David Wilson reports for the Sean McCaffrey Foundation
One of the oldest clubs in the country let alone Monaghan, the formation of the club dates back as far as 1858. The foundation of the club is believed to have been initiated through workers from the Great Northern Railway and their ambition to set up a competitive club in which to compete against teams from counties such as Fermanagh, Tyrone and Armagh. There is a record of Clones competing in a competition known as the ‘Northern Leagues’ in 1885.
The history and traditions of this club are strong, the assembly of the club even pre-dates the creation of the GAA in 1884. Nowadays the club competes in the Monaghan/Cavan League with a selection of underage teams which play in the Cavan/Monaghan Underage League.
Clones have proved to be the last owners of the Lipton Cup. This cup was competed for by teams in Cavan, Monaghan and Fermanagh. The 1913/14 season saw the interference of the Great War followed by years of hostility and unpredictability and therefore the cup was not competed for again.
Nomadically roaming through many different leagues over time, ranging from the Cavan/Monaghan League, the Louth and District League and the Longford and District League, the club has aimed to compete at the highest possible level. The 1970s saw an abundance of success, achieving glory in the Cavan/Monaghan League, the League Cup, the Steadfast Cup, the Drifter Cup and the Coffey Cup. This was followed by winning the Louth and District League in both 1977 and 1979 before winning the Ulster Cup in the 1980/81 season.
The mid-eighties seen more success winning the Longford and District League in the 1984/85 season plus the FAI Midlands Cup. For the next three years Clones achieved league success consecutively. A treble was achieved in the early nineties as the side won the Meath and Louth District Division One, the League Cup and the Challenge Cup.
Recently, the senior side has attained the Andy Capaldi Cup and the Premier Division title in the 2017/18 season, but it has been the production of players playing professionally which has typified the impressive structures at this club.
Mark Connolly represented Clones Town before making the move across the water to Wolverhampton Wanderers. He then transferred from Wolves to Bolton Wanderers for a reported one-million-pound transfer fee. Since then, Connolly has starred for Crawley Town before joining Kilmarnock and becoming club captain before going back to Crawley Town where he enjoyed the large part of his career.
He now plays for Dundee United who are aiming to return to the Scottish Premiership after missing out on promotion last year. Connolly has represented Ireland at under-17, under-19 and under-21 levels.
Johnathan Douglas, also once of Clones Town has recently called time on a brilliant career which saw him represent Ireland at the highest level eight times. Douglas began his professional career with Blackburn Rovers under the tutelageof Graeme Souness, before moving to Leeds United for four years becoming captain in 2007.
Spells at Swindon Town before an extremely successful time at Brentford saw the Clones native becoming their captain due to his all action tenacious midfield displays. His career ended with a period at Ipswich under current international manager Mick McCarthy.
The production of players who have not only made it professionally but also represented Cavan/Monaghan Underage sides is testament to the work being done throughout the club.
Over the last few years, the club has achieved a new ground in John Delaney Park. The ground was named after former FAI CEO John Delaney who still currently holds the title of Executive Vice President of the FAI… somehow.
The club has recently opened new dressing rooms along with a peace garden with a sculpture to accompany it which will launch at the end of the month.
Chairman John Reavey, along with secretary Seamie Sewell and treasurer Mairead McCabe all contribute to the vital day to day running of the club. The senior side is managed by Eddie Masterson and currently the side occupies fourth place after winning one and losing one of their opening two games in the Premier Division of the Monaghan/Cavan League.
There are eight underage teams who along with a girls’ team which shows the appetite for football in the area remains strong. As always, the chance to play, coach or become a volunteer is encouraged, if you would like to be involved please contact the foundation and we can put you in touch with the right people.