Our club was founded in 1990 as Bunratty FC to provide a sporting and social outlet for the people of Bunratty and surrounding areas. There was a strong cohort of local boys from Clonmoney School interested in soccer, doubtless driven by Ireland’s success in Euro 88 and reaching the World Cup in Italy in 1990. The original founder of the club was Gerry Hayes. He had been organising matches with local teams from Shannon, Sixmilebridge and elsewhere for a few years prior to 1990 when Bunratty first entered the Clare and District Soccer League, entering an U14 team for the 1990/1991 season. The first committee elected were PJ Woulfe as Chairman, Sheila Tiernan (Secretary) and Gerry Hayes (Treasurer). Early committee members included Alan Larkin, Jim Jones, John Jones, Maurice Landy, Michael Quinn, Bill Whelan and Gerry Healy.
The Club's first game was a 6-3 defeat against Mountshannon Celtic in Mountshannon. Unfortunately Bunratty did not have a home pitch for this season so all games were played away. For the following season PJ and the committee set about getting a pitch for Bunratty FC. Roadstone were approached and they offered an area of land, central to Bunratty, for use. The schoolboy section began to grow and by 1993 we had a number of teams entered at underage level in the CSSL.
The first Bunratty team to win a league were the under 16 team in 1995. The majority of players on this team, managed by Noel Twomey would go on to become very successful at youths level in later years.
Jim Twomey took over the youths team for the 1994/1995 season. They following year they would secure the league and cup double, and finished the season winning all 24 league matches, a record which may never be matched. The youths team visited the prestigious Keele Classic competition in the UK in 1996 and 1998 and reached the latter stages on both occasions. The youths would go on to win 3 leagues and 1 Clare Cup. Reaching the Munster Youths Cup semi-final in Turners Cross in 1998 was a huge achievement the team, under the stewardship of David Jones. The memory of the 2-1 defeat to Leeds from Cork in the semi-final is all but erased now but Declan Adams late winner against Rock Rovers from Carrick-on-Suir in the quarter final replay lives on.
For the 1996/1997 the club entered a Junior Team for the first time in the Clare and District Soccer League. They competed in the third division, which they won and successive promotions for the following 3 years meant the club had reached the Premier Division of Clare in a very short time. The 1998/1999 season was particularly memorable with Clem McInerney and his team adding the Clare Cup to the 1st division title.
By now, many of the players that had played at underage levels with Bunratty had now graduated to junior ranks and in the 2000-2001 season the club entered a B team in the 3rd division. In later years the B team would reach the heights of the 1st division under Billy McKee. The growth in popularity locally of soccer saw Cratloe Celtic also formed in 2000 catering for the increase in numbers. The founding members were Colm Ryan, Fintan and Mark Ward and Padraig Chaplin who like many of the players had previously played with Bunratty. Cratloe won the third division at the first time of asking under Don McMillan and Kieran O’Dwyer and like Bunratty charged straight up the divisions. At one stage in the mid 2000’s both clubs were in the premier division in Clare while having competitive B teams. They also boasted youths and underage teams which reflected the strength of soccer in a small community and was testament to the effort that had been put in over the previous years in both clubs at underage level. Notable mentions on the Cratloe side should go to Jack McCourt, Joe Wilmot, Nicky Hawes, Mikey Weston and the Ryan family who provided a home for the club for a number of years.
Bunratty FC’s journey continued with the Premier league title was captured by Jim Twomey and his team in the 2000-2001 season. Bunratty also won the cup that year, beating Burren Utd in the final. The cup was retained the following year with David Jones as manager when Bunratty beat Shannon Olympic in the final after a replay. Donal Magee continued the tradition and brought lots of success to the club in his 2 stints as manager. He won the premier league and cup double in 2003-2004 beating Mountshannon in the cup final and brought the league title back to South Clare in 2008/2009 and were runners up in the Cup in 2008. James Carrig and the late Hugh Kelly also managed the club in the noughties as the club spent the decade invariably involved at the business end of the competitions. The late Tom Ryan was chairman of the club for much of this period and his infectious enthusiasm for soccer (and life in general) left a mark with all of us.
This success had been unique for such a young club and given its small hinterland, a falloff in interest at underage level naturally resulted in a downturn in players feeding through to its junior teams. Cratloe had also been searching for a pitch having played in a variety of grounds including Newtown, Coonagh, Lees Road and LIT. In 2010 both neighbouring clubs decided to amalgamate and Bunratty Cratloe FC was formed. This was a natural step as the clubs had shared both players and managers at junior and underage levels over the years. Don McMillan was the first manager for the new club which has had a difficult few years but is now competing in the 2nd division and things are looking up for the first time in a number of years.
The last 5 years has seen the underage club re-ignited and from a standing start we now have teams in every Schoolboys league from U13 down to U7 together with Schoolgirls teams at U12 and U10. All in addition to our all-conquering under 6 kickers group which continues to grow! This progress is supported by the primary schools in Clonmoney and Cratloe and backboned by many who have played and been involved with the club since the 1990's.
Our club has seen both great and trickier times over the last 30 years and we have lost some friends along the way who have given a lot of time to the club including PJ Woulfe, Tom Ryan, Jim Twomey and Don McMillan to mention but a few. We are putting the foundation stones in place now for many years to come and we look forward to making many more memories here at Woulfe Park.