ROWER INISTIOGE GAA CLUB
There is a record of a football match in Inistioge on Sunday, March 28, 1886 between Kilkenny and New Ross, which attracted an attendance of 10,000. Ten years later, on February 2, 1896 a football match was played between the Boys’ teams from Inistioge and The Rower, which ended in a 1-2 to nil win over for Inistioge. In 1889 the first club from the parish – Inistioge Football Club – affiliated to the G.A.A. and entered the county championships. Nore Rangers, Green and Whites, Clodiagh Rangers, Cappa and Brandon Rovers, were all football clubs from the parish which followed down the years with the county junior football title being won in 1916, 1936 and 1940.
In hurling there was Inistioge HC, Mangan, Barrow Rovers, Glenarrigle, Chapel Hill, Ballavarra, The Rower Green and Whites. In 1944 The Rower won the county junior hurling title was won with final victory over Danesfort by 4-6 to 4-3. Then in 1950 the idea of a united team representing the whole parish was mooted. But it was to be 1955 before there was an amalgamation of the two parish teams to form ‘The Rower-Inistioge’.
In 1955 the amalgamation of the two parish teams took place and they decided to call themselves The Rower-Inistioge. In 1964 the county junior title was claimed with victory over Galmoy and the junior football title followed in 1967 with a final win over Barrowmount. The county senior hurling final of 1968 between The Rower and Bennettsbridge had the hurling scribes trotting out the superlatives. The Irish Press report stated: ‘Old timers claim that this was Kilkenny hurling at its best.’ The Irish Independent called it ‘one of the most exciting finals ever seen in this competition and certainly the best for almost twenty year.’
The team which brought the lone Kilkenny SHC to the club was: D. Kavanagh, J. Murphy, F. Murphy, M. Walsh, J. Walsh, W. Murphy, E. Flood, D. Kavanagh, P. Kavanagh, E. Keher, M. Walsh, D. White, P. Murphy, M. Kavanagh, T. Murphy. The Rower went on to contest back-to-back county senior finals in 1976 and ’77. In ’76 James Stephens beat The Rower-Inistioge 2-14 to 0-13 to claim the Tom Walsh Cup while the following year Fenians of Johnstown were victorious over the south county side on a score of 3-11 to 1-10. Besides Eddie Keher, Rower-Inistioge club players Fr. Tommy Murphy and Billy Murphy both won All-Ireland senior medals in 1963 and 1969 while Pat Kavanagh (1969), Gee Murphy (1974) and Tommy Malone (1979) were others to win senior All-Irelands. Dick Bolger won an All-Ireland junior medal in 1956 while at Under 21 level Michael Tierney and Pat Dunphy both won All-Irelands in 1974-1975. Single All-Ireland U-21 medal winners were: John Lyng (1975), Sylvie Lyster (1975), Liam Galavan (1974) and Michael Lyng (1977). Pierce Freaney and P.J. Brett both won a brace of All-Ireland minor medals in 1960-1961, with Tommy Murphy and Ollie Ryan winning in 1960. Michael Tierney (1972), Pat Dunphy (1973), John Lyng (1973), Michael Lyng (1973) and Pat Treacy (1973) were other players from the wearers of the red and green to win at All-Ireland minor level. Eddie Keher won two All-Ireland senior colleges medals in 1957 and 1959 while Ollie Ryan won two also, in 1959 and 1961. T. White (1957), Martin Walsh (1961) and Pat Kearney (1971). There was an All-Ireland vocational medal for Pat Treacy from the club in 1972.
In 1985 The Rower-Inistioge produced a book titled ‘A Century of Gaelic Games’, a publication that runs to 186 pages. The Rower-Inistioge compete nowadays in the Kilkenny Intermediate hurling championship. Our ambition is, of course, to win the county IHC title and reach senior status in the county – and perhaps in time to unearth another Eddie Keher!