The Galbally RFC Mansergh and Garryowen Cup winning team sowed the early seeds of success. Back row (left to right): John Hedigan, Paddy Hogan, Tom Burns, Bill Henebry, Noel Hedigan, John Moloney, Fr Willie Walsh and Kevin Walsh.
Front row (left to right): Mike Bourke, Bob Fitzgerald, Connie Bourke, Sean Bourke, Michael Bourke, Paudie Quinlan and Hugh Ryan

Galbally Rugby Club can claim its origins through two historical townlands, known locally as the Glebe and Duntryleague.
Its first venture into the game came about through a famous match between Duntryleague, a rural townsland to the north of the village copiously populated with farmers’ sons, and the ‘city slickers’ from the Glebe, or Galbally village, to be precise. Duntryleague had a resounding victory and, sensing an upsurge in patient numbers, the late Dr. Harry Bugler GP wisely brought the two factions together in 1973 and formed what is known today as Galbally Rugby Club.
‘The Captain’ rows in
Much of the credit for the formation of a rugby club in Galbally was, by general consensus, down to one man – Tom Bourke of Lackelly.
A larger than life figure, Tom, affectionally known as the ‘The Captain’, worked locally for the Galtee Cattle Breeding Station, and was widely known in the farming communities of South Limerick and West Tipperary.
He played football for both Latin and Galbally and, in fact, also captained the local team to win a South Junior Football Championship. Tom’s real achievement was, however, as a founding member of Galbally RFC.
On that famous day when Duntryleague played the Glebe in a ten a side game, Tom was the chief organiser, and not only did he play as front row prop, but also acted as the referee for the game – surely one of the most unique occurrences in the annals of Irish rugby.

The Bourke tradition lives on
It gave an early indication that ‘nothing was impossible’ for the man from Lackelly, a passionate advocate for the furtherance of rugby in Galbally.
The Bourke connection is still there and being carried on in the same whole hearted fashion, by Tom`s son, Michael Joe through his involvement in the club at underage age level.
And, the present secretary of Galbally RFC, Charlie McCarthy, paying tribute to the role played by ‘The Captain’ in the formation of a rugby club in the parish, told the Vale Star, “This is where the future lies and the continued development of our club would be a fitting monument to the energy and foresight shown by Tommy ‘Captain’ Burke.”

The first officers
Parochial and club records indicate that the first Galbally RFC officers, elected in the 1974-1975 season, were President- Dr. Harry Bugler, chairman Tom Flynn, secretary Anne Cooney, treasurer Tommy Henebry and captain Sean Bourke.
The first recorded victory came in the Evans Cup back in 1975, when the side was captained by Sean Bourke, Victory was achieved with a try by Pat Hogan, converted by the ever vigilant and experienced captain.
From this humble beginning the club has gone from strength to strength, winning many high profile competitions including the Evans Cup, Casey Cup, Mansergh Cup, Garryowen Cup, the O’Carroll and the AIB Cups.

The ‘no training’ years
The win in 1975 set a headline for the following years and expectations were realised in the 1979-1980 season when, under the captaincy of Jim O’Donnell, both the Manseragh and the Garryowen Cups found a happy resting place in Galbally.
Further success followed under the captaincy of Tom Burns in 1981. Tom, also an active P.R.O., stressed that all the club’s success to date was achieved with little or no training which is, of course, much different to today`s teams and players.

Local families
Well known family names in the parish formed the nucleus of most teams in that era…. names like Hedigans, Henebrys, Bourkes, Noonans and Hogans. Other success followed throughout the 90s, with the most recent victory being the Garryowen Cup in 2016.
Players of note to wear the Galbally jersey included Tony Ward, Don O’Connell, Billy Cronin and a past Irish coach and now TV pundit, Eddie O’Sullivan who were all guest players when Galbally played Maidenhead, a touring English team in the community field.
Galbally RFC Galbally travelled to Maidenhead to play a return fixture in 1982.

Players at highest level
Reflecting further on the success of Galbally RFC over a period of nearly 50 years, club secretary, Charlie McCarthy, said, “Some of our players have played at AIL level, many past players have worn the Munster jersey with success at junior level, with Stephen Burke and Brendan Childes had the honour of captaining provincial teams at different times.
Jeremy Staunton was, of course, one of our better known members, playing his underage rugby with Galbally, then going on to play for Garryowen and Ireland.”Jermy played professional rugby with Munster, London Irish and Wasps, with whom he won a Heineken Cup medal, and finished his career with Leicester Tigers.
Much of the success of Galbally RFC has been generated by the club’s comprehensive youth policy, with teams participating at all levels,” Charlie added.

Club grounds
Today, the club owns its own grounds, surrounded by protective wooden fencing, a new clubhouse that incorporates dressing rooms, showers and a function room, with a sizeable car park also attached.
The purchase of its own grounds was achieved in 1994 with the acquisition of lands adjoining the community field. To finance this and subsequent development, a loan was procured from the I.R.F.U. and this, together with many raffles, fashion shows, confined draws and five year memberships, had the finances in a healthy state when the field was opened in 1996.
This was followed by the construction of a modern club house in 2003 and the erection of match quality flood lighting, 11 years ago, in 2009.