Cortown GAA – A History from 1969 – 2000  (Taken from The Parish of St. Ultan: Bohermeen, Cortown and Boyerstown – The Great Jubilee Record of 2000)

Cortown GAA Club was founded in 1969, however the history of Gaelic games in the area goes back much further. Several clubs under various names preceded Baile Corr. In the early 1000’s there was Girley Shamrocks, while at the same time Fordstown True Blues, comprised mainly of R.I.C. men from the local barracks fielded teams. Later on in 1926 Girley St. Reids was formed. In 1947 it was the turn of Fordstown. They won the Junior Championship in 1954. Fordstown disbanded in 1959 after contesting the previous years Intermediate Final. For the next ten years players from the area played with neighbouring clubs e.g. Kells, Bohermeen, Martry, Athboy etc. There are reports of Hurling & Camogie having been played in Nugentstown and in Cookstown in the 1920s but unfortunately the playing of these games did not continue and records are not available of their exploits.

Cortown was launched in January 1969 with great enthusiasm. The first officers were, Brendan Duffy President, Ben Ward Chairman, Johnny Meehan Vice Chairman, Johnny Henry, replaced by Pat Keane, Secretary, Paddy Henry Treasurer. Committee members were Bill Dunne, Billy Rennicks, Tom Brady, Paddy Rennicks, Paddy Tully, Jim Flanagan, Michael Rogers and Ned Neary. A great run of successes brought the club to the Junior final in 1970 in which they lost to Ratoath and were then promoted to Intermediate status. Unfortunately, this early promise was not maintained and the club were back in Junior ranks in 1972. A defeat in the Division 3 final was followed by the clubs first Championship victory when they beat Bohermeen in the Division 3 final on the 11th October 1981 with Brendan Cahill of Navan O’Mahonys in charge of preparations. The winning score was a goal from a penalty scored by our great full back Tom Caffrey. The success was followed by great scenes for jubilation in the area with bonfires at Cortown, Fordstown etc. The winning panes was ; P. Woods, M Rourke, S. Loughran, T. Caffrey, F Flanagan, L. Keane, Derek Brady, T. Loughran, P. Brien, K Keating, K. Casserly, M. Coyne, J. Hogan, F. Smith, C. Sheridan, F. McFadden, T. Ward, J. Keating,  J. Casserly, K. Barry, J. Meehan, David Brady, E. Brady, B. Rourke, G. Daly, F. Higgins and R. Clarke.

Once again however there was a lull for a few years during which it looked as if we might join numerous other clubs in the county who could not and still have not won the Junior Championship. Under the tutelage of Pat Coffey the prospect of the big breakthrough was maintained with several tournament victories. Finally the Junior final was reached again in 1987 where defeat by Moynalty was the result. However ever since that the club has been reaching Semi Finals and Finals at various grades regularly. The Under 21 Championship was annexed in 1990 with the following players; K. Timmons, P. Keane, L. Rennicks, B. Henry, B. Sheridan, P. O Brien, J. Henry, D. Henry, K. Henry, C. Henry, J. Rennicks, T. Coyne, J. Murtagh, C. McGrath, M. Henry, A. Heary, C. Gaynor, M. O Brien, E Brady, M. Reilly and C. Meehan (Johnny Murtagh subsequently achieved international acclaim as a world class jockey).

When Brian Murtagh took over as Coach/Manager from Pat Coffey in 1993 it heralded a glorious period in Cortown’s history; With John Kerrigan and Pat Coffey as his selectors the Junior Championship was won in that year; the Intermediate Championship in 1996; the Senior semi final was reached in 1997 and the Quarter final in 1999. The players who gained promotion to Senior football for Cortown were G. Daly, L. Keane, V. Keating, L. Rennicks, B. Casserly, M. Reilly, D. Henry, F. Smith, J. Henry, T. Coyne, C. Henry, I. Coyne, J. Rennicks, M. Barry, P. Henry, E. Brady, P. O’Brien, G. Loughran, K. Henry, A. Waters, M. Waters, and M. O’Brien. Not to be outdone during this great period our second team won the Junior C Championship in 1998. Both the Senior and Junior teams won their way up from Division 3 status and both now operate in Division 1 of their respective leagues.

When Charlesfort Estate was taken over by the Land Commission for dividing, it was proposed by Tom Connell that we should apply for a pitch on the lands. Our application was successful and in 1973 a field at the side of the Ranelagh lane was allotted. At this time training and games took place on lands kindly provided by our very good friend Jochen Osthus at the rear of the hall which was very convenient as we could use the hall as dressing rooms. We were offered the choice of purchasing the land from Jochen at a very reasonable rate, and to sell our Land Commission pitch on the open market. We accepted this offer and developed the grounds where we now are. The official opening of the pitch took place on Sunday 21st October, 1984, with an under 16 hurling game between Athboy and Dunderry and a senior football game between Cavan and Meath. All the players received marble plaques which were made by local man Dickie Rennix.

The Hall was continually used for dressing rooms all this time. The club carried out any necessary repairs. Finally in 1998 the hall was purchased from St Finians Diocesan Trust. A big refurbishment was carried out, new showers, kitchen tiling etc. A remarkable feature of the clubs history is that in spite of all the developments, debt was never incurred as fundraising ran in tandem with expenditure. While many thousands of pounds were spend in the purchasing and the development of the facilities it is to the credit of all our friends and supporters, and indeed to the expertise of the many committee members, that they were never found wanting when needed. Many and varied were the fundraisers. We had £1, £5, £10, and £20, raffle tickets, American Tea Parties, Socials and Dances. Our biggest raffle was in conjunction with Eire Og Carlow which realised £30,000 in one year. Our Lotto realises £10,000 per annum approximately. We also had auctions, poker classics, cross country horse runs, race nights, anything but go into debt. Whenever there was a function the local ladies always worked hard to provide the necessary grub and refreshments.

Over the years several players from our area represented Meath at all levels from under 14 up to Senior. In the Fordstown era we had Johnny and Jimmy Meehan who were members of the first Meath team to win the Sam Maguire cup. Others to serve the county from the Cortown team include Packie Henry (who won All Ireland senior and junior medals), John Henry (who won All Ireland Junior medals), Liam Rennicks, Sean Rennicks, Gordon Codd, Glen Loughran and Daragh O Halloran. There is no doubt but that this list will be greatly extended in the coming years judging by the standard of the young players coming through from the St. Cuthberts under age club.

Officers and Committee 2001: Honorary Life President, Johnny Meehan; Vice Presidents, Mrs Margaret O Brien, Fr. Declan Smith, Mrs Sarah Brady; Chairman, Pat Lynch; Vice Chairman; Johnny Meehan; Secretary, Pat Keane; Assistant Secretary, David Henry; Treasurer, Laetitia O Halloran; Assistant Treasurer, Gerard Casserly; PRO, Therese Codd, Assistant PRO; Kenny Henry; Insurance Officer, Paul O Brien; Membership Officers, Liam Rennicks, Gerard Casserly; Co. Board Delegates, Pat Keane, Liam Keane, Frank Flanagan; Committee, Vincent Keating, Phil Tully, Charles Reilly, John Kerrigan, Johnny Casserly, Cathal McGinley, David Coyne, Trevor Coyne and Tossy O’Brien.