          Conor O'Prey            Right Corner Back 

3          Conor O'Neill            Full Back 

4          Caolan Taggart        Left Corner Back 

5          Matthew Conlan      Right Half Back 

6          John Convery           Centre Back 

7          Ciaran Coulter          Left Half Back 

8          Andy Savage            Midfield 

9          Paul Braniff              Midfield 

10        Aaron O'Prey            Right Half Forward 

11        Kevin McGarry          Centre Forward 

12        Eoghan Sands         Left Half Forward 

13        Robert Magee           Right Corner Forward 

14        Conor Mageean       Full Forward 

15        Sean Mageean        Left Corner Forward 

Portaferry Camogie Club History
Camogie was played in Portaferry in the early 1900s


The first recorded instance of a team playing competitively was in the 1940s, possibly 1944/45.
This team had the following members;
Belle Gilmore
Helen Smyth
Maria Braniff
Kathleen Sands
Hester Braniff
Teresa McCormick
Mamie McGrattan
Agnes Leavey
Bernadette Kelly
Nan McMullan
Enda McCluskey
Kathleen McShane
Mary Sands
Belle McKeating

The mentors for the team were Jim Smyth, Eamonn McPolin, Tomas McKeating and Michael Dorrian. The match was against Newry in the Abbey grounds in Newry.

The uniform worn was a black pleated skirt and a white blouse.

Portaferry Camogie Team 1940s
Back Row Jim Smyth, Michael Dorrian, Eamon McPolin, Thomas mcKeating.
Middle Row – Bernadette Kelly, Isobel Gilmore, Nan Mullan, Enda McCluskey, Kathleen McShane, Mary Sands, Isobel McKeating, Helen Smyth
Front Row – Mary McGrattan, Teresa Mckeating, Hester Braniff, Kathleen Sands, Agnes Leavey , Marie Braniff.
Down Camogie Team 1948
 B.Kelly, S.Fitzpatrick (W’point), A.Kerr, R Denvir, U.Denvir, A.Denvir, M.Fay, S.Magee (Kilclief), K/Mallon (Mayobridge), P.Dooey, B.Curran (Newcastle), J.McGrath, S Reevy, J.Conlon, M.Duggan (B’bridge), A.Hollywood (newry), M Kelly (Saul), S.Gordon (Crossgar).

Camogie in Portaferry faded over the next few years. In 1959 there was resurgence when matches were played during the summer months between Portaferry and Ballygalget. These were arranged by St. Dominic's High School pupils. The main organisers were Angela Braniff, Elizabeth Savage, Cathleen Ritchie and Rosemary Mageean.


In the early 60s Portaferry officially formed a team and played friendlies against Ballycran who sometimes cycled into the town to the matches such was the interest in the game.

In 1962, the 2 Ards teams came together to form a county team that played against Antrim in Portaferry an again in Belfast in 1963.

During the 60's there were many people who worked hard to keep the club going;
Gerry Mullan
Sean Savage
Walter Moreland
Harold Ritchie
Liam McQuillan
Jim Blaney
Michael Mageean
Willie McCormick and
Hugh Sloan.

Gerry and Sean have continued to help coach teams and have given their support to the club ever sine.

In 1964 a county league was officially set up; in which there were 7 clubs involved 2 from the Ards and five from the Strangford Downpatrick area.

During the 60's Rosemary Mageean, Elizabeth Savage and Isobel Sweeney attended County Board meetings.

Jean Mullan and Nan Mullan were team captains.

Players such as Mary Wilson, Norah Fitzsimmons, Jean Mullen, Theresa Smyth, Jane McCallum, Maura Dumigan, Marie McNamara and Mary Convery were selected to play for county teams.
Once again the interest in camogie faded for a while then in 1967, Harold Ritchie reformed and renamed the club St. Cooey's Camogie Club, a name that seems to have been lost in recent years.

In the later 60's Mrs Merrick joined the club. The club was able now to compete at 2 levels, Minor and Senior.

Portaferry Camogie Team 1968-69

Sean Savage (manager), Mary McCluskey, Anne Smyth, Marie McNamara, Maura Dumigan, Nancy Convery, Bernadette McCallum, Michael Mageean. Jane McCallum, Eilish McCluskey, Joan Byers, Rev.Fr.Morgan, Isobel Mason, Angela Byers, Selina McNamara.


Mrs Merrick continued her work with the club during the 70.s and early 80.s.

Due to the influence of Mrs Merrick, herself a county player, the Minor team won the League and Championship in 1971 and 1972.

In 1974, Stephanie Kelly and Mary McGrath represented Portaferry on the first ever All Ireland winning Minor team. Both players won a second All Ireland medal in 1976 whilst laying for the Junior County team.

In 1975, the Portaferry Junior team won the championship and during the late 70.s teams competed in both Senior and Intermediate levels.

Down Camogie Minors 1970

Back Rown – Geraldine Coulter, Annette Magee, Elizabeth Murray, marian moreland, Joey Smith, Siobhan McMullan, Maire murray.

Front Row – Stephanie Kelly, Mary Merrick, Pauline Convery, Hessie Lennon, Mary McGrath, Elizabeth Lennon, Anne Maire Wilson

Portaferry minors 1971

Back Row – Ethna Kelly, Vera Edge, Hessie Lennon, Maria moreland, Una Merrick (manager), Elizabeth Murray, Rosisin McCann (ref) Geraldine Coulter, Louise Sands, Annette Magee, Deirdre McMullan.
Front Row – Elizabeth Lennon, Stephanie Kelly, Pauline Convery, Maura McMullan (capt) Siobhan McMullan, Mary McGrath, Betty Smyth, Joey Smyth..

Down Camogie Minors 1972


During the early 80's, Mrs Merrick continued to work with teams and was helped by;

Mary McGrath
Hessie Lennon
Catherine Sweeney
Willie McCormick
Frankie Lennon
Paddy Dohety and
Margaret Lennon, who helped with coaching and administration and did a lot of work to keep camogie alive in Portaferry.

In 1983 the club won the Intermediate Championship and in 1984 the Intermediate League.

In 1985 Portaferry won the first County Feile taking the team to County Wexford a place that will bring back fond memories for some. It was in Wexford that we won the All Ireland trophy for the Best Banner which was made by Kathleen and Catherine Mason and Margaret Lennon.

In 1986 Margaret Gordon, Michelle McKenna and Pauline Orr won Ulster League and Championship medals with the County team. This was the first time Down did the double.

In 1987 the Club won the Minor Championship and the Minor Feis and Dun.

In the late 80.s, we entered Under 12 and Under 14 teams into the County competitions for the first time.

In 1989 we won the Intermediate and under 12 Championship against An Riocht on the same day in Annsborough (Castlewellan).

Down Camogie Seniors 1980s

Kilmacud 7’s 1984

Back Rown Siobhan Mckenna, Gemma Mallon, Deirdre Savage, Elizabeth Moreland, Maria Moreland.
Front Row – Catherine Sweeney, Jacqueline Smyth, Michelle McKenna, Mary McGrath, Marianne Moreland.


During the early 90's the club was very successful.

In 1990 one of the clubs most memorable events was winning the All Ireland Feile in Tipperary, the team was captained by Stephanie Orr.

In 1991, after winning the county Feile again, practically the same team made the same journey to Tipperary but this year the feat of the previous year could not repeated.

In 1992, Mary Jo Mallon and Maria Moreland managed the Under 16.s who won the Azaria Travel Community games in Butlins.

In 1993 they competed in the same competition in the Isle of Man.

Unfortunately there are only 7 players of these successful teams still involved in camogie today; Stephanie Orr (who now plays in Dublin), Kristy McKenna, Siobhan Savage, Karen Murray, Peggy Matthews, Edel Mason and Fiona Duff.

In 1991, two members of the club, Deridre Savage and Dolorus Smyth played on the successful All Ireland Junior team.

In 1998 the club had two players on the All Ireland winning Intermediate Championship and Junior National League teams; they were Deirdre Savage and Edel Mason.

During the 90.s Dolours Smyth, Kirsty McKenna, Deirdre Savage and Edel Mason received County player of the year at various levels. Also during the 90.s Bell Gilmore donated the .Patrick McManus Memorial Cup. to the club for which a senior tournament is organised.

Under 14 Feile Team 1990

Back row – Julie Hinds. Gabrielle McCullough, Marianne Moreland, Kirsty McKenna, Peggy matthews, Fiona Duff, Stephanie Orr, Jacqueline Denvir, Karen Murray, Gemma Mallon, Shauneen Milligan, Aisling McCullough
Front Row – Edel Mason, Maureen Faloona, Louise Mason, Sinead Pucci, Lisa Miskelly, Claire Miskelly, Siobhan Savage.

Under 14 Feile Team 1991

Back Row – Sandra O’Neil, Lisa Miskelly, Aisling McCullough, Julie Hinds, Kirsty McKenna, Peggy Matthews, Jacqueline Denvir, Fiona Duff, Karen Murray,
Front Row – Maureen Faloona, Oonagh Duff, Edel Mason, Louise Mason, Claire Miskelly, Sinead Pucci, Aine Duff, Siobhan Savage.

We began the new century by receiving a Junior Clubmark award from The Sports Council of Northern Ireland. Thanks will have to go to Elizabeth Collins for her continued hard work for the club.

The club won the Under 14 championship in 2000 and Siobhan Savage was awarded the Junior County player of the year award.

In 2001 the club ad 6 players on the South eastern team that won the NI Youth games.

The Club hosted the National Feile in 2000 ad 2002 and in 2002 won the trophy for the Best Dressed team at the National Feile in Belfast.

In 2003 Claire Coulter won the All Ireland under 14 Skills Competition.

Also in 2003 an Ulster League was started for the Down Senior Clubs which was very successful and has continued over the next years.

2004 ' Centenary Year '

The club entered a Junior team to help facilitate all playing members; the team were successful in winning the League.
There were further successes this year with the Under 14.s winning the League, Championship and Feile.
The Tophey for the Best Dressed team was awarded to the Under 14 team at the National Feile in Kildare.

Marian Toner was awarded a Colleges All Star and captained the Colleges team.

The Junior county team had two players on the team from the club; Karen Murray and Fiona Duff, who made it to the All Ireland Finals in Croke Park but were defeated by Cork on the day.

Portaferry Under 14 Feile Team 2004

Back Row - ??, Claire Coulter, Maire Mageean, ??, Paula White, Victoria Donnelly, ???, Emma Murray, Cara McCarthy, Erin McMullan, Orla Ritchie
Front Row - Cooper , Mary Jo Coleman, Nicola Moreland, Louise Doherty, Ciara Mageean, Helen Convery

2006 , to follow


Due to the efforts of Kathleen Mason, Catherine Mageean and Margaret Lennon the club participated in and enjoyed many successes in C.C.D which is an important part of our association.

Catherine Mason won the county recitation in 1981 and 1984.

The Ballad group won the county competition in 1984, 1986, 1989 and 1995; they also won the Ulster title in 1984 and 1995.

Margaret Lennon won the County Solo singing in 1988.

The Novelty act won the county competition in 1986.

The quiz teams were county winners in 1988, 1997 and 1998. The 1998 team of Jimmy Watson, Billy Thomas and Elizabeth Collins also won the Ulster and All Ireland Titles.