Roscrea GAA Club, the sleeping giants of north Tipperary, or so we would like our keenest of rivals in Nenagh and Toomevara to believe, as we struggle to bring back the glory days of the late sixties and early seventies when the sight of the red and white jerseys that graced the tribal GAA fields of the premier county were feared and scorned as they swept aside and conquered all that dared to go before them. The history of Roscrea GAA Club is one shrouded in colour, controversy, hard luck stories, and everlasting glory. That it took until a glorious Sunday in October 1968 for a club of such immense talent, tradition and popularity to win its first ever county championship, is one that still raises questions, argument and debate in the traditional GAA watering holes around the old monastic town. Before 68 some blamed our lack of senior county honours on the famous nine-year curse. In the period from 1936 to 1963 Roscrea contested four county finals and lost all four. What was interesting however was the nine-year sequence, which was a pattern only too evident in those heartbreaking defeats. The first was lost in 1936, the second in 1945, the third in 1954 and the fourth in 1963. However that momentous Sunday on October 13th 1968 which signalled the beginning of a golden era in the history of the club, changed the fortunes of the brave and banished forever the nemesis that was the nine-year curse. The club went on to achieve a three in a row of county final successes in 1970 by beating Thurles Sarsfields again, but just lost out on what would have been an unprecedented four in row when beaten by a surprise but formidable Moyne Templetuohy outfit in the county final of 1971. However 1971 did throw up one of the most famous, memorable and looking back on it now, one of the most honourable occasions in the clubs long and illustrious history. On a biting cold Decembers day fifteen famous warriors took to a wind swept St Brendan's park Birr to ensure that no matter what the future holds for Roscrea GAA Club the name and tradition of Roscrea hurling will be forever immortalised in the annals of GAA history and folklore. For it was on this day of days that Roscrea became the first All-Ireland club champions, made all the sweeter for the town by beating St Rynaghs, the 1970 county champions from Offaly. One would have to be an inhabitant of the town to understand to bitter sweet rivalry that exists between the two cultures of Tipperary and Offaly that make up the bulk of Roscrea's population, and hence a win or loss for either tradition whether it be at club or county level is greeted with the greatest acclaim and applause possible.
The club went on to achieve more county final successes in the 1970's making up for all those bleak and miserable days of barren years past. However those are stories for another time as the purpose of this article is just to sum up the phenomena that is Roscrea GAA Club. Kieran Carey from the Roscrea club played for Tipperary for in the 60's. In 2000, he won a Hall of Fame award for his achievements as a player. The photo above shows Kieran accepting his award from Michael Smyth, TD. Among the other highlights and accolades for the club have been playing host to four All-Ireland semi finals in 1934, 1936, 1939 and 1941. Interestingly Galway contested and lost all four. The club has also contributed significantly to our county's cause and has helped the blue and gold county become one of the most recognisable and feared names in hurling not just in Ireland but around the world. What words could do justice to the colossus that was Kieran Carey winner of five All-Ireland medals, or the style and grace of Francis Loughnane named on the first all-star team. And who could forget Tadhg O'Connor the only Roscrea man to have lead Tipperary to All-Ireland senior hurling final victory honours and to have held aloft the McCarthy cup one last time before the famine that would haunt Tipperary over most of the next two decades settled in. And how about Paul Delaney who played a crucial part in bringing All-Ireland success back to the premier county in 89, and coped so well with the bureaucracy which prevented him taking to the field against Antrim to bounce back and ensure that the glory days would follow once again in 91. As for more recent years, John Carroll helped to destroy the stranglehold Clare had over the county in the 90's. His impressive career included winning an all star in 2000 before going on to star at centre forward in the 2001 victorious All Ireland winning team.
Since winning a Senior North Final in 2004, silverware has proved a bridge too far. Nevertheless, the side have been competitive in their own right taking many scalps against the big guns such as Nenagh and Toomevara. Following on from a positive County Junior B winning campaign in 2012 and a positive U21 campaign in 2014, the future is bright and this year could be quiet significant with a new generation of youth comning to the fore.
Honours: All-Ireland Club Champions: 1971 Munster Club Champions: 1969/70, 1970/71 County Champions: 1968, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1973 & 1980 North Champions: None less than 15 occasions not to mention the numerous accolades achieved at under-age level etc.