Lisbellaw United FC
The first records of football being played in Lisbellaw seem to have commenced around the 1920s when they were know locally as "Rock Rovers", appropriately named after the obscene number of stones in this area. The first mention of sucess came in the mid-1940s when Lisbellaw won the Mulhern Cup in 1947, defeating RAF Castdle Asrchdale 4-2.
In 1960 Lisbellaw were accepted into the Fermanagh and Western League officially and eventually settled at Kerr's Fields' at Cloghcor Road, Lisbellaw. Amongst the young players then and still live in the villaghe today include Sammy McFredrick, Henry Savage, Jim Lindsey, Johnny Elliott and Mervyn Gamble.
Throught the late '60s and '70s Lisbellaw went from strength to strength, building up a great squad of young, gifted players who by now were under the management of Sammy McFredrick. This culminated in Lisbellaw's finest hour in May 1978 when Lisbellaw won the Irish Junior Cup.
In the 1980s a major new phase in Lisbellaw's history was unfolding when the team moved to new grounds at Drumad, Lisbellaw although owned by Fermanagh District Council, the club bought the pitch in 1990 for £18,000 for a 99 year lease. With the now our own and Drumad being one of the best pitches in the league, a new club house was built with facilities bigger clubs are envous of.
In early 2000 the club progressed further when they developed a second pitch across the road from Drumad, named Taylor Park after the great Bobby Taylor, a legend in Lisbellaw footballing circles, who was associated with the club for over 50 years. The opening of the second pitch enables two the senior teams to play at once at home as well as junior teams.
In the 2004/05 season, one of the best seasons the club has had over the years, the firsts and seconds gained promotion with the thirds finishing strongly. With this and the current setup of players, managers and staff the club can only gain in strength.
(*Taken from the Easter 2003 Bielefeld, Germany Youth Football Booklet )
Fermanagh and Western History
Soccer has been played in and around Lisbellaw for the greater part of this century. Lisbellaw's recent success has been achieved in a field rented from Samuel Carrothers. Over the years, particularly between the wars, several other grounds were used on a temporary basis including Faughard, Drumad, (on the field presently in use), and Drumcrin.
We are first made aware of footballing activity in the area by a rather unsavoury incident which occurred after a match at Lisbellaw on 27 th February 1905 when Enniskillen Celtic were the visitors. Mr John O'Kane, a referee from Omagh, was severely assaulted by some members of the crowd while on his way to the station despite efforts from members of the Lisbellaw team to save him. The case ended up in the Petty Sessions Court when charges were brought against two persons, one from Lisbellaw and one from Maguiresbridge.
There then appears to have been more than a decade of footballing dearth before the team was reborn early 1940's and this revival culminated in the high quality team which won the mulhern cup in 1947 defeating R.A.F. Castle Archdale, 4 –2, and also winning the Coffey Cup in that same year.
Members of this team included;
Walter Fallis Goalkeeper
Tommy Corrigan Right Back
George Nawn Left Back
Kenneth McBrien Right Half
Willie Foster (Capt) Centre Half
Bertie Irvine Left Half
J Lester Outside Right
R Kennedy Inside Right
J Keenan Centre Forward
Ernie Brown Inside Left
J Hill Outside Left
Many modern young footballers will be surprised to know that the foregoing information that there 5 forwards or strikers as they are called nowadays, but that was the way soccer was played until well into the 1960's.
This successful wartime team faded out of existence a year or two after their 1947 exploits and we hear no more of local soccer until 1958 which witnessed the third phase of footballing history, continuing right to the present day. A family's name of McFrederick is a name that remains with the club right up to present day. The inspiration behind the '58 revival was Mrs Lavery, who with her husband Major Walter “Paddy” Lavery owned the public house which they had named the Wild Duck Inn. Many of the local lads used to kick an old ball about the street at the mouth of the Inishmore Road, annoying the locals and the custodians of law and order as well as shattering the odd window pane. They complained to Mrs Lavery that they needed a proper pitch and proper ball and then they could expend their energies elsewhere without getting up anybodies nose.
Mrs Lavery took up their case energetically and with the help of several footballing enthusiasts and past players such as Bobbie Nawn, the late Bobbie Taylor (before his death President of the club after a lifetime of service as a player, organiser and fund rasier) and Hubert Brown, set about the task of fundraising by organising dances, draws and jumble sales. The first bring-and-buy sale was well supported and raised £90.
By 1960 the team – now named Lisbellaw United but known locally as Lavery's Ducklings – had been accepted into the Fermanagh and Western League. Their first pitch was at Faughard on the right hand side of the old road to Maguiresbridge, but after two seasons they moved to David Carrothers Land at Cloghcor known as Kerr's Fields where they remained until 1986.
The players in that fist bunch of youngsters included Sammy McFrederick, Mervyn Gamble, Billy Taylor, George Taylor, Jim Lindsay, Willie McFrederick, Michael Lavery, Roderick Nawn, Colin Ellis, Harry Savage, Jim O'Donnell, Charlie Oldcroft, Denzil Piper, David Hetherington, Ronnie McVitty, Johnny Elliott, Sam Beattie, Jackie Bickerstaff, Harold Masterson, Ken Graham, Kenneth Masterson, as well as many others.
The youthful players did not at first make any great impression on the Fermanagh football scene but they were improving with each season that passed. Their first scent of regaining past glories coming in 1966 when they were runners up in the Lisbellaw Festival Competition being beaten 2-1 by Enniskillen Rangers on whom they gained sweet revenge in the following years' Clones Competition.
The Blues were now getting their act together under the management of Jim O'Donnell by winning the Mercer league in 1967/68 and 1968/69 together with the Mulhern Cup in '69 and the Coffey Cup in '69 and '70, not to mention several successes in the Clones Cup and the Fermanagh Cup.
Early in the 1970's Sammy McFrederick added thr role of manager to his playing responsibilities and he continued the clubs' winning ways with another Coffey Cup victory in 1972 – and even greater heights were yet to be scaled as the decade unfolded. Sammy took a firm managerial decision to concentrate on local talent as far as possible and the first fruits of this approach became evident in their reaching the semi-final of the Irish Junior Cup in 1974 before being beaten by a strong Moyola side, 5-1.
By 1975 a powerful, skilful young side had been welded together into a resolutely efficient outfit whom were confident in their own ability to handle any opposition that could be thrown at them. This confidence was well founded in the results from 1975 through the next eight years during which Lisbellaw had the finest period in its history clinching five Mercer League wins in 75/76, 77/78, 78/79, 79/80, 80/81, in addition to five Mulhern Cup victories in 75/76, 76/77, 78/79, 79/80 and 82/83. They also had much summer competition success winning the Coffey Cup in 75, 79 and 83 in addition to the Irvinestown Festival competition in 78, 79, 80 and 81.
We now move on to consider the competition which is the pinnacle of every junior clubs' ambitions – the Irish Junior Cup. In this yearly competition all the best junior clubs in the six counties compete on a knock out basis, and only once – in 1958 – the trophy come to Fermanagh through the exertions of Enniskillen Corinthians. However with the clogher side playing their best ever football with an almost entirely home grown squad it seemed only a matter of when, rather than whether, they would emulate the Corinthian feat.
In 1977 they served notice they were on their way be getting to the semi-final stage before being narrowly pipped by Lowe Memorial, 4-3.
The 1978 Junior Cup campaign commenced for its 2000 players and almost 200 teams in October the previous year with Lisbellaw playing host to Scarva Rangers on the 22 nd of Oct 1977 whom the demolished 5 – 1. Glyn Nixon scoring a hatrick and Eamon McPartland bagging a pair. Scarava's only reply coming from an Cadden own goal. This demlishion job was indeed an omuious warning to all other pretends to the trophy.
Round 2 again favoured them with home advantage against Demesne Strollers on the 19 th November and goals from Glyn Nixon and Alan McFrederick they emerged victorious 2-1.
The third round on the 17 th of December produced an away tie against County Down opposition Analong Rangers. The game developed into a real nail biter with the advance seesawing, the first one way then the other. Despite two goals from Eamon McPartland and one by Colin McFrederick, full time saw the teams locked at three a piece, but in extra time a each by James McGrath and Keith Elliot clinged the win 5-4 and eased into a fourth round home tie against Queens Graduates.
This game was twice proposed due to unplayable conditions at Clogher, but was played eventually albate on tricky conditions which made soccer difficult on February the 4 th 1978. Once more there was a bag full of scorers with McPartland getting three and McConkey, colin Mcfrederick and McGrath completing the half dozen whilts the defence only conceceded two.
As the tournament progressed the Blues were performing better in every department of their play, and now looked confidently to their 5 th round away clash against Rathfriland. The Co Down side were summarily despatched with a goal each from Alan McFrederick, McConkey, and Nixon without reply from the home side thereby gaining the Fermanagh men a place in the last eight.
The quarter final draw pitched them away against Orangefield Old Boys. The game was a tense, dour finely balanced struggle throughout but it looked like a certain Lisbellaw victory when Glyn Nixon scored with only seven minutes to go, but, agony of agonies, Orangefield equalised almost on the whistle throwing the game into extra time. Not to be denied at this stage, Lisbellaw slipped into a higher gear through a goal apiece from brothers Alan and Colin McFrederick without further reply from Orangefield.
They were now into the semi final for the third time in their history. The semi final draw brought Portstewart and the Blues to neutral territory at Stangmore Park, Dungannon. The resulting match was described as one of Lisbellaw's most sparkling performances giving them a 2-1 win courtesy of a goal each from McPartland and McGrath.
Six hurdles had now been cleared successfully with the final coming down for decision on Friday 12 th May 1978 at Stangmore Park against a formidable squad from Co Armagh – Loughgall.
Finals are quite often tense affairs with each side probing the other for weaknesses, and this was no exception taking a long time to settle down to some sort of rhythm. Lisbellaw were the first to show opening their account on the half hour when a long floating free kick from McGrath was flicked over the keeper's head by McPartland. Early in the second half Lisbellaw suffered a double blow in losing the talents of McConkey through injury and also conceding the Loughgall equaliser. Their confidence never flagged and they kept their heads up and the pressure on which brought its reward on the hour when Kieran Keenan was fouled in the box and Glyn Nixon hammered home the penalty which proved to be the trophy winner for the Hard Rocks Hero's. Sammy McFrederick received the Man of the Match award and Fermanagh District Council later paid tribute to the clubs' achievement by holding a civic reception in their honour.
The years immediately following the Junior Cup win were also successful and Lisbellaw went on to become the first Fermanagh club to enter the Intermediate Cup in 1979, being narrowly edged out on penalties in the first round. Also in 1979 their reserve team reached the quarter final of the Junior Cup and in the next season the first team went one better getting to the semi final before being eliminated.
After the '83 Mulhern and Coffey Cups victories, performances began to deteriorate and the team slid gradually into recession, although they were Top Four and McDaid Cup and Mulhern Cup semi-finalists in 1989/90.
In 1986, the team moved from the Clogher pitch to the District Council pitch at Drumad. It has been transformed to probably the best playing surface in the county and in 1990 Lisbellaw agreed to purchase the pitch on a 99 year lease.
Also in 1990 the infusion of some new blood was coupled with the appointment of a new player/manager in the person of Seamus McGinley, from Strabane. Mr Ginley had formly played for Ards as well as Omagh Town for several years and had been player/manager of University of Ulster soccer team. His stay at Lisbellaw was brief and he was succeeded in 1991 by Adrian Hopkins. “Hoppy” has had a hugely successful playing career stretching over many years although his managerial expertise is still unproven.
Results in the 91/92 season were in marked contrast to the glories of the past and the team only avoided the drop into division two in the 1992/1993 season, on a technicality.
*Taken from the book 'The Rock'
A gazetteer of Lisbellaw and Surrounding District by Joe Crawford
This success continued in the following season with the firsts winning the Second Division and promotion back to the top league, while the Seconds runners up in their division clinched the Reihill Cup for the first time. Season 2005/06 saw the Thirds promoted to Reserve Division 2 and now all three teams are in their highest possible leagues.
The 2007/08 has kept the success going with runner up spot in the Mercer League and athey suffered a 1-0 semi final defeat to Immaculata in the Junior, while the seconds reached the Reihill Cup final only to be beaten by Enniskillen Town reserves. In 2008/09 the firsts again finished runners up in the Merer league behind Enniskiilen Town, while the Reserves suffered the same fate in the Reserve Division 1. The Reserves however did manage to secure the Rehill Cup.
2009/2010 was the season that the club had waited all of 29years for, the Mercer League returned to Lisbellaw. In what was an extremely tight season throughout the first team went on 9 game winning run after Christmas which secured the title on a night of high drama in Lisbellaw on the 27th April 2010. Lisbellaw played Strathroy who had beaten them in the Mulhern Cup semi final the previous week knowing a win would secure the title. Strathroy on the other hand needed a win to secure there status as a Division One team next season. The Visitiors were awarded a penalty early on and our centre half, Ian Veitch was shown a red card for a last man tackle. Strathroy converted the penalty but Lisbellaw were awarded one which Darren Rogers dispatched shortly before half time. The Tyrone needing a win to stay up, hit the front again early in the second half. The night wasn't going to plan and the large gathering of supporter were looking like they were going to have to wait for another day to be crowned champions. With 18minutes remaining Paul McGrath advanced forward from right back and fired an unstoppable shot into the top corner from all of 40yards. This goal lifted the spirits and Lisbellaw began to apply pressure to the Strathroy defense. With only minutes remaining an Andy Reilly corner was met by the head of Raymond Carroll and the crowd went wild. Lisbellaw had hit the front and they were to hold out for a 3-2 win. After the final whistle the presentation of medals took place while Captain Glen McCleery became the first man to lift the Mercer League since 1981.
2010/2011 seen Lisbellaw retain the Mercer League 1st Division title with one game to spare following a 1-0 win in Ballamallard with Darren Rogers on the scoresheet from the penalty spot. The 1st team went through the entire league campaign with just one defeat, this defeat came on the opening day of the season to newly promoted Enniskillen Rangers at Drumad. It what was a tight league throughout you could point to the 3-2 win over Enniskillen Town in Lisbellaw on Tuesday 12th April as a crucal win. Paul McGrath, Glen McCleery and Lee Glass found the net in a game where Town drew level twice. This win meant Lisbellaw had destiny in their own hands. A 3-1 win in Beragh a fortnight later would rule them out of the running, Paul McGrath (2) and Alan Veitch got the goals that night. It all meant that a win against Ballinamallard would secure the title and they duly delivered. In terms of the Junior Cup, we reached the Semi Final for the second time in four years only to go down 4-3 on penalties to Bessbrooke after a 1-1 draw. Ian Veitch had given us the lead in extra time but within a minute Bessbrooke had an equaliser.
The Second team made history by collecting the Reserve Division 1 league title in a playoff win against Killen Rangers Reserves. Goals from Lee Glass (2) and Stuart Cochraine see Lisbellaw secure a 3-2 win. As a result of this win, Lisbellaw United joined a small group of clubs who have won both the Division 1 and Reserve Division 1 titles in the same season. The third team easily secured their status in Reserve Division 2 and this side continues to breed the youngsters into Adult football.
2011/12 – The Season began with a 2-0 win in the Kennedy Cup Final against Ballinamallard thanks to goals from Darren Rogers and Ricky Carroll. Winning was what the First team done throughout the season as they won 20 of the 22 league games. A double defeat to Enniskillen Town didn’t deter the firsts from making it three straight Mercer League titles. The only other blip in the season was a Mulhern Cup defeat to Lisnaskea after extra time and having to pull out of the Junior having played new signing Chris Crilly who was later proved ineligible.
For the second year in a row we lifted the title at Fisher Park in Ballinamallard following a 4-1 victory. Jimmy McGrath’s side got off to the best possible start when striker Paul Baron struck the opener after just 9minutes. A long throw from Paul McGrath was flicked on by Darren Rogers and when Alan Veitch and goalkeeper Simon Johnston collided, the ball broke to Baron who made no mistake from close range.
The large travelling support had barely stopped celebrating when Paul McGrath fired in a second Lisbellaw goal on 13minutes. Matthew Keenan’s diagonal ball was headed by McGrath into Baron’s path, the striker volleyed against the upright but the ball rebounded out to McGrath who controlled and drove into the net via the underside of the crossbar from 16yards. Darren Higginbottom managed to pull a goal back for the Mallards but having been penned back for a sustained period Lisbellaw broke forward with Davy Little and Matthew Keenan down the left. The ball found its way to Alan Veitch on the endline, Veitch drilled in a low cross which was spilled by the home ‘keeper and Baron was again on hand to apply the finish. We managed to kill the game off with a 4th goal midway through the half. Substitutes Chris Crilly and Ricky Carroll combined for the latter to head the ball into the net from close range.
2012/13 – This time the season started with a 3-2 loss in the Kennedy Cup to Enniskillen Town before the league kicked off and we went searching for 4 in a row. Narrow 2-1 wins over Irvinestown and Fintona set us on our way before a crunch clash with rivals Enniskillen Town, the game was switched to the new 4G facility at the Lakeland Forum but it wouldn’t deter the Law. Goals from Paul McGrath, Matthew Keenan and a wonder strike from Niall Cassidy paved the way to a comprehensive 3-1 win. Disaster would strike the following week as Lisbellaw suffered a 1-0 home defeat to newly promoted Killen Rangers.
Seven straight wins in sued with three round of the Irish Junior safely negotiated before we met Town for the second time in the league. The outcome was the same, three points to Lisbellaw on a 4-2 scoreline. Lisbellaw had trailed in this tie before goals from Alan Veitch and Davy Little gave them a 2-1 interval lead. Frank Wallace netted his second goal just 35seconds into the second half but Lisbellaw would end the game strongly with goals from Paul McGrath and Seamus Quigley giving the hosts the victory.
Remarkably, lightening struck twice as Lisbellaw suffered defeat to Killen seven days after the Town victory again. 3-2 this time at the Tyrone venue undoing the good work the previous week.
A penalty shootout defeat in early January seen the club exit the Junior Cup in Belfast before dropped points at home to Strathroy (0-0) and Enniskillen Rangers (4-1 defeat) seen our grip on the league title slip away.
The Mulhern Cup became the best chance at silverware and following wins over Lisnaskea Rovers, Dergview and bogey team Killen it was a Semi Final with rivals Enniskillen Town at Ferney Park in Ballinamallard. Stephen Chambers had given the Town the lead but within 6minutes Ricky Carroll had levelled in what was a tight contest throughout. Extra time was required and with just two minutes to go before penalty kicks Town’s right winger Ryan Hanna produced a wonder strike to seal a 2-1 win for the defending champions. Town would go on to win the Cup and League titles that year.
2013/14 – This season will be remembered for the marvellous run to the Junior Cup Final. It was 1997 since the club was last in the showpiece Final on May Day.
ROAD TO THE FINAL
Round 1: 2-1 v Ballysillan Elimentary: Goals - Davy Little (2)
Unfortunately James McGrath’s side were unable to complete the job as Harryville Homers, a side from Ballymena, unbeaten in 37 games that season, secured their first ever Junior Cup title with a 3-1 victory at the Castledawson venue. Lisbellaw had a magnificent support with them on the day and throughout the run but they would finish the bridesmaid again leaving the 1978 side the sole winners of this coveted trophy to date.
Davy Little registered Lisbellaw’s goal on the day 15minutes from time to bring the score to 2-1 but Harryville would add a third five minutes from time to clinch the victory. The Team that day was
Niall Leonard, Stuart Cochraine, Raymond Carroll, Glen McCleery
Matthew McFrederick, Darren Rogers, Kyle McCleery (C), Davy Little
Paul McGrath, Alan Veitch.
Subs: Ricky Mullan for Rogers, Matthew Woods for Cochraine, Craig Johnston for Veitch.
Unused: Andy Reilly, Andrew Thompson.
James McGrath who saved two penalties and scored the winner in the shootout v Ford in Round 4 would sign for Irish League Club Glenavon three days after that success over Ford in early January. He went on to Win the Irish Cup with Glenavon that season, beating Ballymena 2-1 at Windsor Park. Ian Veitch who had played all season was unfortunate to miss out on the Junior final through suspension.
In terms of the league it was the most disappointing in recent memory. An opening day defeat to Strathroy Harps put the club on the backfoot from the off. Strathroy would eventually go on to do the double over Lisbellaw and win their first ever Mercer League title having seen off the challenge from Enniskillen Town. Lisbellaw would draw both home and away to the Town but two draws with Lisnaskea along with defeats to Beragh and Fintona ensured Lisbellaw would finish in fourth.
Despite a poor league campaign the Junior Cup Run was almost matched by the exploits in the Mulhern. It's opening round seen Lisbellaw knock out Strathroy on penalties before wins over Dergview and Enniskillen Rangers set up a Semi Final with Beragh at Ferney Park in Ballinamallard. A rather subdued Lisbellaw limped out 2-0 to Beragh who went on to lose the Final after extra time to Enniskillen Town.
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