Tones & Breens – History
The name ‘Dan Breen’ evokes a sense of pride in Irish people. His tenacious pursuit of freedom established him as a prominent figure during the Irish War of Indepen- dence. He was known for his involvement in many prolific events – from Solohead- beg to the Knocklong rescue – but above all, he is known for his courage. His obitu- ary simply states “no need for words, we will never forget”. These words resonate today, and it is these qualities of courage, gratitude and consideration of others that undergird the great hurling accomplishments being celebrated at the 30th anniversary of Wolfe Tones GAC Melbourne.
In 2013, it was clear that three clubs were no longer sufficient to contain the growing numer of hurlers in Victoria. Colm Kennedy (Tipperary), Dermot R’Rourke (Clare) and James Fitzgerald (Clare) recognized the need for a new direction. Along with Coli Comiskey (Armagh) Shane Neylon (Clare) and John Sheehan (Tipperary), meetings were held to discuss their vision for a new club. On December 12th, in Clifton Hill, the vision was realized when Victoria’s fourth hurling club was formally introduced. The founding fathers were clear about the values they hoped the club would emulate: Self-sacrifice, Inclusion, Dedication and Courage. From here, the name of the club was unanimous: Dan Breen’s GAC Melbourne.
Under the stewardship of Jimmy Clifford (Limerick) and Michael Burke (Roscommon), the club enjoyed quick success reaching the championship final in its inaugural year before a historic 2015 league final victory. At this time, huge thanks was owed to player/ club delegates John Sheehan and Colm Kennedy who ran the club’s ad- ministration; with huge support and advice from their better halves Catriona Ken- nedy and Thelma Sheehan. Moving into 2016, it was hoped success would continue. However, the club endured a challenging period of transition and turnover; no different from that experienced by clubs across the country. Australia is known to attract Irish people with the promise of oppor- tunity and adventure. Some settle. Some stay for just a year. Many would like to stay longer than they do. For Dan Breen’s, this transitory period saw many of the founding members return home to the Emerald Isle, or onto the next chapter of their lives. For a small and newly established club, this was a hard hit. Losses were seen on the field. Yet courage prevailed, and the club showcased resilience and perseverance worthy of their namesake. In the December 2016 AGM, Colm Forde (Galway) and Shane Burke (Laois) stood forward and accepted the challenge of moving into 2017 with a new resolve. This manifested in a major recruitment drive to overcome the loss of mem- bers and obtain new players. Focus was also placed on acquiring financial sponsorship and build- ing a social media platform for promotional activities. The club grew from strength to strength, and under the management of Christy Fanning (Westmeath), another league final appearance was achieved.
As the 2017 year drew to a close, there was much to be satisfied with when reflecting on the club’s performance. Yet, moving forward, it was recognized that in order for the club to continue to prosper, and overcome turnover and burn-out of adminis- trative requirements on volunteers, it was necessary to explore new measures to ensure the survival of the club. In the face of uncertainty, reflecting on history can provide valuable insights. From Wolfe Tone’s ‘Society of United Irishmen’ to Breen’s ‘3rd Tipperary Brigade’, it is clear that behind every great revolutionary leader is a group of comrades working together. In 2017, Dan Breen’s hurling club needed a comrade. The union of Dan Breen and Wolfe Tone was destined to be a formidable force. Such an amalgamation made sense, considering the number of dual players currently playing both football and hurling. The union was confirmed at the end of 2017, and the club adopted its new name of ‘Wolfe Tones’; however, Dan Breen’s crest and literature would continue to always be recognized and illustrated proudly on the Wolfe Tones jersey. The amalgamation process would not have been possible without the support of John Vesey (Mayo), Cathal O’Neill (Armagh), Eamonn McCormack (Roscommon), Ronan McAnulty (Ar- magh), Ciaran Mohan (Armagh), Aoife Dunning (Westmeath) and Aodhain Kiernan (Cavan).
TThe first year in the Wolfe Tones colors was a tremendous success. We proudly wel- comed 2013 All- Ireland winner Aaron Cunningham (Clare) to our club. Cunningham’s presence was significant – given his home club was that of the Wolfe Tones of Shan- non, Co. Clare; the same club that Dan Breen’s founding members Dermot O’Rourke and James Fitzgerald represented. The club journeyed through the league unbeaten and carried this winning form through to the league final where we came out on top. Much was owed to the 2018 management team of Colm Kennedy (Tipperary), Colm Forde (Galway) and Joe C2easer (Tipperary) for their efforts throughout the season. It was a case of falling at the final hurdle, however, in the 2018 championship as the club lost out by the smallest margins.
2019 for Wolfe Tones has been our best year yet, having fully integrated with the rest of the club. This year we have gone from strength to strength, winning the Victoria 9’s, Victoria Melbourne 7s and our first championship. Yet again, unending thanks should be extended to the management team and all the players, who’s commitment and dedica- tion made 2019 such a special year.
We are proud to be part of the Wolfe Tones Club and we should all be proud of all the hard work that has been completed by this great club to reach this 30-year milestone.
The club at this period would like to recognize the massive efforts contributed by past and present committee members to establish this club and secure its future. All clubs are built on the foundation of their members and the hard work and hours of the volunteers who run the club. To the present, past and future volunteer of the club who does the small things, collects the bibs, collects the cones, brings the water, attends club meetings, helps the coach, provides transport to games, gathers sponsorship, sells tickets, carries hurls, footballs, does umpire, does officiating duties, attends meetings, or- ganizes events, organizes buses, pays for a slab, sets up the club tent, coaches our teams, order jerseys, washes jerseys. This club does not or could not exist without you and we thank you.
The history of the Dan Breens / Wolfe Tone hurling club reflects a group of players, volunteers and supporters who have overcome adversity to achieve exceptional success. Moving into 2020, you can be certain that the best is yet to come.
Ryan Comiskey (Armagh), Bernard Deay (Kildare), Nicky Ryan (Tipperary), Colm Forde (Galway), Colm Kennedy (Tipperary), Catriona Kennedy (Armagh), Aine Brennan (Kilkenny) , Thelma Shee- han (Tipperary), Kieran Bergin (Offaly), Lorcan Mulhern (Dublin), Michael Burke (Roscommon) Joe Ceaser (Tipperary, Conor Murphy (Cork), Christy Fanning (Westmeath), Shane Burke (Laois), Cian O’ Neill (Dublin), Michael Whelan (Carlow), Eoin Hayes (Offaly), Dermot O’ Rourke (Clare), James Fitzgerald (Clare), Coli Comiskey (Armagh), Kevin Hehir (Clare) and Shane Neylon Clare)
‘’ No need for words, we will never forget’’