The History of Bright GAC.
The Modern-day Bright GAC consists of a few amalgamated teams since the parishioners first took to the field in the late 19th century. Local tradition speaks of matches in both football and hurling as far back as the 1890s.
The first GAA organised league match on record took place in 1918 between Killough and Loughanisland and was played along the Point Road in the village of Killough. Killough won their first GAA match and went on to win their league, which included teams from Magheralagan Raholp, Loughanisland, Downpatrick and Killough.
In 1919 Killough formed a soccer side and the Gaels moved over the Quarter Mile Hill to Rossglass. The new Rossglass team was lead by Johnny McCrissican and Barney Venney among others. Rossglass were just as successful as the previous Killough team, winning the league which by then had expanded to include Ardglass, Crossgar, Dunsford, Kilclief and Drumnaconnor.
In the 1920 County Championship Rossglass won their East Down Division, beating Loughanisland at Dunsford and then went on to defeat Mayobridge by 4 points in Newcastle to qualify for the final. The final was played in March 1921. Rossglass lost to Letrim Fonteroys 0-02 to 0-01. Outstanding players in this era were John Foy, Johnny McCrissican, Joe McMullan and Joe Grimes while William Venney and Joe Johnstone of Lissoid represented the club on the county board.
Rossglass reached the final of the 1921 senior championship after beating Newcastle 1-04 to 0-00 on the 12th of March 1922. The final between Rossglass and Kilcoo was played in April 1922 a match which Kilcoo won despite fielding an illegal player. In the following year’s championship, Rossglass took revenge beating Kilcoo in another low scoring match at 0-03 to 0-01 on April 1st 1923 at Newcastle.
In the 1923-24 season, Rossglass beat Saul in the championship but lost to the subsequent county champions Castlewellan at Monabot in the East Down sectional final.
On the 1st of June 1924, Barney Venney, Joe Gilmore, James Mahon and Pat Mahon all represented Rossglass on the Down team when they met County Antrim at Downpatrick.
In August 1924 a special challenge match was between Rossglass, the East Down League winners and South Down champions, Mayobridge. A set of scarf pins were commissioned for the winning team but before the match had ended Pat Mahon broke his leg, an injury so bad the match was abandoned.
In 1927 Father Mulholland arrived in the Parish and reformed the Rossglass side after poor results in the previous two seasons. Between 1928 and 1932 Bright, under Fr Mulholland’s control Rosglass won 4 League titles and held the Mc Nulty Cup. In 1929 they were back in the senior championships by 1931 played in a Senior Final losing to Rathfriland 0-07 to 0-06.
One of the most memorable victories of the 1930s was in a challenge match against County Antrim kingpins, O’Connells GAC. Rossglass beat the Antrim Champions by 2 points with a final score of 0-08 to 0-06.
Rossglass’s biggest and most fierce rivals of the ’30s were Bryansford GAC. Matches between the two teams drew huge crowds and 1 match in particular, had to be controlled by 2 van loads of police.
The Rossglass team of these halcyon days included Bill Oakes (Downpatrick), Jimmy Mahon, Paddy Venney, Joe Gilmore, Jack Law, Barney Venney and John Doris.
Between 1934 and 1950 Rossglass enjoyed very little success.
In 1951 Scollogstown entered a team playing in red and green under the guidance of the late Patsy Mc Cartan, Pat Doran and Paddy O’Connor. A pitch was leased by the Late Francie Tumelty who also formed a Schoolboy team and although the early years of this side bore little fruit their time came in 1957 when they won the County Championship.
In the 1960s a new look Killough team entered the league under the guidance of Derek King. The two sides merged in 1966 after the teams organised a meeting with priests Fr O’Hara and Fr O’Neill. A decision was made to call the newly merged side “Bright GAC”. This new team played in the blue and white hoops of Killough. Success followed, especially at underage level. In 1968 both schoolboys and minor leagues and championships were won by Bright.
In 1971 Bright were promoted from Junior to intermediate Championships, which they won in their first year.
In 1974 the league setup was changed to Divisions 1-4 and Bright were surprisingly placed into Division 4. Bright won their division with ease and were promoted to Division 3 in 75.
In 1979, after a few years of decline, a new committee was formed by Patsy Farrand, Gerry Higgins and Paddy O’Connor. The ’79 committee changed the club colours to the green and gold still worn today. 1980 saw the return of some of Bright’s best players “The Stranneys” Sean, Stephen and Leo were all great players and along with Hugh Venney, the newly revived team won Division 5, remaining undefeated despite playing all their games away because they had no pitch to call home. In the same year Bright’s Second team, under the management of Danny Morgan won the reserve league. The Minors won the 9 a-side cup and Legamaddy Primary won the Bennett cup. These victories were highlighted when Bright were elected “Club of the Year” for 1980.
Since the 1980’s a lot has changed In the Parish, the club moved headquarters from Killough to the Facility in Ballynoe. Several teams and committees have come and gone. Ladies football was established in the club and in 2013 the Ladies won the championship under managers Christopher Tumelty, Giggs Cledenning and Dee Sharvin. Our underage teams have also had success at under 13 and under 15 levels and in 2019 Bright Seniors won the Junior Championship and came runners up in the Division 4 League.