Gaelic Football has been played in the Glenavy area since 1899. The first club was ‘Owen Roes’ and records show that it participated in competitions up until 1916-17. The present club can trace its foundation to 1942 when locals enlisted the support of the local Curate, Fr O’Hare. The club was to be known formally as St. Joseph’s GAC, Glenavy. Subsequently in 1943 the Club played in the South Antrim Junior League sporting blue jerseys.
Ten years later, the Club saw its first success as we were crowned winners of the Intermediate League and South West Junior Championship in 1952/3. This on field success was followed by the development of new grounds at Chapel Hill.
Indeed St. Joseph’s first ever game at senior level was on the opening of their new pitch on Sunday 15th November 1954. The famous O’Connell’s were the opponents and it was fitting that St. Joseph’s recorded a fine victory. The Club participated in the Senior League but by 1960 they slowly slid to Division 4 by 1960.
The early ‘60s saw a renaissance in Glenavy, culminating in the return to Division 1. To the fore in the senior team were men like Joe Creaney, James Heatley, Jim McCorry, Frank Rodgers, Sean Devlin and Terry Cormican to name but a few.
The roller coaster ride through the divisions continued and unfortunately the earls ‘70s were to see a marked decline in football fortunes. However, work at underage level began to pay dividends and the senior team were in Division 3 by 1978. That year the Club won the South West Championship and the Irish News Cup. The nucleus of a successful team had been found and in 1984 the Intermediate Championship made its way to Chapel Hill after victory against St. Enda’s at Casement.
The 1990s was a decade of change and development within the Club. A new pitch opened in the summer of 1990 and in 1992 the Senior team achieved unparalleled sucees winning All County Football League Division 2, the O’Cahan Cup and the Intermediate Championship.
After a few years spent in Division 1 the club were relegated and spent some time in the second and third tiers of Antrim football. In 2007 St. Joseph’s were made Division 3 champions. This was followed by promotion to Division 1 in 2008. Unfortunately, the top tier status was short lived and 2010 was spent in Division 2 again where the Senior team were to spend the next 8 years. Success in the 2015 Intermediate Championship, led by late Francie Doone set the foundation for victory in the 2017 All County Football League Division 2.
The new millennium saw the introduction of Ladies football to Chapel Hill. 2012 was a superb year which saw our Senior ladies win the junior Championship and Division 2 double. This was followed by Intermediate Championship success on 2 occasions in 2013 and 2016. Girls now play throughout all of our underage which bodes well for the future.
Boys football has also gone from strength to strength since the 1990s and has seen South West success at all age groups with Shield and Cup league and championship titles. Many of these players, both men and ladies have gone on to represent Antrim at Inter County level.
After a few barren years Camogie has seen a resurgence in Glenavy. We now have teams competing up to under 16 thanks to some exceptionally hard work from our coaches.
Off the pitch, our Club has never been as strong. We are one of only a handful of Clubs who have ‘Healthy Club’ status thanks to the hard work our Health and Well-being leaders, Olwyn McCambridge and Marieanne Forester.
Socially our annual Festival and fundraising events help bring people in the community closer together. We also endeavour to support charities as much as we can. Our annual Christmas Quiz has been running for some years now and the Francie Doone Cycle helps raise funds for Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke.
Culturally we provide Irish language classes and have a long tradition of Scór participation having competed at All Ireland Level in the Quiz Section and Ballad Group as well as being crowned County Champions in Novelty Act/Léiriú. Scór na nÓg has seen a resurgence in recent years also with our youth competing in various disciplines.
Finally, development of our facilities over the last 30 years has seen new Clubrooms being opened in 1998 and a training field in 2001. In 2015 a new walking path, dugouts and scoreboard were added and our grounds have since hosted championship games of all types including the 2017 Senior Championship Final.