Established over 60 years ago, the club has a long and illustrious history. Browse through the club history to learn what makes Calry Bohs special.
When a group of football enthusiasts from the rural parish of Calry got together in 1961 to pursue the possibility of forming a local team, they could hardly have envisaged that they were sowing the seeds of one of the great success stories of junior soccer in Sligo.
Now, a half century on, Calry Bohemians boast a roll of honour which would be the envy of any junior cub in the country. Several clubs, some from more traditional soccer strongholds with greater population resources, have come and gone but Calry have not only lasted the pace but have established themselves as one of the most enduring cornerstones of junior soccer in the region.
It was the late Mervyn Strain, a man synonymous with the development of junior soccer in the area, who got the ball rolling. In 1961, at a time when junior football was played almost exclusively in Sligo town, Mervyn had the idea of setting up a club in the Calry area. He cobbled together a team made up entirely of under 16 players and they took part in just one game – a challenge match at St.Anne’s Park, the spiritual home of junior soccer in those days which is now sadly no more. Calry lost the match but the bug had bitten and there was no turning back.
Mervyn’s enthusiasm and determination provided the motivation to establish a permanent club and there was no shortage of willing volunteers ready to share his dream. When the junior soccer season of 1962 kicked off, there was a new name on the list of competing teams – Calry Bohemians.
The team’s home pitch was at a field known as The Pond, Calry, and Pat Branley came on board to help Mervyn run the new club. Mervyn was player-manager, a fairly novel concept in those days, and the other members of the first team to represent Bohs in the League were Charlie Branley, Frank Hopper, Jimmy Flynn, Seamus McGoldrick, Paddy Coen, Ernie McCullagh, Joey McMoreland, Alan Henry, Clarence Melvin and Anthony O’Reilly.
Other players who figured prominently in the early years were Seamus Cummins, Sean Lyons, Kieran Murphy, Keith Hopper, Johnny McMoreland and Michael Branley.
‘We got hammered in every game in our first season’, recalls Jimmy Flynn, who has been at the club from the start and has filled practically every role with Bohs on and off the field over the last five decades.
Calry were one of the first rural teams to set up a structured junior club but others quickly followed suit and in the late 1960s the Sligo/Leitrim FA decided to set up two divisions in the League – one for town teams and one for county teams. Calry won the county league, defeating Real Tubber in the final. Johnny McMoreland scored the winning goal in a 2-1 victory and the first piece of silverware was landed.
Bohs participated in summer tournaments throughout the North West and continued to be a strong force at local level. In 1968, they were involved in one of their most memorable campaigns when they reached the last eight of the FAI Junior Cup, losing 4-3 to Westport United in front of a crowd of over 1,000 spectators at the Mayo club’s home venue. Joe Callaghan, Paddy Walsh, Kevin Sweeney and current Dail Deputy, Tony McLoughlin, were on the Bohs team that year and they also had a few ‘guest players’, given that the GAA ban on its members participating in other codes was still in force.
With the town’s main football pitch, St. Anne’s Park, lost to development, clubs were forced to find their own pitches – Devaney’s field at Ballinode and McCullagh’s fields at Doonally and Barraroe served at different times as Calry’s home ground.
They trained for a time at the local FCA Hall and sessions would regularly involve long road and cross-country runs. The players enjoyed this aspect of training so much that they formed a running club as an offshoot of the soccer team – and Calry Athletic Club came into existence.
And even the formation of Calry Gaels, now the flourishing Calry/St Joseph’s GAA club, can be traced back to Bohs.
‘There was no summer soccer in the 1970s so we started a GAA club. We would play Gaelic football during the summer and soccer in the Winter and nobody complained’, explains Jimmy Flynn.
Indeed, in an example of sporting ecumenism which was certainly ahead of its time, Calry Bohs and Calry Gaels had the same officer board for 15 years with Christy Herrity, Tom Gallen, Pat Branley and Michael McGuinn sharing the key positions.
The strong bond between the two sporting organisations and the enthusiastic support of the local community paved the way for the development of first class facilities at Hazelwood. Land was purchased from the Land Commission in 1980 and over half a million euro has been spent over the years providing what is now a magnificent community park at Hazelwood, which is home to Bohs and Calry/St. Joseph’s.
With Bohs going from strength to strength, it was necessary to field A and B teams in 1979. The second team played under the name Calry Celtic and substantial efforts were also put into developing local players through a well-organised under-age system.
The big breakthrough came in 1987 when the club won the Super League for the first time in their history. Jimmy Flynn and Vinny Fowley were the managers and the squad included such talented footballers as Tom Logan, Kieran Murphy, Damian McCallion, the Rooney brothers, Micheal, Raymond, Kieran, Aidan and Brendan, the Gallen brothers, Kevin, Thomas and Paul, and Sean Crossan.
It was the start of a golden era for the club – they won seven Super League titles in ten years. It was particularly satisfying for the club that several members of that all-conquering panel came through from their under 19 team.
Their spectacular run of success in those years also included three Connacht Senior Cups, three Michael O’Byrne Cups, six FAI Sligo Area Cups, the MacSharry Foley Cup and the Bill Monaghan Cup.
Down through the years, many famous players wore the Bohs colours. Johnny Armstrong, widely regarded as one of the greatest players ever to play for Sligo Rovers, finished his playing career with Bohs, while Mickey Sweeney and Jim Sheridan, two other iconic soccer personalities, also played for the club. The area’s most famous soccer son, Paul McGee, who played for Sligo Rovers, QPR and Ireland during a distinguished career.
Bohs also made a valuable contribution to the administration of junior soccer in Sligo with Michael McGuinn, Seamus Cummins, Pat Branley, Mervyn Strain and Vinny Fowley all serving with distinction on the Sligo/Leitrim FA.
There’s been several improvements at the community park over the years. A new astro facility has been a much used addition and excellent for training in the winter months. When the late Tommy Fowley retired, Padraic O’Connor who has been a member of the club since its foundation in 1961 took over as groundsman and caretaker.
The club won the Premier League and McSharry Foley Cup double in the 2011/12 season.
The club has had a number of tours, particularly in the last twenty years. They were the only Sligo-Leitrim team to tour the US when they visited Florida in the mid 70’s.
Bohs actually played against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, a team that had featured George Best, Gerd Muller and Rodney Marsh. Bohs played four games in the US on a very successful two week trip.
In the 80’s and 90’s the club toured the UK on several occasions visiting Liverpool and Manchester primarily. They played Liverpool and Manchester U19 representative teams acquitting themselves well on each occasion. They were also provided with tours of the various premiership grounds and met some of the players and managers. The first trip trip took place before the super league decider in 1986 and was largely accredited with bringing the first super league trophy to Calry.
The 90’s saw the club go to Malta for a two-week pre season tour, which was significant in so far as it was club captains Mick McGettricks honeymoon. The significance of the tour was such that the RTE Gerry Ryan show phoned the club chairman on two occasions for a live radio update !. Thirty-five people travelled to Malta as Bohs played the Maltese Champions League, Cup Winners Cup and UEFA cup representatives. Bohs performed very well on the pitch drawing with Floriana, who Sligo Rovers later played, 0-0. They lost 2-0 to Valetta who lost 3-1 to Borussia Dortmund the following week in the European Cup and drew 1-1 with Silema Wanderers. Ken Monaghan scored Calrys only goal on the trip.
Calry players Paul McGee, Keith Gilroy and Conor Griffin have won International honours. Paul McGee has won a number of caps at senior level. Paul coached the team in the late 80’s while with Galway United. Keith Gilroy played with the club under age and senior teams, winning the bank of Ireland cup with the senior team in 1999. He played one season with Sligo Rovers before transferring to Middlesboro. Keith has played on Brian Kerrs successful U19 and U20 teams. Current player Conor Griffin represented the Ireland squad for the UEFA Regions qualifiers in Italy in 2017.
League of Ireland Players
A succession of players has also played League of Ireland football including Kieran Rooney, Michael Rooney, Raymond Rooney, Vincent McGee, Vincent Harte, Pierse Devaney, Jim Sheridan, Michael McNamara, Keith Gilroy and Kevin Devaney. Michael Rooney was the first Calry player to play League of Ireland football when making his debut under the late Gerry Mitchells management in the 80’s. Clubs for whom players have played include Sligo Rovers, Longford Town, Bohemians, Galway United and Finn Harps.