Clarenbridge was involved from the very beginning of the G.A.A. in Galway. Fr. Lee in this book "The Annals of G.A.A. in Galway" describes how over 7,000 people gathered in Clarenbridge to watch a match between Clarenbridge and Labane in 1885. Matches were a very big social occasion at this time and visiting teams were accompanied by brass bands and large following. Teams did not have jerseys and togs in those early years and instead stripped to their underwear. The distinguished themselves from the opposition by the colour of their caps and in the case of Clarenbridge these were green with white stripes.
In the early years of G.A.A. in Galway, tournaments provided the main form of competition between parish teams, but in 1889 a special meeting was called to affiliate Clarenbridge club in order to participate in the proposed County Championship of 1889. Michael Browne described this meeting in his history of the G.A.A. club titled "Up the Bridge" as follows:
The meeting was arranged for April 20th. A good crowd attended and John Keane from Killeeneen presided. The first position to be filled was that of President of the club and Pat Jordan (Clarenbridge) was elected. Patch Connors (Roveagh) was elected Vice President. The meeting was arranged for April 20th. A good crowd attended and John Keane from Killeeneen presided. The first position to be filled was that of President of the club and Pat Jordan (Clarenbridge) was elected. Patch Connors (Roveagh) was elected Vice President. John Keane himself was elected president of the team. Pat Clasby (Killeeneen) was elected Treasurer and John Newell (Killeeneen) was elected secretary. A Committee was then elected and they were William Murphy (Killeely), Michael Fleming, John Kilalea, M. Molloy (Clarenbridge), Patch Garvey (Castlegar), M. Linnane (Stradbally), Mike Connolly (Roveagh), Willie Gegan (Gurrane) and Tom Connors (Roveagh) "
In the following 100 years the hurling club enjoyed mixed fortunes on the hurling field. After the troubled period from 1916 to 1923, Tom Hynes of Lisduff led a revival of the club. 1927 saw Clarenbridge beat Castlegar in the West Board Junior final. Many in the parish looked forward to a first County final win, but unfortunately the championship was abandoned that year. In the years from 1925 to 1931 a number of Clarenbridge hurlers played with the County Senior team. These included Tommy 'Curtin' Mullins, Tomasheen Niland, Jim Burns, Pete Connolly, Tom Whyte, Pake Cahill and George Fleming.
In 1928 Clarenbridge played senior Hurling. That year they beat Craughwell in the West Board final, but were narrowly beaten in the final by Tynagh. Clarenbridge won the 1929 West Board Senior final after Craughwell walked off the field. After a splendid victory over Gort in the County semi-final, Clarinbridge went down to Mullagh in the County final. A new team was moulded in the years 1933 to 1940. The culmination of this period was 1939 when they reached the County final against Castlegar. In what was one of the most controversial County finals of all time, Castlegar were allowed a goal when a wide bull was retrieved. It resulted in a two point 'win' by Castlegar and a huge amount of frustration and bitterness in Clarenbridge. In the lead up to 1939, Clarenbridge were one of the top teams in the county, yet that coveted County Championship eluded them. These were also the years when Mattie Burke starred for the Galway team winning much honour for his tussles with Mick Mackey. The late 1940s and early 1950s saw a new generation of hurlers wearing the maroon and white with pride. Having won two South Board Junior Championships in 1946 and 1948, they entered the Intermediate grade in 1951 and showed their hurling ability by getting to the County final, but went down badly to Killimordaly.
There is far more to the G.A.A. than just playing and winning games however, and through the years the organization has been a means of providing entertainment for young and old alike, most of whom had few other alternatives. It was a mechanism through which many friendships were made, which often lasted a lifetime. The Sunday game provided a means by which people could express their Irishness, their pride in their parish as well as their strength and skill. The club was very much in the doldrums in the 1960s but the mid 1970s saw a revival of fortunes as Killeeneen school won two South Championships in 1974 and 1975. 1975 was also the year that the U-21 team provided much excitement when reaching the South Board final only to be pipped by Ardrahan in a replay.
The revival of the club had begun however, and there was no stopping until the Intermediate team won the first County final for the club in 1983 beating Oranmore Maree. The success of the senior team was not to last long however, as the panel of players was decimated in 1984, '85 and '86 by emigration. In 1982 and 1983 it was usual to see thirty players training twice a week in the pitch, this year it was a good evening that there were fifteen present. Thankfully, the rise and decline of our senior team in the 1980s is contrasted to the continuous success of our juveniles throughout the decade. This began under Michael Carr who coached the U-14 teams to Brendan Linnane Tournament victories and continued under Michael Browne, Stephen Coen and Martin Kearns reign, to success at All Ireland level in the U-14 Community Games title in 1988 and three county victories in U-12, U-14 and U-16 levels this year as well as school successes by both Killeeneen N.S. and Clarenbridge N.S. The underage success continued with the first Minor Title in 1992. A poor start to the Intermediate Championship in 1994 was turned around and the club went on to defeat Tommie Larkins in the final.
In 1995 the U-21 title was won while the senior team consolidated its status in senior hurling. Then in 1996 the seniors began to make progress and ended up in the County semi-final against Athenry. It took an injury time point from Athenry in the replay to bring the game to extra time where the more powerful Athenry went on to win and also win the All Ireland the following March. Thankfully, the rise and decline of our senior team in the 1980s is contrasted to the continuous success of our juveniles throughout the decade. This began under Michael Carr who coached the U-14 teams to Brendan Linnane Tournament victories and continued under Michael Browne, Stephen Coen and Martin Kearns reign, to success at All Ireland level in the U-14 Community Games title in 1988 and three county victories in U-12, U-14 and U-16 levels this year as well as school successes by both Killeeneen N.S. and Clarenbridge N.S.The underage success continued with the first Minor Title in 1992. A poor start to the Intermediate Championship in 1994 was turned around and the club went on to defeat Tommie Larkins in the final.
The Club’s perseverence was rewarded in 2001 when we won our first Co Senior title by overcoming the then reigning All Ireland Champions, Athenry .
Clarinbridge senior team reached the All Ireland final in 2002, but lost to a great Birr team and it took another nine years before they contested the next Co final. There were many disappointments along the way but the team kept its self-belief and in November 2010 we won our second Galway Hurling Championship.
Clarinbridge GAA Club contested the All Ireland Club Final on the 17th March 2011. We overcame O Loughlin Gaels of Kilkenny and were crowned All Ireland Club champions for the first time.
The Club has put much effort into juvenile hurling over the past 20 years and this has been awarded by the clubs’ many county victories at Under 12, Under 14 and Under 16 levels. The Club has won a number of juvenile football titles in recent years and works closely with Clarinbridge Camogie club to foster gaeilic games.