GRANGEVALE FC of the Cork AUL will celebrate it’s 70th anniversary next season.
Having enjoyed one of its most successful to date in the season just finished, winning the City Challenge Cup and Corinthians Cup as well as finishing third in league one, the future of the Grange based club looks bright.
The club was founded in 1953 by friends, current president Donie Cronin, his brothers Paddy, (secretary),and Nelly, John and Joe Hunter, Gerard Tim Dineen, Liam Higgins, Maxwel Trevor, (treasurer),Jack ‘Rocker’ O’Connell, Billy O’Donovan and Michael Dorgan, (chairman), who suggested adopting the black and gold playing kit of English midland giants Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The club was named after Grangevale House at the top of Pinecroft and after entering the second tier of the Munster Junior League played its early matches on a field on Conron’s Farm which was located where the Grange Bar and Aldi are situated today.
Ted Conron later offered to sell land to the club for £100 which was beyond the club’s budget at the time.
Grangevale entered the Festival Cup during its first season and locked horns with Douglas, Blackrock and Wembley at Pond Bank, now Douglas Community Park.
Despite losing 2-1 to Blackrock in the second round, and Wembley at Pond Bank, the defeat prompted Grangevale’s manager Danny Kidney to seek new blood to strengthen the team. One of his signings was Dave Williamson.
While dating Noreen O’Halloran of Tramway Terrace, Williamson signed in 1954 and went on to spend thirty-five consecutive years as secretary while his wife to be served as treasurer and daughter Bernie continues today to be a valuable committee member.
He was recognised for his sterling dedication to the club when the Cork AUL conferred on him a Hall of Fame award.
His passing in January 2020 was deeply felt by all associated with the club, in particular his loved friend and team-mate Donie Cronin.
As the 1950’s progressed the Grange Park trio of Seán Murphy, Danny “Starry” Crowley and Mickey Holland played instrumental roles in the development of Grangevale.
Management of team affairs was left to Finbarr O’Sullivan (R.I.P.) and having entered the second division of the Munster Junior League in 1953, it took the club only two years to gain promotion before winning the City Challenge Cup in 1957.
A highlight of the decade was the 2-1 Daly Cup semi-final win over Nicholas Rovs. which took sixteen and a half hours to settle in the seventh replay.
In August 1965 the Munster Junior League collapsed which allowed Grangevale to join the AUL where they compete today.
Donie Cronin’s ability to attract players through his employment in Dunlops contributed to his legendary status within the club.
Dave Williamson played his part in 1982 by enrolling the service of Cork senior footballers Jimmy Kerrigan and the late Seamus Coughlan.
After suffering relegation in 1968, Dave Hayes was signed the following year and was prominent in the club’s first title success, the second division, in 1975.
A move to Grangevale Park at Five Mile Bridge in 1976 began a forty-four year association with the venue until February 2020 when the ground was purchased by a local farmer.
In 1978/79 the club progressed to a semi-final showdown of the coveted AOH Cup at Turner’s Cross with cup favourites Midleton after defeating Mayfield (3-0), St. Anne’s (4-2), Bandon (1-0), Hibernians (3-2) and Fairview (5-2) in the early rounds.
Despite losing goalkeeper Alfie McCarthy to Cork Celtic for a strip of gear, John Varian deputized and saved a penalty in the ninety minutes before Hayes intercepted a back pass to score what proved to be the winner.
In the final against one of the hottest favourites in years, Northvilla, Val Morris opened the scoring in the 28th minute before Hayes became the first player in the tournament’s history to score a hat-trick in the final and Tony O’Leary (penalty) sealed a memorable 5-1 win.
The club entered a second team, Grangevale Utd., the following season who went on to win the O’Keeffe Cup in 1981/82.
Former Cork Examiner AIB Cup winner John Foley joined the club in 1990 and captained the club to a City Challenge Cup Final appearance in 1993 and despite scoring, ended up on the losing side, 2-1, to Albert Rovers.
A second City Challenge Cup defeat to Ballyvolane following in 1997/98 in a season in which the league was won with over one hundred goals scored.
In what was one of the best teams in the club’s history , Foley, full-backs James O’Callaghan and Barry Twomey complimented centre-backs Liam Murphy and Roy O’Mahony. Foley, Robbie Birmingham and Richard O’Sullivan made up the midfield while up front , the formidable partnership of Roy O’Mahony and Jason Martin plundered fifty-three goals between them that season.
A successful 50th anniversary dinner dance at Rochestown Park Hotel was organized in 2003 and despite winning successive promotions in 2008 and 2009 under Neil McSorley, a lean period followed which almost lead to the club folding.
The arrival of Diarmuid O’Neill breathe new life into the club as his progressive training methods which included gym work was instrumental in leading to last season’s double trophy success.
The present committee of O’Neill, Damien Lynch, Liam Daly, Eoghan Jeffers, Sean O’Connell and Pat Courtneylook forward to taking the club forward to further success in 2022/23.