Fourteen years before the founding of the G.A.A. in November 1884 a type of Gaelic football match took place in Shanbogh between Tullogher and Glenmore. The ditches at each end of the field served as goalposts with the object of the exercise for each team being to get the ball over the ditch as many times as possible in order to win the game.
From the very brief description of the game given in local newspapers of the time it appears that tripping, wrestling, lifting the ball off the ground and carrying it for long distances were allowed. When darkness began to fall the game was terminated and called a draw as each team were credited with four overs apiece.
On November 1, 1888 a meeting was held in Brownstown for the purpose of forming a club and affiliating a team to the Kilkenny County Board. The latter had problems of their own with two rival conventions being held in the City, one in The Tholsel, and the other in the Workmen’s Club. But a gathering of the Central Council in January 1888 sorted out all differences and Kilkenny fell into line with the rules then pertaining. Tullogher entered a team in the Senior Football Championship of 1889 and played Killamery at Ballyhale where in a low-scoring game they were defeated by 0-4 to 0-3 after extra time.
Football then was the dominant game in Kilkenny and success came at inter-county level when Kilmacow won the Leinster Senior Championship of 1888. Tullogher played Ballyhale at Columbkille, Thomastown, in 1890 where the game was abandoned after a disputed score. No championships were held in 1891/1892 due to the infamous Parnell split and in 1893, only two teams, Callan and Confederates took part.
One of the best of the Tullogher players of that era, John P. Phelan of Garranbehy, Rosbercon, threw in his lot with the New Ross Robert Emmets, and by impressive displays was duly selected on the Wexford team for the All Ireland Senior Football Final. Phelan won his coveted medal when Wexford, represented by Young Ireland’s, beat Dromtariffe of Cork by 1-1 to 0-2 thereby being probably the first Kilkenny man to do so. Most of the footballers from Tullogher played with New Ross teams until, in 1898, the said John P. Phelan formed a new team from the parish
For the next few years up until 1902 this team performed consistently without achieving any county honours. Then Tullogher entered their own team and immediately gained a major success wining the New Ross tournament for a set of gold medals beating another Kilkenny team, the ‘Curragh Fir Bolgs’ in the final. Later that year in Kilmacow the Kilkenny final saw one of the great football matches of that time between Lamogue and Tullogher where the latter won by a single point, 0-8 to 0-7. They again reached the final in 1903 but were soundly beaten by Lamogue in the decider. There were many disputes and disruptions to the playing of our National Games in the next 20 years or so.
A new team called the Barrow Rovers took the field in 1922 and created history by being the first to win a Kilkenny final. Captained by Jim Cody, they beat the Rower and Glenmore in the South and then defeated Muckalee United by 2-3 to 0-1 to become the junior champions. Renamed Tullogher again in 1928, they won their second junior football final beating Cloneen 1-3 to 1-1.
In what can only be described as the halcyon years for the club, Tullogher won five senior and one junior football county final in the period 1930-1940.
In 1930 Tullogher beat Glenmore 0-6 to 0-2. In 1931 they retained the title when the championship was played on a league basis. Tullogher won with full points. They lost to Castlecomer but were given the points on an objection. They then beat Cloneen and received a walk-over from Cotterstown in their final game.
In 1934 Tullogher were back in the winners enclosure as senior football county champions, beating Mullinavat by a clear-cut 1-4 to 0-1 in the final. Then in 1936 Tulloger emerged as county senior champions with a narrow 1-5 to 1-3 win over Blacks & Whites. The championship was retained in 1937 with victory over Glenmore in the final by 2-5 to 2-0.
Outstanding players of that era were: Luke Roche, Tom Bird, John Maddock, Watt Ryan, Pat Gaule, Dick Barron, and Kilkenny inter-county hurler, Jack Duggan of Tory Hill.
The 1941 county SFC title again came Tullogher’s way with a convincing 2-8 to 0-1 final victory over The Rower and in ’44 Coolagh were beaten 2-7 to 1-2 in the final. There was then an 18 year gap to the next SFC success of 1962 when Muckalee were beaten 1-7 to 0-2.
A treble of junior finals was won in 1948, 1955, and 1986. In 1948 Tullogher beat Moneenroe 2-3 to 0-2 in the junior decider and seven years later St. Canice’s (Rosbercon) overcame St. Kieran’s of Johnstown in the final. The 1986 final victory for Tullogher-Rosbercon was achieved over Danesfort on a score of 0-7 to 0-3.
In 1994 Tullogher-Rosbercon captured the Intermediate title beating Piltown by a single point, 1-9 to 1-8. The minors too rowed in with success in 1951, when St. Canice’s (Rosbercon) narrowly defeated city side St. Canice’s by 3-0 to 2-2 and 1965, when Railyard were beaten by two points, thereby completing a unique record in that the club have won Kilkenny football championships in all grades within the county.
Joining up with Glenmore and fielding under the name, St. David’s, the combined parishes won Under 21 championships in 1977/1978/1979.
Up to 1945, Tullogher was regarded as one of the strongholds of football in Kilkenny, being well able to hold their own even with the crack Wexford teams. Entering a hurling team in the championship they won their first game beating St Joseph’s of Tullahought by 3-6 to 2-4 but were soundly beaten by Dunkitt in the next round on a score 4-8 to 1-4. It was not until 1957 that they made the breakthrough beating Young Ireland’s of Gowran by 4-4 to 1-3. They then campaigned unsuccessfully in the senior championship up until 1968, putting up their best performance in 1963 when they lost to in the county final to St. Lactain’s of Freshford by 1-7 to 0-3. Clara were too good for a fancied Tullogher team in the junior final of 1969 winning by 1-17 to 2-7 and Clara repeated the dose in 1977 this time by 3-12 to 2-4.
It was 1989 before the junior hurling title was won once more when Tullogher-Rosbercon beat Galmoy by 2-15 to 3-8 and they triumphed again in 1992 beating Black &Whites 2-13 to 1-10. The last win in that grade came in 1997 courtesy of a one point win over Galmoy, 0-12 to 1-8.
The club also won the all county hurling league in 1997.
Since then it has been a case of so near and yet so far especially in 2005 when disappointing against Kilmacow in the Southern semi-final.
There was some consolation for the junior hurlers when they beat Conahy Shamrocks in the league final whilst the special juniors also reached the county final but were defeated by St Lactain’s of Freshford.
The two county minor hurling titles were won in Roinn C in 1988 and 1992 and the Minor hurling B League final was captured in 1999. In Under 16 hurling there were two successes in the years 1976 and 1998. The Under 14 hurlers beat Bennettsbridge by 7-8 to 2-5 to claim the 1992 county title in Roinn C. They beat the same opposition in the Under 14 11-a-side the same year.
At Primary Schools level, there were victories in the league final of 1980 and the championship finals of 1991, 1994, and 1999 where the team also won the Country Cup. The Under 14 footballers had their only success in 1981.
Luke Roche was the first man from the club to serve in an official capacity when he acted as chairman of the Football Board in the 1930’s.
Tom Murphy and Jimmy Phelan were Kilkenny Junior hurling selectors in 1958 whilst Jim Mackey served for many years as a selector in all grades for the Kilkenny footballers.
John Healy was a recent chairman of the County Board and is still Kilkenny’s delegate to the Central Council.
The aforementioned Luke Roche was also a well known referee in company with other ‘knight’s of the whistle’ from the club, the late Michael Morrissey and Jamesie Murphy.