Carlow Rovers:The story of an early team

Soccer was first played in Carlow on the Fair Green in 1905. Henry Bruen was an early patron of this sport when it was played at the Cricket Club grounds at Oak Park. By the mid 1920-s soccer had widened its appeal and was played locally as "association football". A team called Carlow Rovers was formed in the town. The club meetings were held at the racquet court and later at the C.Y.M.S. (Catholic Young Mens' Society). The first game was played at Monacurragh adjacent to the town. Carlow Rovers later played in a midland league against other teams from neighbouring counties such as Athy and Newbridge.

The Sugar factory opened in 1926 and the factory provided a pitch in the vicinity, at Strawhall. Other local venues were the rugby Club grounds and a field adjacent to the former Workhouse building. In the late 1920's and into the 1930's soccer was played in Rathnapish. The grounds there were popularly known as Villa Park. Carlow Rovers were successful around that time and won the league in 1934. Prominent players of the day were Paddy Hayden, J. Quigley, P. Shaw and Mark and Joe Piggott.

It appears that Carlow Rovers ceased all sporting activity during the period of the Second World War or The Emergency, as it was known in Ireland. The club was re-established post 1945 and T.J. Byrne was at the helm. Carlow Rovers rented a playing field from Colonel Bruen at Oakpark. The Club had a boys and a senior team. Governeys' Boot Factory employees also formed a soccer team and played matches against teams from other factories. Carlow Rovers disbanded in the early 1950's.

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