Killeshin FC was formed in 1983 as a schoolboy club competing in the then Carlow and District Schoolboys league. The Clubs first pitch was in Clonmore on John McDonalds farm in The School House field which joins the field where Killeshin GAA had their first pitch in the 1920s. The club played there for 2 seasons fielding U-12 and U-13 teams. Founded by the players Ian McDonald, Seamus Dowling and Eddie Gaffney and they enlisted Clement Fitzpatrick as manager. In 1986 the mens Junior team affiliated to the newly established Carlow and District Football League in its inaugural season, competing in the Carlow Cup only and then the following season entering the newly formed first Division .The first club colours were white and green with blue and white hoops as the change colours as we were the only Laois club in the league, although club secretary Joe Whelan’s passion for lowly QPR may have been the real reason. The club played out of Coolhenry, courtesy of the Malone family and played there until 1988 when the club moved to The Quakers field which has been home to the club ever since except for 2 seasons played in Ballykillen on the Killeshin Rd. Current Carlow and District League Chairman Noel Jordan managed the mens team in its first season with PL Curran as Chairman and Joe Whelan as Secretary. Noel was followed as manager by Laois Inter county footballer Christy Maguire who managed the team for 2 seasons.
After 3 seasons in Div. 1 the club were promoted to the Premier Division under manager Dave Dowling in 1990-91. With a strong committee headed by Francis and Joe Whelan alternating as Chairman and the energy of Club Secretary the late Johnny Coughlan and Treasurer Michael “Mousey” Brennan the club went through the 1990s with considerable success. Winning the Carlow Shield 3 times, runners up it the Premier Division twice, B team twice reaching the Carlow Cup final and winning league titles. In one season the club fielded 3 mens junior teams. The backbone of the successful teams were made up of dual players who played soccer from autumn to spring and GAA from spring to autumn with overlaps of the two sports seasons minimal this helped players enjoy both sports and give both the required commitment. This was epitomised on the field by Eugene O’Rourke who gave great commitment to both sports. Eugene as Centre half on our successful teams was also voted Carlow Sports star of the year in Soccer, Carlow league player of the year and Captained the Carlow representative team in the Oscar Traynor tournament while all the time being centre half back on our GAA team. Eugene also still holds the county record to this day for the Javelin in County Laois. Both the Soccer club and GAA lost one of its most skilful players in 1996 with the passing of Ollie Rowan at the age of 26. Ollie had also served on the soccer club committee and this was a devastating blow to both clubs and the parish.
All the time the club endeavoured to field juvenile teams and like any rural club in the latter half of the last century the numbers of players available age groups determined what teams could be fielded. The Juvenile section of the Club received a tremendous boost with the appointment of Dick Farrell early in the new millennium as Juvenile Secretary. Dick brought great enthusiasm and drive to the role which resulted in the club increasing the number of teams fielded giving more children the opportunity to play soccer and increasing the number of players coming through to the adult section of the club. Another highlight for the club at this time was our youths team winning the league and cup double under manager Mark O Regan in 1999-2000, this was one of the clubs finest hours with many players from this team going on to play for our A team to this day. Fiach Gaffney was named Carlow League Youths player that season but what promised to be a fine career was cut short by injury.
As the new millennium rolled on we continued to be competitive in the Premier division but again like many rural areas a shortage of players of the standard required meant we suffered relegation for the first time going right down to Div. 2, at the same time on the GAA front, Killeshin went back to Junior football. In 2011, the club took on Mick Dargan as first team manager with the task of rebuilding the first team. Mick has brought great commitment and dedication to the role and in his 6 seasons at the helm has brought the team from Div. 2 back to currently sitting in 4th place in the Premier division, and along the way picking up Div. 1 and 2 league titles back to back. Tremendous credit must go to Mick for making us competitive in the premier division again. The return to the club of quality young players such as David Aston and Evan Lowry has also been a great boost and with the great strides the club has been making with our facilities it is imperative that we continue to bring in young players and keep our first team on its upward curve.
In 2011, we commenced phase 1 of our Development plan, the construction and laying of 2 sand based pitches and training area. We are all the opinion that local contractor Anthony Pender of Penturf has done a top-class job which offers everybody in our community the opportunity to play soccer on a quality surface. The job was completed in 2014 and we moved in the following season. The project was funded without any Sports Capital funding, our hard-working committee and the goodwill of our community in supporting our fundraisers along with the support of the Carlow and District League funded our phase 1 development in full. We currently have 14 teams in the club with over 240 players registered this season. With the huge growth in our playing numbers our current plans for a clubhouse/dressing rooms are vital for the future of our club. Huge credit must go to our community who have continuously supported our fundraising initiatives to develop our facilities. Our community support for our fundraising towards our development is recognised by our committee as an endorsement by our community in our work to provide the current and future generations of young and not so young in our rural parish with sporting facilities that will provide a great sporting and social outlet.
The parish of Graiguecullen-Killeshin has 3 soccer clubs, St. Pats Boys, St Fiachs and Killeshin. This season the 3 clubs registered 750 players. This confirms the huge popularity of soccer which is the most popular played sport in County Carlow with over 3,500 players registered with both leagues this season. This growth in the game has been matched by many clubs with the great developments in club’s facilities. Although we are a Laois club we have always been affiliated to both Carlow leagues, the development of facilities in our neighbouring Laois clubs who also participate in the Carlow leagues has been remarkable for the for pace of development in such a brief period. St Pats Boys have led the way with their development including their all-weather pitches and clubhouse. In Ballylinan, St Anne’s who purchased their own land have developed a top-class Clubhouse also without any Sports Capital grand aid. Crettyard last year were successful with a Sports Capital application and after securing a long-term lease on their grounds have developed 2 new top class sand based pitches. Wolfhill have also developed a new pitch in the Swan. The future for Laois Clubs is very bright indeed.