Gaelic Football has been played in Collegeland since the early 1900’s indeed prior to the civil war two teams, Celtic and the O’Rahilly’s were in existence. The O’Rahilly’s colours then were black and amber stripes, more recently associated with Crossmaglen Rangers.
In the 30’s and early 40’s the club colours had changed to green and gold, but changing social and economic circumstances led to the club going out of existence for a period of time. The club in its present guise reformed in 1949 with Jim Clancy elected as Chairman and Parish Priest Fr Mc Knight, after whom the club grounds are named provided a driving force. The current Royal blue colours were adopted at this time, the great Cavan teams of the time providing the inspiration for the choice.
The first Championship success came to the club in 1956 when they captured the County Minor title, this was followed up by the Junior title a few months later. In 1961 Collegeland won the Armagh senior Football championship for the first and as yet only time in the clubs history, beating Clann Eireann in the Final.
The club fortunes declined from that high point until the mid 70’s when increased focus was placed on youth development. This started to bear fruit in the mid 80’s when promotion from Division 4 was secured, this was followed up with victory in the Junior Championship in 1988, under the management of Brian Mc Cormack and Noel McClurg. Further promotions were secured until Collegeland took their place in Division 1 of the All County Leagues were they remained for a number of seasons. In 1990 the county Intermediate Championship was captured for the first time under the guidance of Brendan Mc Geary and Brian Murphy. That victory meant that Collegeland in spite of being one of the smallest GAA units in the county had the distinction of winning all the major championships in Armagh.
The opening of our new pitch and clubrooms in 1998 provided a new impetus for club development, with our underage players winning a variety of divisional titles with our amalgamated underage club, Naomh Eoin. This culminated in the capture of the County Junior title in 2007. An interesting aside to this was the fact that Tomasz Fopka, a Polish national, became the first non national to win a county title in Armagh and perhaps beyond. While the current team plays in Division 3 of the Armagh league the infusion of young players alongside the experienced players gives great encouragement for the future and will hopefully see Collegeland O’Rahilly’s rise through the ranks once again.
The problems faced by many GAA clubs in the north were highlighted by an arson attack on our clubrooms in January 2008. This, however, brought the best out in the local community and after a tremendous community effort we reopened in September of that year.
2009 was the 125th anniversary of the founding of An Cumann Luthchleas Gael and for Collegeland it was especially significant as the 60th anniversary of the reformation of our club. A wonderful night was hosted in the clubrooms were a scroll listing the names of every family involved with the club was unveiled by his Eminence Cardinal Sean Brady who retains strong links with the club since presiding over the Official Opening of the new pitch and Clubrooms in 1998.
Collegeland is a small club, one of the smallest in Ulster, but it has a proud history and tradition. We look forward to continued development and progress and to playing a central role in the community in the years to come.