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Limerick Desmond League : History
The league was formed in January 1955. The inaugural meeting took place in the Desmond Castle, Newcastle West and it was agreed to call the league - the Desmond League. The clubs who attended this meeting to establish the league were - Askeaton, Killonan, Newcastle and Tralee Dynamos. These four teams contested the first league championship which was won by Killonan. The Munster Football Association presented the league with a junior challenge cup. The first winners were Newcastle. The original management committee comprised the following:
Liam McKenna, J.P Walsh, Joe Downes, Jack O'Rourke, John E. Barrett, Sean Fitzgerald, Ed. Moloney and Michael Mulcair.
The league in its early years had teams from both counties Limerick and Kerry. In these early years Newcastle West and Pallaskenry were to the fore both winning the Desmond Cup on two occasions each. On Saturday 1 October 1966, the Desmond League was re-organised following a meeting at the Olympic Ballroom, Newcastle West. Among those who attended was Joe Wickham, the General Secretary of the Football Association of Ireland. The reason for the meeting was to make the league more independent of the Limerick City league (LDMC) and to put new structures in place to make the league more organized. This proved very successful and by 1969 the Desmond League had twenty clubs stretching from Tralee to Holycross. The 1966 World Cup in England was undoubtedly the catalysis for this new interest in the game with many new clubs formed in the late 1960s such as Celtic Rangers, Kilcolman Rovers and Glin Rovers.
The Kerry teams left in 1971 to form the Kerry League. In the early seventies two teams, Celtic Rangers and in particular Foynes dominated the league. These years also saw the league losing teams with both Newcastle West and Foynes going to play in the LDMC league. Between 1978-81 Kilcolman completed a four in row of league titles. In 1983-84 Glin Rovers contested the Munster Youths Final going down to Vereker Clements (Limerick) by two goals to one after extra time, in a game played at Newcastle West. With an influx of new teams the league started a third division for season 85-86. The first winners were Ballingarry. During the 1980s Park United (Shanagolden) dominated the Desmond Cup competition winning it on three occasions between 1981 and 1988. Few will forget the 1987-88 final in which they defeated Kilcolman Rovers by the odd goal in nine at Newbridge. Park recovered from two goals down on two separate occasions. Newcastle West completed a four in a row of league titles between 1989 and 1992. In the Desmond Cup Saint Ben's (Tullylease) contested three Desmond Cup final between 1989-91, winning on two occasions. Between 1988 and 1993 Saint Ben's had the achievement of winning six league cups in a row. As more teams entered the league a fourth division league was started in 1990-91. The first winners of the Fourth Division were Glantine Rovers B. In season 1992-93 Askeaton contested the Munster Junior Cup final going down two one to Johnville (Waterford) in a game played at Cahir, County Tipperary. In 1995 Michael Hanley representing the Munster Football Association was elected to the FAI Senior Council. The late 1990s Rathkeale were the dominant club winning the Desmond Cup, three times and the Premier League title on four occasions. The first matches played in the new Limerick Desmond League pitch at Cloonreask, Askeaton was in season 1998-99. The first cup final played there on 12th June 1999 featured a win in a replay by Kilcolman Rovers against Rathkeale. ........to be continued.