Grattan are United in a love of the game for 96 years

After a series of near-misses in the early years, the club is now only of the most successful in Cork
Grattan are United in a love of the game for 96 years

The Grattan United players celebrate after clinching the Premier A title in 2013-14. Picture: Barry Peelo.

THIS club has survived a world war, depressions, relegations, defeats and a few pandemics, all thanks to the people involved in the club.

Grattan United formed 96 years ago and chairman Gavin O’Mahony hopes the northside club can get back playing football soon and see O’Neill Park a hive of activity once again.

“Our expectations for the future are very simple,” said O’Mahony.

“We would like to come out of lockdown and return to playing ball in the knowledge that we as a club are there to support our players and families in any way we can.”

O’Mahony has held many positions within the club, from player to captain, and secretary and now chairman and proudly states that volunteers in a club are priceless.

“Where would any club be without volunteers? A club man is a club man, it’s like a vocation. You can’t be in it for a bit and that’s it. It’s all or nothing.

“There have been many highlights throughout the years, too many to mention but he outlined a few of the clubs proudest moments.

“After just nine years in football we were beaten finalists in the Munster Senior Cup (losing to Southern Rovers).

“We then spent roughly 40 years being a bridesmaid and being runners-up in a lot of competitions until the '70s and since then we have gone from strength to strength and would now be considered one of the best known and successful Cork junior clubs.

Grattan United pictured in Knocknaheeny in March 1983. Picture: Billy Lyons
Grattan United pictured in Knocknaheeny in March 1983. Picture: Billy Lyons

“We have a wide and varied trophy cabinet ranging from the Third Division and Presidents Cup winners right up to the AUL Premier, AOH and Mossie Linnane winners.

“We have managed to reach the quarter-final of the FAI twice, Munster Junior Cup twice.

“We have always answered the call when required by the Cork AUL for representative sides.

“We have the proud distinction of having two players on the victorious Oscar Traynor winning team in 2009, Brian O’Sullivan, the captain, and Eric Shinkwin.

“John 'Figo' Kelleher and Mark “Cans” O’Sullivan played in the group games but were injured for the final.

“We also were blessed to have two players selected to play for their country John Paul O’Sullivan and Patrick “Pa” Connors.

“These two were not only selected to play at junior level at the time but also played at intermediate junior level against the USA at Turner’s Cross that was some day in the club's history.

“We’re also proud of one of our biggest supporters International Denise O’Sullivan who grew up playing on our pitches.”

At the annual Cork AUL Awards in the Kiln were Frank Geaney, Joe Lynch, Gavin O'Mahony and Martin Doocey of Gratton Utd. Picture: Howard Crowdy
At the annual Cork AUL Awards in the Kiln were Frank Geaney, Joe Lynch, Gavin O'Mahony and Martin Doocey of Gratton Utd. Picture: Howard Crowdy

The club currently have two junior teams. One competing in the AUL Premier while the second team play in the third division.

“For us whether you’re playing in the premier or third, the bar is set very high up in O’Neill Park, especially by us.

“A tough dressing room to be a novice player learning the trade in when so many lads in the dressing room have already so many Premier winning medals but a fantastic opportunity to learn from some of the best players to have played in the AUL over the last 15 to 20 years.

Honour

“The majority will have played with the Oscar Traynor, an honour lost on lads these days.

“Brian O’Sullivan is first team manager and assisted by Keith Shaw, Mark O’Sullivan and Pa Birmingham.

Proper Grattan people, club at their hearts and in it for the long haul.

“Graham Waters is manager of our second team with Adrian Duggan, Philip Moore and Edwin Martin as his backroom staff. This bunch are as cute as you will come across and run a very tight ship.

“It might be the third division but this management team and players were top of the league prior to Covid and I have no doubt they can play at a higher level.

“Junior football has always been the heartbeat of football in Cork.

“It’s where rough diamonds are found and can be turned into precious stones.”

For a junior club living hand to mouth at times cancelling a season is devastating. And for Grattan this is no different.

“Insurance still has to be paid, Pitches still have to be maintained, Electricity at the clubhouse is a standing order and a presence at the grounds still has to be maintained.

“It has been difficult to keep it going.

“Anthony Coughlan has been an unbelievable sponsor and friend to the club.

“We are indebted to this man for his kindness. We are always proud to have him as our main sponsor.

“Also where would Grattan be without the Joshua Tree Bar. Players, family and friends all know it as the Grattan Bar, long may it last and when things open up again Bill, Robyn and the Josh will know we as a club will be 110% behind them.

“Connor Kelleher is an ex-player an a personal friend and jumped at the chance to sponsor our second team. The true epitome of 'once a Gratt always a Gratt'.

Like all other clubs, O’Mahony is looking forward to the return but is concerned what the stoppage has done to people.

From a mental wellbeing perspective, I don’t think the effect of stopping football, in general, will be truly understood for a long time.

“Being a part of something can be very special. Playing, helping or just watching on match day.

“Seeing your mates can be our break from all the stress of normal life. If the Covid virus was a match it beat us hands down in the first half.

“We steadied the ship in the second half and drew level but in extra time of lockdown we won. That’s for all the ones we won’t see at games when we are lucky to return.”

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