The parish of Kilconieron is rich in hurling tradition. The parish is made up of two half-parishes (Kilconieron and Clostoken) and stretches from Athenry to the north, Kilchreest to the south, Craughwell to the west and Loughrea to the East. Records dating back to 1885 will show that Kilconieron and Clostoken were among the first clubs in Galway to be affiliated with the Central Branch of the GAA. The first recorded game involving Kilconieron was noted in The Tuam News which reported on a game between Kilconieron and Kiltulla on August 29th 1885, which ended in a draw.
Of the two clubs, Kilconieron was the most successful in the early years. The year 1908 marked the beginning of the most successful and exciting period in the history of Kilconieron Hurling Club. During the following dozen years, the club won three County Championships and were runners-up on four occasions. The team became known far and wide as ‘The Kills’ and they were the team to beat in the championship. During this glorious period in the history of the club, it consistently supplied players fit for county duty. In 1908, Kilconieron won their first County Championship by defeating Kilnadeema, while in the same year Clostoken were runners-up in the Junior Championship.
Kilconieron went on to claim the county title again in 1912 by defeating Castlegar but lost their title the following year to Woodford. They won their third county title in 1919 by defeating a star-studded Tynagh team with five players on the Galway Senior team. They went on to win the West Board Senior Final in 1921 by defeating Craughwell.
From there, some barren years followed for Kilconieron but Clostoken did go on to win the South Board Junior final in 1926. Kilconieron did not field a team in 1928 as many players either retired or emigrated, which was common to many clubs in the 1920’s. The 1930’s brought a North Board Junior Championship to Kilconieron with the defeat of Gurteen.
In 1943, there was a split in the Kilconieron team following a difference of opinion among the players, which resulted in the break-up of Kilconieron into two clubs – Kilconieron and St. Finbarr’s. This saw St Finbarr’s go on to win the East Board Intermediate title in 1944 by defeating Eyrecourt. This split only lasted until 1947 when unity prevailed and Kilconieron was once again the parish team.
1957 was to prove a momentous year in the history of Kilconieron and Clostoken hurling. A keen rivalry had developed between the two clubs and the fact that they were to meet in two finals within a few months added intensely to the rivalry. Both finals were played in a manner that reflected well on both teams. This made it easier for the players to unite as one team a few years later. Kilconieron has an easy win over Clostoken in the East Board Junior Final.
In January 1965, a County Board meeting held in Athenry was to prove significant for many parishes. A motion from the Kiltormer club proposed that there be one adult and one minor club in each parish from 1966. Clostoken and Kilconieron decided not to wait until the following year to amalgamate. There was a general feeling of goodwill towards the idea of one team in the parish and this was agreed at an AGM. The new team would be known as Kilconieron, a club that had the unique distinction of having played in all four divisional boards at some stage in the past.
Despite the lack of success on the hurling field, medals did come to the club when the junior football team won the East Board Junior League in 1966.
Success was hard to come by until 1972 which was the most exciting year for the club in a long time with the junior team reaching the East Board Final only to be defeated by Eyrecourt. Following the abolition of the divisional boards in 1976, Kilconieron reached the Junior Championship final in 1978 but were defeated by Beagh. As a result of this, Kilconieron had to enter the Intermediate Championship in 1979 where they were knocked out in the first round. However, the big local news in 1979 was the election of Tom Callanan as Chairman of the Galway Hurling Board. Tom kept this position until his tragic death in 1996.
The 1980’s not only brought success to Galway hurling but to hurling in Kilconieron also. None more so than in 1981 when Kilconieron won the Under 21B title and the Under 12B title on the same October day and by defeating the same club in both – Clarenbridge. Players from both of these teams would go on to give many long years of service to Kilconieron. In 1982, the under 13 team won the Connacht Tribune ‘Bicycles’ tournament with the shock defeat of Athenry in the final, who two weeks previously had won the All Ireland Community Games. Kilconieron under 14’s went on to win the Galway under 14 Feile final in 1983 by defeating Killimor and represented Galway in Dublin at the Feile na nGael finals.
In 1985 the club was 100 years old and the then Chairman of the club Mickey Connaughton, set the wheels in motion to try to procure a playing pitch for the parish. Today, the club boasts on of the finest club facilities in Galway, with two pitches, stand, dressing rooms and clubhouse. Páirc Cill Chon Iarainn is centrally situated in the townland of Carrabane and was officially opened in 2004.
In 1988, there was progress when the under 12 team won the B championship by defeating Ballindereen. The 1980’s will be remembered as a great year for juvenile hurling in the parish and in 1989 Liam Burke got recognition as a hurling star of the future when he was selected at left corner back on the county minor team. This marked the beginning of his long and distinguished career with both club and county.
While the 80’s stood out for juvenile reasons, the 90’s belonged to the adult players of the club. In 1991, the under 21’s won the B title when they defeated Beagh. The following year saw the intermediate team reach the county intermediate final where they were defeated by Portumna after a replay. In 1993, the intermediates were back in the final again where they made no mistake and defeated Beagh to return to senior hurling. The same year the club also won the under 21A championship by defeating Portumna. This was major success for the club and was largely due to the influence of Liam Burke.
Liam won two All-Ireland Under 21 medals with Galway in 1991 and 1993 when he had the honour of captaining the 1993 team to victory. Liam played with the Galway Senior hurling team from 1992 to 2001 and played on the team that narrowly lost the 1993 All-Ireland Senior Final to Kilkenny. Liam won a National Hurling League medal with Galway in 1996 and a Railway Cup medal with Connacht in 1994. He was twice nominated for an All-Star Award in 1993 and 1997. He was voted Galway ‘Hurler of the Year’ in 1997. The 90’s also saw Kilconieron reach a Minor B county final losing out to Kilnadeema Leitrim after a reply in 1995 and also in the same year Kilconieron captured the Junior B title for the first team.
While success at adult level had been scarce in the early 2000’s, the club was presented very strong at juvenile level with county underage teams regularly featuring Kilconieron hurlers. MOSNEY. Then in 2015 was a year of unprecedented success, with Kilconieron winning the U13 A county title defeating Sarsfields in the final and a momentous All-Ireland Feile title in Antrim with Victory over St.Martins of Kilkenny. A huge effort from the juvenile committee, management, panel and parents was vested in the Feile All-Ireland weekend with the net result of bringing home the All-Ireland Title. Also in 2015, Kilconieron captured the County U-21 B title defeating Killmordaly in Athenry to win our first title at adult level in 20 years.