An illustrious history
Portrane Athletic FC is a community-based club that facilitates competitive football for senior, under- age and over-35s players. It draws its membership from across the north County Dublin area.
Since it was reconstituted in the early 1990’s, Portrane has held unbroken membership of Dublin’s Amateur Football League.
The club is also proud to be inheritors of an illustrious local sporting heritage that links directly to one of the best junior football sides north Dublin has ever produced.
Historic 1959 Bradmola Cup victory over Home Farm
The original Portrane Athletic FC was formed around the middle of the 1900s and became one of the strongest football sides in all of Leinster. This team was based in the Burrow area of Portrane and drew its players almost completely from the locality. The profile the team enjoyed was remarkable given the size of the villages of Portrane and Donabate at that time.
That Portrane Athletic FC team reached the peak of its powers in the late 1950’s, a period during which the club enjoyed its highest profile success. The two-page programme on this page commemorates Portrane Athletic’s 1959 AUL Bradmola Cup final appearance – a game that the Portrane Athletic won.
The final of the competition, one of the most prestigious open competitions in Leinster football at the time, was played at Tolka Park, Drumcondra. Bradmola FC was a factory team based at a nylon business in Blackrock which opened in 1936. They attracted better players because they could offer them employment and soon graduated to the Leinster Senior League in 1941. Bradmola were responsible for the donation of the famous Bradmola Cup to the AUL in 1939 and Portrane’s victory in the competition – reported in all the national newspapers of the day – represented a definite highpoint .
Portrane Athletic may have taken the Bradmola back to the peninsula in 1959 but Home Farm FC had their revenge the very next season when they beat the holders 5-2 at the Burrow. Home Farm stunned the big local crowd by taking a 2-0 lead early on and then made sure of victory by hitting the net again after the break. Portrane came back late on with Tierney and Pownall on the mark but it was, as the Irish Press reported, too little too late.
Although the club has enjoyed significant league and cup success in recent years much of the club’s efforts have been concentrated on developing our playing facilities on the Donabate Road.
Long-serving members of the Club Committee, including Nicky Linders, Terry Porter, Petey Linders and Jimmy Kelly realised that the basis for establishing a successful club must start with a playing surface that allows players, young and old, to reach their full potential. Prior to this, because the club rented playing fields from Fingal County Council and local land owners, it was difficult to deliver meaningful pitch improvement.
Club officials were aware that a 20-acre waste ground site on Donabate Road in Portrane was owned by the old Eastern Health Board as part of St Ita’s Psychiatric Hospital and had been zoned for leisure purposes by Fingal County Council. Realising that the health authorities were unlikely ever to have funds available or a pressing desire to develop this marshland the management committee approached senior HSE managers with a proposal. An agreement was subsequently put in place more than ten years ago for the club to take control of the land and develop it as a community sports resource under their direct management.
The land, which was similar to the waterlogged scrub currently adjoining the site, was entirely unsuitable for playing pitches. Having secured the use of the site, the club approached local developers and offered them the opportunity to use the site as a place to deposit excavated soil and other debris. Over a period of several years, which coincided with Dublin’s building boom, volunteers oversaw and managed the transfer of hundreds of thousands of tons of infill. A digger was hired and club members levelled the site, building it up 20 feet higher than the adjoining marsh, and inserting drainage.
Two pitches were sown with further drainage tracts added a little later to support high-frequency sports use. The remaining land was levelled can now be converted into a third and fourth pitch as needed by adding drainage.
Our two pitches are now, by common consent amongst visiting teams, referees and league officials, amongst the best in Dublin. Floodlights and changing rooms are also in place and there are plans to further upgrade these facilities in the near future.
Recent on-field achievements – Senior
Portrane Athletic has spent almost 30 years in various divisions of the AFL. In 2011, the club won its first senior silverware when a side captained by Scott Finegan took the AFL Loftus Cup with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Kill Celtic at AFL headquarters on the Oscar Traynor Road. Two second half goals by substitute Danny Cottell proved the difference between the sides on a day of high winds. Midfielder Robbie Masterson also took the man-of-the-match accolade.
This success meant the AFL promoted the side two divisions to its Sunday Premier division for the 2012/13 season. Whilst the standard was the highest the club has played at in its history, the team survived and finished this first year in mid-table. A highlight of this season was a home encounter with Leinster Senior League (Major) side Rathoath Harps in the second round of the Leinster Senior Cup, probably the highest level side the club has played in its recent history. Portrane Athletic made the worst possible start and were 0-2 down after just 12 minutes but the rallied and long stretches of the match were spent at 1-2 and 2-3 before a late goal gave the visitors a slightly flattering 2-4 victory. This Rathoath Harps side would win their Leinster Senior League title later the same season.
Recent on field achievements – over 35s
The most successful adult side in recent years has been the club’s Over 35s team. After finishing in the top four of the AFL Over-35s Premier League on successive seasons, this team finally realised its full potential in 2013 by taking the title. The competitiveness of the league is reflected by the fact that the side only lost twice all season but still had to go win all nine of its final games – including the all-important title decider with OLV Markievicz – to secure top spot.
In 2013 the club entered a team into the Frankie Pat Gallagher Memorial Over 35s tournament run by Gweedore United in west Donegal. This side reached the semi-finals of the tournament, losing in extra time to a golden goal.