Tones in Three Decades
1989 – 1999 In late 1989 three young Irish lads decided that another competitive club was needed in Melbourne’s competition. The three lads, namely Sean McGovern, Michael Murphy, and Ciaran Mohan called a meeting for all those interested in forming a new club. The meet- ing was held on Melbourne Cup Eve, the first Monday of November 1989 in the Normandy Hotel. The above three were joined on that historic night by Chris McGovern, Dick Heffernan, Anthony Tormey, Noel Morgan, Johnny Maloney, Martin Fox, Mick Fox, and Tom Riordan.
It was unanimously decided to form a new club with both a football and hurling team. In keeping with tradition, both in Ireland and abroad, the club was to be named after a famous figure in Irish history and thus the new club became known as Wolfe tones G.A.C. The club was admitted into the GAA of Victoria early in 1990.
It their first year, the Wolfe Tones proved that they would be a force to be reckoned with. They took out the Victorian Championship at their first attempt beating Padraig Pearses, who were
to become their fierce rivals, in the final. The Tones also took up the challenge from interstate when invited to play against the New South Wales champions, Young Irelands, in a curtain-raiser to game two of the compromise rules series at Bruce Stadium in Canberra. As rank underdogs, the Tones overcame all the odds to beat their much-fancied opposition in front of a 7,000 strong crowd.
In 1992, the club regained the Victorian Championship, 1993 was a very successful year, with a league and championship double in football.
The club then went through a lean period, although it contested many finals and almost all semi-finals in both football and hurling, the quest for silverware was in vain.
1997/1998 brought about the beginning of a new era with an influx of new players. Sourced mainly from the counties of Armagh and Monaghan. This injection of players brought with it a vein of success that would instill itself into the DNA of the club. Names like Mark Murray, David King, Ciaran Feehan, Barry Doyle, Barry Mallon, Jimmy Donnelly and Ronan MacAnulty would become synonymous with the club. The club won the Victorian football league and it’s first sil- verware for the hurling team with a victory in the Victorian Hurling championship. This champi- onship victory was indeed just reward and credit must go to Michael Murphy and Dick Heffernan for their work and commitment towards the Wolfe Tones hurling team. Building on the success of 1997, the club took out the Melbourne Sevens for the first time in dramatic fashion with a golden point from Seamus Coleman from County Cork. This marvelous victory in the 7-A-Side competition was followed by a hard-earned win in the championship. The crowning glory came on Sunday 23rd August when Wolfe Tones footballers won a thrilling encounter against old foes, Sinn Fein. The unprecedented ‘treble’ was achieved. In 1999 The Tones retained the 7-A-Side.
2000 – 2009 brought with it another influx of players, this time mainly from the west with Mayomen Declan Murtagh, Adrian Forkan and Joe Kelly were notable additions to join the ranks. In 2001 the Tones overcame another lean period to win the 7-A-Side and Championship, missing out on the League to Sinn Fein. The year 2002 was another sterling year for the club repeating their feat of 1998 winning all football competitions. In 2003 the championship was retained for the 3rd year in a row, the Tones again missing out in the league final.
In 2004 the Wolfe Tones Club revived the Railway cup competition which is fiercely contested by players from all clubs.
In 2005, the Tones achieved the treble of 7-A-Side, Championship and league titles for the third time in their history, beating Sinn Fein in each of the finals.
In 2006, the Tones were Illegally excluded from Championship despite taking their case to the DRA in Ireland and winning – the club still went on to win the 7-A-Side and League titles and for good measure secured the treble of the 7-A-Side, Championship, and League titles in 2007.
2008 saw the Tones travelling to the San Remo/Gosford tournament on the NSW Central Coast, creating history by capturing the football event at their first attempt. The competition earned the moniker of “NSW SAM” thanks to Stevie Conlon. The Tones again secured the Championship with a comprehensive win over rivals Padraig Pearses, the league final was lost to a resurgent Sinn Fein.
In 2009, the Tones retained their Championship crown with a win over rivals Sinn Fein and re- gained the League crown with a win over Padraig Pearses.
2010 – 2019 In 2010 the Tones took out the League and the Championship and NSW SAM.
In 2011, the Tones under the stewardship of Ronan MacAnulty, had one of their finest years taking out 4 titles, The Melbourne Sevens, NSW SAM, The Championship and the League – a feat that has never been done before by a Victorian Club. To cap that off, the club completed the year without defeat, again for the first time in their history.
The Tones retained the Melbourne Sevens in 2012 – missing out in the League Semi to Sinn Fein and Padraig Pearses in the Championship.
In 2013, The Tones won back the NSW SAM (Gosford Invitational) and regained both the Victorian League and Championship titles.
Again in 2014, The Tones retained NSW SAM, The Victorian League, and Championship.
In 2015, The Tones took out the inaugural Garryowen 9’s competition – beating the hosts in the final. They remained unbeaten in NSW SAM (only to be knocked out on points) and retained the Victorian League. A depleted Tones lost out to Sinn Fein in the Championship.
2016 was another significant year – The Tones retained the Garryowen 9’s, regained the 7’s beat- ing Penrith Gaels in the Final, continued unbeaten in NSW SAM (this time regaining the title after beating MacAnallens in the final) and finally to cap off a historic year the Tones retained the Victorian League and regained the Victorian Championship. The “Drive for 5” was complete. The club wasn’t quite done yet. In late 2016, a group of ladies got together and lead the charge to form a ladies team. The team was admited to the Victorian GAA at the AGM in December.
In 2017 – The Tones retained the Garryowen 9s, were beaten by Sinn Fein in 7s final and retained NSW SAM, the Victorian League and Championship.
In 2018 – The Tones made it 4-In-A-Row in the Garryowen Nines, beaten in 7s by Garryowen and retained NSW SAM for a record 3-In-A-Row. This year saw the Hurlers of Dan Breen’s amalgamate with the Tones. The hurlers took out the Victorian League and were denied the Championship with a disallowed penalty goal in the last minute of injury time. The Tones ladies created their own history taking out the Championship after only 2 years in the competition. The men’s footballers took out the league but were beaten in the championship semi. This year also saw the introduc- tion of the Men’s Intermediate football. The Tones lads duly obliged taking out both competitions.
In 2019 – The Tones senior men made it 5-In-A-Row in the Garryowen Nines, retained NSW SAM to make it 4-In-a-Row, retained the Victorian League and regained the Championship. The Inter- mediate men regained the Championship. The ladies went from strength to strength winning the Nines and the Victorian Championship (missing out narrowly in the League final) and the Hurlers saluted winning the 7s, Nines and Victorian Championship.