Passage FC celebrate 50 years and are proud of being at the heart of the community

Founding members Jim Murphy, William Mullane, Tommy Mehigan, Benny McCarthy and Michael Frick Murphy are still very much involved in the club
Passage FC celebrate 50 years and are proud of being at the heart of the community

Coach Tina Murphy with Faye Aherne and Nicole Moriarty following their win over Riverstown in the CWSSSL U18 Shield Final at Turner's Cross in 2018. Picture: Howard Crowdy

IT'S a huge year for Passage FC as they celebrate 50 years in football. 

A remarkable milestone to reach by any sporting organisation and the ever-growing club are currently celebrating this wonderful achievement. What started out with just a seven-a-side team back in 1972, the Passage club currently cater for 27 teams.

Recently, I caught up with schoolgirls secretary Tina Murphy.

“The club was formed back in April 1972. The founding members were Jim Murphy, William Mullane, Tommy Mehigan, Benny McCarthy, and Michael Frick Murphy all of whom are still very much involved in the club,” said Tina. 

Our first home ground was a seven-a-side pitch called the backfield in Rockenham and the first games were played there as street leagues.

“It’s been amazing for everyone involved with the club to see the progress over the years. In the early days the club used the cornfield, now Ardmore Estatem which catered for games as well as a clubhouse. 

"In 1981 Riverside United who were a junior team in the town joined forces to buy land in Rockenham which at the time was a dump and a bog. After a few years of hard work by the committee members, the pitch and clubhouse were something for us all to be proud of.

“To Reach 50 years in any sports setting is a real milestone and there are many people to thank for our current facilities. 

"To the many hundreds of people, some who have passed away, who have kept their club going in good and bad times it's a proud year for the club and town.

“Jim Murphy is still President, Tommy, Frick, Benny and Willy have been coaches, and true club men throughout the years. 

"We as club members and committee have a lot to be thankful to these guys. It must be a great honour for them as founding members to see how strong the club is today.” 

 Jim Murphy, Passage AFC, Chris Condon, Lakewood AFC, Tina Murphy, and Ger Murphy, Passage AFC. Picture: Jim Coughlan
Jim Murphy, Passage AFC, Chris Condon, Lakewood AFC, Tina Murphy, and Ger Murphy, Passage AFC. Picture: Jim Coughlan

Like many organisations, Passage have experienced bad days as well as good ones and it’s those days that make this milestone even more remarkable.

“In the late '80s, early '90s a lot of people left Ireland to seek work and Passage had a big portion of the community that had done so. Because of this, the club ran into problems with paying back the loan to the bank. A special meeting in the clubhouse was organised to explain everything. 

"In order to service the loan the club needed £102 a week. And as always was the case from the people of the town, they put their hands in their pockets. 124 members, some of them abroad pledged £2 a week for years and in 1996 the loan was cleared and the club received the deeds to Rockenham Park. 

"A place we have called home for a long time but a place we are all so very proud of, especially since our newly established all-weather pitch."

The following have led the club to where they are today. Chairman Jim Murphy, John Murphy, Michael Frick Murphy, Declan McGrath, John Quinn, Alan Lehane and current chairman Dave Kelleher. Antoinette (Devine) Murphy, Tina Murphy and John 'Bird' Murphy started with the club in the early days and are still very active.

“I am sure every one of the aforementioned would admit that without the support of many committee members, coaches, volunteers, supporters, players, parents and local businesses we would not be here today with a top-of-the-range floodlit astro pitch that was put down in 2021 to a very strong committee and fundraising committee.

Coach Tina Murphy presents Sinead O'Flynn with the U16 Girls Club Person of the Year Award at the Passage AFC Under Age Awards at Rockenham Park. Picture: Howard Crowdy
Coach Tina Murphy presents Sinead O'Flynn with the U16 Girls Club Person of the Year Award at the Passage AFC Under Age Awards at Rockenham Park. Picture: Howard Crowdy

“We have experienced many great days on this pitch, and yes some bad days also however we like to dwell more on the great memories. 

"Having the likes of Paul McGrath and George Best visit our club was a huge highlight along with many victories over the years. AOH Cup in 1994, 1997 and 1998, Senior League Division 1 winners in 2007, Munster Senior Cup beating Cobh Ramblers in the semi-final only to lose to Waterford in the final...

"In 2002, our 30th year, the Munster Junior Cup took pride of place at the top table in Rochestown Park after we beat Ballycarry in the final 4-1 with Aidan Whitty making history by being the first player to score all four goals in the final.

"In 2018 our U18 girls went all the way to the FAI national cup final only to be beaten by a very strong Donegal side.

“The club have won at every grade at schoolboys, schoolgirls youths, juniors and seniors. We have lots of players who made representative sides over the years, Aoife Ahern, Danielle Burke, Lauren Egbuloniu, Cork and Ireland underage, Martin Shaw (Cork Celtic), Mark O’Sullivan (Cork City and Ireland junior team), Paul Coughlan, was with Cork City, Cobh and had trials for Newcastle. 

"Tony Leahy trialed with West Ham and Steven Kenny trialed with Leeds. Currently, we have Katie Irwin, Liam Quinn and Noah Swinski with Cork City, Jane Finlay, Siobain and Muireann Deasy and Steve Lyons with Cobh Ramblers. 

We as a club, while gutted to see them leave the club, we are delighted to see them progress to that level.

“We all enjoyed a great week of celebrations last week with plenty of more to come. The celebrations began with a mixed eight-a-side World Cup for schoolgirls and schoolboys. The founding member and current president presented the medals on the finals day on Sunday. We are also planning a Football For All day, walking football, and two social functions fixed for October. 

“We pride ourselves in being a community club with the people of Passage supporting all the clubs in the town and long may it continue." 

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