Silverbridge Harps GAC
A brief History of the G.A.A. in Silverbridge
The William Orr’s
In 1887 Carnally, a wild rugged townland of 800 acres, 57 houses and 223 inhabitants, became the first townland in the parish of Upper Creggan to have an affiliated G.A.A. club named after it, The Carnally William Orr’s.
Although the Orr’s were named Carnally, they were always a Glassdrummond based team. They probably met in the land league hut in Glassdrummond and played in Tinnelly’s Grove meadow near Dunreavy wood.
As there were no county boards at that time, the Orr’s spokesman, Jemmy Murphy of Carnally, travelled to Thurles to represent them at the Annual Congress in November 1887.
The Orr’s players came from the townlands of Legmoyland, Tullydonnell, Carnally, Lurgan, Cornonagh, Mounthill and Glassdrummond. All the games played by the Orr’s would have been tournament and challenge matches.
In 1887 the Orr’s had been established to help heal the rift in the community, caused by the closure of Glassdrummond Chapel in 1886. They survived the unrest caused by the Cornonagh evictions but were unable to survive the condemnation from the pulpit in the wake of the 1888 Annual Congress and the Parnell split.
The first Silverbridge team
The first team to be called Silverbridge was formed in 1906 but, unfortunately, survived only one year. They played in Stoke’s meadow in Dorsey. There was no official team set up again in the area untill the early 1920’s but a number of townlands fielded teams in thee intervening years with varying degrees of success.
Silverbridge affiliated again around 1920. The team, backboned by the McCreesh brothers, workers from Stoke’s mill and reinforced with players from outside the area, reached the county senior semi final in 1924. They continued to do well in 1925 and 1926 with four of the team playing for Armagh Juniors in 1926. Jemmy McCreesh scored the goal that beat Cavan in the Ulster Final.
The success of a Carnally team in 1934 and 1935 led to the formation of Silverbridge Harps in September 1935. In 1936 the ‘Bridge were beaten by Bessbrook Geraldines in the final of the South Armagh Junior Championship and also finished runners up in the Junior league.
In 1937 the ‘Bridge were beaten by Maghery in the county Junior final, having beaten Mullaghbawn in the south final. After a poor start to the championship in 1938 the club again dropped out of football due to emigration and retirements.
The recent years
Silverbridge reformed again in 1942 playing mostly challenge matches. Football in south Armagh was poorly organised during the war years, relying on friendlies and unfinished leagues to keep going.
In 1945 the ‘Bridge lost to Cross in the South Armagh Junior final. At that time junior clubs were alloweed to amalgamate to play in the senior championship. Silverbridge were allocated Whitecross and Mullaghbawn players and reached a senior county final for the only time in their history but lost by two points to Armagh Harps in the ffinal.
In 1948 the resignation of the committee almost put the club out of business yet again, but five players formed a new committee, donated a pound each, and entered the south Armagh Junior league. In 1953 the club were defeated by Mullaghbawn in the final of the Junior Championship. Finally in 1949, the Junior Championship was won with a victory over Ballyhegan. The mid-south Intermediate league was won in 1964 and 1965. Also the Traynor, McAvinsky and O’Hare cups in 1965. Another milestone was reached with the winning of the Intermediate Championship in 1972, beating Mullaghbawn in the final.
Division two of the league was won in 1972 and again in 1984, 1989 and 1991. Probably the greatest achievement on the field of play was winning the division one title in 1992 and again in 1994. Since then the team has struggled to remain in division one of the league and was eventually relegated in 2002.