Hurl together Joseph’s boys
They’re the lads that fear no noise.
Right in place be every puck
Do not trust that thing called luck.
Steady boys when you get the chance
To the goal that ball will dance.
The 1950’s saw Ballycran established as one of the major hurling forces in Down, now challenging the established powers of Ballela and Kilclief. Within 10 short years of their formation, they had lifted a county title and this would prove to be the launching pad towards much more success in the years ahead.
The Feis an Dun was probably the largest GAA event to be held in years in County Down as a crowd of 10,000 were addressed by President De Valera in St. Patrick’s Park Newcastle on 10th June 1950. De Valera reminded the crowd that he was following in the footsteps of Padraic Pearse who 44 years earlier in 1906, had cycled from Dublin to attend the Feis. He called for the restoration of the Irish language and the removal of the border, and after his speech, settled down to watch the football and hurling games. Ballycran, represented by Tommy Adair, Davy and Charlie Bell, Tommy O’Flynn and Hughie Ennis amongst others, went on to win the competition. A good start indeed to the new decade.
It took until 1953 before Ballycran regained the county title first won 4 years earlier. In the same year they recorded another victory in the high profile Feis sevens against old rivals Ballela. On a sadder note, the great Master McKenna passed to his eternal reward. He was the catalyst for the formation of our club and over the years had put much of his personal finances into the club. More than that though, he was a source of encouragement for those men striving to run a hurling club in very difficult times. His was the inspiration that provided the extra enthusiasm and dedication that was to make Ballycran a great and respected club. Frank McKenna was not only a great Gael, but a learned man of many talents who readily imparted his knowledge to his pupils in Ballycran, school and hurling club alike.
Ballycran recorded back to back victories in 1957-58 following a 3-in-a-row from the great Kilclief team, a feat not to be repeated in the county until GAA centenary year, 1984 by a great Ballycran outfit. Ballycran were now becoming kingpins within the county and by the end of 1959 had completed twenty years as a club tasting success in a variety of competitions. They were now more formally organised and were known across Ulster having contributed many hurlers to the county senior and minor teams and even Ulster, being represented by Davy Bell and Hugo O’Prey.
The team were now competing in tournaments outside the county and had put a youth structure in place that would yield rich dividends in the years to come. Ballycran was truly established as a force in hurling and would go from strength to strength in the ensuing decades.