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Saturday 16 December 2017

Remarkable Clones clock up 125 years of history

On Saturday, March 20 Clones Town will celebrate a unique achievement for a Junior Soccer Club all of 125 years in existence with a Gala Night in Hotel Kilmore, Cavan.

Among the special guests of honour will be Republic of Ireland Senior International team manager Giovanni Trapattoni, FAI President David Blood, and Chief Executive John Delaney.

There are few clubs anywhere in the country (if any) or indeed further afield, that can lay claim to having a longer sporting history.

Association football as we know it first came to Clones in 1882 but according to records there was no league structures to affiliate to in the area and Clones looked to Fermanagh, Tyrone and Armagh for friendly games.

Clones affiliated to what we now know as the 'Northern Leagues' in a properly structured club fashion in 1885 and back then they also had inter-county tournaments with one early record and picture showing a 'Monaghan County' team made up entirely of Clones players.

As Clones played in numerous league structures, its name, as was not uncommon at the time, was changed in different areas.

So too has the club evolved over the years since its inception with the names Clones Town FC, Clones Eire Ogs, Clones Red Hands, Clones Town Celtic, Clones Town United and many other names used.

Just as Manchester United evolved from Newton Heath L&YR (which stood for "Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway") so too Clones Town FC has evolved .

Success however has always followed Association Football in Clones with the club having won the FAI Junior Cup Ulster area and Midlands area Cup (only club to have achieved this double, Leinster Senior and Junior Leagues, Fermanagh and Western League Mercer League Cup, Donegal League, Louth Cavan/Monaghan League (on numerous occasions), Longford District League (multiple winners), and currently Meath and District League Division 1 winners.

Individual success has also stemmed from the club over the years, with players such as Leo 'Pop' Flanagan enjoying considerable success and distinguishing himself in the League of Ireland and Irish League and representing both in International inter League matches.

More recently former Clones Town players Jonathan Douglas and Mark Connolly have enjoyed professional careers in the England

Douglas has played at youth and Senior International level for the Republic of Ireland and in 2008 as team captain he led out the Leeds United team at the newly rebuilt Wembley stadium.

Clones has never actually owned their own property and played their games in many places such as Lisnaroe, the Border Park Clones, the former Athletics field on the Newbliss road, and more recently at Scarva, and the Connons. To this day older members of the Club regret that the club was so successful that it was accepted into the inaugural League of Ireland B Division yet it was unable to accept the offer due to lack of facilities.

In 2006, the club acquired nearly five acres of land from Clones Town Council at a cost of €30,000 and was successful in its application to the Department of Arts, Sports and Tourism for a €100,000 grant under the Sports Capital Grant Scheme.

Mr John Delaney Chief Executive of the FAI turned the sod on the new development on the first of July 2009 and work commenced in September that year.

John Delaney also announced a grant of €20,000 from the FAI which has been used towards the development.

The club themselves have raised €55, 000 including the purchase price through fundraising events to date.

' Tickets still available for the Gala Night. For further details contact 087 2618660.

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