Prosperous Table Tennis Club
Written by Noel Clarke in 1985 from the book Prosperous A Village Of Vision
After the Rural Electrification Scheme had shown the village in a new light, the need for additional recreational facilities for the youth of the area became obvious and, in 1953, Chrissie Daly and Tess O'Flynn came up with the idea of forming a Table Tennis Club. In this, they were given every encouragement and the old hall in the centre of the village was put at their disposal, but remaining available for other activities such as plays, concerts and dances when required. In a short time the club became a focal point for the village over the dark winter months and the founders with Paddy Logan and other were soon proficient enough to take on some of the established clubs and to enter competitions run by the County Table Tennis Association.
The clubs first team success came in 1956 when it won the Kildare B League title, and from this climbed to Premier Division status. Finally in the 1960 - 61 season the club came of age when the Division One Shield deservedly came to Prosperous for the first time after the club's triumphs over Abbeyleix, Naas and Carlow. Naas regained the title in the following season, but Prosperous were back in 1962 - 63 to again win the league and to start an outstanding winning sequence of eight successive premier titles extending to 1970, when the competition was suspended for one season because of the reluctance of other clubs to enter. This achievement was remarkable by any standards, but even more so is the fact that, with a team consisting of 4 gents and 4 ladies, a total of only fifteen players was used over the full eight seasons. Charlie and Pat Dunney, Sean McCormack, Willie Wilkinson, Liam Armstrong, Iggy Kane, Shay Curry and Pat Ward. Anne and Mary Fallon, Mary and Rose Healy, Mary Ward, Tess O'Flynn and Breda Fitzsimons. One further premier championship came the club's way in 1975 - 76 but there were also league successes in Division 2 in 1973 - 74, Division 3 in 1962 - 63 and 1976 - 77.
In the 1964 - 65 season, Prosperous became the first of only two Kildare clubs to win the Provincial Club's knockout cup, and early on set it's sights on further fields to conquer by entering the Dublin Leagues. Here the separate gents and ladies teams had considerable success, winning 16 league titles and cup competitions in a twelve year spell up to 1974. On the individual front, the clubs players had outstanding successes. Pride of place must go to Anne Lawler who became Leinster Junior Ladies Champion in 1958 - 59, a feat that was emulated by Rose Gleeson in 1973 - 74. Anne won the ladies singles title at the inaugural Kildare Close Championships in 1957 and won the same title on four further occasions, and Rose followed in 1966 by starting a record run of six successive Close titles. Both players were also excellent doubles competitors, Anne with Breda Connolly and Rose with her sister Mary. The former partnership had, perhaps, their greatest performance in 1961, when they were runners up to two Irish Internationals in ladies Doubles in the Leinster Close Championships, while Rose and Mary had their major triumph at Leinster Junior Championships in 1973 when they won the Ladies Doubles title.
Mary Armstrong won a couple of Kildare Close singles titles and also two Division 1 singles crowns. With her sister Rose, she monopolised the Kildare Close Ladies doubles winners list for six years, and returned in 1973 - 74, in a new partnership with Breda Connolly to again take the doubles championship. She also represented the Kildare Zone in the Leinster Junior Championships on several occasions, sharing in two different title wins - Ladies Doubles in 1972 - 73 with Rose Gleeson and Mixed Doubles in 1969 - 70 with Ben Beattie of Blessington.
Prosperous Division 1 and 3 Champions celebrating with other clubs in the divisions in 1961 - 62.
Breda Connolly also had a distinguished career with the club, winning Leinster Junior Doubles with Tess O'Flynn in 1959 - 60, Close Doubles with Anne Lawler, with Rose Gleeson and with Mary Armstrong, and a Close Singles championship in 1969 - 70 with Anne O'Neill. Other ladies who distinguished themselves on the Championship front were Mary Donoghue who won the Ladies Singles Close title on two occasions, prior to joining the Prosperous club, and who subsequently won the Close Doubles title with Breda Connolly in 1975 - 76. Of course the "fair sex" had no monopoly of the limelight, as the men (and boys) of the club had more than their fair share of Championship successes, the leading lights being Charlie and Pat Dunney. Charlie reached the pinnacle of Kildare Table Tennis at an early age winning two successive Mens Singles titles in 1958 and 1959. He also won Division 1 championship titles in 1962 - 63, and had successful partnerships with his brother Pat, Liam Armstrong and Shay Curry in Mens Doubles, and with Tess O'Flynn and Rose Gleeson in Mixed Doubles. Pat Dunney (who also earned himself a very special place in the history of Gaelic Games) took to table tennis in his early teens, and quickly made his mark, winning his place on the club's top league team, Leinster Junior Doubles Championships, and his place on the Kildare County team at the age of 13 years. Pat won Close Singles titles and Division 1 singles titles, on five separate occasions. He also had a string of Mens Doubles Championship wins with Sean McCormack, and for a full ten years between 1960 and 1970, this partnership was almost unbeatable in major competitions.
Other club players to win championship titles were Shay Curry, John Healy, Pat Ward, Tony Gannon, Anne O'Neill, Andy Gannon and Betty Gannon. On a provincial level, 1960 was the high point, when players from the club represented the Kildare Zone in all five events at the Leinster Junior Championships, and had the unique achievement of winning all three Provincial Doubles titles on the same night:
Mens Doubles - Pat Dunney and Sean McCormack
Ladies Doubles - Breda Connolly and Tess O'Flynn
Mixed Doubles - Charlie Dunney and Tess O'Flynn
The Irish Independent the next day commented: Kildare's feat in taking all three doubles was the most brilliant feat in these championships for many a day. Their players - all from the Prosperous Club - combined splendidly and coach Harry Morris must have been well pleased with their efforts.
This is the Prosperous Table Tennis team who were leading the race for the Division 1 title in Kildare. They have won the division for the last five years and are fancied to make the half-dozen.
From left to right;
Front Row: Anne Fallon, Rose Healy, Mary Ward and Mary Healy.
Back Row: Pat Dunney, Chalie Dunney, Sean McCormack and Shay Curry.
In 1973 - 74 the club had a double in the same championships with Rose Gleeson in Ladies Singles and Charlie Dunney and Shay Curry in Mens Doubles, taking the Leinster crowns. Club players also figured prominently on the Kildare County Team in the Leinster Inter - Counties competition and were, with players from the Naas club, the backbone of the various winning combinations. The county players were Charlie Dunney, Pat and Patricia Dunney, Sean McCormack, Willie Wilkinson, Shay Curry, Anne Lawler, Breda Connolly, Tess O'Flynn, Rose Gleeson and Mary Armstrong. Many of these players also had success in the Inter Counties Championships run for some years in conjunction with the team competition. The club was renowned over the years, not only for the fighting qualities and intense interest in winning shown by it's players, but also with the warm friendly nature of the club itself. The "family" type atmosphere could probably be attributed to the closeness of the village community and to the actual membership; The Dunneys, the McCormacks, the Gannons, the Wards, the Fallons, the Healys, the Dunnes, the Cash's, the Dalys, the Nevins, the Armstrongs, the Clohessys, the Currys, the Reillys, the Kanes (and O'Flynn), predominated on the membership roll over the years.
The highlight of the domestic season were the club competitions, centrepiece of which was the knock out tournament for the Fr. Tom Cummins Cup (in honour of the late former top player), and these championships were always well supported, as were the fundraising "Hops" (music by Noel Herterich and The Breakaways), which were a regular feature of the late 50's and early 60's. The game in Prosperous hit a bad patch in the early 80's, a situation which also applied to to many other formerly strong centres in the province, and the Old Hall really began to show it's age.With hindsight it was then recognised that the premises were never more than adequate, and that the partial renovation carried out on the 70's when the Billiard Club was revived and moved in to occupy part of the hall, only temporarily arrested the decay. Hopefully the day is not too far away, when Prosperous Table Tennis Club will regain it's rightful place, though the achievement of that past generation is a hard act to follow!!!
Written by Noel Clarke for the 1985 book Prosperous A Village Of Vision.
In this picture from left to right;
Shay Curry - Tony Gannon - Sean Reilly - Peter Daly - Charlie Dunney - Willie Wilkinson - Pat Dunney - Sean McCormack.
Rose Healy - Mary Ward - Marie Danagher - Ada Price - Fr. Mahon - Mary Fallon - Breda Fitzsimons - Tess O'Flynn - Anne Fallon